by John Brown,
Cold, snow, sleet, and ice are normal conditions for my winter bike commute to work here in Minnesota. With the elements being so unfriendly, I am excited to try commuting with a pair of gaiters for added warmth. With that direction in mind, I was excited to try the Hillsound Armadillo LT gaiters. For those who aren’t familiar with a pair of gaiters, they cover your shin and calf, below the knee, and above the ankle. Splash-proof protection works in combination with your winter boots to extend your leg. They are designed to keep snow, slush, and debris off your legs and dripping into your boot.
A gaiters construction
The Armadillo LT gaiter’s upper is constructed out of Flexia, a three-layer material designed to stretch, be waterproof, conform to your leg and stay in place. The lower section is made of dense nylon, which is extremely tough. The zippers are waterproof, and the straps and clips seem to be more than tough enough for their job. Even though these gaiters exude durability, they are remarkably lightweight.
A full-length zipper makes for an easy fit.
I have to admit that I have never tried riding with a gaiter. Whereas my point of reference is small, I spend a lot of time on my bike in the cold. For the frigid weather, my riding boot of choice is the 45NRTH Wölvhammer, built with gaiters in mind. The Hillsound Armadillo LT gaiter paired with them easily. Thanks to the full-length zipper, I got my riding gear and boots on, then fashioned the gaiter into place with relative ease. That ease comes from the stretch that the upper material offers and the easily adjustable lower Velcro strap and upper buckle strap.
Warmth on the bike
The addition of a waterproof layer was immediately apparent when I left my house. We had gotten a fresh coating of wet snow overnight, and the salt trucks were out in force. Thanks to the slush created, my legs were immediately doused in slop but stayed dry and warm. This is a far cry from a week prior when I rode home without the benefit of gaiters. This time, I buzzed along my usual route to work and noticed that my legs were warmer than normal. Also, when looking down at my legs (not something I recommend), I saw all the sludge my tires were kicking up and bouncing off the gaiters. When I reached the office, my legs were dry and comfortable, and the gaiter was still doing a good job repelling moisture.
With my first foray into gaiters, I want to see where they are best used. I know that hikers and snowshoeing fans love them for their warmth and protection; now, after trying them, I am fascinated to see how they will help from a cycling perspective. Right now, I will reach for them whenever the weather is cold and wet. While I am sold on their benefit for wet conditions, I look forward to blocking the wind chill when temps get colder. Stay tuned for more information on my adventures with the Hillsound Armadillo LT gaiter.