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Reviews > Footwear > Accessories > Gaiters > Hillsound Super Armadillo Nano Gaiters > Test Report by Brett Haydin

Hillsound Super Armadillo Nano Gaiter

Initial Report - November 21, 2017
Field Report - February 15, 2018
Long Term Report - April 24, 2018

TESTER INFORMATION

TesterNAME:            Brett Haydin
EMAIL:            bhaydin AT hotmail DOT com
AGE:                44
LOCATION:     Madison, Wisconsin, USA
GENDER:         M
HEIGHT:          5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT:         200 lb (90.70 kg)
SHOE:             10.5 US
CALF:              18 in (46 cm)


I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoeing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips. I plan several longer trips each year in different parts of the US, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.

Initial Report

Product Information & Specifications

Super Armadillo Nano
Photo: From Hillsound Equipment's website
Manufacturer: Hillsound Equipment
Year of Manufacture:  2017

Manufacturer's Website:  www.hillsound.com
MSRP: $79 USD
Listed Weight: 14.2 oz (402 g)
Measured Weight: 14.1 oz (400 g)
Size Tested: XL (also available in XS, S, M, L)
Material: Upper Shell = 78% Polyester/ 13% PU/ 9% Elastin
                 Lower Shell = 88% Polyester/ 12% PU
                 Liner = 100% Nylon
Warranty: Limited lifetime

Other Details provided by Manufacturer

  • Waterproof to 20,000 mm
  • Unisex

Product Description

The Hillsound Super Armadillo Nano Gaiters, which I will refer to as Armadillos or gaiters for short, are water and dirt resistant gaiters suitable for a number of winter activities. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Armadillos is the lower half, which is constructed of SuperFabric. This material has raised, circular bumps and according to the manufacturer is abrasion/slash resistant, breathable and quick-drying. Because of this, the manufacturer recommends these gaiters for mountaineering, snowshoeing and ice climbing - all activities where gaiters can be punctured by crampons.

The gaiters are approximately 18 in (46 cm) tall, placing them just over the top of my calf muscle. The Armadillos have one YKK waterproof zipper that runs the entire length of the gaiter and secures at the bottom with a hook and loop tab. There is also a generous draft guard for the zipper that feels padded, almost as if there is insulation in it. The zipper pull is sized large enough that I should be able to use it with a gloved hand. There is a small metal hook to secure the gaiters to my shoelaces and a sturdy boot strap that runs under my shoe. The excess strap can be kept out of the way by tucking it through a rubber piece of fabric.

The upper portion of the gaiter is constructed of a Polyester/PU/Elastin material that provides a little stretch and still feels durable. This material also incorporates Schoeller's (a textile company) C_Change material. This material is a water/windproof material that has the ability to "open" at a microscopic level to allow moisture out depending on temperature. The top has a 0.75 in (2cm) nylon strap built into the hem that is secured with an adjustable buckle. Hillsound's logo is embroidered into the fabric as well. The fabric is finished with Schoeller's NanoSphere DWR technology that adds to the water repellency and is self-cleaning.

Initial Impressions

The Armadillos are exceptionally well-made with flawless craftsmanship. The material feels sturdy, but is still smooth and comfortable feeling to the touch. I have exceptionally large calves so I needed to go with the XL despite my shoe size being in the L range. It is especially important to verify the calf size correctly to ensure a proper fit. Even with the XL, the gaiters fit well over my shoe, although it is still snug on my calf where it is widest. Because of the Elastin in the fabric, it still stretches over my calf for a comfortable fit.

The SuperFabric is really keen. I like how it feels - it isn't nearly as stiff as I would have thought! When I am not backpacking, I do a fair amount of scouting for various hunting seasons. Because this takes me through a number of thorny, wicked places, I am looking forward to the extra protection! Another feature that I think I am going to like is the lace hook. Instead of curving toward my boot, these curve outward. Other gaiters I have worn have become unhooked so I will be interested to see if this helps.
Side ViewClose UpFront View
Side view of gaitersClose up of boot strap and SuperFabricFront view of gaiters

Reading the Instructions

The Armadillos come with three hang tags. One is regarding the product itself while the others advertise the benefits of the SuperFabric and NanoSphere finish. The website was easy to navigate and had a lot of information to sort through. As of the writing of this report, the hyperlinks on the Super Armadillo Nano Gaiters pointing to the Schoeller NanoSphere and C_Change materials were both "broken" links. However a quick use of the search engine helped point me to the correct pages where I was able to learn much more about these fascinating features.

The Armadillos come with instructions for care. While self-cleaning, if I choose to wash them, I am to hand wash in warm water with no fabric softeners. They need to be hung dry. It also states do not bleach, do not iron and do not dry clean.


Field Report

Snowchoe
Wearing the Super Armadillo Nano gaiters with snowshoes

Field Conditions

Over the past two months, I have worn the gaiters on four overnight backpacking trips. My first trip was an overnight hike in Marble Falls, Texas. This 12 mi (19 km) hike was along dirt-packed trails and roads, while somewhat rocky and hilly. It is Texas Hill Country after all! While I started out with fair weather, overnight turned sour and by the time I hiked out I was drenched with heavy rains, albeit warm weather from 60 to 80 F (16 to 27 C). Elevation gain over the entire trip was just over 900 ft (270 m) with a pack weighing 45 lbs (20 kg).

I also took a 4 mi (6.4 km) out-and-back in the Davy Crockett National Forest in Texas. The dirt-packed trail meandered through a pine forest. Temperatures were on the cold side (for Texas) with a high of 55 F and lows of 35 F (13 and 2 C) with mostly clear skies and no precipitation. My pack was 45 lb (20 kg).


My next trip was a 9 mi (15 km) trip along the Ice Age Trail in southern Wisconsin. This hike took me though the Kettle Moraine State Forest, known for steep features as the glaciers retreated from the last Ice Age. The trail is generally dirt-packed through wooded forests of pine, maple and oak. Temperatures ranged from 10 to 40 F (-12 to 4 C) and the weather was partly cloudy. My pack weight was 50 lb (23 kg).

My last trip was a 7 mi (11 km) hike in Yellowstone Lake State Park in Wisconsin. This was a snowy trip with my young dog on her first winter overnight. My pack was a little heavier - 60 lb (27 kg) - since she hasn't quite mastered her own pack yet. However the skies were generally clear with some smatterings of clouds and temperatures from 10 to 40 F (-12 to 4 C). I did use snowshoes the majority of the trip as well as gaiters.

In addition to the backpacking, I wore the gaiters on several hunting trips and other day hikes in snow.  While hunting, I was in mixed hardwood forests, cedar swamps and lots of fields. 

Winter
Backpacking in Wisconsin forests

Observations

Since receiving the gaiters, I've had ample opportunities to test these in a range of conditions. Snow, rocks, mud, swamps - just about everything. So far they have done an incredible job of keeping my feet and legs safe and dry. While the gaiters are tight around the calf, I can still wear them in thick layers. The thickest has been a pair of fleece-lined pants with a mid-weight base layer underneath. My calf is at the max circumference of 18 in (46 cm) so I consider this claim by the manufacturer to be confirmed! With lighter layers, I do notice a bit of insulating properties with the gaiters as well. No doubt the extra wind protection is a contributing factor.

Because buckthorn is pervasive in the areas that I hunt, I was curious to see if these would be helpful at keeping the nasty thorns from poking my legs while stalking. They have indeed done a great job and I couldn't have hoped for better protection. I easily picked through the brush with not as much as a scratch. In fact, there are no signs of scratches, abrasions or other normal wear and tear on these so far. Armadillo-like skin I suppose! The leather straps are the only place where I can see normal scuff marks.

One thing that I appreciate is that the leather straps stay in place. I have had other gaiters where the slack constantly comes out and flaps around. The plastic buckles on the top are great and have helped keep the gaiters in place. If I had one complaint so far, it is that when zipping the gaiters on, the insulated draft tube gets caught in the zipper occasionally. I attribute this mostly to the snug fit. However it hasn't been that much of a nuisance. And besides, the extra-large zippers make it easier to put them on overall!

I haven't really needed to clean the gaiters so far. While trekking through some cedar swamps, I had to make a couple of stream crossings. Stepping into the stream, it was quite mucky, but the mud came off throughout the course of hiking. On one occasion I fell in the water a little deeper than I had hoped. I am happy to report that my feet stayed dry thanks to these gaiters!



Long Term Report

Field Conditions

Over the past two months, I have been on three more backpacking trips, all of them overnight trips.  My first trip was a 9 mi (14.5 km) hike in Pedernales Falls State Park near Austin, Texas. The trail was a mix of dirt-packed and crushed-rock and traversed through woodland areas. The key draw is the waterfall within the park, but not along my hike. Instead I camped along the bluffs overlooking the Pedernales River. Temperatures were warm during the day - 60 to 70 F (16 to 21 C) - but dropped to 40 F (4 C) overnight with no precipitation and clear skies. My pack weight was 40 lbs (18 kg).

My next trip was a 9 mi (14.5 km) out-and-back in the Cleveland National Forest in Southern California. I hiked mostly through a canyon that was dotted with pinyon pines with an elevation gain of 1,300 ft (400 m). Daytime temperatures were between 70 and 80 F (21 and 27 C) with an overnight low of about 45 F (7 C). There was no precipitation and it was almost perfectly blue skies. My pack weight was 40 lbs (18 kg).

My last trip was a short overnight in Lake Kegonsa State Park near Madison, Wisconsin. This trip was part scouting (for turkeys) and part experimenting with sleeping in a hammock (my first time). I hiked a total of 10 mi (16 km) in both the state park and adjacent hunting lands. The terrain was hilly, mostly through deciduous forests and prairies but also through some marshes. While I hiked mostly along the dirt-packed trails, I did a fair amount of bushwhacking through thorny brush. The weather was much colder on this trip, with a high of 45 F (7 C) and a low of 30 F (-1 C). While there was no precipitation, the sky was cloudy the entire time.

Additionally, I have worn the gaiters this spring on day hikes scouting new public lands for hunting. Many of the trips were is marshes, swamps and thick mud through some farm fields. Weather conditions were between 15 and 80 F (-9 and 27 C). I have worn the gaiters traditionally over pants, but in the cold I wore a  base layer underneath my pants. On one other occasion I wore rain pants over the gaiters simply because it would have been too much hassle to take them off and put them on over the rain pants.

Observations

Clean
After cleaning. Gaiter on right was washed by hand.
Overall, I can't say my opinion of the gaiters has changed much. The gaiters have performed exactly as I have hoped they would. They keep out dirt and debris from my boots and are definitely thorn-proof.  A close examination of the gaiters reveals no rips, tears, punctures or any other abnormal wear and tear. I have generally cleaned them by hand after the more gnarly trips, but I did take an opportunity to launder them. The image to the right shows the gaiters after washing. In the image, the left gaiter was washed in the washing machine while the one to the right was washed by hand. I used the gaiters twice after washing them and noticed no difference in fit or performance.

One thing I noticed is that the leather boot strap has come out of the harness that holds the excess strap on occasion. I have had this problem with other gaiters, and this has happened only a couple of times while hiking in the nastiest of conditions. The gaiters never came undone so it was more of a nuisance than anything with the strap flopping around.

The fit is still near-perfect. My calf size is at the upper limit so it is a minor chore getting them on. But the zippers and all other features are working as well as when I first got them. I have slipped or stepped into the water more than a few times. I recall one time sinking much deeper into a stream than I thought, slightly over the gaiters. Perhaps because of my quick reflexes - it was really cold water - or maybe because I had the top cinched snug, no water came in and my boots and feet remained dry. This was quite remarkable!

Summary

The Hillsound Super Armadillo Nano Gaiters have performed flawlessly. They are definitely the best pair of gaiters I have owned. They have earned a permanent spot in my gear closet!

Pros: Puncture resistant, waterproof and comfortable fit. Easy to clean and durable. Did not make me too warm.
 

Cons: Draft tube gets caught while putting on, but this is because I am at the upper limit for fit. 

This concludes this test series.  I would like to thank Hillsound Equipment and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to test the Super Armadillo Nano Gaiters.

Read more reviews of Hillsound gear
Read more gear reviews by Brett Haydin

Reviews > Footwear > Accessories > Gaiters > Hillsound Super Armadillo Nano Gaiters > Test Report by Brett Haydin



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