Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Gear Review: Hillsound Armadillo LT Gaiters

For many outdoor enthusiasts, the arrival of winter doesn't bring an end to our favorite activities, it just alters them a bit. Winter hiking can still be incredibly rewarding, as often times you'll have trails completely to yourself. But snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and other seasonal pursuits can be a great deal of fun too. But if you're going to play in the snow, a good set of gaiters will make your life a lot easier and enjoyable, as they help to keep snow, ice, mud, and rocks off your boots, which can become a serious issue at anytime of the year, but especially in the winter.

Gaiters are one of those pieces of gear that you don't really realize you really need until after you have tried them. For those who aren't familiar with how they work, gaiters are like a sleeve that pulls over the top of your boot, and is fixed securely into place there. They provide protection from the vulnerable parts of your shoes, keeping moisture, dirt, rocks, and other debris out of the interior, and way from the laces too.

Recently I've had the good fortunate of testing the Armadillo LT gaiters from Hillsound, a company that specializes in making products for protecting your legs and feet. Searching their website, you'll see that they also make a line of outstanding crampons, as well as waders for fishing. The Armadillo LT is the first product of theirs that I have test however, and I came away suitably impressed.


On paper, gaiters are a simple product that serve a very focused purpose. But modern fabrics and design have allowed these pieces of gear to perform at a much higher level. For instance, Hillsound makes their gaiters out of a stretchy waterproof – yet highly breathable – fabric that repels moisture, and yet is easy to get on and off, even while wearing heavy boots. Those fabrics are soft and have a lot of give, which makes them comfortable to wear too. Easy to adjust foot-straps make it a breeze to dial in a snug fit, even in poor conditions, and while it took a bit of practice to learn how to work the up-side down zipper, I soon was able to pull the Armadillo gaiters on and off with relative ease.

Everything about this product screams quality. The fabrics are durable and slash resistant, preventing accidental cuts from crampons for instance, and the user-replaceable foot-straps are rugged as well. Zippers can be a source of contention on gaiters, as they can sometimes be a place where snow and dirt can collect, but on the Armadillo LT there was no such problem. In fact, the zipper continued to function smoothly and easily no matter the conditions.

Hillsound has created a lightweight, high performance gaiter that will appeal to hikers, backpackers, and alpinists alike. Durable and comfortable, the Armadillo LT provides surprising performance, particularly for the price. At just $49, these gaiters are a bargain. In fact, they're so good that I am planning on taking them with me to Kilimanjaro next month, leaving my older, heavier gaiters behind.

If you've been looking to add a set of gaiters to your gear closet, than I highly recommend the Hillsound Armadillo LT model. They will provide plenty of protection on the trail, and won't break the bank in the process.

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