Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon

Colorado's Indian Peaks, Utah canyons, The World

Tom's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Biking
Skiing
Climbing

Tom's Bio

I've been addicted to the outdoors and the gear that allows me to play there all my life. The only jobs I've had since I was 15 (that's 42 years!) have been working with outdoor gear either in retail or as a rep. Since fitting boots for the Canadian Ski Team in the '70s to being the first rep for companies like Osprey (19 years), Chaco (18 years) and Western Mountaineering (7-8 years?), I believe that I have a knack for finding small, innovative companies with the potential to achieve greatness. My goal as a rep here in the Rocky Mountains is to bring leading edge products, honestly to core users through the best retailers on the planet. I still hike, bike, or climb nearly every day. My partners, Leta and Kristen and I presently represent Osprey Packs, Outdoor Research, Western Mountaineering, Carve Designs, TrekSta Trail Shoes and Cushe Footwear (for urban adventures!). If you've never heard of several of those companies...you will!

Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon wrote a review of on April 26, 2013

4 5

With the few extra pounds I carry around on my exterior, my size large fits close to my mid section. That said, the unique combination of technical fabrics has kept me warm and dry during our recent spate of wet snows here in Boulder. The durability and stretch make this an ideal colder weather climbing piece. It's worked great at 20 degrees with wind as long as I kept moving. Standing around at that temp required an additional insulation layer on top since I couldn't fit it underneath.
Those leaner than my 5'9", 200 lb. stumpy frame will find it perfect for cold weather high aerobic activity.

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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon wrote a review of on April 26, 2013

Huge protection-Small package
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I was looking for a lightweight Gore-Tex jacket that would provide the ultimate protection I might need if the shit hit the fan at altitude. I took this one to the new Opas Taylor Hut between Aspen & Crested Butte for its maiden voyage. Was I impressed! It was blowing hard at 12,100' so I skied with just a thin wool layer and the Transonic. The bit of stretch and windproofness made it the perfect amount of protection while breathable enough to ski uphill with a pack. It fit over my down sweater when I was standing around at the top of the pass trying to figure out where the elusive hut might be. (several people have gotten lost and benighted trying to find this newest addition to the Braun Hut System)
It's one chest pocket is spacious but not ideal for town use where you might want more storage. Pockets add weight and bulk however so this is perfect for light/fast pursuits.
For backcountry use, I can't think of a lighter, more breathable outer layer. I'm a huge fan of Gore's Active Shell fabric for its balance of wind protection and warmth while eliminating the sauna effect.

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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon wrote a review of on April 26, 2013

4 5

This small package of protection is more breathable than any hardshell and it doesn't restrict a bit of movement. The fit is fairly trim to minimize bulk and move with you. Nice that it packs into it's own chest pocket.
Softshells keep getting better and better with new lighter-weight fabrics that move better than earlier iterations.

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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon wrote a review of on April 26, 2013

4 5

Traveling abroad with a minimum amount of clothing is ideal. Most of the nylon/quick dry shirts I find have too many flaps and conspicuous zippers...stuff. This one is clean, functional and cool. On the rare occasion that it requires washing, it's ready to wear in short order. The sun protection is a bonus.

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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon wrote a review of on October 21, 2011

Flash 3 years old. Answers one year late!
5 5

So sorry that I've not addressed your questions for such a long time. Let me attempt to do that now as objectively as I can.
The Rab Microlite Alpine is a vastly different animal. It has a W/B outer shell and weighs in at 21 oz. vs. 9 oz. here. The Flash sweater is intended as an outer layer for moderate days and should undoubtedly be layered under a W/B shell when skiing trees or when the wind is howling. Yes, the lightweight fabric will snag on tree branches when cruising by in the steeps. The combination of 850 minimum fill power down and lightweight, completely breathable fabric causes it's comfort range to be extremely versitile. From 65 degrees F to 20 F, I typically feel like I'm at room temp while wearing my Flash. Adding a waterproof/breathable layer to the outer fabric increases its durability (still risky in the trees) and it makes it warmer but will also narrow it's comfort range. Warmer temps will more readily cause overheating. I have both the Flash XR and the regular Flash. Probably if I lived in the Pacific NW, I'd wear my XR more. Here in Colorado, I don't even carry fleece in the backcountry anymore. This jacket with a lightweight Gore layer on top and 1-2 thin wool layers underneath is the most I've ever needed on our coldest -10 degree days. Hailing from Minnesota, these Colorado temps are admittedly pretty moderate.
For the record, the Flash XR is plenty water resistant for any wet weather I've encountered short of a downpour.
I've uploaded a photo of my Flash after 3 years of use. If I'd skied trees with it unprotected, it would have patches all over it. Having said that, I've not babied it either. It is either in my pack or thrown in the back of my car or stuffed into the tankbag of my motorbike whenever the temps are anticipated below 40.
Regarding its durability, as Yvon Chouinard so aptly put it: (paraphrasing) Having the best gear is no replacement for knowing how to use it.
Use this jacket wisely (not over-protectively!) and it will last a very, very long time. It will also become your most used jacket as it has become mine.

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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon wrote an answer about on April 19, 2011

The fitted nature of this gaiter assures that if properly fit, snow and rain will stay on the outside where it belongs. Having said that, you want to make sure that they fit snugly around your boot.
I would also suggest that you consider the Croc Gaiter for women. It has the same fitted nature but is made from more durable lower fabric and the Gore upper will breath better over the long haul.

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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon wrote an answer about on April 19, 2011

The Mutant can certainly handle ski carry. There is always a concern about burred ski edges causing some damage to any pack material they come in contact with. Having said that, the 420 denier packcloth that comprise the side panels and the 100 denier lower side pockets should provide plenty of protection given a modicum of care.
Osprey's Variant 37 is very similar to the Mutant but with shovel slot on the outside and a very lightweight aluminum frame that may slightly improve the carry with that extra 15+ pounds of long levers pulling on you in the wind. Just a thought. Either way, I think you'll be very happy with how the packs carry with skis or without.

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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon wrote a review of on October 25, 2010

5 5

Everything said about this bag is true. Refer to my review of the microfiber version for more info.One note to help you stuff the bag into its stuff sack. Gore Windstopper is windproof. Air does not excape the bag easily when right side out. To stuff this bag and all Windstopper bags, turn it inside out for a much easier, more mitten friendly time!

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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon wrote a review of on October 25, 2010

5 5

OK...in truth I've never used this bag. I only wish I'd taken it to Denali when I was old enough (young enough) to enjoy it! The "-40" bag I used to climb Denali (one of Earth's coldest environs) was a shadow of this bag. That was 1980 and I didn't know about Western at that time. This bag is astoundingly thick and warm for its 3 lbs. 4 oz. By most accounts, most users of this bag will swear that it's good to -40. Certainly with a tent I would have no question about that. The shell is surprisingly water resistant. Buy the Gore version if you want the ultimate in warmth and water resistance for snow caves and igloos. The inside of the foot section is slightly burlier fabric for placement of boot liners or full boots that have frozen to your feet. (happened to me!) By the way, this is not licence to crawl into your bag with crampons in place! Want the maximum in warmth/weight/compressibility? You're looking at it.

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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon wrote a review of on October 25, 2010

5 5

This is a parka that I wish I could wear more often. My days of expedition climbing are probably over. Having climbed Denali and Western Canadian peaks, I can only say that I wish I'd had this jacket during my most adventuresome climbs. Like all Western jackets, the Meltdown uses minimum 850 fill goose down. Most of our down tests higher, in the 900 to 950 range. The fabric is slightly heavier and water resistant than the stuff used in Western's Flight or Flash Jackets. This adds to the durability and suggests its use without a layer over top. Only the soggiest days would wet out this jacket. This begs the question: Why would you wear this jacket anywhere above 20 degrees F, anyway?
The downfilled hood tucks easily into the collar yet reappears to provide super cold weather protection. The jacket's fit is generous to accommodate layers underneath. My size large weighs 17 oz. on my postal scale yet would be my jacket of choice for another shot at Alaskan peaks or winter camping in my state of origin, Minnesota. Don't be fooled by the overall weight. It's got more than enough down to keep you toasty! It's just the good stuff!

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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon wrote an answer about on October 25, 2010

This jacket is not what I would describe as an athletic fit. It is intended to be worn over other layers and produce ultimate protection from cold. It fits under my slightly oversized Gore-Tex jacket for "full on" weather protection since it is water resistant but not water proof.
Full cut is how I would best describe the fit. I'm male, 5'9" and 200 lbs. My large fits with room to layer underneath.

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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon wrote a review of on October 25, 2010

5 5

This was the first jacket I purchased from Western Mountaineering. (Yes, even us reps have to pay the stuff we get from our suppliers!)
If you prefer a functional down sweater without a hood, you've found the best in show. Again, this is not a fashion piece. It is simply the lightest, warmest, most compressible in it's class. The light fabric is not water resistant in the least. Instead it is amazingly breathable and versitile in both cold and moderate weather. Western uses only European goose down that routinely measures over 900 fill power. We guaranty 850 plus. This make the jacket feel as though you're wearing nothing at all yet for me works with a t-shirt to 10 degrees F before I put on a shell on top or a layer of wool underneath. Everything about this jacket is comfortable. The collar is just right. The cuffs are low in bulk yet keep the warmth in as expected. My Flight Jacket is well worn and about 4 years old. With care, it will last many more years in my pack and on my back.

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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon wrote a review of on October 25, 2010

5 5

You need to know right off the bat that I'm the sales rep in the Rockies for Western Mountaineering. I'm unabashed about extolling the virtues of Western down bags, jackets, pants and booties.
I've owned many down sweaters in the course of my work in this business. This is the best I've ever used. It's lighter, more compact, warmer and more comfortable than any other. Here is my experience: The jacket with stuff sack weighs 9oz. on my postal scale. The fit is generous with a very comfortable hood design. Don't look for fashion here. You won't find it. Instead, decide if you're looking for the lightest, most compressible, warmest down sweater on the market. If it is, you'll keep it in your pack at all times like I do, waiting for the next opportunity to put it to the test. You'll love it too!

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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon wrote an answer about on October 25, 2010

Hi there! Tom here. I'm the Western Mountaineering rep here in the Rockies. I've been bugging Western to put some kind of sizing chart together but they're busy sewing jackets and bags. Sorry 'bout that.
The jackets run quite full. Most folks I know wear their normal size. If in between sizes, going down will usually work. I prefer to size up for comfort and ease of layering. The fabrics are so light and the down so "drapy" that sizing up will usually yield an acceptable fit.
Sorry to be so vague but without specs, that's all I can do. Next step will be to request a sizing chart once again. Let's see what happens!

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