Runner’s World; Courtesy of REI Cooperative

Running gaiters (or trail gaiters) may be small, but they’re great at keeping sand, dirt, dust, pine needles, and even rocks out of your running shoes. Similar in theory to more robust winter gaiters, running gaiters are lightweight, stretchy pieces of fabric that cover the top of your running shoes and wrap around your ankle. Gaiters hook onto your shoe and often attach underneath as well, creating a barrier that keeps pesky trail debris out, helping to protect your feet and the inside of your shoe from abrasion. They weigh only a few ounces and are usually made of a nylon and spandex blend.

The Best Running Gaiters

What to consider

Gaiter intensity

Generally, racing gaiters are quite simple, but within this category you may have a few options, depending on terrain and racing preferences. The simplest gaiters are a stretchy piece of tubular fabric that slips over your foot and attaches to your shoe with a front hook or a hook and loop in the back, sometimes both. On the more technical side, you will have gaiters made of water-resistant material, those with full side closures for easy donning and doffing and models that offer greater adjustability. How deep you want to go depends on how much protection you need from trail debris or underbrush, and how long you want your gear to last.


One of the main differences between styles of gaiters is the closure. Some gaiters slip over your foot, and some are open, wrapping around your ankle with a full side hook-and-loop or zipper closure. Open gaiters may weigh a little more, but they allow for a more adjustable fit and are easier to put on and take off. Gaiters that slide over your foot are more streamlined and you won’t have to worry about dirt getting into the closure material compromising the effectiveness of the fasteners. However, gaiters of this style can be difficult to put on and take off.

How we selected

Racing gaiters are quite simple in terms of design and materials, so we prioritized models with widely applicable uses and special features. The main variations between models are their attachment points and the complexity of their design. So we researched gaiters with a wide range of weights, heights, and ways/locations of attachment to your shoe. Some gaiters sit higher on the ankle, and some are better suited for wet or snowy trails. We’ve also included styles at different price points and avoided styles that don’t stay attached or require frequent tweaking.

For other great additions to your running wardrobe, check out our picks for the best arm sleeves, compression leg sleeves, and compression socks.

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Key specs

Materials) Cordura
Size(s) small medium large
Colors Black

The most breathable

Trail gaiter

Key specs

Colors) Black
Materials) 82% nylon, 18% elastane
Sizes Small big

Best range of sizes

Swiftland Race Gaiters

Key specs

Colors) black yellow
Materials) 76% Polyester, 24% Elastane
Sizes Small, Medium, Large, XL

The most adjustable

Trail Gaiter — High

Key specs

Colors) black with red
Materials) 78% nylon, 22% elastane
Sizes small medium large

Best Ultralight Pair

Racing gaiters

Key specs

Colors) Anything you can imagine
Materials) Nylon, spandex
Sizes XS, Small, Medium, Large, XL, Dang

The most durable

INSTAgaiter Low Gaiters

Key specs

Colors) Green
Materials) Stretch woven nylon
Sizes Small/Medium, Large/XL

Ideal for casual trails

Go-Long Gaiter

Key specs

Colors) 7 fun graphics and patterns
Materials) Nylon, spandex
Sizes Small/Medium, Large/XL

Ideal for wet trails

All-Terrain Gaiter

Key specs

Colors) Black
Materials) 90% polyester, 10% nylon
Sizes small medium large

Ideal for winter conditions

LEVAmid GTX gaiter

Key specs

Colors) Grey
Materials) Polyurethane
Sizes small medium large

Best budget option

Waterproof shoe gaiters

Key specs

Colors) Black with Blue, Teal or Red
Materials) Nylon, spandex
Sizes Small, Medium, Large, XL

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