DIY Simple but Very Effective Hiking Gaiters
Unfortunately, they are not that popular among hikers, nor do many preppers consider adding them to their list of bug-out supplies. However, they are invaluable in the field, and you can make your own pair easily with some basic items
1 old t-shirt
2 rolls of duct tape
2 heavy-duty zipper strips
Sewing machine oil
The first step is to cut the t-shirt lengthwise down the middle, in a straight line through the front and back. You also want to cut along the top seam along each of the sleeves. This will serve as the blanket that drapes over your shoes or boots later. The next step is to form the gaiters to fit your leg and feet in order to create a customized fit.
Place the t-shirt over your calf, and make sure that the non-cut portion of the sleeve is resting over your foot. The flaps should drape around your shoe or boot. The next step is to take a few strips of duct tape and create temporary straps to hold the sides of the t-shirt in place around your leg. Starting at the foot, place strips of tape over the fabric perpendicular to the angle of your foot. Make sure the strips overlap to eliminate any gaps where moisture or debris can enter, and smooth out the edges.
Keep working your way up and around the ankle and leg. Make sure that you are making horizontal strips instead of vertical ones because they will be less likely to peel away later. Try to make the strips long enough to cover the circumference of your leg in one piece as well. Don’t worry about taping the bottom of your feet, but you want to cover the top of the shoe or boot until it reaches about halfway to your toes.
The next step is to trim away the tape and fabric over your foot. Make a circular cut so that the material rests against the top portion of the footwear and angles down to where the soles meet the heel. The gaiters should be tight-fitting but not to the point where they constrict and cause discomfort. You also want them loose enough to wrap around your pant legs without putting too much stress on the zipper, which you will fashion in the next step.
Attaching the Zipper
Take the ruler and marker and draw a straight line from the top to the bottom of each gaiter. Make the line centered along the middle of the outer side of each leg. Cut with the scissors. Remove each gaiter and spread them on the floor with the inside facing up. Trim the material and clean up the edges before placing some more tape in vertical strips along the edges. Fold them inward in order to create seams.
Place and center the zipper strips over each side of the cut line on the material, and make sure the zippers are facing out. Take your straight pins and coat the edges with a Q-tip that is soaked with oil. This will make them easier to penetrate through the tape and t-shirt. Place the pins horizontally along the material in the direction of the zipper so they lie flat, weaving them in and out once. Place new pins every couple of inches apart about an inch inside of the seam. This will hold the zipper in place while you sew. Now, all you need to do is sew the zippers on a line that is about ¼ inch from the edge of the material.
You will also need to apply oil repeatedly to the sewing needle with a Q-tip as you work your way down the gaiter. This will prevent the needle from sticking to the adhesive on the tape and jamming the machine.
Attaching the Flap
You want to fashion an overlapping flap to protect the zipper from the elements as you are hiking as well. Cut a strip of tape that matches the length of the zipper. Fold it over so the tape sticks to itself, but leave ½ inch edge of adhesive exposed. Attach the exposed adhesive to a point before the inner edge of one of the zippers. It’s okay to have some of the adhesive cover the zippers as it will help to secure it in place. This attachment will provide a flap that sticks out over the zipper. However, you may need to replace it from time to time as the adhesion weakens.
Feel free to play around with different variations to this trick as they come to mind in order to make it work best for you. This simple project can be worth its weight in gold as you hike in the wilderness. Try it for yourself, and see why this is one accessory that you never want to leave home without.