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Walking Safari Kit: Gaiters

Author: Lutz Otto

February 2017


Letting you in a on a top-tip, we almost always wear our gaiters whilst on a walking safari. Folk that don't know their purpose often giggle when they first see them, they are not the most stylish fashion accessory, BUT then wish for them an hour into trail.


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So why is this style/ design of gaiter loved on our African savanna and the Australian outback?


Depending on the season, grass seeds can literally destroy hiking socks, and cause huge irritation, in a matter of hours. Gaiters are absolutely brilliant at keeping grass seeds and burs off our socks, as well as sand, etc. out of your boots. If you own a pair, within a very short time, you will come to love them and we recommend them highly.



So lets get straight into it. What are the characteristics of a “classic bush gaiter”?


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For our purposes, the best gaiters are:

  • Constructed of a tough denim type material. This is fast drying, light weight, machine washable and highly breathable [they do not get excessively hot or sweaty]. This type of material is also not noisy, which his is particularly important when we are stealthily approaching animals to view them without disturbance.


  • Have an elasticated top which you pull over your feet before putting on your boots/ shoes. This simple design is absolutely great. For our American clients we suggest the Boyt safari gaiter and for our South African clients we suggest the Rogue safari gaiter [see the picture].


  • Not made from a heavy weight canvas material. These are uncomfortable and sweaty - Overly sweaty feet create a different set of problems that becomes accentuated when you are out on your feet for a couple of days. Canvas gaiters are also noisy, which chases away the animals we are trying to observe without intruding.


  • Do not have a velcro closure at the back. These closures cause chaffing problems for many people. If you would like the ability to easily open your gaiter, zips are less rigid and thus do not cause the same problems. The reason for using these types of closing mechanisms, is that it easier to put them on/ take them off without taking your shoes off. In environments different to the bush, where weather conditions and terrain considerations are important, this is very useful.


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With regards other variations of gaiter.


  • Leather is often used in gaiters as it breathes, is robust and looks better. Remember that you cannot just be thrown into the wash, and if you want to keep them in good shape you must feed them with leather food. When they get wet, from either dew or rain, they take a long time to dry - Consequently your socks, boots and feet will stay wet too.


  • The traditional hiking, or mountaineering gaiters [both the short and/ or long designs], made of gortex, or a similar material, are primarily focused on keeping moisture, or snow, out of boots. This is important to keep frost bite, and foot rot, at bay. We find though that they are too hot and sweaty for use in the bush, and further this the materials are easily destroyed by the vegetation we encounter.


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  • The gaiters used by trail runners work very well, however based on the type of material used, they have very low durability when walking off path.


  • Gaiters used by snake catchers, are for exactly that ,and are of no use to us.


Gaiters form part of the "happy feet" equation


Good gaiters are close friends with clean feet, good socks and appropriate footwear. Healthy feet are critical to enjoying longer walks, wilderness trails and backpacking safaris. Our article on boots is informative, and a very worthwhile read.


Choose right, look after your feet, focus on the incredible experience and have fun. We hope that working through this has helped. We look forward to spending time with you, and creating active, exciting, immersive, connective, safe and impactful experiences, that will result in your eagerly planning your next adventure on your journey home.


About this articles author: 🐾 Lutz Otto is the founder of Spirited Adventures and Consulting. He is a safari trails guide, a mountain guide, coach and leadership consultant. You can explore his bio here.


Copyright Spirited Adventures & Consulting. All rights reserved.

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