Whiteburn's Wanderings

One man's wanderings backpacking around Scotland plus the odd digression

Trail Shoe Gaiters

Wearing gaiters (or as the wife describes them ‘spats’) with trail shoes is a pretty good way of minimising muck (mud, sand, grit, twigs, etc) from getting inside the shoe & tearing your socks (& feet) up.

I’ve tried quite a few types & styles over the years & for me they all have differing advantages/ disadvantages.

The traditional UK style of ankle gaiters, generally worn with boots, constructed from waterproof cordura or breathable fabric are pretty good at keeping the muck out providing they’re sized correctly.


They’re pretty robust, don’t absorb water & encompassing the trousers do help stop the pickup of ticks. The only gripes I have with these is the under-shoe strap which I’ve found to wear out quicker with shoes than boots making them unsuitable for longer trips (yes you could repair with cord but this lasts even less) & in sunnier climes I find them too warm.

The other common style of gaiters are constructed from stretchy lycra material. The Inov8 ‘Debris Gaiters’ have proven pretty robust surviving lots of heather bashing.


The Inov8’s are secured with a boot hook at the toe & a thin ‘rubber’ cord under the foot, after going through 3 pair of the rubber cords in short order I gave up & stitched Velcro on the heel of the gaiter & glued some on the shoes, the mod worked well. The downside of the Inov8’s for me was that they’re quite thick material holding a lot of water, slow to dry & again a bit warm for sunny climes.

The Dirty Girl’ gaiters are the same design as my modified Inov8’s but made from a much lighter material.


They’re secured to the shoes with a light wire sew on hook at the toe & Velcro at the heel, in my experience the gaiter is really too light for off trail use (e.g. heather bashing), apart from wear & tear the material is stretchy enough to allow it to be pushed up the shoe sides allowing debris into the shoe. They are very good on maintained trails & for warm weather, I found ideal for the Pyrenees; they also come in lots of colours/ patterns for the trail fashion conscious.

I got to the point of needing replacements (the Inov8’s had lost all their stretch & the stitching on the Dirty Girls was very worn) when it struck me, why not just make your own & get precisely what I wanted? Basically, a similar design to the Dirty Girls but tougher materials to increase their survivability off trail.

The MYO Gaiter

The material chosen was a Heavy weight 2 way stretch poly lycra material which at 300g/m2 sounded heavy but turned out to be about right.

For the heel attachment I decided to go with the self adhesive 3M Dual Lock rather than traditional hook & loop fastening. The thought was that the stronger connection would reduce the possibility of displacement & that it would be less prone to fouling.


For the toe attachment I chose to use ITW pack hooks as they’re very robust & I had a few in the spares box, they did need modifying to allow easier placement on/ off the laces (they’re really designed to be quite secure on 3mm shock cord) but it only took a minute with some course sand paper.


Tools needed:

Sewing machine with zigzag setting & ball point needle; the zigzag stitching allows the material to stretch without tearing the material or breaking stitches.

I used an Overlocker (Serger) for the closing seam but I’ll included possible ideas for those who don’t have access to one.

Both were loaded with Coats Moon thread.

The usual scissors, etc.

The pattern:

I developed the pattern by a bit of trial & a couple of errors, the sizing below is good for my size 40 (EU) shoes so others will have to adjust both the height & length.


Simple enough to draw out & add 2cm strips at top & bottom to provide a stiffer cuff.



Now it’s the first time I worked with such a stretchy material & in doing so I learnt a few things which hopefully I can pass on.

Cut out a simple rectangle the height of your pattern; unlike woven fabric jersey doesn’t fray, a plus. The pattern should be orientated across the fabric (weft) which is the stretchy-est.


Turn over the cuffs top & bottom (2cm) & stitch down along the edge with a zigzag; my machine doesn’t have adjustable foot pressure so I found it easier to stitch from the centre to the edges to minimise the puckering; those with adjustment should minimise the pressure & hence tendency to pucker.


Fold fabric in half, pin together & cut to final profile


Overlock the front seam; this was my first 3 thread flat seam & despite numerous practice attempts using scraps it’s not quite as flat as I wished (pulling across the seam still leaves a slight hump) but I reckon perfectly serviceable.


A possible alternative to using an Overlocker would be to stitch with a wide zigzag having the fabric edges butted tightly together or sewing a 10-12mm elastic binding across the seam line.

Now’s a good time to see if the first one fits!

Stitch in place a piece of 25mm grosgrain at the heel.


Apply a couple of coats of impact adhesive to the grosgrain, allow each coat to fully dry & then add the Dual Lock; the small pull tab is very handy to disengage the Dual lock which is quite strong.


It’s a simple matter of adding the pack hooks with a piece of grosgrain to the toe.


While the finish may not be up to commercial quality they’ll work.


The only possible addition may be either some adhesive on the front stitching, to aid longevity, or perhaps a 10mm elastic binding over the top (maybe on the next pair?)


3 comments on “Trail Shoe Gaiters

  1. AlanR
    October 28, 2016

    Nice job. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Kirsten
    October 29, 2016

    Very helpful, thanks!

    • Paul Atkinson
      October 29, 2016

      Thanks Alan & Kirsten, the second (spare) pair went a lot easier & faster than the first.

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This entry was posted on October 28, 2016 by in MYOG and tagged .

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