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Reviews > Rain Gear > Gaiters > MountainAbout GatrGuard > Test Report by Gail Staisil

  MountainAbout GatrGard
Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan
 
Page Contents:



Initial Report:
MountainAbout GatrGard
September 25, 2007

Tester Information

Name:
Gail Staisil
Age: 55
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 140 lb (64 kg)
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Email: woodswoman2001@yahoo.com

For the last 17 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 and Canada. 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.


Product Information



Manufacturer
MountainAbout
Website http://www.mountainabout.com 
Phone 1.615.494.3427
Model GatrGard
Color
Black
Material
Nylon 
Size
One Size
Manufacturer  Weight 0.67 oz (18.99 g)
Tested Weight 0.6 oz (17.01 g)
MSRP $7.99 US

 

Product Description and Initial Impressions

The MountainAbout GatrGard is a new product designed to replace the ordinary instep straps on most eyelet-equipped gaiters. According to the manufacturer, they're very durable, lightweight and easy to adjust. Upon arrival, they were everything I expected them to be from viewing the website.

The GatrGard straps consist basically of a finished 5 in (12.7 cm) length of 0.5 in (1.27 cm) nylon webbing that had been folded over and neatly sewn on MountainAbout GatrGardseach end to form a flat loop. A 10 in (25.4 cm) piece of elastic shock cord is inserted into the loop and both ends are secured with a cordlock. The stretch cord is seared on each end to prevent raveling. 

The GatrGards arrived with simple instructions but it's also very intuitive. I began by removing the existing cordage from my gaiters. I then took the cordlock off of each shock cord. The next step was to simply insert one end of each shock cord into the eyelet on the gaiter and then secure the cord
lock. I repeated the steps for both the other side of that gaiter and both sides of the remaining gaiter. The manufacturer does suggest tying a simple figure-eight knot on the ends of the shock cord to prevent them from coming off.  


GatrGard attached to gaiter
The GatrGard's adjustability factor is a feature that I'm greatly looking forward to. I wear a variety of footwear with my gaiters including trail runners, trail shoes, leather boots and waterproof insulated boots. They vary greatly in their degree of bulkiness requiring much adjustment. The cordlock can be used to easily adjust the length of the shock cord. The manufacturer does suggest that the cord can be permanently shortened to save weight if the user sears the cordage appropriately. I probably won't be doing that because of the variety of the footwear that I use. The gaiters that I plan to wear with the GatrGards are the REI Mistral Gaiters or the OR Flex-Tex Gaiters. These two products are basically very much alike as they are both short-length lightweight stretch gaiters.

I also plan to try the GatrGards with the instep loops on a pair of rain pants that I'm currently testing. This combination eliminates the need for gaiters but will supposedly keep the edges of my pants from riding upwards.

I'm looking forward to getting out in the field with the GatrGards. I plan to use them extensively not only for planned backpacking trips but also for dayhikes, trail running and snowshoeing. They will be used on maintained trails and bushwhack routes. Terrain is mostly hilly and will include dirt and rock surfaces as well as snow and ice.
 

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Field Report:
MountainAbout GatrGard
November 24, 2007

Locations and Conditions

During the field test period, I have worn the MountainAbout GatrGards during a four-day backpacking trip. In addition, the GatrGards were worn for local dayhikes and trail running approximately two times a week. Locations ranged from and included conifer and deciduous forest communities with many rock outcroppings to lowland swamps
. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to approximately 1200 ft (366 m).


Backpacking Trip : 

Location: Mackinac Wilderness Tract and surrounding semi-primitive territory (Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan), old overgrown roadbeds and bush travel
Type of Trip: 4-day backpack
Distance: Bushwhack route -Approx 18.6 mi (30 km)
Total Pack Load (including consumables): 34 lb (15.4 kg)
Sky and Air conditions: Mostly cloudy, windy, rain, snowflakes, mid-to-low range humidity
Precipitation: Rain 0.43 in (1.09 cm)
Temperature Range:
26 F (-3 C) to  47 F (8 C)


Local Dayhikes and Trail Running:

Locations:
Local dirt and rock trails
Distances: 3 mi (5 km) to  5 mi (8 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Sunny, cloudy, light rain, snow, windy, mid-high humidity
Temperature range: 18 F (-8 C) to 60 F (16 C)
 


Performance in the Field
Gatrgards in the field
During the field test period, I have worn the MountainAbout GatrGards with several types of footwear. They included running shoes, trail shoes, and trail boots so far. Although there aren't a great deal of differences in the adjustment of the length of cordage needed for each of these types of footwear, it's great to have the ability to easily adjust the cordlocks.

Bushwhacking with the GatrGards

Although the GatrGards have performed very well for running and hiking on maintained trails, I really questioned how the GatrGards would hold up to a bushwhack trip. More specifically, I was wondering if the cordlocks would break. Bushwhacking involves a great deal of hiking through very rough vegetation. Trees, grasses, and brush all constantly pull on my clothing and footwear. Sometimes I equate it to going through the old type of automatic carwash where the brushes dragged relentlessly over the car.

The cordlocks do project outward from each side of my footwear and the resistance is significant enough to pull at them repeatedly. In order to secure the cordlocks so that they didn't slide right off the cordage, I placed a single overhand k
Overhand knots on cordagenot on each end of the cordage on one of the GatrGards. As an alternative on the other GatrGard, I took the folded over lengths of cordage and tied them together with one overhand knot making a loop. Even though I bushwhacked for four days in a row, I only once experienced a loop getting catch on the brush when my foot wanted to keep going. This just resulted in my body jerking slightly backwards but no harm was done. I will change the looped sides over to the non-loop option for further travel.

I did realize that the cordlocks don't have to be used with the GatrGards. However, I like the adjustability factor and I felt that bushwhacking would give them the ultimate test. I also knew that if any of the cordlocks did break, I could just tie the cordage without them as an alternative. The stretch cordage worked rather well in combination with the cordlocks as when the vegetation tugged at the cordlock it had some flexibility to move. I did re-adjust the cordage a few times during breaks, but given its flexibility, it could move over at least two inches (five centimeters) of cordage without any harm.

In addition, the wider bottom straps made out of webbing have not interfered with my footwear's ability to have traction on many kinds of surfaces.

So far, the webbing, the stretch cordage and the cordlocks don't show any real signs of wear. I have machine washed the GatrGards attached to my gaiters a few times when they became super muddy. I then air-dried them until the next outing.
 
I've been real happy with the GatrGards so far. They have performed extremely well during harsh conditions. I find the design to be well thought out and it's definitely an improvement over the simple but non-adjustable cords that came with my gaiters. In the long-term period, I will continue to monitor the functionality of the MountainAbout GatrGards for additional bush trips. I will also address any possible durability issues with repeated exposure to rock, ice and snowy conditions.


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Long Term Report:
MountainAbout GatrGard
January 20, 2008

Locations and Conditions

During the long term testing period, I have worn the MountainAbout GatrGards primarily for running, hiking or snowshoe adventures. Locations ranged from and included conifer and deciduous forest communities with many rock outcroppings to frozen lakes and snow-covered terrain
. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to approximately 1200 ft (366 m).


Trail Running, Hiking and Snowshoeing:

Locations:
Local dirt and rock trails,  ice-covered lakes and snow-covered trails
Distances: 3 mi (5 km) to  5 mi (8 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Sunny, cloudy, light rain, snow, windy, mid-high humidity
Temperature range: -13 F (-25 C) to 38 F (3 C)


Rustic Cabin Sledge Trip: 
 
Location: Hiawatha National Forest (Upper Peninsula of Michigan)
Type of Trip: 4-day walk-in rustic cabin trip with day trips on snowshoes or skis
Distance: 19 mi (31 km) 
Length of Trip:
4 days
Total Sledge Load (including consumables): Estimated 50 lb (23 kg), 12 lb (5.5 kg) daypack for dayhikes
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, snow, sunny, mid-high humidity
Precipitation: Snow (5 in to 6 in/13 cm to 15 cm)
Temperature Range: 14 F (-10 C) to 25 F (-4 C)

  

Performance in the Field

During the long term period, I have continued to enjoy the attributes of the MountainAbout GatrGards. They have adapted well to changes in weather conditions during this winter period. Over 100 in (2.54 m) of snow has fallen during this time so my footwear has varied with the conditions. I have worn my running shoes, my Patagonia Vagabond Trail Boots and my Columbia Bugabootoo Boots with the GatrGards. The length of the elastic cordage adapted well to the different widths of the footwear.

I have also worn snowshoes in combination with some of the types of footwear. Wearing gaiters is detrimental in keeping snow from entering the top of my boots. I was able to snug down the bottom of the gaiters quite effectively with the use of the cordlocks. I have continued to use a simple overhand knot at the ends of each side of cordage to discourage the possible loss of the cordlocks in heavy brush or icy crust. This has worked very well for me.

The GatrGards have been exposed to mostly wet and snowy conditions during this time period. The snow has varied from powder-like to icy crystals to ice-covered lakes. On several of my snowshoe outings, the snow depth varied from 18 in (46 cm) to 2 ft (61 cm).The webbing doesn't show any adverse effect nor did I find a build-up of snow to be a problem on the insteps.

Upon final examination, all parts of the GatrGards remain in great condition including the cordlocks, elastic cords and webbing.

The GatrGards are definitely a keeper and I will continue to use them for all my adventures in the future. They are an innovative solution to an old problem and I look forward to their dependability over the long haul.


Tester Remarks 

Thanks to MountainAbout and BackpackGearTest for making possible the great opportunity to test the GatrGards. This report concludes the test series. 

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