Some of my favorite outdoor activities come with winter – even when we’re inching into spring. There is something really magical about being in the backcountry when everything is covered in snow. The sights, the sounds of the crunching beneath your feet, the smells, even the cold air brings me to life in a way that only winter can. The gear that I choose can either add to the magic of my winter excursion, or it can greatly reduce my fun if not chosen carefully.
On a recent trip, the timing was perfect to give some new goodies from Garmont and Hillsound a test on some winter trail time. I was impressed by this combination and it did indeed add to the magic to my winter fun!
Garmont Tower Trek GTX ($329.00)
The Garmont Tower Trek GTX boots are listed as a backpacking boot, but they are so much more, and very impressive right out of the box! I could immediately see that they are the perfect cross-over for winter, off trail rocky peak bagging, and carrying heavy loads.
I hiked over 100 miles in the Garmont boots to really get an idea of how they perform in a variety of terrain and how they would wear. The boots took about 25-30 miles to soften, however they were comfortable right out of the box. On my snow travel days my feet truly stayed warm, and dryness was never an issue. On my off-trail peak bagging trips I had ample support under my foot and superb grip. The higher ankles kept my feet from rolling, as they occasionally can when scrambling uneven terrain. This is a huge plus in my book!
What they offer: A 360-degree rubber rand, a thick Vibram sole with extra deep lugs for additional grip on varying terrain, mid nylon insole for support and flexibility, GORE-TEX lining, and surprisingly high ankle coverage.
Adding the Hillsound Crampon Pro and the Hillsound Armadillo Lt gaiter with these boots made for a perfect combination for winter hiking when on icy or deep snowy terrain.
Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro ($79.00)
These are fantastic! I was out hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument shortly after we received a series of storms, then a few warm days, then another back-to-back storms. This weather combination made for some very icy trekking. I was off trail hiking with a few friends wearing the Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro and my friends had micro-spikes. It was immediately evident how much more superior the crampon pros were in these conditions. What I could traverse in a few minutes with carful footing took them three times as long – with a lot of kick-stepping – just to follow in my tracks.
The Trail Crampon Pro combines some of the benefits of a traditional crampon with the comfort of a non-technical crampon. The Pro is ideal for someone seeking slightly more aggressive terrain. Utilizing simple ratchet buckle bindings, these crampons can be fastened effortlessly to most footwear. Huge bonus, as it kept me from having to sit down to attach them to my boots. (‘Alpine Stoppers’ are provided, which keeps them from opening in deeper snow. Can we say awesome detail?) However, they are not a true crampon for technical mountaineering or ice climbing. I have to say these were just what I needed to traverse the snowy, icy slopes and keep myself safe.
Hillsound Armadillo LT Gaiter ($49.00)
I was incredibly impressed with the Hillsound Armadillo LT Gaiter. Something I found they really improved upon was the way the front hook attached to your boot by hooking under the shoe and not over it, ensuring your gaiter stays attached in deeper snow. The feature that really wowed me was the zipper front. I am used to seeing a Velcro front closure, which can easily open in deep snow. With the zipper front closure you are guaranteed to never get snow where it doesn’t belong! Some other features include the combination of the light-weight waterproof fabric upper and the three layer combination that is contour fitting. The 1000 denier high-density nylon lower is great for added durability. These will definitely be my go-to pair on future winter trips because they really met the need of high performance.
Being the total gear geek and winter fanatic, these three items were a fantastic combination. I stayed dry, comfortable, safe and looked great while I was at it. Every adventure girls dream! (Guys too as these were non gender specific, just Bad-A$$ specific)