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The Original Bugshirt Company Bug Gaiters

The Original Bug Shirt Company Bug Gaiter has stirrups that help keep the gaiter in place to protect your ankles and prevent bugs from crawl up your leg
The Original Bug Shirt Company Bug Gaiter has stirrups that help keep the gaiter in place to protect your ankles and prevent bugs from crawl up your leg.

The Original Bugshirt Company is a Canadian-based cottage industry company that makes insect proof clothing, including their unique stirrup style bug gaiters, for people who live where the bugs are as big as baseballs, like Northern Ontario and Alaska. Given the Lyme disease epidemic this year along the Atlantic coast, you might find some of their unique clothing suitable for hiking, backpacking and other forms of outdoor recreation like gardening.

While I’m no stranger to Permethrin (an insecticide sprayed on clothing to kill Lyme Disease carrying ticks), there’s something to be said for wearing insect-proof clothing instead of insect-repellent clothing that’s been treated with chemicals. All of the Original Bugshirt Company’s clothing is made using densely woven cotton or polyester that’s tick and mosquito proof, but not guaranteed against bees or wasps.

While the Original Bugshirt Clothing mainly sells insect proof shirt and pants, their insect proof Bug Gaiters caught my eye as a valuable addition to tick defenses for off-trail hiking, also known as bushwhacking. Designed to prevent bugs from crawling up your pant legs or biting your ankles, these bug gaiters have stirrups!

The stirrups are worn over your socks inside your shoe to hold them in place. They run up to just below your knee and pull tight with a cord lock above the calf, so they won’t fall down. There’s an elastic band built into the gaiter at the ankle which prevents bugs from crawling up your legs and under your pants, with a little skirt of fabric below the elastic that protects your upper foot.

The Bug Gaiters are secured above the calf with a cord lock to keep them from falling down, while you tuck the little skirt of fabric into the top of your shoes
The Bug Gaiters are secured above the calf with a cord lock to keep them from falling down, while you tuck the little skirt of fabric into the top of your shoes.

I’ve worn the Bug Gaiters over long pants when I bushwhack, effectively doubling the amount of fabric worn over my calfs. Unfortunately my calves sweat a lot when I hike, even in winter, and the bug gaiters have proven too hot for me to really wear. In addition, the little skirt of fabric below the ankle elastic doesn’t stay in my shoes when I bushwhack vigorously. It’s short enough that it doesn’t interfere with walking but I almost wish it was a bit longer or would wrap around the bottom of my heel to stay inside the back of my shoe so ticks couldn’t get into my socks.

I’ve tried using the Bug Gaiters with low boots (mids) and there the skirts do stay put. But I’m not willing to wear boots for warm weather bushwhacking or hiking and plan to keep using the Insect Shield (Permethrin-treated) socks and pants that I normally wear in warmer weather because they’re cooler and just as effective, so far, at least.

While I haven’t tried them, I suspect that the Original Bug Company’s Pull On Style Bug Pants (also with stirrups) would probably a better solution for my needs than their gaiters, since there’s no doubling of the fabric around my calves. The Bug Gaiters are really designed for people unwilling to give up their existing pants.

I do think that the Original Bugshirt Company’s Bug Gaiters are still a good solution for less active recreational pursuits like gardening, where you’re generating less body heat than hiking and where wearing two layers of clothing over your lower legs would be less uncomfortable. Lyme Disease cases are surprisingly high amongst the gardening population and a real concern.

Disclosure: The Original Bug Shirt Company provided the author with a pair of bug gaiters for this review.

Written 2017.

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  1. Could be a good solution for my wife when she is out in the garden and yard working. I can see where hiking these though could be kind of hot. A few years ago I sent a couple pairs of socks and pants to Insect Shield and had them treat them with their permethrin process (they wash the clothes in a solution of the stuff). I use these all the time as the weather is warmer and to date have not had a problem with ticks either here in the northeast or down south section hiking the AT. The other advantage was that I was able to send them clothes that I already knew fit well and I was happy spending multiple days in. Since then I have sent some shirts, hat and a few more pants and socks. I use the newer ones in places I feel ticks may be a bigger issue, since my originals are a few years old now and have been washed multiple time. They say though the treatment lasts 70 washings, which I am nowhere near on anything at this point. To simulate what these gaiters do, I tuck my treated pants in my treated socks (although looking like a fool) and have not had a problem yet. I talked with them about sending a pair of low gaiters too at one point, but found out that the process includes drying the items in high heat, therefore any item that cannot tolerate that heat would be ruined. Since my gaiters have to air dry, I did not want to take a chance on them being done.

  2. Jeez, I would almost be tempted to sew some elastic and stirrups on the bottom of my regular hiking pants and just tuck into my shoes that way.. For the sake of simplicity at least.. :)

  3. Here’s the simple solution: tuck Insect-Shield-treated pants inside Insect-Shield-treated wool crew socks. Bad part, when bushwhacking – every single burr sticks to the wool. So do any ticks, which apparently latch on and then die too fast to get through the sock to the skin. I might put a pair of short “Dirty Girl” gaiters over socks next bushwhack and see how many burrs that collects. If few burrs, that might make wash day a little easier. BTW, I do this pants-inside-socks routine even when it is 90 degrees out. The health problems come with the ticks, but the *%#%%^%$# problems come when you realize that chiggers have crawled up your legs to feed on sensitive skin.

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