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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon

Colorado's Indian Peaks, Utah canyons, The World

Tom Gordon's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Biking
Skiing
Climbing

Tom Gordon'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 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 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 a review of on July 30, 2010

5 5

This bag has every right to be big, bulky and heavy...but it's not! This is the bag that I use the most. 20 degrees keeps me comfortable 3 seasons in the mountains and during spring and fall in the desert. I've never found a 20 degree bag that lofts as tall as this one. It's roomy for my stout stature yet weighs a scant 2 lbs. The stuff size is slightly greater than a football. Although this is made from Western's least water resistant shell, I awoke in the Cirque of the Towers one morning in Sept. to 24 degrees and 4 inches of snow covering me in my Alpinlite. (The stars were out when I went to bed. Why would I pitch the tent!)The bag was dry. I was warm. Just rolled over and went back to sleep.
If you're an ultralite fanatic and want to save another 1/2 lb., get the Ultralite. While you're wrapped tight in your 1 lb. 8 oz. bag, I'll be makin' babies in mine.

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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon wrote a review of on July 24, 2010

5 5

Yup, I really love this jacket. I'm a huge fan of Gore-Tex for its breathability but this is nearly as breathable yet lighter and full stretch. It travels well yet works great in the backcountry. When overpowering its ability to breath, I just use the unique mechanical venting (from hem to armpit venting) to release interior moisture. The stretch provides spectacular mobility without sacrificing waterproofness. Using it in town? Tuck away the hood and it dresses up well.

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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon wrote a review of on July 24, 2010

5 5

With Gore breathability and waterproofness, this pant is packable yet durable enough for full on mountaineering conditions. I use them when space is an issue but need a rugged pant for unexpected conditions. They accompany me on backcountry ski days as well as adventure touring on my motorcycle. The fit is excellent for my "thicker" thighs & physique.

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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon wrote a review of on July 24, 2010

5 5

The Aether 60 is one of the most usable multiday packs I've ever used. In previous iterations, Osprey left out the sleeping bag compartment and built in belt in the top pocket hip pack. For Spring 2010 they made the Aether 60 with the same feature set as the 70 and 85 liter versions. While it doesn't qualify as an "ultralight" pack, it certainly carries like one. The weight is very reasonable considering it has completely interchangeable hipbelt and harness along with 3 torso sizes to choose from. This makes it a pack that can be totally custom fit...and when it fits, it carries beautifully...like an Osprey.

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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon wrote a review of on April 14, 2010

5 5

I've been riding with this pack for a few months now and can't believe that Osprey has solved the major objections that I've had with all other hydration systems.
They come in sizes so they fit. The res has a framesheet sewn so it doesn't "bubble" on my back. Easy fill res. Great organization. Stability is excellent. Magnetic, locking bite valve is so thoughtful! Plenty of room for daily rides with cool weather gear and tools, pumps etc. Love it!

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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon wrote a review of on September 13, 2006

4 5

Fascinated by a review that I saw on the Osprey Switch 36, I was forced to dig into my pile of winter tools and dust off the Osprey prototype I used all last year. Yup, I'm an Osprey junkie. I recall carrying a whole bunch of backcountry stuff in this tester so I jammed in my usual array of backcountry ski gear to see if last season was just a dream or if all that fluff really happened. Sitting here next to my glowing box of gigabytes is my Switch 36. In it is a full 3 liter reservoir of H20 with elbow valve nicely accommodated in the insulated shoulder harness. My full size Voile shovel & handle, 100mm skins, BCA probe and knee pads (yes, I'm a knee bender) are securely held in the "wet" portion of the pack. The dry portion of this pack contains my full compliment of "if the shit hits the fan" gear including: Gore-Tex jacket and full side zip pants, down parka, light gloves, heavy gloves, wool hat and neck gaiter. My goggles are neatly tucked underneath my helmet which is held snugly in place by the top pocket’s stretch material. That’s typically the most I might have with me on a cold day climbing up. On descent, much of that stuff including helmet and goggles are put to better use. When helmet less, the top pocket accommodates my skins for the ride down. It’s true that I can only carry skis on this pack because I’m snowboard challenged. Having said that, my 181cm skis carry comfortably either “A” framed or for quick ascents, diagonally. My friend, Rich took my pack to India to ski some peaks last spring and loved it up to 18,000 feet. Neither of us had problems with calf bang. Maybe snowboards are different in this regard. My experience with the pack’s carry is that it needs no load control straps. Put it on with any load and it hugs my back like a terrorized baby Koala. By the way, that granola bar…it fits in the hip belt’s spacious “420” pockets (whatever that means!) Yup, I’m an Osprey junkie…I can’t imagine why not.

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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon wrote a review of on August 10, 2006

5 5

I was checking out these gaiters to purchase a pair for my wife when I saw a review slamming the best gaiters I've ever owned. These puppies are bombproof and easy to use with frozen digits. My size large Exp. Crocs are too big for my size 10 leather hikers but fit my plastic mountaineering boots better than anything. I can't help wondering what the sizing issue might have been with our mountaineering buddy from Pittsburg/Boston. Here in the Rockies, these things get used pretty hard and these things fit and take a pounding with both crampons and skis.

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