Test Series: MountainAbout GatrGuard
INITIAL REPORT: 1 Oct 2007
FIELD REPORT: 2 Dec 2007
LONG-TERM REPORT: 3 Feb 2008
|About Wayne, the tester:
Height: 1.8 m (5' 10")
Weight: 95 kg (211 lb)
Email address: wayne underscore merry at yahoo dot com dot au
City, State, Country: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Backpacking Background: I started overnight backpacking
six years ago. I hike in various terrains from moderate/hard track
walks to some off track and rivers. I like the temperature to stay above
freezing, and have not camped above the snow line during winter. I enjoy
going on weekend and multi day walks up to two weeks as well as day walks.
I carry a moderate weight pack, enjoying a few creature comforts at camp.
I would normally do at least 2 overnight or longer walks every three months, in
addition to a number of full day length walks.
|About the test environment:
I will be testing the MountainAbout GatrGuard in Victoria and Tasmania, Australia. Elevations will
vary from 0 m to 1500 m (4900 feet) although I may climb higher up to
2000m (6600 feet). The test will be conducted in spring and summer
periods with temperatures varying from 10 C (50 F) to 40 C (104 F).
Humidity varies widely during this time of year. Conditions could vary from quite wet to very dry.
The Tasmanian conditions are expected to be very wet and muddy.
I will be testing the MountainAbout GatrGuard on all my overnight or longer walks, in addition to some
of my day walks.
Manufacturer's description: Sick and tired of replacing that flimsy instep cord on
your lightweight gaiters? Does the cord not even make it through a single trip rendering your gaiters
almost useless? Have you even glued Velcro to your shoe and gaiter so you can finally be rid of the
shredded cord? If this sounds familiar then you need the GatrGuard. Finally, a lightweight instep strap
that actually stands up to the abuse of hiking. The GatrGuard uses 1/2 inch nylon webbing for the high
wear areas and stretchy shock cord to make the strap flexible and taut. It also uses cord locks on
each end of the strap to keep it fully adjustable. The GatrGuard is lightweight too. It weighs in at
a little under 0.7 ounces per pair.
|Specifications for product as tested:
- Manufacturer specified:
- As tested:
- Weight: 19 g (0.7 oz) - as a pair.
- Manufacturer specified:
- Strap width: 0.5 in (12 mm)
- As tested:
- Strap length: 120 mm (4.7 in)
- Strap width: 12mm (0.5 in)
- Shock cord length when relaxed (each side) 120 mm (4.7 in)
Initial Report: Item Receipt & First Impressions:
1 Oct 2007
I received the MountainAbout GatrGuard in a plastic sleeve with a stapled on cardboard card describing
the product and instructions. The instructions describe the product and how to attach it to gaiters. The
GatrGuard requires that the Gaiters have eyelets to attach to, although the shock cord could be threaded
through clips as well.
In the lead up to this test I lost one of my old gaiters, and used this as an opportunity to upgrade. My
old gaiters used a steel cord as their strap to keep them secured. This strap was easy to take off. I often
walked with the strap off as rocks and the general surface of much of my walking tended to wear straps down,
so that straps would fail after 20 to 30 hours of walking. My new gaiters were not designed to remove the strap
so easily, however I was able to remove it from one side and attach the GatrGuard easily. The manufacturers of the
new gaiters must have been more confident about their strap given that it is not designed to be easily removable,
however I will not have an opportunity to see if this is the case as I will use the GatrGuard exclusively during
the test period. I cannot remove the manufacturers strap completely, however I will have it out of use during the
test of the GatrGuard.
The material of the GatrGuard seems quite strong, but it is not thick. My initial thought was - is this going to
handle the rocks and other hazards of the tracks that made such short work of my old steel straps? MountainAbout
has designed this product to perform significantly better than the usual straps supplied with some gaiters, as
described on their web site. We shall see, given that I have over 30 days of walking planned during the test period.
I would like to thank BackpackGearTest and MountainAbout for the opportunity to test the GatrGuard.
2 Dec 2007
Trips during Field Test period:
Brisbane Ranges: 3 days on track. Elevations ranged from 100 m (330 ft) to 400 m (1330 ft), with temperatures
from 10 C (50 F) to 30 C (86 F). There was some overnight rain, but none while walking. The terrain included
a significant amount of shale rock.
South West Tasmania: 16 days on and off track. Elevations ranged from sea level to 1100 m (3630 ft), with
temperatures from 5 C (41 F) to 25 C (77 F). Most days were dry, but I walked through some rain including a
storm. Humidity was medium to high. Terrain included lots of mud, which at times was more than 1 m (3.3 ft)
deep. On track conditions included a significant amount of rocks and stones.
My experience with the GatrGuard:
My first two months with the MountainAbout GatrGuard included two trips (detailed above) which were not the
easiest walking conditions for gaiter straps. The first trip included almost constant walking on shale rock,
which made me wonder just how long the GatrGuards were going to last. Both straps showed very little wear at
the conclusion of the trip. At this stage I was very positive about the GatrGuards, as they were outperforming
the metal cables that I had used in the past.
My second trip was in South West Tasmania, and this area is well known for being quite muddy. My first few days
were on the Port Davey track, which was the most muddy section of the trip. The track is quite overgrown which
means that the mud is at times unavoidable, and on quite a number of occasions, I was in thigh deep mud. It was
in these conditions that the GatrGuards began to struggle. The straps are held in place by shock cord with a
clamp. This binding, which gave me no problems in the Brisbane Ranges failed in Tasmania. One strap came off on
the first day, and even though I would check the shock cords on an hourly basis, the second strap failed on the
7th day. I lost one strap. As the straps failed, I began to use the straps that came with my gaiters, which are
secured using a buckle, and this mechanism survived the trip, although those straps gained quite a bit of wear.
The conditions that we experienced in Tasmania were hard on our equipment: everyone in our walking party
experienced breakages in shoelaces. My boots didn't fall apart, but they were not anywhere near as good as when
the trip started. The conditions were harder on equipment than the last time I was in SW Tassie.
Even though the conditions in SW Tassie were harder on equipment than all of my other walking, I do think that
the GatrGuard needs a more secure method of attachment. A climbing friend has suggested using static cord, and
I intend to do this for the long term review of this test series. I also think that the shock cord attachment
would survive most, but not all of my usual walking. As for the straps themselves, they survived conditions that
would have seen the end of other straps I have used. The picture above shows a strap after 10 days of use, and
even though I need new cords, the strap itself shows very little sign of wear, and I would imagine it would
still be good after another 10 days of the same conditions.
3 Feb 2008
Trips during Long Term Test period:
Rubicon: 2 days on track. Elevations ranged from 300 m (1000 ft) to 1200 m (3930 ft), with temperatures
from 10 C (50 F) to 30 C (86 F). There was no rain. The terrain included a significant amount of road
Mt Howitt and Howqua River: 3 days on track. Elevations ranged from 400 m (1330 ft) to 1750 m (5750 ft), with
temperatures from 10 C (50 F) to 25 C (77 F). Conditions were mostly dry, but we walked through a small
thunderstorm. Track conditions varied from gravel roads through rocky track to soil.
I used 3 mm (0.12 in) static cord on the one Gatrguard that I had remaining after the South Tasmanian trip to
secure it to my gaiter. I am using the strap supplied with my gaiters on the other gaiter.
The static cord provided a secure attachment for the GatrGuard and was not
difficult to take the Gaiter on and off. The Gatrguard as supplied uses shock cord for this function,
which is easier to adjust than static cord with a knot, but as seen in the Field Report, I had
problems with this in what I admit were trying conditions for equipment.
The GatrGuard has shown only little of wearing, which cannot be said for the straps that
came with my gaiters which are the same age as the GatrGuard.
I am impressed with the GatrGuard strap. It does appear
that these straps will not last indefinitely, but are far more robust than I thought they would be
at the start of the test. I am very likely to purchase new ones when my existing GatrGuard (remember
I now only have one!) and other straps wear out. Even though I am happy with using a static cord to
attach the GatrGuard to my gaiters, I realise that this might not have the marketing appeal vs the
shock cord and clamp used by MountainAbout. That system failed in South Tasmania, but did work ok on
the walks I did before that, and would have likely worked on the walks I did since then.
I would like to thank MountainAbout and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to participate in
Read more reviews of MountainAbout gear
Read more gear reviews by Wayne Merry