Sea To Summit Quagmire Canvas Gaiters
In one of those beautiful moments where time doesn't seem to exist I was exploring a button grass plain in Tasmania when I spotted a large black tiger snake. He was baking in the sun trying to warm up. Both shocked I resisted the urge to jump back and just stood still. In a split second I did a quick mental risk assessment and was glad for the extra protection that gaiters offered me in this situation.
My uses for Gaiters
Gaiters are helpful in adventurous situations more than just keeping grass seeds out of your socks.
Mud may be used to clean your wife's face when she heads to the beautician but my legs don't really need a mud bath. Gaiters help keep deep mud out of the tops of your shoes and socks keeping your feet dry (well at least dryer depending on your choice of footwear). For most hikes in Tasmania I highly recommend wearing gaiters to help keep the mud out.
Scrub can easily scratch you legs like a feral cat or shred your hiking pants. Thorny bushes and most of the Aussie scrub are great at this. Canvas gaiters give you line of defence especially helpful with walking off track.
Weather protection is one of the least known uses for gaiters but simply put there's nothing like walking in shorts and gaiters in all but winter (snow) conditions. Whether it's protecting your legs from wind, sun or rain I like my gaiters. However be careful when walking through long wet grass that your gaiters don't just funnel the water down your legs and into your socks.
Snow is never really kept out of your boots by those cuffs at the bottom of your over pants. They just don't work too well. Gaiters are the perfect way to transition from shoes/boots to over pants and keep the snow out.
Snakes can hopefully be kept at bay. The theory (though fortunately untested by me) is that a venomous snake which strikes will only pierce the canvas and release it's venom inside the canvas but outside your skin. Snakes with smaller fangs may not being able to pierce the tightly woven canvas.
Canvas over breathable
Ok so those fancy eVent or Gore Tex gaiters are easy for a young pimple faced teenager to sell to you. They're more expensive and they breath so they must be better right? Well no that's not right. If you only want to use them in snow conditions go with the eVent ones (eVent is better that Gore Tex). But if you want something for use in other conditions go with the Canvas option. They'll wear a lot better and there are ways to help them to breath in warmer weather (see tips below).
High over low
Unless you want to mow your lawn then you want gaiters that come up just under your knee. This offers more protection for minimal weight and heat retention.
Thin Canvas over light nylon or heavy canvas
The Sea to Summit quagmire's have a lighter canvas compared to my previous Wilderness Equipment gaiters (which lasted 14 years). Generally I want my kit to be lighter so I'm trying these out now. I'm pretty sure they'll do well especially due to the extra protection on the inside of ankles where my previous gaiters wore our due to rubbing.
Thick rubber underfoot strap over bungee cord
I've found that bungee cord just doesn't last under your foot. When stepping on rocks it get cut and breaks very quickly. I've been using some 3 mm spectra line previously, but the strap is definitely a good move forward.
Using with minimalist footwear
Finding gaiters to fit my normal hiking shoes (innov-8 X-talon 190's) is hard. Previously my WE gaiters didn't fit well as the bottom section was too large causing the back of the gaiter to fall over the back. With the quagmire gaiter I will be able to tighten the strap and pull the gaiter down on to of the shoe but because the foot section is smaller it won't fall off the back. I may have to modify the front hook which attaches to the laces and move it back up into the hook and loop.
- Make sure your gaiters are tight over the shoe to prevent mud/snow etc from coming up from the bottom
- Leave the top open when it's not raining for extra ventilation
- For quick access in the morning you can leave you gaiters attached to you boots when you take them off