By: Blonde Two
There is one essential part of Dartmoor walking kit that I have heard ridiculed by walkers from other areas of the UK. These naysayers obviously haven’t walked on Dartmoor in the winter. They (not the walkers) aren’t glamorous, they aren’t pretty and you can’t wear them anywhere else but a good pair of gaiters can make a real difference to the comfort of your Dartmoor mission.
Let me expound, for a moment, the virtues of these interesting garments; for a start, wearing a pair of gaiters is the only acceptable way of making sure that your walking boots don’t finish the day filled with a gooey mix of peat, cow muck and water. Wellies will do the same but there is no point having dry feet if you have broken your ankle because it was not properly supported. Gaiters also make a huge difference to how warm you are, they stop that nasty whistle of wind up your trouser legs and provide an extra windproof layer up to your knees. The most important thing about gaiters though, as any washer of outdoor gear will tell you, is that they keep your trousers clean – after all, nobody likes a dirty bottom!
I was recommending, the other day, that our Ten Tors youngsters consider a pair of gaiters for their next “kit” purchase when one of them asked me a tricky question. The answer to this question is one of the few things that Blonde One and I do not agree on (as I type, I can only think of two and the other one is to do with map folding). The question was, “Do you wear your gaiters underneath your waterproof trousers or on top of them.” I learnt a long time ago that the answer to such tricky questions is never, “I don’t know.” but should always be, “It is up to you.” That way, you can blame the person concerned for making a mistake should an expert appear out of nowhere.
We Blondes have only just realised that we do this differently. Blonde One is an “Inny” and dons her gaiters before putting her waterproofs on. I, it would appear, am an “Outy” and prefer to fasten my gaiters safely over the top of my waterproofs. Having now questioned myself on the reasons for my choice, I am unsure as to what they are. I have a sneaking suspicion that the answer might be that I think they look more attractive that way. This is not only very vain of me, it is also delusional as clearly, any odd waterproofing strapped around your lower legs is not likely to enhance the shape of them.
We were having a friendly Blonde debate about the issue the other night as we disrobed in the dark by the car. I have to admit to coming close to telling Blonde One that she was right when, after carefully packing my rucksack up, I turned to walk round the car and very nearly fell flat on my face. My waterproof trousers, trapped by the gaiters on top of them, were still around my ankles. Don’t tell her, but maybe she was right after all!