With spring just around the corner and all the snakes coming out of hibernation, I needed to find a solution, an extra margin of safety. After a bit of research I discovered TurtleSkin Snake Gaiters. The TurtleSkin company makes all sorts of protective textile items such as body armor, water pressure protection suits, gloves to protect police officers from needles, and, you guessed it, clothing that snake fangs cannot penetrate. They even helped develop the airbags used to successfully land three rovers on Mars! 

TurtleSkin Snake Gaitor

TurtleSkin Snake Gaiter

Twice this past year I have been a few feet away from stepping on a poisonous snake. The first time, it was a rattle snake, and the second time it was a copperhead. Both snakes were in the middle of the trail and I was very surprised at how hard the snakes were to see until it was almost too late.

TurtleSkin has several options for hunter and hiker, including full-length chaps, pants, and snake gaiters. I don’t intend to seek out snakes and my off-trail travel is fairly limited due to the high risk of ticks and Lyme disease, so I figured the snake gaiters would provide plenty of protection from an accidental snake encounter on trail.

Here’s an excerpt from TurtleSkin’s promotional material to explain how the gaiter fabric work: TurtleSkin SnakeArmor patented technology produces the tightest weave ever made. With high-strength fibers, it’s locked so tightly snake fangs can’t slip past… The fabric was tested with my diamondback rattlesnakes and successfully repelled their strikes and venom. In addition the system stops a simulated snake strike of paired 0.05 inch diameter needles at 2.63 jewels and [a] 0.042 inch diameter needle at 2.37 pounds.”

TurtleSkin-Snake-Gaiters

Pros 

  • Peace of mind
  • The gaiters are lightweight and not overly stiff
  • Made in the USA!
  • Reversible so you can choose between two different colors (

Cons

  • Tends to ride up in rugged terrain (e.g. cross country, stepping up and over obstacles, etc..) I fixed this by affixing a #2 sized S-Biner to the front eyelet and to the laces on my boot by the toe.
  • Only comes in one size/length

Final Thoughts

At first I thought it would be odd getting used to wearing full length gaiters without any snow on the ground. However, they are light and I hardly noticed they were there. They only come in one length, 16″. If you have shorter legs they might not work for you. In my case the gaiters stop a few inches below my knee. They could be quite uncomfortable to hike in if they came right up to or above your knee.

Getting bit by a rattler, a copperhead, or other poisonous snake, while not always fatal, is an experience one would rather not have. These gaiters help mitigate that risk and, while they are a little pricey, when you consider the alternative, it certainly is money well spent. The TurtleSkin Snake Gaiters have become my new best friend and I now feel much more at ease when traveling in the mid-Atlantic backcountry. If you’re like me in that you hike frequently in areas with a high concentrations of poisonous snakes and/or spend a fair amount of time traveling off-trail, I would highly recommend picking up a pair of TurtleSkin snake gaiters.

Manufacturer: TurtleSkin
Date available: Currently Available
MSRP: $144.00
Listed Weight: Under 12 ounces per pair
Actual Weight: 10.7 ounces per pair
Materials: Super-tight patented weave of high-strength ballistic fibers and polyester
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