Review: These gaiters use the tried and true method of securing to your shoe that traditional hiking gaiters use – a buckled strap underneath and a hook for the front of your laces.
It’s effective and reliable and makes you wonder why so many other brands are determined to find a different method.
Aside from that, they’re also really durable, they stay in place, they’re made of the right kind of material so that plant life doesn’t stay stuck to you, and they do the job of keeping unwanted items out of your shoes.
Come with replacement straps.
Specially designed with a thin but tough shoe strap that won’t be bulky under your instep.
These are a well-designed and reliable pair of trail gaiters and definitely some of the best gaiters for trail running.
DuraLink Instep Strap - Kahtoola's unique instep strap comes with a 1000 mile warranty and is designed to be ultra-durable, low-profile and easily adjustable.
3D Performance Fit - Kahtoola's strategically tensioned, two-piece design covers more of the shoe or boot and stays firmly in place while in use to seal out more moisture, dust, dirt and debris.
Side Zipper Closure - This carefully designed and tested gaiter closure adds comfort and makes putting them on and taking them off a breeze. Lower the zipper halfway and they can be kept on a boot or shoe between adventures.
Stretch-Woven Nylon Construction - The 84% Stretch-Woven Nylon / 16% polyurethane blend with a water-resistant DWR coating is light, breathable and tough.
Review: These gaiters score top points for being lightweight, comfortable and easy to put on and take off. They have drawstrings around the ankle so that they can be cinched tight to keep debris out, and the instep strap is made of a durable TPU plastic so it shouldn’t wear out.
They are pretty low cut so you’ll need to secure them well, but they fit over a range of shoe styles and create a nice snug fit.
Instep strap is made from tough TPU.
Lightweight and breathable material so your feet won’t get too hot.
Water repellent DWR finish.
Can fit over a variety of shoe styles.
The zip is the weak point of these gaiters.
Provided the zip doesn’t cause you any hassles, these gaiters are lightweight, soft and comfortable to wear.
Review: If durability and a bit of protection is what you’re after, these gaiters fit the bill. They’re plenty rugged enough to survive the rigors of trail running and offer you a little padding against obstacles as well.
They’re easy to put on simply by wrapping them around your ankle and securing with Velcro, and they’re comfortable too.
The sizing does run a little large so you’ll need to size down and play with them a bit to find the best fit for your shoe.
Very secure strap and Velcro wrap design.
Tough and durable.
Protective pads on the ankles.
Very easy to put on and take off without removing your shoes.
Thick instep strap may get in the way on flat bottomed shoes.
Might be hard to form a snug fit at the front.
These are easily some of the best running gaiters of 2023 provided you size down!
Review: Altra’s trail gaiters are another really lightweight and breathable pair that make them a great choice for hot, dry weather.
They don’t have an instep strap which makes them a good option for zero drop shoes (like Altra shoes), or shoes with flat soles (like Hokas).
They’re also better suited to Altra shoes as they pair up with a Velcro tab on the back of the shoe. But if you don’t run in Altras, you can still use these gaiters by using some DIY skills to glue a piece of Velcro onto the back of your shoe.
These gaiters slide on and off like a sock which might be annoying if they’re a tight fit, but also means there’s less to go wrong or break as in the case with a zipper.
Sock-like design is snug and completely enclosed.
Very lightweight, breathable and abrasion-resistant material.
No instep strap to get in the way.
Only designed to pair with Altra shoes.
If you run in Altras, or you’re willing to use some DIY skills to add some velco to the back of your shoe, these gaiters are a nice and simple, lightweight summer option.
Review: Unlike the Altra gaiters above, these gaiters only have one fixed point of contact with the lace hooks at the front of the shoe. Aside from that, they rely on a bungee elastic to grip the shoe.
Pull them over your feet like a sock, put your shoes on, and then stretch the gaiter around the top of your shoe and tighten the bungee cord to secure them in place.
Very lightweight and breathable.
Soft, comfortable material.
Ideal for summer hiking.
Compatible with any running shoe.
Not having a heel attachment may not work for everyone as they may not stay in place.
These are good quality gaiters that are a great option for hot summer hikes.
Desert running, for example, requires gaiters that cover all of the mesh on your shoe so that the sand can’t get in, while reaching high enough up your calf to protect against the sand that you’ll flick into the air with your feet, while also being breathable enough to keep you cool.
Those are rather specific requirements that few commercially made gaiters can meet.
With trail running, I’m going to assume we’re mostly looking at avoiding larger debris than sand.
So we’re looking for gaiters that will predominantly prevent small stones from entering your shoe from the around the ankle.
This means they don’t rise far up your leg, they literally just wrap around your ankle in order to cover the entrance to your shoe from above.
So, what should you look for?
This is the main thing that sets trail running gaiters apart from each other.
The most common way for hiking gaiters to be attached to your boot is with a length-wise strip of Velcro, a small metal hook that loops over the front of your laces, and a boot strap, or instep strap that runs underneath your shoe.
The instep strap has a love-hate relationship with running gaiters because not all running shoes have enough of a rise between the toe and heel to allow room for a strap.
If you have flat soles you can end up feeling the bulk of the strap under your foot, or just wear it out too quickly.
Consequently, different brands are experimenting with different methods of securing gaiters to your shoe with some even going as far as recommending that you glue a patch of Velcro to your heel.
Obviously you’d want to be fairly committed to do this!
Waterproof trail running gaiters aren’t really commonplace. Most of the time the focus is on breathability and lightweight.
Some gaiters come with a DWR coating which helps a bit with water repellence.
But since most running shoes aren’t waterproof, waterproof gaiters aren’t likely to be high on the priority list for most trail runners.
The exception would be if you do a lot of running through snow, in which case you’re probably going to be after full-length gaiters more designed with hiking in mind than trail running.
Unfortunately, bomb-proof durability seems to be lacking in a lot of the trail running gaiters on the market right now.
Again, the focus is on lightweight and thin, flexible material so that you don’t feel like you’re wearing anything extra.
This is fine if you’re not going to be rubbing up against obstacles or doing any scrambling. In theory, any thin material will stop debris from entering your shoe if it’s wrapped tightly enough.
But if you’re looking for something that will see you through some gnarly obstacle courses or to use for hiking as well, you might be better off looking at more hiking specific gaiters than running ones.
While you’re here, are you a fan of running in the dark? And, no, I’m not crazy, it’s a thing! But only with the right headlamp!
We have a list of the best of the best trail running headlamps with options for all budgets that you should definitely take a look at if you think some pre-dawn runs might be on the agenda.
Are you a gal looking for a new pair of trail runners to go with your new gaiters? We have a roundup of all the best trail running shoes for women right here to save you time on your search. And if you have flat feet, be sure to check out our recommendations for supportive trail shoes as well.
As you can see, unlike shoes, there aren’t loads to choose from when looking for the best trail running gaiters.
But that keeps the search easy at least!
All of the gaiters on this list are a great option for trail running.
If you’d like to receive more reviews directly to your inbox, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for all of the latest gear and know-how.
YEAH, FREE STUFF!!!
Get FREE lifetime access to all downloadable guides and practical articles that over 7,000 members have already used and loved.