Walking down one of our favourite tracks the other day, I heard that sound. You know the smooth, crinkling sound you hear as you disturb a snake that’s been basking on a rock – or by the track. The sound that makes your heart stop beating for just a moment.
According to the NSW Department of Environment and Heritage, “Australia has some 140 species of land snake, and around 32 species of sea snakes have been recorded in Australian waters. Some 100 Australian snakes are venomous, although only 12 are likely to inflict a wound that could kill you”.
Recent news issued by the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) advises that “there are around 3,000 reported snakebites each year in Australia, resulting in 500 hospital admissions and an average of two fatalities.” (5 Oct 2017)
In a population of over 24 million people, this amounts to around a one in 10,000 chance of coming face to face with our slithery friends and being bit. So we don’t need to worry about it, right? Wrong. This number changes dramatically when you subtract those of the population who live in the concrete jungle and never leave. As outdoors people, for many of us, encounters with reptiles are a predictable part of our lifestyle. For some of us, our favourite spots are also favoured as regular snake habitats. We don’t set out without a snake bite kit, a reliable form of communication and decent foot, ankle and leg protection.
When it comes to walking boots, there are a number of ways to tackle the snake issue. I have a great set of snake-proof boots that I bought in the US that are knee high and impenetrable. While they’re great around camp, they don’t have great ankle stability, they sweat like crazy when the weather warms up, and they take up heap of room.
Looking for an easy-to-wear alternative, I recently came upon Crackshot Snake Guardz which are distributed by Powdersafe in Australia. Unlike other gaiters that are generally rated as ‘snake resistant’, Snake Guardz claim to be ‘snake proof’. The reason for this big claim is that they’re manufactured using a polycarbonate insert within a fabric outer casing. And the makers of Crackshot Snake Guardz reckon their gaiters will stop a stop a BB lead shot round from a 12 gauge shotgun at 11m. That sounded like an over-achievement but it certainly gave me confidence in their snake-proof credentials as I strapped them on.
Like many gaiters, Snake Guardz fit easily over standard outdoor footwear with a couple of simple adjustable straps and quick release buckles. Once on, they’re easy to wear. Weighing in at just 350g, their simple but effective design allows circulation around the leg which stops sweating and overheating. They cover the ankle area and lower leg, protecting to a height of 44cm (depending on your size). Unusually, Snake Guardz also have a unique toe shield which looks like a medieval sabaton and covers the laces of a boot or shoe to prevent a snake fang getting tangled. The day-to-day benefit of the design is that Snake Guardz keep grass seeds and farmers friends out of socks, trousers and boot laces. Back at home, we’ve found that Snake Guardz also make great shin guards when mowing and whipper-snipping.
Snake Guardz are priced at $132 and come in four colours: Blaze Orange, Khaki Tan, Olive Green and Mossy Oak Camo. All of the range are water resistant and the solid colours have the added benefit of being flame retardant too.
- An easy way to potentially save your life
- Gives you peace of mind in snake prone areas
- An added bonus of leg protection during mowing
- Wide range of sizes
- There’s no strap under the boot
- On the pricey side for something you could potentially make yourself
- Fluoro colours attract a few odd looks – stick to the camo colours!