Thursday, January 21, 2016

Kids' Hiking Gaiters Pattern

If you follow my blog or my social media feeds (or if you know me personally!), you know that I love spending time with my family, especially if we get to be out in nature!  You will also be very aware that I like to sew, especially when I get to use original creative thought in the process!

This Kids' Hiking Gaiters project has been a perfect marriage of my love of outdoor adventuring and creative sewing! 

If the trail is muddy, dusty, rocky, wet, or snowy, gaiters are a hiker's best friend. They keep unwanted pebbles, dirt, ice, and anything else on the trail out of your boots. They add an extra layer of protection for your legs from thorns and scratchy underbrush.  No more frayed pants legs and scratched up shins! And if there is 2 feet of snow?? No problem!!

My husband and I have been working on fully outfitting our family for backpacking trips over the past 3 years. It has been a learning process that has taken time, research, money, and experience.  We have bought nice hiking gaiters for 4 of the 6 of us--the 4 who could wear adult-sized gaiters. However, child-sized gaiters are much harder to find. We wanted them to be as rugged as adult gaiters, but we needed them to fit our kids. So I told my husband I would design some.  I am SUPER excited about these. I used the pattern to make two pairs of gaiters for my kids, and it worked beautifully.

I designed these to be sewn using a standard home-use sewing machine. No industrial machine is needed. 

I have listed this pattern and tutorial, which includes a printable PDF of the pattern and an illustrated, step-by-step tutorial, on Etsy for an introductory price of $2.00 USD:

As an extra help for anyone making these, I am sharing here some places you can buy the materials to make these. Many standard fabric stores don't carry the sport utility fabrics required, but they can be found!

Here are some of my sources: 
  • FOR ONE-STOP SHOPPING: If you live in the Seattle area, Seattle Fabrics in Freemont is an excellent source for any and all the outdoor fabrics and sewing notions you will need.  I guess that is a bonus to having Outdoor Research and REI headquartered here. If you don't live here, no worries, Amazon (also headquartered here) ships everywhere and has many excellent outdoor fabric and notion deals.
  • PACK CLOTH :  Amazon has some great deals on this tough, water-resistant fabric. It is what your child's backpack is made of and makes excellent gaiters. (And my daughter would have LOVED that hot-pink option! Too bad I just found it!)

  • IRONING BOARD FABRIC:  I found this versatile fabric at Joann's. Although it contains cotton (which we generally avoid with outdoor gear), it has aluminum woven into the surface making it very tough and water resistant. It also won't melt if a hot ember lands on it (which can't be said of any of the nylon fabrics!).  In my gaiters pattern, I double up this fabric to give added stability to the gaiter. 
  • RIPSTOP NYLON:  Many fabric stores are starting to carry a limited supply of ripstop nylon. Not all ripstop is created equal. If you are wanting to use it for the main body of the gaiters, I suggested holding out to find a heavier, coated ripstop so it will be water resistant.  Amazon has some--but be sure to read the reviews; some say they are water resistant but do not have a polyurethane coating.  For the front panels of the gaiters, an uncoated ripstop would be fine. 

  • LADDER LOCK SLIDER BUCKLES and WEBBING: You might find these at your fabric store, but be careful of the quality.  You want webbing and buckles that can hold up to abuse since these will be right at the base of the boot. They will undoubtedly be scratched by rocks, get caked in dirt and mud, and get very wet.  Again, Amazon is a good source, but read reviews and go for the branded options.  Often REI and other outdoor outfitters will carry these where you buy rock climbing gear if you don't want to buy the large quantities offered on Amazon.

  • COAT HOOKS: These can be found at fabric stores. They will come as "Coat Hook and Eyes." You'll only need the hooks for this. You can also order them on Amazon.  Be sure to get them large enough to hook around a shoe lace (there are some tiny hook and eye sets out there). 

  • 1.5 INCH VELCRO: When designing these gaiters, I ALMOST went with a 3/4" Velcro. That was my original plan. Then as the design went forward, I realized that if I wanted my kids' gaiters to be as tough as the adults', they needed the fat, tough Velcro.  Call your fabric store before driving there to just buy this. It is not as in-demand as smaller width options and so isn't always carried. For me, it was cheaper to just order it than spend the gas to go searching. I bought this Country Brook Hook and Loop Velcro. It is EXCELLENT. No regrets on this purchase.

I snapped the photo above while making my kids' gaiters, testing out my original design. It was truly a rewarding process--knowing I was making something useful to my family, and that I could share for others to use.
If you get the pattern download, I'd love to hear about your experience making and using the gaiters! And of course, I love hearing about any family adventures on the trails!

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