How to Make Trail Running Gaiters

Welcome to this guide on how to make trail running gaiters – the perfect addition to your trail running gear collection! As an avid runner myself, I know how frustrating it can be to constantly have debris and mud caked on your running shoes or snow getting into your socks during a winter trail run. That’s where gaiters come in – they’re designed to keep all that unwanted stuff out, so you can focus on your run. In this guide, we’ll be covering everything you need to know to make your own gaiters, from choosing the right materials to testing them out on the trail. Plus, we’ll be sharing some recommendations for reputable brands like Joe Nimble, Outdoor Research, and Altra Trail, as well as discussing different types of gaiters, such as ankle gaiters, boot gaiters, waterproof gaiters, and even desert gaiters. So, grab your sewing kit and let’s get started!

How to Make Trail Running Gaiters

Materials Needed

As an experienced trail runner, I’ve found that the right materials can make all the difference in the performance and comfort of my gear. By investing in high-quality materials like those from Outdoor Research, Altra Trail, or other reputable brands, you can ensure that your gaiters will last for many runs to come.

To make your own trail running gaiters, you’ll need a few basic materials. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • Fabric
  • Thread
  • Elastic
  • Hook-and-Loop Fasteners
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Machine or Needle and Thread
  • Pins
  • Measuring Tape

Fabric – The fabric you choose will depend on the type of trail running you plan on doing. For example, if you’re running in snowy conditions, you’ll want a waterproof and breathable fabric like Gore-Tex. Alternatively, if you’re running in hot and dry conditions, you may want a lightweight, breathable material like nylon. It’s important to choose a fabric that is both durable and breathable, so your gaiters can withstand wear and tear while still allowing your skin to breathe.

Thread – You’ll want to use a strong thread that won’t break or come loose during your run. Polyester thread is a good option, as it is both strong and lightweight.

Elastic – Elastic is used to hold the gaiters securely in place. Look for a strong, wide elastic that will stay in place and won’t dig into your skin.

Hook-and-Loop Fasteners – You’ll need hook-and-loop fasteners (like Velcro) to attach your gaiters to your running shoes. Look for a strong, durable fastener that won’t come undone during your run.

Scissors – You’ll need a good pair of fabric scissors to cut your fabric to size.

Sewing Machine or Needle and Thread – Depending on your sewing skills, you can either use a sewing machine or needle and thread to sew your gaiters together.

Pins – You’ll want to use pins to hold your fabric in place while you sew.

Measuring Tape – A measuring tape will help you measure your fabric and elastic to the correct size.

Trail running gaiters

Design Considerations

Designing gaiters that fit well is essential to ensure that they function properly and provide the necessary protection for trail running. Poorly fitting gaiters can cause discomfort and may even lead to blisters or other injuries. Therefore, it’s important to consider the following design factors to create the best trail running gaiters.

To ensure a good fit, it’s essential to measure your legs and feet accurately. Start by measuring the circumference of your calf and ankle, as this will determine the size of the gaiter. It’s also important to measure the length of your leg from the ankle to the top of the calf, as this will determine the height of the gaiter.

When designing gaiters, there are various design options to consider, including:

  1. Hook and loop closures: These closures allow for easy on and off and can be adjusted to fit different leg sizes.
  2. Elastic cuffs: Elastic cuffs provide a secure fit and are ideal for keeping debris out of the gaiter.
  3. Zipper closures: Zippers provide a secure closure and can be used for easy on and off.
  4. Breathable fabrics: Breathable fabrics such as Gore-Tex are ideal for trail running gaiters as they allow for airflow while keeping out water and debris.
  5. Lightweight materials: Lightweight materials such as nylon or polyester are ideal for trail running gaiters as they won’t weigh you down.
  6. Ankle gaiters: Ankle gaiters are designed to fit snugly around the ankle and are ideal for keeping debris out of your shoes.
  7. Boot gaiters: Boot gaiters are designed to fit over your entire boot and provide protection from snow, water, and debris.

When selecting design options, focus on the specific needs of the trail runner. For example, a desert trail runner may require lightweight, breathable gaiters that provide protection from sand and debris. On the other hand, a snow runner may require heavier, waterproof gaiters that provide insulation from the cold.

Zipper Gaiters

Cutting the Fabric

Now that you have your design in mind, it’s time to cut the fabric. Before starting, it’s important to have a clear idea of the design and how you want the final product to look. You’ll need a good quality fabric, scissors, and a ruler or measuring tape.


Start by laying out your fabric on a flat surface, ensuring that it is free from any creases or wrinkles. If you’re using a pattern, make sure it’s pinned securely to the fabric. Use a ruler or measuring tape to mark out the dimensions of your design onto the fabric. Double-check your measurements to ensure accuracy.


When cutting the fabric, make sure use sharp scissors and to cut slowly and accurately. Take your time and follow the lines carefully. If you’re using a pattern, make sure to cut along the lines of the pattern.

One tip to ensure accurate cuts is to use a rotary cutter and cutting mat. This can make the process more efficient and precise, especially if you’re cutting multiple pieces of fabric.


After cutting out the main sections of your gaiters, you may also need to cut additional pieces for straps or fastenings. Take care to cut these pieces accurately as well, as any errors can affect the overall fit and function of the gaiters.

Sewing the Gaiters

Now that you have cut out the fabric pieces for your trail running gaiters, it’s time to start sewing.


Begin by pinning the front and back fabric pieces together, right sides facing each other. Sew along the sides and bottom edges, leaving the top edge open.


Next, fold the top edge over about 1 inch and sew it in place to create a casing for the elastic.


Cut a piece of elastic to the appropriate length for your ankle or calf, depending on where you want the gaiter to sit. Thread the elastic through the casing using a safety pin, and sew the two ends of the elastic together.


To create a secure fit around your shoe, attach a piece of velcro to the back of the gaiter. Make sure to sew the velcro onto the right side of the fabric, facing outward.


Finally, hem the bottom edge of the gaiter by folding it over twice and sewing it in place.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind while sewing your gaiters:

  • Use a heavy-duty thread to ensure that the gaiters will withstand wear and tear.
  • Take your time while sewing and double-check your measurements to ensure a good fit.
  • Use a sewing machine if you have one, as it will make the process faster and easier. However, if you don’t have a machine, sewing by hand is also an option.
  • Consider adding reinforcement patches to high-wear areas such as the ankle and heel to increase the durability of the gaiters.
  • If you’re new to sewing, practice on scrap fabric before starting on your gaiters.

Adding Finishing Touches

Final, we’ll cover the final steps to complete your trail running gaiters. These finishing touches are important for ensuring your gaiters are comfortable and effective.

Hemming the Bottom Edge:

The bottom edge of your gaiters will need to be hemmed. Fold the bottom edge over and sew it in place. This will give the gaiters a clean finish and prevent the fabric from fraying.

Adding Velcro or Snaps:

To keep the gaiters securely in place, you’ll need to add either Velcro or snaps to the top edge. Cut a strip of Velcro or attach the snaps to each side of the gaiter. Make sure they are evenly spaced and aligned so that they will fasten correctly.

Attaching Lace Hooks:

Lace hooks are small metal hooks that you can sew onto the bottom edge of your gaiters. These hooks will hold the gaiters securely in place on your running shoes, preventing them from slipping down.

Adding Reflective Tape:

If you plan on running at night or in low-light conditions, it’s a good idea to add reflective tape to your gaiters. This will make you more visible to drivers and other runners.

Testing the Fit:

Once your gaiters are complete, it’s important to test the fit. Put on your running shoes and gaiters and take a few steps to make sure they feel comfortable and secure. Make any necessary adjustments to the Velcro, snaps, or lace hooks to ensure a good fit.

Testing the Gaiters

To test the gaiters, put on your trail running shoes and the gaiters you have just made. Go outside and run on a trail or through the wilderness. Pay attention to how the gaiters feel and whether they stay in place or slip down. Also, check if they effectively keep debris out of your shoes.

If the gaiters feel comfortable and stay in place, you have successfully made a pair of trail running gaiters! If you notice any issues, go back and adjust the fit or make any necessary modifications.

Note that testing your gaiters is not a one-time event. You may need to make adjustments over time as you use them on different terrains and in different weather conditions. Don’t be afraid to make modifications as needed to ensure that your gaiters provide the protection and comfort you need on your trail runs.

Recommended Brands

While making your own gaiters can be a fun and rewarding DIY project, some runners may prefer to purchase gaiters that are designed and tested by professionals. Here are a few recommended brands to consider:

Outdoor Research – Outdoor Research is a brand that specializes in outdoor gear and apparel. They offer a variety of gaiters, including waterproof and breathable options. Their gaiters are known for their durability and quality, and are a great choice for trail runners who want gear that will last.

Altra Trail Gaiters – Altra is a popular brand among trail runners, known for their zero-drop shoes and other trail running gear. Their trail gaiters are designed to fit their shoes perfectly, and are made with durable materials that can withstand the rigors of off-road running.

Joe Nimble – Joe Nimble is a brand that focuses on minimalist footwear for trail running and other outdoor activities. They offer a variety of gaiters, including ankle and boot gaiters, that are designed to provide protection from debris and other hazards on the trail.

Black Diamond – Black Diamond is a brand that specializes in climbing and outdoor gear. They offer a range of gaiters that are suitable for trail running, including waterproof and breathable options. Their gaiters are known for their quality and durability, and are a great choice for runners who want gear that will perform well in a variety of conditions.


Are trail running gaiters worth it?

Trail running gaiters are definitely worth considering for anyone who spends a lot of time running or hiking on trails. They can help keep dirt, rocks, and other debris out of your shoes and socks, which can reduce the risk of blisters and other foot injuries. Additionally, gaiters can also help protect your ankles and lower legs from scratches, scrapes, and insect bites.

What material is best for hiking gaiters?

The best material for hiking gaiters depends on the specific use case and personal preferences. Some popular materials include nylon, Gore-Tex, and spandex, as they are durable, waterproof, and breathable. When choosing a material, it’s important to consider the climate and terrain you will be hiking in, as well as the level of protection and comfort you require.

What are the disadvantages of gaiters?

While trail running gaiters can be very beneficial, there are some potential drawbacks to consider. For one, some people may find them uncomfortable or restrictive, particularly if they are not fitted properly. Additionally, gaiters can add extra weight and bulk to your gear, which may be a concern for ultralight hikers. Finally, gaiters may not be necessary for all trail running or hiking activities, so it’s important to consider your individual needs before investing in a pair.

What is the difference between Gator and gaiter?

A “gator” (short for “alligator”) typically refers to a type of protective sleeve worn over a shoe or boot, while a “gaiter” is a similar type of garment worn over the lower leg, often to protect against the elements or debris. However, the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, and there is no hard and fast rule about which term to use.

Do gaiters go over or under pants?

Trail running and hiking gaiters typically go over the top of your shoes and are worn over your pants, in order to create a seal between your footwear and the gaiter. However, some gaiters are designed to be worn directly against the skin, in which case they may go under your pants. It’s important to check the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure a proper fit for maximum effectiveness.

Final thought

Trail running gaiters can be a valuable addition to your hiking gear. With the right materials and design, gaiters can protect your legs from dirt, debris, and moisture, making your outdoor adventure more comfortable. As an avid hiker myself, I highly recommend investing in a good pair of trail running gaiters. They have saved me from countless cuts and scrapes on the trail and have allowed me to enjoy my outdoor activities more comfortably. So, grab your materials and start creating your own custom gaiters today!

Photo of author
Ras Vaughan
When possible Ras and Kathy will post trail dispatches to their personal Facebook pages, their Team UltraPedestrian Facebook page, and their Instagram account. Also, video dispatches will be posted to YouTube channels. Follow them on : Youtube, Instargram
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