If you have spent any considerable amount of time in the woods, then you have probably been there at some point in your life. You are at home, unwinding from a day spent in the great outdoors, when your legs start to feel as if they are on fire. Upon closer inspection, you realize that you have unknowingly become the meal of what appears to be hundreds of seed ticks. And so the fun begins….as you try get every one of those miserable little shits off your body. The next couple of weeks are usually spent trying not to scratch the epidermis off of your lower extremities. I have endured this exact scenario more times than I care to remember and every time I would swear that one day I am going to figure out a way to keep these seemingly pointless freaks of nature off of me.
As a Volunteer with the Florida Forest Service, I often spend time beating through brush that no-one in their right mind would go through. Then, one day, while preparing to do some forest inventory, I noticed that a counterpart was putting on what I thought was some sort of fancy blousing straps. These “blousing straps” actually turned out to be “Ankle Gaitors”, which deny ticks, chiggers, ants, etc. the normal path of least resistance they often choose when looking for that easy meal. At under $20 per pair including shipping, I figured they were worth a shot.
Once I received my ankle gaitors, I promptly put them into service. They are constructed of a spandex/nylon combination and are stretchable. At 8 inches in height, they will cover your boot laces and part of your pant leg. I normally pull them over my pant leg prior to putting my boots on. I then tuck my pants into my boots and lace up my boots. I then pull the ankle gaitors down so they are centered 50/50 over my laces and my pant leg.
A couple of the immediate benefits I noticed was that they kept my boot laces from coming untied when beating through heavy brush and kept my pant legs from coming out of my boots every 5 minutes. This alone made it worth the investment to me. Once I put the gaitors on, I normally spray them with some Off, or another similar product containing Deet, just to keep the critters from traveling over the gaitors. So far, I have yet to have an army of blood thirsty ticks or chiggers taking up residence on any of my extremities. The only thing negative that I can really say about the ankle gaitors is that when maneuvering through blackberry bushes or briars, the material will become frayed. Although they may not look as presentable as when new, they are still functional.
In summary, ankle gaitors have become an integral part of my EDC gear. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.