Gear Review

Dirty Girl Gaiters

Dirty Girl Gaiters - 'Faded Glory'

Of course we all hate scree gaiters, but the darned things tend to be useful—particularly (as is often the case) when we've decided not to bring them.

Leave the scree gaiters at home, and you can bet that easy trail you're expecting is going to turn into a steep field of calf-deep sand and gravel, where a nannyish voice will continuously snark in your ears if only you'd remembered your gaiters! whilst pebbles, dirt, and grit pack your poor trail runners to the bursting point.

Dirty Girl Gaiters - Atop Sawtooth Peak

In defense of my own gaiter reluctance, permit me to point out (1) they look kind of goofy and (2) regardless, they don't tend to work that well. On point two, most gaiter designs feature a rope or cord that runs beneath the sole of your shoe, and which inevitably wears out.

You could carry extra cordage to replace the line in the field, but more likely, you'll just press on, and your gaiters will gradually rise up about your ankles, rendering them moot for their sole intended purpose. Even when the cord remains intact, you'll notice it has a disturbing tendency to act as a ball bearing when you least expect it—say, on a granite slab.

Oh, the fun you'll have—especially if you happen to be in climbing country. No, scree gaiters seem to have been designed primarily as instruments of mental torment: you'll curse them when you've got them, and you'll curse them when you don't. I am delighted to report, however, than an intrepid Arizona ultrarunner has taken it upon herself to fix this untenable dilemma.

Xy Weiss began "adding sass" to the trails in 2014, making gaiters for herself and her friends. Word caught on, and now you can get Dirty Girl Gaiters for yourself. They are made of light, stretchy lycra, they seal nicely at the ankle with no fuss, and they don't use a cord or runner of any kind to hold them in place. How do they stay where they're supposed to stay?

Ok, don't panic: they use Velcro. Granted this is unconventional, and it requires you to trim a small (included) Velcro strip and stick it to the back of your shoe, but it works brilliantly. No, these are not burly, full-sized gaiters for technical mountaineering, but for all else—and especially travel across sandy, dusty ground—they're brilliant.

You get to pick from virtually hundreds of print choices, though of course I'm sure that's of no interest whatsoever, because, like me, you don't care one whit how you look, even if looking good in your new gaiters means random strange hiker-women will compliment you (you can just scowl and mutter "Dirty Girl" like I do).

Anyhow: Dirty Girl Gaiters! Homemade in the USA "by Goddesses". And they work. What more do you need? Highly recommended.

About SierraDescents

When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

Pray for snow.