Winter hikes are mine and Atlas’s favorite activity. Typically you will find less traffic on the trails and more opportunity for off-leash freedom. The best reward of all is the snow covered mountain tops and dusted trees. As much as we will always welcome and glamorize the snow, with it comes colder icy conditions that require extra precautions to ensure safety on outdoor adventures. Although some breeds, like the Samoyed, do not require the additional warmth of jackets or coats, it is important for all breeds paws to be protected.
We headed out on yet another snow hike in the mountains of Breckenridge, Colorado to put the Backcounrty Paws Gaiters to the test to prevent punctures, ice and snow socks from forming on Atlas’s paws and legs. The trail is an off-road by summer, and a cross-country ski, mountain bike and snowshoe trail by winter. Covered in feet of packed snow surrounded by even deeper untouched powder.
Gaiters are designed to not only provide leg protection but also to ensure booties don’t fall off in the snow from excessive play and movement. The Backcountry Paws gaiters cover all four of their paws and legs and are secured with straps in front of their chest, over their shoulders, down their back and across their back near their tail. We’ve all seen videos of dogs doing the “new booties” dance, if your dog does not do well with wearables, these may take some conditioning before they feel like they can move freely without feeling restricted.
We first tested these in the comfort of our home and backyard as wearing gaiters covering Atlas’s entire legs was something he had never experienced before. To my surprise, he was not phased by them in the slightest and didn’t seem to mind them at all. He was able to move freely and normally inside and in the small amount of snow that had accumulated in our backyard.
Backcountry Paws fitted Atlas for a size large due to his height and weight. I was convinced he would need a medium but was pleasantly surprised to see they fit well upon wearing them correctly and tightening them properly. They are available in sizes ranging from small (11-14 inches tall) to extra large (20-23 inches tall). Backcountry Paws is extremely responsive and always willing to help provide suggestions and examples of how and where to measure when sizing as well as what specific size they would recommend.
Initially I had put them on him incorrectly and a few legs/paws slipped out of the gaiters. I contacted Backcountry Paws and provided videos and photos showing how they had been put on and which legs slipped out. They were extremely helpful and quick to respond letting me know that I had put them on incorrectly and they were too loose. When we finally put them to the test on the trail, we tightened all straps across Atlas’s shoulders, back and back legs as well as the booties around his paws. This time, the gaiters stayed on and in place perfectly!
The premise of the gaiters was to create a design around their flexible, rubber padded, anti-slip booties. The booties are built with the standard velcro cinch to ensure stability and safety for paws and are internally sealed with a waterproof seam sealant to protect against unwanted moisture finding its way inside. The sleeves are water repellent, lightweight and vibrantly colored – they allow your dog the freedom to move with ease while stay snowball free and dry! The adjustable chest, shoulder and rear straps are accompanied with quick release buckles that allow you to put them on and take them off just as quick as traditional booties. They are designed to fit dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds – just take a look at Backcountry Paws Instagram and you’ll see the variety of dogs who use them. Even our fellow Explorer @life.with.winnie uses them regularly when they go skiing.
Atlas minds the trails when we are hiking but is never shy to explore and dive face first into the deep snow. He put these gaiters through the ice ring (get it?) by racing up and down the trail, climbing rocks, snow mountains, sliding down the ice with all limbs flailing beneath him on purpose. He even engaged in play with multiple dogs all the while keeping each leg in the gaiters and more importantly each paw in the booties without any tears, snags or rips!
If you’ve ever used boots on your dog in the winter you’ll know that dog boots and ice are not a good combo. While many dog boot makers have tried various methods to improve traction, it is still one area where most boots fall short. With the gaiters on, the only issue Atlas ran into was keeping his balance on icier stretches of the trail. When he would slide he learned to quickly correct himself and was able to rely on the non-slick booty padding.
Since trying the Backcountry Paws Gaiters, they have become an essential item packed on all adventures, especially those that include snow, water and mud! When I stop to put on my micro spikes, Atlas puts on his gaiters. If your floof stops often on the trails to pick at ice and snow between their paw pads or up their legs, these gaiters will surely be a game changer. If you’ve tried traditional booties and leave each adventure with half of them missing or haven fallen off, you will love the ease and trust the added sleeves provide you in keeping the booties in place. Plus, who doesn’t love a pup in pants?
Backcountry Paws Gaiters would work best for: a variety of dog sizes, shapes and breeds in snow, rain and muddy conditions
Backcountry Paws Gaiters may not be ideal for: full body coverage needs, something to provide warmth
Atlas’s measurements: Girth 23″ / Back Length 26″ / Weight 48 lbs / Height 18” / Paw Width 2.5”/ Paw Length 3”
Backcountry Paws Gaiters size: Large
Review by: Dogs that Hike Explorer @ournorthernworld