Well, it’s become apparent that my location in the Northwest U.S. will only ever have rain in the forecast for the rest of eternity. With minimal backcountry skiing to be done, idle minds turn to gear mods. My standard projects have been exhausted (how many threads can you cut out of a backpack?), so I’ve turned to the weird and wonderful. Namely: how many things can I make out of some old yoga pants?
It all began back when I was a wee kid embarking on my first backpacking trip. Lacking a pair of scree gaiters, Dad showed me how to quickly craft some from an old pair of “lycra” tights (now known by the ever more hip name “yoga pants”).
Besides being cheap or free, the invention had a number of advantages over conventional gaiters. They were a fraction of the weight, for one, and did an excellent job of keeping pant legs out of the way of stray crampon spikes. As for style, the colorful spats didn’t quite look as good as the yoga pants they had been made from, however the tight-leg and baggy rain pant combo had a certain charm hailing back to the golden age of mountaineering. If you make some, be careful, you might find yourself yelling “tally ho!” and using a hemp glacier cord. They also were about 100% more breathable than normal gaiters, at the cost of any significant water resistance.
Over the years I’ve used these hacker gaiters on numerous trips, and they’ve worked surprisingly well. Most recently, I stopped at good-will and picked up a $3 pair of stretch pants that I fashioned into some much-needed spats on the way to the trailhead.
The procedure is simple:
1. Cut off the bottom portion of each leg of the yoga pant. Length is at your discretion; I usually have them about 16 inches long, ensuring no possibility of snow creeping in through the top of the gaiter.
2. Flip them over, and cut two small holes on either side of the leg, about an inch up from the edge that you cut them off at.
3. Tie a cord through one hole on each gaiter, this will be used as the under-foot cord common on gaiters.
4. (optional). Bend a small piece of wire into a hook shape, and push it through the front of the gaiter, to form a hook to hook onto your shoe laces. I have used the gaiters many times without this, and they seem to work fine, but it could help keep snow out in post-holing situations.
After my improvised gaiters this summer, I got to thinking, what else can I make out of yoga pants? The $3 price at the local thrift store helped this train of thought significantly. Here’s what I came up with:
Louie Dawson earned his Bachelor Degree in Industrial Design from Western Washington University in 2014. When he’s not skiing Mount Baker or somewhere equally as snowy, he’s thinking about new products to make ski mountaineering more fun and safe.