Protection on the Climb

The gaiter is, of course, a garment worn over the shoe and the lower leg. Its prior purpose is the wearer’s protection, defending him or her from the underbrush or preventing outside elements such as mud, stones or even snow from entering footwear. In some environments they are worn as a defence against snake bites.

A similar product when worn only for display is known as spats. They form a part of the uniform of military personnel in some places, where they are also sometimes called puttees. A half-gaiter, or half-chap, is worn by horse riders and is seen as a more practical and comfortable alternative to the conventional riding boot.

But there is a particular calling for gaiters in the area of rock climbing, where amongst other things they protect the participant from scratches and abrasions caused by crampons. Generally they are strapped over the hiking boot and then around the climber’s leg to offer protection from thorns and branches and to prevent mud, stones and snow from entering the top of the boot.

The modern gaiter is a far more practical garment than has historically been the case. Usually it is made from a plasticised synthetic cloth, although horse riders continue to wear leather gaiters. Gaiters are breathable and waterproof, and tend these days to use Velcro fastenings which make them easier to put on and take off, particularly useful when time is of the essence.

One possible drawback when climbing with gaiters is the risk of snagging. To counter this risk they will usually include a draw cord with top closure. In order to ensure that they retain position they are strapped under the boot as well as to the leg.

Rab is one of the more well known suppliers of gaiters alongside many other items of outdoor gear, and its Latok Extreme Gaiter ticks all the requisite boxes for safety and comfort, as well as affordability. Rab Clothing enjoys an excellent reputation amongst climbers as a trusted manufacturer in the field.