Gaiters, in one form or another, have been around for centuries. Many of the original versions were geared towards horseback riding, providing protection for the legs and to prevent chaffing and discomfort. Traditionally made from leather (though cotton and silk were used, amongst other fabrics), gaiters have been popular with cavalry troops, as well as other military personnel in thick underbrush, and to keep mud, snow and rain out of boots.
Outdoor enthusiasts saw the potential for gaiters several decades ago for mountaineering expeditions, though modifications were often needed depending on conditions. Today, the designs for gaiters have vastly improved, while the uses have broadened to everything from trail running and backcountry hiking to working in unison with crampons for more extreme conditions, like traversing glaciers. Vancouver, Canada-based Hillsound Equipment has built an entire company around developing and producing both gaiters and crampons to cover this range of activities.
Hillsound Equipment was kind enough to send us their Super Armadillo Nano Gaiters to test for the current winter season in Australia and New Zealand. The Super Armadillo Nano is Hillsound’s most resilient and high tech gaiter. The gaiters have a dual fabric construction made with technology from the experts at both Minnesota-based HDM and Swiss-based Schoeller Textiles. The lower half of the gaiters use HDM’s SuperFabric, which incorporates rigid epoxy circles, like tiny armour plates, attached over the surface of a base fabric for anti-abrasion and slash resistance. It’s primarily intended to avoid cutting into your apparel (and your legs) when using crampons, as well as keeping mud, slush, snow and sleet out of your boots, though I found additional uses in the harsh Australian bush. The upper half incorporates Schoeller’s c_change wind and waterproof membrane, is stretchable to fit comfortably around your calves, and is topped by Schoeller’s NanoSphere technology that keeps dirt and grime from adhering to the surface.
I found very few negatives with the Hillsound Gaiters. The waterproofed zipper is a little more difficult to use with gloves, but has advantages over Velcro, for example, which can often get clogged with dirt and snow. I would recommend sizing up for a better fit. Hillsound’s sizing charts use boot size as a guide, but overlap from one size to another. Men’s US size 10 (European 43), for example, appears on the high side of ‘Medium’, and the low side of ‘Large’. If you have an athletic build with muscular calves, choose ‘Large’. It’s easier to tighten than loosen.
In New Zealand, Hillsound Equipment has an official distributor, Ampro Sales Ltd, covering the entire country out of Wellington. Ampro also distributes name brands such as Vasque, MSR, Therm-a-Rest, Gregory, Victorinox, Stanley and many more. In Australia, Hillsound does not yet have a distributor, but is looking for opportunities. The Sales and Marketing Coordinator for Hillsound, Jessica Greinke, is a Queensland native, so watch this space.
Featured Photos: Hillsound Equipment, Schoeller and HDM Media Images