Which Kahtoola Gaiter is Right for You?

Which Kahtoola Gaiter is Right for You?

Our gaiters come in a variety of styles and materials—let’s find the best fit for your adventure!

Here at Kahtoola, we love gaiters. Once confined to the legs of mountaineers and arctic explorers, gaiters are now proving their worth for a wide range of activities—winter or summer. They keep shoes and boots free and clear of rocks, dirt, snow and water, and they also help in other ways, like keeping laces in check. In short, if your adventures include moving on foot, gaiters can help you stay comfortable and perform better. But a one-size-fits-all solution just won’t provide the best experience. 

Traditional gaiters have worked well for mountaineers and arctic explorers, but achieving the best performance and comfort requires using the right tool for the job. So, in an effort to help as many adventurers as possible enjoy their benefits, we’ve designed a line of high-performance gaiters with personalities to suit a range of activity styles. Whether you’re a trail runner, a hiker, a backpacker or love getting out into the backcountry on foot in other ways, one of our gaiters is ready to help you leave it all on the trail.

A Few Similarities

Before we get into the differences between our gaiters, it’s important to point out what they have in common. In our quest to modernize gaiters, the Kahtoola design team came up with three important innovations that are part of each gaiter in our line.

  1. 3D Performance Fit – The fit is strategically tensioned and allows the gaiter fabric to extend low on the footwear. This creates a low-profile fit that keeps the gaiter firmly in place so it can more effectively repel snow, moisture, dust, dirt and other debris.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  2. Side Zipper Closure – A zipper eliminates fumbling around with an awkward velcro closure—like those found on traditional gaiters—and makes putting on and taking off our gaiters a breeze. Positioning the zipper at the side of the gaiter, rather than the front, makes it all but unnoticeable when in use.                                                                                                                                                                                            
  3. Custom-Designed Instep Strap – Made from ultra-tough thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), our unique, durable instep strap is lightweight, low profile and has a life expectancy of over 1000 miles.

For a more in-depth discussion on these features and how they improve the gaiter experience, check out our blog, “Gaiters for the 21st Century—What Makes Ours so Special?”.


Kahtoola gaiter lineup. From left: NAVAgaiter GTX, LEVAgaiter Tall & Mid GTX, INSTAgaiter Mid & Low.


A Gaiter for Every Adventure

Now that we know what they have in common, let’s get into the real reason you’re here: what makes each gaiter unique, and how do they fit in with your adventures?

Different activities require different footwear and often have different requirements when it comes to breathability, water repellency and weight. For example, high-output activities will call for breathability—and often a lightweight gaiter and footwear, whereas prolonged use in heavy precipitation, or winter conditions, may call for heavier footwear and a gaiter that is very water resistant or even waterproof. 

Using a range of different materials, we’ve been able to tailor our gaiters to different styles of activity, so you get the best performance in any situation.

Each gaiter has a personality and purpose all its own! Let’s take a closer look…

Photo: Coni Flores | New Zealand

Travel Farther, Faster With INSTAgaiter™

INSTAgaiter is our lightest-weight, most breathable gaiter. It excels at high-output activities like trail running and light hiking where full range of motion is key and off-trail travel and precipitation are expected to be minimal.

The Highlights

INSTAgaiters are constructed using a stretch-woven nylon/polyurethane blend fabric. This material allows the gaiter to breathe easily during elevated activity levels, while keeping dirt and debris out. It’s also very lightweight, so you’ll hardly notice you’re wearing them. The fabric is finished with a DWR coating, so it can repel small amounts of water like splashes and intermittent rain showers. If it does become saturated, the fabric is very quick drying.

Ideal Footwear Pairings

In order to take advantage of their light weight, exceptional breathability and range of motion, we recommend wearing INSTAgaiters over lightweight, flexible footwear, such as trail running or hiking shoes. INSTAgaiters are available in low and mid heights.

Photo: Coni Flores | New Zealand

Lighten Up With LEVAgaiter™

LEVAgaiter is the lightest Gore-Tex gaiter on the market. It’s breathable, very protective and ultra lightweight. This versatile gaiter is great for winter activities like snowshoeing or where footwear traction is needed and for summer activities like day hiking and backpacking in wet climates. 

The Highlights

Because they’re constructed using three-layer Gore-Tex, LEVAgaiters are at the same time light, waterproof, windproof and breathable. This Gore-Tex construction allows the gaiters to be light and packable enough to carry with you “just in case”, but protective enough to repel anything the trail, or mother nature, can throw at them. A YKK Aquaguard® zipper complements the Gore-Tex by keeping moisture from sneaking in through the closure.

Ideal Footwear Pairings

LEVAgaiters are a versatile and protective gaiter. We recommend wearing them with equally versatile and protective footwear such as waterproof hiking shoes or boots. They’re available in both mid (LEVAgaiters are the only mid-height GORE-TEX gaiters on the market) and tall heights. 

Photo: Coni Flores | New Zealand

NAVAgaiter™—Go the Distance, and Then Some!

NAVAgaiter is our burliest gaiter. It pairs well with footwear traction or hiking crampons and is ideally suited for use in full-on winter conditions, or during the summer months in terrain where snow and ice can linger—think high in the alpine!

The Highlights

NAVAgaiters are constructed with high-tenacity ballistic nylon lowers—around the foot and ankle—and three-layer Gore-Tex (with polyester face fabric) uppers. The ballistic nylon is fully waterproof and windproof and provides the durability needed to stand up to off trail use and strikes from footwear traction or hiking crampons. Gore-Tex uppers increase mobility, comfort and breathability and seal out water and wind, all while reducing weight. Like LEVAgaiters, NAVAgaiters feature a YKK Aquaguard® zipper to keep moisture out of the closure.

Ideal Footwear Pairings

While NAVAgaiters may resemble a traditional gaiter, they’re meant to be worn over flexible footwear, not hard shell mountaineering boots. And because they perform best in wet, frozen conditions, we recommend wearing them with winter boots or robust hiking shoes or boots. Due to their focus on challenging winter conditions, NAVAgaiters are only available in one height: tall.

A Note on Gaiter Heights

With the exception of NAVAgaiter (only available in tall), our gaiters are available in two of three different height options: low, mid and tall. Choosing the right height largely comes down to personal preference, but here a couple of tips to help with your selection:

  1. Choosing gaiter height based on your footwear. Our low-cut gaiters fit very well over low-cut footwear like trail running or hiking shoes, while our mid-height gaiters will cover higher footwear such mid-height  hiking boots or shoes that have more ankle support. And finally, our tall gaiters will work well with taller footwear like winter boots. For a low- profile, comfortable fit, gaiter heights can be matched closely to the height of your footwear. However, if you plan to use your gaiters with varying heights of footwear, it’s best to match the gaiter height to the tallest pair.                                                                                                                                                         
  2. Choosing gaiter height based on conditions. All Kahtoola gaiters work very well for keeping out dust, dirt and debris, but as the gaiter height increases so does the coverage. The taller the gaiter, the better they will repel things like snow and rain and keep mud off of your lower legs, which will keep you more comfortable. If you’re looking for a gaiter that’s at home in the widest range of conditions, going taller is your best bet. 

Why Settle for Anything Less?

We believe gaiters provide valuable protection year-round. Using a variety of materials, heights and some core design innovations, each pair in our lineup unlocks a level of performance, ease of use and comfort that traditional gaiters can’t. We have a gaiter for every adventure, so why settle for anything less?