Water­proof socks or gaiters?

Trail (UK) - - KNOW HOW - Neil Gibson, via email GT says

QWhen would water­proof socks be more ap­pro­pri­ate to wear than gaiters, and vice versa?

Gaiters are the most com­mon lower leg pro­tec­tion used by hill­walk­ers, and their ben­e­fit is they keep mud, grit and other de­bris from en­ter­ing the top of the boot and pre­vent your trousers from get­ting muddy or torn. They don’t gen­er­ally keep all the wa­ter out of your boots though, so when cross­ing a river, for ex­am­ple, you can ex­pect wa­ter to get into your boots.

Gaiters are, how­ever, ideal for walk­ing through bracken, long grass, mud and snow, as they gen­er­ally pro­vide enough pro­tec­tion for your feet and lower legs. There is one gaiter, the Berghaus Yeti, that does to­tally en­close the boot so no wa­ter can get in, but fit­ting them can be very dif­fi­cult and they are not com­pat­i­ble with all boot de­signs. The main draw­back of all gaiters is they tend to be­come a lit­tle sweaty around the calf of the leg.

Water­proof socks keep your feet to­tally dry, so long as wa­ter can­not get into the top of them. This makes them a great choice in shal­low, wet, boggy ground if you think wa­ter is go­ing to pen­e­trate your boots or shoes. They work very well with low-cut trail shoes, as even with gaiters wa­ter tends to get into these quite eas­ily. The ben­e­fit of water­proof socks is your calves don’t get as sweaty as they would with gaiters, but they are very slightly sweatier than a standard non-water­proof sock.

The three-legged race was miss­ing just one thing...

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