Tuesday, July 13, 2010

FSTPKR doesn't walk anywhere without Dirty Girl Gaiters


I have been using Dirty Girl Gaiters since 2007.  Be careful typing this one into Google, might get some nasty results.  These simple, straightforward gaiters are really works of art both in design and color.

I cannot remember where I found out about Dirty Girl Gaiters, but I was pretty much sold on them instantly when I saw the prints available.  Currently Dirty Girl Gaiters is out until July 27th, but there are usually over 20 prints available.  If you see a print you really like I recommend getting several.  Dirty Girl definitely sells out and I am always kicking myself when I can’t get a favorite print again (like the little tropical islands on a black background).  There are also solids available, but honestly that defeats the purpose of purchasing these gaiters.  I can attest to the fact that these gaiters draw lots of attention on trail.  Thru hikers, day hikers and folks in town all dig them and comment on them.  Funniest thing I have had someone say, “Nice spats!”  Although, “Nice dust covers!” had me laughing for a few miles.  Flair is all important for the long distance walker.  Dirty Girl Gaiters take trail flair to a new level.  I once saw a post from someone on a forum saying that Dirty Girl Gaiters are for women and Joe Trail Dude Gaiters are for men.  Not so, a quick perusal of some of Dirty Girl Gaiters photos shows plenty of men wearing the gaiters.  Live a little.

On the PCT in 2006
The design is simple.  These gaiters are made from 4 way stretch spandex.  I once thought I could do a knock off with some fabric from the warehouse where I work.  I thought it would be possible to use a more durable fabric as the ankles wear out on the Dirty Girls after about 500 miles.  The reason my more durable fabric didn’t cut it was that it sagged in rain or mud.  No good.  The more durable fabric was hotter too, so this didn’t cut it either.  What I have found for a work around on the wear on the ankles is to use two patches of duct tape.  One on the inside and one on the outside.  This will get you into the 700 mile range on a pair of these.  They have a shape that is hard to replicate though.  I would say Dirty Girl Gaiters has this down to a science.  If you choose to put in an order for these I would ask for the hiker length.  Dirty Girl now makes the gaiters in a shorter runner length, but the hiker will benefit from the added coverage of the hiker length.  All you do is in check out on the DG website put in a little message to Xy (Chrissy Weiss) asking for the hiker length.  The gaiter has a little hook up towards the toe of the gaiter which is super functional and has never come off.  I have used several big name brand gaiters and have actually had to take a rock and flatten the lace hook as they won’t stay on.  Not so with Dirty Girl Gaiters.  My current favorite trail shoe has a gaiter hook so it works even better, but if you don’t have one the lace hook on these gaiters will stay put on your shoe lace.  The back of the gaiter has a hook and loop tab stitched to it.  The gaiter secures to the back of your shoe with a self adhesive Velcro strip.  To put these gaiters on you put them on first and slid them up above your ankles.  Then you put on your socks and shoes.  Pull the gaiter back down into place over your ankles and reach the hook forward onto your lace or gaiter hook if you have one.  Now you are ready to rock!

Dirty Girl Gaiters
A tip on the self adhesive Velcro strip and attaching it to your shoe.  Basically I like to do this when the shoe is brand new.  If your shoe isn’t new I would take a damp cloth and clean the back of the shoe as best as a possible.  Any dust under the strip makes it likely to come off.  One mistake I made when first using these was putting a huge strip on the back of the shoe.  Not necessary.  What I do now is a turn the self adhesive Velcro strip vertical and count five lines of the hook and loop and then cut here.  This is super tiny, but more is unnecessary in my experience.  Another tip on getting the most out of this tab is to kind of peel from side to side when undoing the gaiter.  I also reach down and kind of hold the self adhesive Velcro tab in place.  I usually can get thru the life of the shoe with the tab in place if I am careful.  However if it does come undone I carry spare self adhesive Velcro in my first aid kit and replace as necessary.

These gaiters will stay on in all but deep snow when a hiker is post holing.  These gaiters weren’t designed with snow travel in mind.  They do stay on in river crossings, mud, rain and definitely keep debris out.  They handle all the dirty stuff you can throw at them in style.  I like to throw mine in the laundry in town and dry them too.  I find this brings them back to shape if they get stretched out on the trail.  I can even launder them with the duct tape on them without any issues.  I have never had one come unstitched or have the lace hook or Velcro tab come undone.  They are solid until the ankles can’t give anymore.

Photo Courtesy of Tyler Roemer Photography
How do they feel on?  I can’t even really tell they are there until someone remarks on the crazy prints.  People definitely get fired up over them.  That is why I try to get the wildest colors Xy makes.  She pretty much has a design for everybody and for the folks not comfortable with the wild prints she makes solids.  There are 3 components which cause blisters on the feet: moisture, abrasives and heat.  If we can take a couple of these out of the equation we are well on our way to avoiding blisters.  I manage moisture through breathable mesh trail runners, moisture wicking socks, cleaning my feet regularly and switching socks regularly.  These help manage heat as well.  I avoid abrasives by wearing Dirty Girl Gaiters.  I am like the Princess and the Pea when it comes to a twig or rock in my shoe.  I can go 2,700 miles and never get anything in my shoe with the help of Dirty Girl Gaiters.  I know many people can walk without them, but I am not one of those folks.  I don’t like to waist time all day stopping to dump rocks and dust out of my shoes.  Honestly with the shoes I was using last summer on the PCT and these gaiters only my heals would be dirty.  My toes and all the way back to my arch would be clean.  This is amazing considering the volcanic ash that I walked through in Oregon.  This is especially important in the toes.  Between the toes can be a problem area for me and Dirty Girl Gaiters helps avoid this issue.

2 comments:

  1. I think 'trail flair' should be a new metric of lightweight gear. 'How much does it weigh?' can be followed by 'Yeah, but does it have flair?'

    Glad you included that in your review!

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  2. I agree man. I have a new flair item I am adding this year and that is the cowboy wild rag. I usually wear a Mexican flag bandana under my hat to shade my neck, but I kept eyeballing the cowboy scarves as they are silk. They are also twice the size of a normal bandana. I ended up with a real nice paisley print. I can wear it many different ways. On my neck, under my hat, and as a headband. We will see if it lasts longer being silk and if I get any cowboy cred with the cowboys in ID.

    krudmeister

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