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Reviews > Footwear > Accessories > Gaiters > Hillsound Super Armadillo Nano Gaiters > Test Report by Gail StaisilHillsound
Super Armadillo Nano Gaiters
Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan
Initial Report - November 12, 2017
Field Report - February 16, 2018
Long Term Report - April 12, 2018
November 12, 2017
Name: Gail Staisil
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 160 lb (73 kg)
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Email: woodswoman 2001 AT yahoo DOT com
For the last 20 years, backpacking has become a passion. I am a four-season backpacker and an off-trail navigator. Although I do take yearly trips to the American West or Southwest, the majority of my trips are in Michigan. My pack weight varies considerably but my base weight is below 18 lb (8 kg). I am primarily a tarp camper who averages more than 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge variety of weather conditions including relentless rain, wet snow and sub-zero temps.
Initial Impressions and Product Description
The Hillsound Super Armadillo Nano Gaiters arrived in the requested size of Large based on calf circumference. No imperfections were found. Even though my calf was on the smaller end of the range for the size selected, I found the gaiters to be more close fitting than other long gaiters that I have worn in winter. It will be interesting to see if this is an asset. The gaiters are long and end just below my knees. The gaiters are the top of the line product for Hillsound as they also make two other styles. This style is recommended for mountaineering, snowshoeing and ice climbing. The gaiters were designed and developed in Canada but the place of fabrication is in China.
I am guessing there is a reason that part of the name of the gaiters is "Armadillo". The lower half of the gaiters feature SuperFabric which is an "abrasion and puncture-resistant material that can withstand your most extreme outdoor adventures" according to the manufacturer. The material features very small raised dots that have a tough look to them. NanoSphere coating is used as a permanent DWR coating so that the gaiters will likely be water and dirt resistant. Uppers of the gaiter feature patented Schoeller C_Change which is a wind and waterproof membrane. Reportedly it allows heat retention or cooling dependent on the temperature. The fabric is also stretchable.
When I put the gaiters on, I noticed that there is one outstanding difference from my other gaiters: the zipper hooks at the top edge of the gaiters, meaning that I close the zipper the opposite way that most zippers operate. Seemed a bit awkward so hope I get used to it! There is a rather nice big loop on each zipper to make using the pull easier by hooking a finger through the large loop. The zipper is a water-resistant YKK zipper with a wide storm flap behind it (about 5 cm/2 in wide). The top edge of the gaiters have webbing and buckle closures. The bottom edge has a hook-and-loop tab. There is also a bottom metal hook so that the gaiter can be secured to a loop on my backcountry ski boots (one boot pictured at right) or other footwear. The instep strap of the gaiters is a TPU-coated nylon and is replaceable. It is very shiny and looks like patent-leather right now. The strap has an adjustable buckle at the lateral side of each gaiter.
Care instructions are basically easy. The gaiters can be hand washed with warm water then hung dry. That's all that I need to remember as the usual warnings about not dry cleaning, no bleach, etc are only necessary if one is truly puzzled!
I would consider the Hillsound Super Armadillo Nano Gaiters to be close fitting and very sturdy looking. Lots of high tech materials are used to hopefully improve performance and durability. I look forward to backcountry skiing and snowshoeing with these gaiters. They will also likely be used with crampons while exploring ice caves this winter.
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February 16, 2018
USA Locations and Conditions
During the field test period I have taken one winter backpacking trip, and three winter ski or snowshoe trips (while pulling sled), one to a private lighthouse on an island located in frozen Lake Superior and the other two to rustic cabins in a national forest. The trips were in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where I live and it was in mostly boreal forest. Elevation ranged from above 600 ft (183 m) to almost 2,000 ft (610 m). I have also worn them on numerous day trips with either snowshoes, backcountry skis or ice crampons.
Location of Trip #1: Hiawatha National Forest
Length of Trip: 2 days, 1 night backpacking (Dec 2-3)
Pack Weight: 26 lb (11.8 kg)
Distance: 10 mi (16 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Semi-cloudy, frosty
Temperature Range: 39 F to 26 F (4 C to -3 C)
Location of Trip #2: Hiawatha National Forest
Length of Snowshoe-in Rustic Cabin Trip: 5 days, 4 nights (Dec 29 - Jan 2)
Sled Weight: Not weighed, but very heavily loaded with gear and fresh food, probably at least 50 lb (23 kg)
Distance: Not calculated, but backcountry skied every day probably at least 4 mi (6.4 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cold, a bit of sun, lots of new snow, cloudy
Precipitation: About 8 in (20 cm) of new snow
Temperature Range: 16 F to -9 F (-9 C to -23 C)
Location of Trip #3: Grand Island National Recreation Area
Length of Backcountry ski into Lighthouse Trip: 3 days, 2 nights (February 9-11)
Distance: Not calculated, but the journey to the lighthouse and back was 21 mi (34 km) plus a day trip to explore
Sky and Air Conditions: Mostly cloudy
Temperature Range: 28 F to -9 F (-3 C to -23 C)
Location of Trip #4: Hiawatha National Forest
Length of Snowshoe-in Rustic Cabin Trip: 4 days, 3 nights (February 12-15)
Sled Weight: Not weighed, but very heavily loaded with gear and fresh food, probably at least 40 lb (18 kg)
Distance: 12 mi (19 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Mostly cloudy, some sun
Temperature Range: 37 F to -8 F (3 C to -22 C)
Since receiving the Hillsound Super Armadillo Nano Gaiters nearly three months ago, I have worn them an average of three times a week. I recreate outdoors daily and other than skiing with track skis (where gaiters aren't necessary), I have worn the gaiters for all other activities including backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking/caving with ice crampons. The gaiters have worked well and have not interfered with any of the binding systems on all of the aforementioned. I have used both Kahtoola Microspikes and K10 crampons with them.
I admit that when I got the gaiters I was a bit skeptical of their fit which is closer fitting than any other gaiters I have used in the past. I thought they would be uncomfortable and would trap moisture because of their trim fit. I couldn't have been more wrong! I love how easy they are to put on with the zipper closure. The top strap clips easily and the bottom hook is easy to attach to my ski boots. I have worn them over a variety of ski pants and tights, all with a baselayer underneath. Every time I take off the gaiters I check for trapped moisture and there hasn't been any. This is astounding as I sometimes wear them for as much as 5-6 hours at a time if I am backcountry skiing.
So far the gaiters look like new and there have been no issues with the zippers or foot straps. I haven't felt the need to clean them as snow is its own cleaner. During the long term period I will continue to wear the gaiters often and I am especially looking forward to more than a week of skiing at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
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Long Term Report:
April 12, 2018
USA Locations and Conditions
During the long term test period I have taken one extended backcountry trip where I backcountry skied daily, one rustic cabin trip (pulled gear), and have done many additional backcountry ski outings (at least one a week). The trips were in the states of Michigan, Idaho and Wyoming. The forests included large stands of hemlocks, maples and beech trees in Michigan and lodge pole pine in the western states. Elevation ranged from above 600 ft (183 m) to above 7,500 ft (2286 m).
Location of Trip #5: Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming) and Teton Range (Idaho, Wyoming)
Backcountry ski trip (February 23- March 4)
Distance: Skied for 4-6 hours daily
Sky and Air Conditions: Mostly cloudy, some sun, snow
Precipitation: New snow 14-16 inches total (36-41 cm)
Temperature Range: 23 F to -12 F (-5 C to -25 C)
Location of Trip #6: Hiawatha National Forest
Length of Snowshoe-in Rustic Cabin Solo Trip: 3 days, 2 nights (March 11-13)
Sled Weight: 40 lb (18 kg)
Distance: Snowshoed and skied 14 mi (23 km) and then skied another 6 mi (10 km) on the way home
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, snowy
Precipitation: At least 15 in (38 cm) of new snow
Temperature Range: 34 F to 8 F (1 to -14 C)
I have continued to immensely enjoy wearing the Hillsound Super Armadillo Nano Gaiters. They have performed flawlessly. They are so easy to place on and remove. Often times I do this in my vehicle at the trailhead without issue. The zippers and closures work so easily and the bottom strap is easy to step into as it stays rigid and doesn't have to be fiddled with.
We still have great snow cover (several feet in the backcountry) and a winter (spring?) storm is providing another foot (0.30 m) or more of snow currently. My typical week includes at least one backcountry ski, snowshoeing and the rest usually track (classic) skiing. I also use the gaiters with my crampons for icy trails. My favorite trip this winter was an adventure to Idaho and Wyoming to backcountry ski. The snow was deep and the gaiters kept me from getting my boots wet. Every day during the trip I skied a minimum of 4-6 hours.
The gaiters look as good as new. Snow keeps them clean and I don't see any wear issues that stand out (only a few non-shiny areas on boot straps). I know it sounds like I am overexcited about these gaiters but I truly like them better than any I have ever worn (different types, but approximately seven kinds that I can remember including those fabricated with Gore-tex, Neoprene, stretch or tightly-woven nylon). Breathability is one of their most outstanding qualities in my opinion. My lower legs have neither been cold or too hot. Remarkable performance in a wide range of temperatures and snow temps. No snow has stuck to the gaiters during any of my adventures which ranged from -12 F to 39 F (-5 C to 4 C).
I will certainly continue to wear these gaiters during the rest of this snow season as well as in future times.
Thanks to Hillsound and BackpackGearTest.org for this opportunity to test the Super Armadillo Nano Gaiters. This concludes my Long Term Report and the test series.
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