09
Apr
2012
jloomis

Hillsound Armadillo Gaiters Review

Brand: 
Hillsound
Model: 
Armadillo #HSG003M
Product Rating: 
5
Hillsound Armadillo Gaiters
Hillsound Armadillo Gaiters - Packaging
Hillsound Armadillo Gaiters - Closeup

Features:

The Hillsound Armadillo Gaiters are lightweight, contour-fitting gaiters for any rugged adventurer. They feature a waterproof, breathable, stretch membrane that is designed for all day comfort. The easy to use YKK® zipper makes them easy to get on and off and the field replaceable instep strap ensures unforeseen mishaps won't dampen your plans. There is also a waterproof padded zipper placket which eliminates pressure points and makes the Armadillo gaiters completely waterproof.

Specifications:

Upper Shell: Flexia 2.0 Waterproof Breathable Stretch Membrane
Lower Shell: PU Coated Cordura Nylon 1000d
Height: 16.7 in. (42.4 cm)
Weight (sz L): 10.2 oz. (288g)

Initial Thoughts (01/16/12):

Hillsound's new Armadillo Gaiters appear to be the next best thing for snow and debris protection. The quality of materials and workmanship is excellent. The zipper makes them very easy to put on and take off, much easier than competitors' models that use a hook-and-loop type closure system. The instep strap is very strong and appears as though it should last the life of the gaiters. My favorite part of the Armadillo gaiters is the stretchy Flexia 2.0 fabric. The outside looks and feels like any softshell material, but the inside has a unique stretchy, rubbery skin-like feel.

The buckle part of the strap on the Armadillo gaiters should be worn on the outside of the leg, so the gaiters are leg specific. I found them very easy to put on over my size 11 Sorel Conquest winter boots. The front hook (upturned) connects to the gaiter hook or shoe laces on your boots and helps hold the gaiters in place. The strap goes under your boots and is then buckled into place. The top buckle can be cinched to adjust to the circumference of your individual legs.

The advertised weight of the Hillsound Armadillo Gaiters is nearly an ounce lighter than Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters. My size L Armadillo's weighed in at 11.5 ounces (very close to specification). They are lightweight and easy to throw in my pack due to the flexible upper material.

Initial Field Test (04/07/12):

I finally had an opportunity for a good field test of the Hillsound Armadillo Gaiters while climbing Mt Hood, a nearby volcano (the tallest mountain in Oregon). I am happy to report they performed exceptionally well and I prefer them over my Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters.

The first thing to note is that I used the Armadillo gaiters with my La Sportiva Batura Evo boots which have small, built-in gaiters of their own. I thought this might pose a problem because there are no exposed shoe laces or loops to attach the hook on the lower part of the Armadillo gaiters (most gaiters have such a hook). Luckily the Hillsound gaiters stayed firmly in place without the hook attached to anything. The fit was very solid and kept all snow out.

My favorite feature of the Armadillo gaiters is the zipper closure. It is very quick and easy to use compared to velcro closure on competitors' gaiters. The zipper provides a quick, consistent way to close up the gaiters every time. It also makes it very easy to open up the gaiters and adjustment your boots without having to remove the gaiters entirely. I am very impressed.

The Armadillo gaiter material functioned very well on the mountain in temperatures from 10°F to mid 30's F. I traveled in snow 8-15 inches deep and the Hillsound gaiters kept all snow out of my boots. My pants often become moist if covered by non-breathable gaiters, but the Armadillo's breathable stretch membrane did a perfect job of preventing this. The fabric also shed snow wonderfully while other gaiters made entirely of Cordura attracted snow build up.

The buckle closure around the cuff of the Hillsound Armadillo gaiters was easy to use with gloved hands and provided a secure fit. The gaiters stayed up during my entire climb and I never felt like they were sliding down. I am very impressed with the features and performance of the Armadillo gaiters. They work better than other gaiters I have used and are slightly lighter too. I look forward to testing them more to see how they hold up over the long run.

See Mt Hood adventure where the Hillsound Armadillo Gaiters were used.

Special thanks to Hilsound for providing the Armadillo Gaiters for review.

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Disclaimer: You are responsible for informing yourself of the hazards of backcountry travel and taking the necessary precautions. Loomis Adventures may not be held liable.