It has long been recognised that where a soldier’s trousers meet his boots is a vulnerable area. Not only does this join allow twigs and small stones to get into his boots, but it is also an area vulnerable to scratches and abrasions as the trousers ride up from the boot. There have been a variety of ways of bridging this gap over the years, the Victorians used leather anklets, long puttees were preferred in the First World War, the Second World War saw webbing anklets issued and the 1970s saw a return to puttees, but of a much shorter pattern. In the early 1990s a new solution to this perennial problem was introduced, a sophisticated zip up canvas gaiter that could be worn over the ankles. Although later models came in DPM and MTP, this initial release was in olive green:The gaiters are designed to come down over the top of the soldier’s boot, so have an angled section at the front that covers the top of the foot:The underside of this section is reinforced and a metal hook is fitted that can catch hold of the laces of the soldier’s boot to prevent the gaiter riding up:As they are likely to be subject to a lot of pulling and catching on undergrowth, the gaiters are fitted with heavy duty zips up the side and a Velcro fly:A press stud is fitted to the top of this zip and an elasticated drawstring helps get a good seal with the wearer’s calf:A further elasticated section is provided further down to help hold the gaiter secure against the leg:A leather and metal wire strap is fitted to the bottom of the gaiter to pass under the instep of the boot and secure the gaiter firmly in place:This wire is very hard wearing but apparently can become quite sharp after prolonged use as it frays and individual strands become loose. Later models have replaced this with para-cord but this then creates problems with undoing wet knots when the wearer’s hands are cold.
This example is a ‘Normal’ size and dates back to 1995:Accounts I have seen suggest that these earlier models are better constructed than the later DPM or MTP versions and they seem to last longer in the field than the other models. Users report that they are a very effective piece of equipment and they are very popular on the civilian market with hikers and others who enjoy outdoor pursuits. Although updated, the fact that the basic concept is still being used twenty five years later indicates the utility of the simple GS gaiter.