As trail running aficionados, we can't say we have really found the perfect gaiter for the fast-moving yet dirty endeavor. But the Dirty Girl Gaiters come awful close.
Plus, they have quite a hefty dose of attitude, as does their creator and manufacturer, herself a trail and ultrarunner by the name of Chrissy Weiss. In her other life, she is actually a prosecuting attorney in Southern California. So stay out of this woman's way.
But we digress. These are simplistic structures made of four-way Lycra spandex, they fit sleekly and snugly like a sock, and extend only a few inches above your shoe. They attach to the front of the shoe with a hook that you fasten to the front laces and secure to the back of the shoe's heel with a chunk of hook-and-loop closure that you must stick onto the shoe where it is somewhat flat. Easy. The beauty of them on runs is:
1. You don't have no stinkin' cords under your arch to annoy or break.
2. They aren't puffy and goofy-lookin.
3. They don't profess to be waterproof or even water repellent, since you don't really want that on the trail. Better to let the water in, then back out as quickly as possible.
4. They are easy to unhook and roll up your leg if you need to change socks or adjust your shoes, then roll back down and re-hook.
5. They come in a splendid variety of colors and patterns with names that only a trail or ultrarunner will understand (hyponatremia, lime Gatorade hurl, and anger management, as three examples).
6. They only cost $15.
What more could you ask for? If you are on the trail at a dirty ol' run sometime, especially in the West and especially if it's 50K or longer, look around and you'll see that the woman has a huge market share. OK, so it's called Dirty Girl. Maybe that's unfortunate, but all those men out there wearing them don't give a hoot since they work. We can attest to how they work, too, since our team has worn them without a hitch on runs and races from 18 to 100 miles.
As Weiss writes on her website: "Anyone can wear black gaiters! But a dirty girl's gotta do what a dirty girl's gotta do! Accessorize! Dirty Girl Gaiters keep the debris out of your shoes with style and sass. And you'll have something fun to look at while you hang your sorry head and shuffle your tired feet."
In fact, in talking to footwear companies, we have ascertained that a few biggies have their eye on what she's done and how popular it's become. We just hope they don't knock her off, but actually offer to work with her or acquire her patterns.
The only disadvantage we suppose is the need to stick the hook-and-loop to the back of your shoe. These days some shoes don't really have a smooth spot, so these may not work well with certain models, although we have seen some folks put the attachment way down on the back of the heel without a problem. And these won't work if you are going to be slogging through a bunch of snow -- unless you really don't mind cold and wet feet.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $15, all inclusive without, as she writes, any shipping and "hassling fee"
For more information:www.dirtygirlgaiters.com