Maybe you’ve seen runners wearing gaiters at trail races, or perhaps you’ve just heard them mentioned on trail running forums and on social media.  If you’re wondering what running gaiters are or why they are worn, read on.

@VTRunner Mom shows off her Gaiters.

What are running gaiters?

Running gaiters are typically composed of stretchy fabric and are worn over your running shoes. They often attach at a lace point and behind the heel on each shoe, sometimes with hooks, elastic, snaps, or velcro.

What’s the point of wearing running gaiters?

Running gaiters are worn to prevent debris, pebbles, sand, dirt, mud, sticks, and other nasty stuff collected along a trail run or race from getting into your shoes and causing issues that can interfere with your run, such as hot spots, blisters, friction points, or generally uncomfortable shoes/socks.

Who wears running gaiters?

Experienced and new runners–and runners of varying abilities and experience–wear running gaiters.  You will see runners racing some of the toughest or most famous races and ultras in the world, such as the UTMB or Vermont 100. You will find runners wearing gaiters in “fun run” 5K trail races. You will see runners wearing gaiters during adventure races. You will sometimes find runners wearing gaiters in costume half-marathons and road marathons.

Some runners wear gaiters in every season of the year.  Some wear them on every training run. Some only wear them on long runs or during races.  Some runners wear running gaiters only in sandy conditions or races, others wear them on muddy trails.

What running gaiters are compatible with trail running shoes?

While styles vary, popular running gaiters tend to attach to running shoes at gaiter attachment points or on laces in the front through snaps, velcro, elastic, or hook designs.  In the back of the shoe, popular gaiters often attach via velcro, which you place on your shoe in the desired position; some new shoe models such as Altras come with already attached gaiter velcro attachment points.

What styles do running gaiters come in?

Some manufacturers sell gaiters in solid designs, others sell more exotic and exciting designs, such as Gaiter Pods Rainbow Unicorn Designs.

Where do you buy running gaiters?

You can buy them online, often directly from the company making them, or online at shops such as Etsy.

How much do running gaiters cost?

The price varies for gaiters, but you will most likely find they range between $19-40.

How much use can you get out of a pair of gaiters?

The answer really depends.  It depends on how often you wear your gaiters, how you use them, how you wash them, and the conditions in which you take them.  The fabric used in most gaiters is similar to bathing suit fabric, so it does break down with time and use, even with the best care and in the most gentle conditions.  I’ve known people who have used the same pair of gaiters for years, and others who go through a pair a race season due to various reasons.  I also know that some people like to change up their running look and keep a running gaiter collection so they can circulate their designs and switch things up.

Will running gaiters make you run faster?

Ha! Ha! Well, running gaiters can look pretty cool…and if looking good makes you feel good, who knows, you might actually run faster. And if you don’t have to stop to take your shoes off to shake out dirt and pebbles while running, who knows…maybe, just maybe they can make you run faster. But don’t rest your training or racing career on it.

*When I’m not running, writing, blogging, or doing the mom to four thing, I create handmade, unique, and totally fun trail running gaiters. Check out my Etsy shop.

Are you a fan of gaiters? Yes? No? Leave a comment below.