While some older homes were built without gutters, the ongoing lack of gutters is like continuing to drive a car without seat belts just because it was made that way. Since the majority of a home's exposure to water is rain, having well-designed and maintained gutters is the best way to manage the potential for moisture issues.
The number of leaf guard products available is just as frustrating as how poorly most of them work. Depending on your home and the vegetation around it, there are some types of leaf guards that work better than others. However, the thing to keep in mind is that leaf guards don’t eliminate the need for maintenance as much as they reduce the need for maintenance. Eventually, some amount of material is going to get past your leaf guard, and the product will ultimately fail. Either way there will be some work to do, so choose your leaf guard wisely and keep your expectations low. Otherwise, simply get a sturdy ladder and use it to clean out your gutters as needed.