As I found myself more on the trail and less on the roads. I notice some trail runners wearing what looked to be some sort of cloth covering their shoes and had no clue what it was or what it was for… So I started asking some of my ultra running friends and learned about Gaiters.
What are Gaiters and why are they around?
Well to quote Sarah Lavender Smith, “the concept behind trail-running gaiters is simple: attach a piece of fabric over the opening of your shoe to prevent sand, dirt and small rocks from getting in and causing hot spots and blisters. Like Buffs or compression sleeves, gaiters are not essential, but they can add a good measure of comfort and protection.”
There are many places that sell gaiters and there are even how-to’s online so you can make your own. I decided to purchase a pair and, luckily, noticed that Dirty Girl Gaiters was sponsoring an upcoming Ultra that I had signed up for. I like to support small businesses and this was a chance to see what an independently-owned sponsor had to offer. I looked through their catalog and picked out the Slow Lane pattern for my first pair. I ordered a pair that arrived in a few days and I couldn’t wait to try them out. I was Signed up to run Chino Hills Trail Series: Half Marathon that weekend, so it would be the perfect race to try them out.
Attaching Gaiters to my shoes:
After reading the directions I noticed that you need to setup the Velcro to the back of my shoes 12-24hrs before using them for the first time. So Thursday night before my race I sat down to adhere the Velcro.
First I needed to clean the heel of my shoes to make sure the Velcro would adhere properly.
- Once cleaned the area, I cut 2 inch strips of Velcro per shoe (Dirty Girl gives you a long strip of Velcro so that you can setup them up on multiple shoes. Great idea!).
- I peeled the back off the Velcro and place the sticky side right at the bottom of the heel of my shoe (on the fabric just above the midsole – see image below).
- Then on race day I place my foot thru the gaiter letting it rest on my calf. I then put on my shoe as normal.
- Once shoe was on I pulled down the gaiter and attached it to the Velcro and slide the hook onto my front lace (see image below).
Performance on the trail:
First off I just want to say how much I love Gaiters. Not only do they keep dirt, small rocks, and other debris out of my shoes, I get an added bonus: I’m a person that likes my laces tucked into my shoe and the gaiters prevent them from coming out.
On the trail the Dirty Girl Gaiters did exactly what they where suppose to. I didn’t even have to think about them at all. Although at every aid station I did double check to make sure everything was still in place. Velcro held up great and the hook worked like a charm. It’s always great when you get a product that just works like it should.
To sum it up you might ask, “how likely are you recommend these gaiters to a friend?” I would recommend them in a blink of an eye. These gaiters not only performed as advertised, but were comfortable, lightweight and kept my laces tucked away! Thank you Dirty Girl Gaiters for making one top notch product.
Here are some more photos of my gaiters in action: