And, by “gaiters” I do not mean an odd spelling of gators (a.k.a. alligators). I mean “garments worn over the shoe and lower pants leg, and used primarily as personal protective equipment” (thank you, Wikipedia). They keep snow and mud and crap out of your boots and off your pants. Some would say, they extend short boots to be more like tall boots.
Why not just buy taller boots? Two reasons: First, I have ginormous calves. I always have. Even a s a child or when I was much thinner, I always had a hell of a time finding boots that fit around my calves. Mom cut notches in my rubber boots on several occasions. Second, I prefer shorter boots because I feel like I have better range of motion when not being constrained by tall boots. This is why I don’t even bother hunting down wide-calf boots (which are much easier to find these days). I love my current boots, which are only a few inches high. They are magnificent and incredibly comfortable. But, I get so much snow and mucky snow and other nonsense in them.
Nearly 20 years ago (oy, now I feel old), my brother got me some really fabulous gaiters from Mountain Equipment Co-op. They were snug back then and they don’t fit at all now. So, I lamented (on several occasions) about the fact that all of their gaiters seem to be designed for people with scrawny calves:
Well, it just so happens that I have a very awesome friend who works for Campers Village (a store I would gladly shop in everyday, if their Edmonton locations were a little more convenient to get to by bus). She saw my whining and my comments about the awesomeness of snow shoeing, and gave me gaiters for Christmas. Needless to say, I used the need to “test” them to take my canine cousins out for a play in the yard and scaled a few minor snow mounds. I was so excited that they fit – I didn’t even take off the tags before “testing” them.
The ones I have are by Trekmates (these ones, I think). They’re really comfy and have lots of room in the calf (enough that even I tighten the elastic cord at the top. If you like spending time in the snow, walk to work in the snow, or just hate getting snow in your shorter boots, I highly recommend gaiters. They come in different heights and fabrics (some cheaper then others) and are more water proof and less hipster than legwarmers.
Also, so visit Campers Village and/or MEC. Both are great Canadian outdoor gear stores.
For anyone who cares, I wear Salomon boots (I think these are a newer version of the ones I have). I have complicated-to-fit feet and Salomon’s almost always feel like they were made specifically for my feet. They’re great quality (my previous pair lasted 10-13 years, depending on whether you pick when they developed a hole on the side or when I finally broke down and replaced them). My current ones are 2-3 years old and still feel (but don’t smell) like almost-new.