Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hillsound Armadillo LT Gaiter Review

I am part of the Hillsound Equipment Ambassador Program and receive my products for free. However my reviews are not required by the company and I receive no compensation for them.

I picked up a pair of the Hillsound Armadillo LT Gaiters to use as my everyday mountain gaiter because of their weight, comfort, and waterproofness. In the last few months I have put them through the paces ascending rock and snow, glissading, and pairing with trail runner, mountaineering boots, and plastic boots. Overall they are an excellent all-around gaiter.

What I love:
  1. Stretchy comfort
  2. Top-down zipper
  3. Lightweight
  4. Breathable
  5. Waterproof

What could be better:
  1. Underfoot strap is stiff and hard to adjust
  2. Buckle on underfoot strap broke after about a dozen uses (I'm hard on gear!)
  3. Inner tongue gets caught in zipper (I had to cut it out)

Note that if you are planning to use these with plastic boots SIZE UP! They weren't stretchy enough to accommodate mine and I suffered for 3 days with plastics that wouldn't flex. Poor shins :(

– Waterproof to 20,000mm.
– Breathability rating: 6RET, 15.000 + g.
– YKK zipper brings the gaiter close to the leg.
– DWR coating will remain intact for up to 50 washes.
– Unisex
– Weight: 259g (XS); 270g (S); 300g (M); 315g (L); 324g (XL)
– Available sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Salewa Mtn Trainer Mid GTX Boots Review

When I made the transition from trails to summits I knew I needed to bite the bullet and actually buy boots.


Buy boots first, helmet later
I spent a lot of time researching and reading reviews online. More than one person mentioned liking Salewa brand because of the relatively wide toe box and narrower heel. That sounded promising to me. So, I went to REI and picked up a pair of the Mountain Trainer GTX's.

Now, these are not the most technical performance alpine boot, but I have found them to be excellent in my pursuit of the Bulger List.

What I love:
Sturdy construction and excellent traction

What could be better:
The Gore-Tex failed after the first season of use

These boots accept crampons and snowshoes well. They are also stiff enough for Class 4 scrambling and hard snow. They are also comfortable enough to hike long mountain days in. Overall, I recommend them for most applications.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Bskins Sports Bra Review

I am constantly searching for a performance sports bra that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. For whatever reason it seems like you're supposed to spend $30-50+ to keep the girls in line when running. I think it's ridiculous to spend that much and often make do with $20 versions from department stores.

However, I recently gave Bskins.com (where I get my wild and fun tights and shorts) Sports bras a try. They were clearancing many styles for around $5 a piece and I figured it really couldn't hurt to try one out.

I now own 7.

What I love:
Fun patterns and colors
Adequate support

What could be better:
The sizing is not exact. S-L
Adequate bounce support for a B cup runner, but not as supportive as some running specific designs. As a runner on a budget though, it's a negligible trade off.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hillsound Equipment Trail Crampons Review

I am part of the Hillsound Equipment Ambassador Program and receive my products for free. However my reviews are not required by the company and I receive no compensation for them.

I ordered a pair of the Hillsound Trail Crampons to use in less technical scenarios in order to save wear and tear on my aluminum mountaineering crampons. I have put them through their paces on several challenging ascents and have been pleased with their performance, even when I took them into more traditional mountaineering situations (which they are not designed for).

The Trail Crampons are designed for just that...trails. They lack aggressive front points which are necessary for icy, steep terrain. I did ascend Mt. Hood with them and despite the very tenuous grip, I was able to make it up and down the icy Pearly Gates chute in them. Definitely not recommended, but a good demonstration of how these crampons exceeded expectation.

Summit of Mt. Hood, Oregon

What I love:
The built in anti-balling plates.
The ratcheting harness system.

What could be better:
Aluminum rather than steel (weight savings)

Having had anti-balling plates fall off of other crampons I like the fact that these are built in. The ratcheting harness system means I can put these on and off in seconds and I haven't experienced slippage which I often do with a traditional webbing harness. This is essential for me in my fast and light endeavors. The harness is also comfortable on trail runners as well as boots, which is not the case with webbing designs.

The steel points grip exceptionally well for being shorter spikes. As I said, I've taken these on steep terrain and felt like they were adequate even though I was stretching them beyond their design. As a flat terrain crampon they are bomber. I would recommend them for early season thru-hikers dealing with consolidated snow as well as winter hiking.

If Hillsound ever took this harness design and made an aluminum as well as a steel 12 point mountaineering crampon I think they would dominate the crampon world. I would certainly use them. In short, these are the most comfortable and versatile crampon I've used.

From the Hillsound Website:

– Spike Material: Heat-treated Carbon Steel
– Chain Material- Stainless steel
– Harness Material: Elastomer
– Spike Height: 1.5cm / 2/3″
– Spike Number: 11
– Weight (per pair): 414g (XS), 440g (S), 462g (M), 502g (L), 518g (XL)