Keep Rocks Out of Your Shoes

Keep Rocks Out of Your Shoes

You’re hiking down a trail, and a small rock enters your shoe uninvited. This occurs more often than I would like it to. Pebbles sometimes irritate for a moment or for long periods, so taking some preventive measures can be helpful. 

To prevent rocks from entering your shoes, you can use gaiters, tall boots, long pants, clear trails, tightening shoe collars, or using beach shoes. Socks and insoles can also make a difference in how your shoe fits and if it enters your shoe.

I tend to get small rocks that enter my shoes each time I hike or run on a trail. Taking a preventative measure means you can continue hiking and running without interruption and enjoy your time outside.      

Keep Rocks Out Of Your Shoes With Gaiters

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03/11/2024 03:06 am GMT

Most people will use gaiters to prevent rocks from entering their shoes. These shoe covers help block the rocks and stickers that usually get into your shoes and socks.

There are a number of different types of gaiters, but it is recommended that you get a gaiter that covers your shoes and your socks. This will help ensure rocks and stickers can’t enter. 

You’ll notice that most gaiters are fairly simple to put on. The ones above are from Just slip them under your shoe and velcro on.    

If you have Altra Shoes, you have built-in attachment points for Altra gaiters (amazon link). These work well for Altra, but most other gaiters will work with any shoe, so that’s the advantage of getting other brands.

Gaiters prevent rocks rain and snow

Most people use a gaiter instead of trying other solutions because gaiters are a simple and effective solution that works in various situations. 

For example, some gaiters are waterproof, which is helpful during the snow and rain. 

Some gaiters are short, while others are tall. Some are made of soft, flexible fabric like nylon, and others are made of tough oxford cloth (amazon link).

When you first go to a new place to run, walk, or hike, you may not know the conditions of the trail you are following. 

Being prepared with your gaiters can ensure you don’t have any unexpected new pet rocks inside your shoe that follow you home. 

If you need a simple solution to help on your next hike, gaiters will probably be on your top list of solutions. They can be a low-cost, effective solution to keep rocks out.   

Keep Rocks Out Of Your Shoes With Boots

Tall Boots Keep Rocks Out of Your Shoes

If you have ankle-high shoes or boots, rocks and stickers will get in easier. The taller your boot, the less likely rocks can enter your shoe at the collar. 

There will still be some rocks, stickers, and sand that can enter between your laces, but these will not usually be as big and may not pose a problem for you during your hike. 

Some people like tall boots because they can be waterproof, help you trek through rougher areas, and keep your feet comfortable. 

Others don’t like the extra weight or extra cost of a quality boot. Yet, tall boots are helpful for beginning hikers who want to backpack for several days in a row. They are usually more rigid and help take some of the beating that occurs on your feet.    

Keep Rocks Out Of Your Shoes With Long Pants

Long Pants Keep Rocks Out of Your Shoes

When I go hiking in long pants, I always tend to get a few rocks or stickers compared to when I wear shorts. Long pants tend to provide a good barrier to most rocks because they either tuck into the shoe a bit or they cover the shoe collar. 

If you are walking up a trail, and the toe of your shoe kicks up a rock and it lands on your front pant leg, it may slide down toward your shoe collar but it’s less likely to enter. 

That’s because pants have a thick hem at the bottom that can prevent rocks from entering the shoe. Many hiking shoes have a taller height, making the shoe collar fit tightly around the bottom of the pants. If you have a wider pant leg at the bottom, they will likely cover the shoe collar, so rocks can’t enter.

For these reasons, it’s helpful to wear pants if you go for a hike. You’ll be less likely to get scratched or find yourself itching because of mosquitos or poison oak and ivy. 

Keep Rocks Out Of Your Shoes By Using Clear Trails

Keep Rocks Out of Your Shoes by staying on the trail

When I’ve gotten a rock in my shoe that bothered me, it was usually because I was trying to traverse somewhere that my shoes weren’t meant to go. 

Sometimes, you don’t have much choice if you are traveling to a certain destination and the path is a trail. Although, I have a tendency to try to cut through areas that have no clear path. That’s when the rocks start to appear, especially if when I go up and down steep hills.

Traveling on clearly established trails will give you a better chance of standing on solid ground with a lower likelihood of rocks being flung into your shoes. You’ll also have a better chance of getting to your destination on time instead of getting lost.

If you find the trail is not clear, you can always turn back or get out your GPS. Traversing thick brush isn’t a good idea because that’s when most of your problems occur. 

Keep Rocks Out Of Your Shoes By Tightening Them

Keep Rocks Out of Your Shoes By Tightening Them

Normally, you wouldn’t want to tighten your shoes if they are snug. This is true unless you find that the collar of your shoe has a gap. 

The lace around your toes and ankles can be tightened a bit more if they aren’t snug enough. However, avoid tightening the laces above your arch if they are already snug. Your arch needs room to do its job and not be constrained.

Here are some ideas that may help keep rocks out of your shoes. 

  1. If you have pants on, you could try tucking them into your boots if you have enough room. 
  2. Adding a second pair of socks is a good way to keep the foot snug inside your shoe and create a better seal around the shoe collar.
  3. Tighten the laces a bit more around the shoe collar, just not so tight that it creates friction of cut off any circulation. 
  4. If your collar is loose after tying, stuff socks into the area around your ankles to prevent rocks from entering. This is short-term solution.
  5. Push down your socks and see if they fill the voids around the collar.
  6. Use a knot that doesn’t lose its hold.   

Keeping your shoes snug but comfortable will help you go longer without rocks getting into them. Try using a different knot instead of the traditional double knot. You may find your laces stay tight longer. 

Double-check that your laces are snug at each eyelet without any slack, and then you know the collar will likely stay the same and keep the rocks out.  

Keep Rocks Out Of Your Shoes By Using Beach Shoes

Keep Rocks Out Of Your Shoes By Using Beach Shoes

If you’re at the beach or in a sandy area, you might as well use beach shoes as you travel along a path to your destination. Beach shoes are good at letting rocks, sand, and water flow out of the shoe just as easily as they entered. 

Some of the beach shoes to consider are: 


These would be helpful with light hiking and walking. They work well in water and are helpful at preventing sand and rocks from entering.

These would be helpful with flat trails and walking. They work well in water and the thick soles are helpful at preventing tired feet. 

These would be helpful with flat trails and walking. They work well in water and are considered by many to be very comfortable. 


These would be helpful with light hiking and walking. They work well in water and are helpful at preventing sand and rocks from entering.


These would be helpful with flat trails and walking. They work well in water and the thick soles are helpful at preventing tired feet. 


These would be helpful with flat trails and walking. They work well in water and are considered by many to be very comfortable. 

03/11/2024 03:13 am GMT Lasso Brag

The more shoe-like beach shoes you get, the more you will be able to walk or hike for longer periods. The shoes above are the type I would choose if I wanted to hike and go in areas that have sand and water. 

Rocks, sand, and water can easily escape these types of shoes, so in certain situations, these might be the best shoes to prevent rocks from getting in your shoes.   

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03/11/2024 06:40 pm GMT

More Ways to Keep Rocks Out Of Your Shoes

Use insoles to Keep Rocks Out of Your Shoes


We’ve talked about using socks inside your shoes to help stop rocks, but sometimes you don’t want extra socks. Another way to snug up your shoes is to add a different or extra insole. That way the collar will likely be more snug around your ankle.

I used to have some running shoes that I would tie tight, yet they still weren’t snug around the heels. I added two foam pad inserts into each shoe. (See They seem tight at first, but over a day or two of running, they compressed and my feet sat snuggly in my shoe. 

If you add an insole, make sure you are getting the one that is good for your needs. Most hikers need a good supportive insole, to help them trek long distances without foot soreness or pain.


While this may not prevent any rocks from entering your shoe, waterproofing your boots can prevent wet socks. Wet socks and sand or small pebbles can really cause some bad skin irritation and blisters. 

Don’t forget to use two sock layers to prevent moisture build-up on feet. Wool socks work well at moisture wicking. And condition feet with anti-chafing cream or balm, especially between toes and the heel, or any other place that you may have noticed rubbing occurring.


Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention. If you have a strange idea that sounds like it probably won’t work, but maybe, don’t be afraid to try it, if it’s a simple fix. 

One thing I thought of while writing this article was to wear two pairs of socks. The outer layer sock would be longer and stretchy. 

Then I would stretch the sock over the collar of the shoe and see if it would stay. Of course, there are lots of problems with this but it’s doesn’t hurt to think about ways to solve problems with the current materials you have on hand. 

Final Thoughts

Keeping rocks out of your shoes can be easy with the right gaiters. If you don’t have a gaiter then you can use other methods to help stop rocks from getting inside. 

If it’s annoying that rocks are stopping you from enjoying your time outdoors, then I hope one of the methods mentioned in the article can help. If not, you can always stop and take off your shoe, to dump out all the ‘trail friends’ that have tagged along in your shoe.

Best wishes for some great outdoor adventures in the near future. Thanks for reading at


I enjoy many types of outdoor activities including running, hiking, and walking. I was a former elementary school teacher for 17 years and now enjoy writing and sharing my love of the outdoors.

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