Yeti gaiters – is the pain worth the gain?

Published 13 July 2011

Over the years I’ve been walking I’ve gone through some seriously wet conditions. If nothing else walking the Pennine Way in March is a sure fire guaranteed way to get your hiking boots absolutely sodden. All you need is waterlogged land, and some heather moorland or deep grass and you’ll soon be soaked. Too much rain or water and your socks will begin to soak it all up. On one day on the Coast to Coast I’m sure I ended up wringing out about half a pint of the stuff from my socks.

The state of my boots and new gaiters after all that mud

Making sure your boots are well waterproofed does help and on long trips I now always take a tube of Nikwax Waterproofing Wax with me which is miracle stuff for leather booths. And obviously one thing to try is gaiters and I finally succumbed and bought a pair a few years ago, however whilst they help a bit they just seem to stall the inevitable a short while. The first day I wore them it must have taken a whole half an hour longer before my boots were soaked to the bone.

My current gaiters, Gelert ones bought whilst walking the Pennine Way, might as well be like paper for all the good they now do and after several particularly damp days walking the Southern Upland Way I began to think about replacing them.

The trouble with traditional gaiters is that they’re not all encompassing of the boot – water can still get in. However there are a kind of gaiter that apparently solve the problem. Some people swear by Berghaus’s yeti gaiters and they’re used by the military. They fit with a tight seal around the outside of the boot, protecting the laces and seams where water might penetrate the boot.

What I didn’t quite understand was how on earth you got them on. And then recently I came across this video. And began to wonder if the pain was really worth the gain…

If you’ve any experience on yetis, feel free to tell me what you think in the comments box below.

Your Comments

Fraser

17 October 2011 at 3:33 am

The only negative comments I have ever read about yeti gaiters are about getting them on, but that is almost always coupled with the belief that they are well worth the effort. They are not cheap either, but then they are goretex, and the investment will add years to the life of your boots.

Yetis will only fit certain makes of boots properly – those which have the necessary groove built in to the soles. I have an old pair of Scarpas, so check first before investing in the gaiters.

My personal tip for fitting them more easily is to stick them on top of a hot radiator for a few minutes beforehand. This will make the rubber more elastic and pliable and easier to stretch over the boot. Wax your clean boots before putting them on. Once they are on you shouldn’t need to take them off again for a while. Because they should keep your boots completely dry inside you can leave them on for an entire expedition. If they are mucky at the end of a day just wash them off in a stream which you can happily stand in without fear of leakage.

When you take them off just unzip the gaiter and fold it right back and open up your boots to let them air. You won’t need to re-wax the boots because the gaiter should completely protect the treatment from scuffing or washing off.

You might find that the toe sometimes peels up out of its groove, especially if you are rock scrambling, but that should be the only time it threatens to uncover any part of your boot. It’s pretty easy to pull that part back into place.

Some people cut off the central rubber band across the sole of the gaiter because they feel it makes them easier to get on, or because their boot is not designed with a groove to accommodate it, but I would recommend keeping it if at all possible as it helps keep it in place much better. You can even cut a groove in the sole of your boot if it doesn’t have one.

Andrew Bowden

17 October 2011 at 7:59 am

My boots are, conveniently, Berghaus ones so they should fit yetis without a problem!

Great to hear your experiences of them. After the delights of seriously sodden boots on the Coast to Coast, Southern Upland Way and the Pennine Way, they did seem rather appealing to me. At the minute my walking is on more sedate ground but when I find a route that might need them I think there will be some taken with me.

MickC

9 April 2012 at 3:33 pm

Neoprene Suit cement(glue)-available from Amazon dobbed onto the front of the boot has proven a good way of stopping the yetis slipping off the front of non Attack type boots. Peel yeti back at front and squirt some glue in.

David B

20 May 2012 at 2:30 pm

I’ve used Yetis for a number of years now, and definitely fall in to the camp who swear by them. If you size them correctly, and stay away from the cheaper ‘softer rand’ imitation versions, they’ll stay on and completely tank your boot. Essential above the snow-line and makes fording shin-high rivers a breeze.

However, there are some drawbacks:

i) They are absolutely not for hot or even warm weather. If you are caught out, roll them right the way down and tie them up.
ii) Definitely not suitable for a soft sole. The Scarpa SL is almost made for them (not sure if even Berghaus make a compatible sole anymore), you’ll have to cut of the front cross strap, or take a knife to the sole. I’d do the former.
iii) Put them on before you head into the field, unless you are ‘The Hulk’, the rand needs to be heated up first (see below).

The chaps from RVOps are quite right that it’s “hernia popping stuff” to get them on, especially a new pair…contrary to their technique above there is in my opinion an easier way to get them on which should take you about 15mins per boot and doesn’t require lots of boiling water.

You will need:
-x1 pair of marigold gloves
-x1 non-sharp table knife [handle end], or puncture repair kit levers.
-your girlfriends/wife’s/significant other’s best hairdryer.

i) tie your laces into the boot, you absolutely do not want to get them caught under the rand only to find out once the gaiter is on.
ii) put the boot inside the gaiter pushing the toe end of the boot flush into the toe end of the rand. Line up the rim of the rand to where you want it to sit on the boot. You won’t be able to get the whole boot in as the fabric of the gaiter isn’t wide enough, but don’t worry, the important thing is to line up the toe section.
iii) kneel on the floor, position the boot back against the floor toe facing you, sole away from you, all the while maintaining the rand in position.
iv) put on your marigolds
v) get the hair dryer and heat up the rand by slowly moving the hair drayer 360′ around the rand.
vi) heat up some more…
vii) and some more.
viii) put down the dryer and then push your whole bodyweight down on to the gaiter, pushing it down over the toe – you are aiming to hook the front section of the rand over the front tread of the sole. You need to secure that section on the arch of the sole of your boot. When you’ve done this it should hold for a valuable 10 seconds….
ix) turn the boot around and then using your fingers pull for king and country the heel of the rand over the back of the boot. You are not trying to get it completely over the back, just flipped over the fabric which will be doubled up due to the excess. The rand will be inside out, but once you’ve flipped it over it will be secure.
x) At this point the rand is inside out and partly over the boot heel. So get a comfy seat and use the handle of your knife to work the rand completely over the heel as if you’re replacing a bike tyre.
xi) This takes a while, but once the rubber section is completely over you can carefully pull the fabric of the gaiter back through and use the knife as a lever to reposition/adjust the rand, tidying things up nicely.

Once they’re on, leave them on. I take mine off about once a year to give the boot a good clean/wax. You can clean boots with the gaiters on pretty well by taking them into the shower and carefully lifting up the rand to get rid of any bits of the country you’ve brought back. If you do clean them this way, stay clear of whoever cleans your shower ;-)

Good luck!

Andrew Bowden

20 May 2012 at 4:02 pm

Wow! Thanks for that detailed comment David! I’ve still yet to invest in Yetis, although if I ever do the Pennine Way in bad weather again then I may have to invest.

Cleaning in the shower wouldn’t be a problem for us though – it’s what we do already to blast the mud off. No utility room or outside tap in our house. Probably not the best way to do it, but it does the job.

Keith Hall

16 July 2012 at 8:32 pm

Ive used yetti Gaiters now for over 14 years, I have had the uppers re-rubberised twice and still have them today, I have only wore them with the correct Scarpa boot, so the middle bar is effective. New Scarpa Activ with a new pair of yeti gaiters for me this year. They are now were near the effort as shown in the Video when you have been doing it for years.

Happy walking

Keith

Colin Mackie

14 September 2012 at 9:13 am

Just had my Attack gaiters re-randed after over 15 years service so that tells you what I think to them. I checked with the shop that I had them repaired through for advice on getting them back on the boots (Scarpa Manta’s – old style leather), they’re advice was talcum powder on the rand.

I watched the video that this comment page refers to and was puzzled to see the chap describing how to use boiling water to soften the rand, then using washing up liquid to help lubricate them. Puzzled as most washing instructions for goretex advises no hotter than 40 deg C, and although I am no expert, won’t the chemicals in the washing up liquid be detrimental to the leather boot, even a small amount smeared on?

So after watching I used my insticts and fought a while with each yeti but got them on with a little help from some talcum powder but the went on relatively easily and now smell a treat too.

Back to the Bogs for me!

Colin

Adrian Sanders

4 October 2012 at 6:09 pm

Been using Yeti Extreme gaiters for over 20 years now. definately worth the effort of fitting them. very rare i go anywhere without them now. protect boots a treat. 10 year old boots still look like new even if the sole’s have been replaced several times. maybe im used to it, but, fitting them takes about 2 minutes per boot without any form of heat or boiling water. slide boot through inside and pull the toe section over the top of the boot, fit the heal section first then put fingers under rand at front and hook over the toe. this way it can be done in the field without taking boots off. takes practise but very easy. just need strong fingers.

James M

25 October 2012 at 12:36 am

I’ve been using Yetis for over twenty years and have always believed them to be the best piece of kit a rambler can buy. Until recently that is.

Avoid at all costs the new ‘Skywalk’ design of rand and opt only for the original trionic design, if you can still find them.

I recently bought a pair of top of the line Yeti Extreme’s for £80 which come with the Skywalk rand and can say without a doubt they are not – fit – for – purpose.

Don’t listen to those who say you can get them on with tyre levers, boiling water, washing up liquid etc., unless you intend to take all those items with you on a hike. And if you don’t, how on earth are you supposed to re-fit them should they come off? It’s for this reason I’ve come to rate my favourite piece of kit as utterly useless.

I could fit my old style Yetis in less than two minutes. I gave up on my new Skywalks after two HOURS using levers, boiling water and a second pair of hands. They simply would not fit my boots.

So I gave them to my brother who wears boots three sizes smaller, and even he could not fit them.

I cannot believe Berghaus have made such a catastrophic error in judgement so as to ruin my favorite piece of kit. What were they thinking?

paul mitchell

10 December 2012 at 4:14 pm

used them while in the forces. I found that glueing the rubber on to the boot and making it a permanant fixtures gave the best results as some time the front would slip up off the toes. That was 20 years ago and i still swear by them.

McLean

16 February 2013 at 12:28 am

Recently tried the Yeti Extreme pro for the first time, as for getting them on I used talc powder and heat from a radiator, you have to use a bit of force but if they are warm they stretch. I fitted the front over the top of the boot then fittted the heel, then using the end of a G clamp I pulled the front of the gaiter rand over the toe box.

My only complaints about these are they should have elastic in the area round the ankle as there is too much fabric here for you to trip yourself up when you haven’t stuffed any insulation inside.

The rands are also quite easy to split if you kick a rock so it would be nice if Berghaus could bevelop some sort of protective toe cap for the rand.

Vernon

1 May 2013 at 10:43 pm

Decided to look for some new Yeti’s to replace my originals – after 27 years they are no longer are as waterproof as before. I have used them instead of wellingtons even wading through water, they are that good. Once on they seldom need removing. They have been brilliant. I’m a bit worried the design has changed as fitting was not that difficult…

Rowan Ferguson

30 October 2013 at 7:23 pm

put your boot on upside down get the toe of the yeti gaiter lined up then grab the heel of the yeti and pull it on I even managed this on the hill. now am away to buy some double sided sticky tape good tip thanks Rowan

Richard Savage

24 December 2013 at 11:06 pm

Have had a pair of the original Yetis – that’s red nylon (possibly Cordura) around the boot area and with a section of blue canvas around the calf – since 1983 and have had them re-randed only once. They live on my Scarpa Bronzos and are without doubt the best gaiters I have ever had – except: they were not long enough in the leg for me so I removed the blue nylon cord-channel and inserted a 2″ band of nylon and then re-attached the cord-channel. Yes they are a challenge to fit, but you only do it one a year if that often.

Trevor

29 December 2013 at 8:02 pm

Bought a pair of Scarpa Attacjs at the age of 19. These boots were designed with Berghaus for the original Yetis. Now on my second pair of yetis…. same boots with a resole by the factory…. I’m now 42! They are worth every penny and make winter walking an absolute pleasure. I hear they may be stopping production, my advice is get some quick even if you already own a pair!!

Mark

23 January 2014 at 10:20 am

I watched this same video about a year back and thought what a hastle but got a pair of Yeti gaiters anyway as they were needed. Then I found another video on youtube which I cannot for the life of me find now showing to put the heel of the gaiter on first whilst your boots are on and the toe of your boot sticking out from the front hole, sit on the ground and stretch the gaiter over the toe of the boot. Works for me they are on in no time, couldn’t understand what all the fuss in the video was about, personally I think the guy in the video is a bit of a wimp.

Roger

9 June 2014 at 9:11 pm

I have a pair of yeti gaiters, and while they are pretty good they do have their disadvantages. Getting them on isn’t rocket science but you do need to have a bit of muscle.
Easiest way I have found is to put the boot in and get the heel area fitted and the main strap straight in the arch of the boot. The front bit of the gaiters should be on the top of the front of the boot. Then put the boot on, you don’t need to lace it up, and using both hands on ether side of the rubber pull it forwards and over the toe. Much easier than trying pull the rubber with one hand and hold the boots with the other.
It isn’t necessary to heat the rubber.
If you don’t have a pair of boots with the slot for the front strap then the toe rand will ride up after a few miles. I had glued mine on in the past which does last but depending on the glue is still temporary.
Due to the rand riding up I am going to get my sister to convert them into normal gaiters with a hook and strap. No gaiters, including these are filly waterproof so I might as well have some which stay on my boots and the goretex is as good as you can get.

Have Your Say

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.