Mountain Hardwear Nut Shell High Gaiters
By Raymond Estrella
November 15, 2006
Orange County, California, USA
6' 3" (1.91 m)
200 lb (90.70 kg)
I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my wife Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardware
Web site: www.mountainhardwear.com
Product: Nut Shell High Gaiter
Year manufactured: 2004
MSRP: $26.00 (US)
Weight listed: 5 oz (150 g)
Actual weight 3.8 oz (108 g)
Height measured: 16.5 in (41.9 cm)
Size: XL (also available in S, M and L)
Color reviewed: Black (also available in Green)
Warranty: (quoted from web site) “Mountain Hardwear guarantees that every product we make will stand up to the use for which it was designed. In standing by this guarantee, Mountain Hardwear provides a lifetime warranty, to the original owner, on all products against defects in materials or workmanship. All defective or damaged products should be returned to us for evaluation and will be repaired or replaced at our discretion.”
The Mountain Hardwear Nut Shell High Gaiters (hereafter called Nut Shells or gaiters) are a medium duty gaiter for men positioned by the manufacturer for use in “backcountry sports”. I use them for backpacking.
The entire gaiter is made of single-layer 420 denier nylon with a polyurethane durable water repellent coating. The heavy coating is on the inside of the gaiters and is quite noticeable by feel.
The top of the gaiter has been folded over and sewn to create a chase for the two elasticized cords that run around it and out through a brass grommet. The cords pass through a cord-lock and end with a plastic pull. The cord lock is attached to the body of the gaiters by a nylon loop. This allows the plastic end to be pulled tightening the closure by pulling the cords through the cord-lock. Once released the cord-lock having stayed put because of the loop now holds the closure tight until I reach down to manually release the lock. (Whew!)
At the bottom the fabric has been gathered at the back and sewn to a piece of heavy elastic. This keeps the gaiters snug against the back of my boots.
The front of the gaiters are split all the way. The edges of this split are bordered by some 1.5 in (3.8 cm) wide strips of Velcro to create a front closure for the gaiters. The “loop” section is to the outside and has an extra layer of nylon over it. The “hook” strip is to the inside and feels like it has a thin strip of plastic stiffener sandwiched inside its entire length. At the bottom of the closure is a steel snap to give added security. At the top is a flat loop of nylon that acts as a pull to peel the Velcro apart.
Two grommets to either side at the bottom used to have some nylon laces attached to tie under the instep of my boots. I replaced them immediately with the Little King Gaiter-Aid shockcords seen above.
At the bottom of the “loop” section to the inside of the gaiters is a steel wire lace-hook that is the opposite facing direction of any gaiters I have used. Because of this the hook must be put through the laces first, going from above then rotating around the laces. Once this is done the body may be closed with the Velcro, then the instep and top cords can be tightened. Because of where the hook is positioned once the gaiter is closed it is no longer visible.
Inside of the gaiter is a consumer tag with the materials and size listed on one side and laundering instructions on the other. They are as follows: machine wash warm, tumble dry warm, do not bleach, dry clean or use fabric softener. (Yeah, right…)
The Nut Shells are my newest and least used gaiters. I bought them for use in a very narrow window of my hiking year, late spring and early fall. The record setting winter of 2004/05 left California with so much snow in the high mountains that we were faced with having to do a lot of snow crossings at passes and some north facing high trails. Rather than carry my heavier and bulkier OR Crocodile gaiters (my regular winter choice) I bought the Nut Shell gaiters to take along instead.
I also will take them on fall hikes that are pushing the envelope into winter, to press into action should I get surprised by a snow storm with enough accumulation to need them. Better safe than soaked.
Although they do not have a protected “kick” area on the inside it has not been a problem as the aluminum crampons I bring for these trips are not sharp enough to catch or cut the gaiters should I inadvertently drag across them.
I really like the Velcro front closure. After fighting with zippers and snaps in the past, I only choose gaiters with this type of closure system now. Why Mountain Hardwear calls it a “side entry” I will never understand. But then again I have been trying to figure out the name “Nut Shell” for two years to no avail also. I guess in my case it is because if you open it up there is a nut inside…
They do not breathe well at all. To hike in them for any length of time will leave my legs wet. But I tend to get them off as soon as I am out of whatever made me don them in the first place. The picture below is from a spring trip to the White Mountains (the namesake is in front of me). I was wearing boots that the liner had failed leaving me with wet feet and wearing the Nut Shell gaiters that did not leak but left me with wet legs at the end of the day. What is a boy to do?
They do work to keep the snow out and that is what counts for me. They roll up pretty compact and the weight is better than MH even says it is. (That does not happen very often.) I do have to remember that the hook goes through the laces from above. A few times I have been on the side of a trail trying to get the lace-hook to release to no avail. Doh!
The Nut Shell gaiters will continue to go on two or three trips a year with me for the foreseeable future.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
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Read more gear reviews by Ray Estrella