Gore and Patagonia hosted a product testing press trip at Crested ButteResort, Colorado, on March 20-22. Editors and freelance writers from allover were to meet at the Grand Butte Hotel for a two day opportunity totest the Patagonia line using Gore-Tex fabric. Unfortunately, due to badweather in Denver, it was virtually impossible to fly in on Monday whenthe two-day event began. As I sat in San Diego airport for approximatelyseven hours trying to fly into Denver, those who had flown in over theweekend or who were able to drive there enjoyed a day on the mountainand a night out on the town.

On Tuesday I tried again and made it to D.I.A. no problem, only to findout my United flight to Gunnison had been cancelled due to there notbeing a crew. Hmmm, how do you not have a crew? I then had to wait atD.I.A. for another four hours for a flight to a completely differentairport, which was delayed because they couldn’t find the crew. This wasbecoming all too common. I finally flew into Montrose airport, wasshuttled to Gunnison airport, and was lucky enough to sit on the floorof the extremely full last shuttle to Crested Butte. I arrived at thehotel at 11 p.m. and went straight to bed.

The next morning I went downstairs to the conference room for breakfastand met up with everyone for the first time. I heard all about theprevious day on the mountain, and the wonderful fondue dinner up on themountain followed by a night ski down with flashlights. My understandingwas the entire event had been moved forward a day, and that was thereason for my persistence to get there. But what they meant, I laterfound out, was we could stay an extra night at the hotel if we got therelate. So, to make a long story short, everyone had learned about theproduct and tested it the day before, and was ready to take off. Evenall the Gore-Tex people had to leave. At this point I was thinking tomyself, “Why am I even here?”

Before the hosts of the event left, however, we did receive a quickoverview of the relationship between Patagonia and Gore, as well as theinnovations of Gore-Tex. The reason Gore and Patagonia have developedsuch a unique relationship is due to the fact that they both put theirproduct first and have common needs in technology. They strongly believethat their products are the best on the market today. The XCR (extendedcomfort range) is the latest Gore-Tex garment, which is 25 percent morebreathable than “classic” Gore-Tex garments and has the lowestresistance to evaporative heat transfer. Its three-layer fabricationincreases durability and compressibility. The XCR is used withPatagonia’s Ice Nine Jacket and Bibs. Also new is the PacLite garment,which provides lightweight packability with durably waterproof,breathable performance, and is used with Patagonia’s Ether Jacket andPants.

Hal Thomson, Patagonia’s product manager, was the sole survivor to stayand show five of us late-comers (I wasn’t alone) the mountain and thetown, as well as talk to us a bit more about Patagonia. We had a greatday tearing up the slopes and I personally learned a lot about what aunique company Patagonia really is. Not only does the company donate apercentage of its gross income to fund grass-roots environmentalprograms, but it also sponsors its employees who have been there for acertain amount of time to work with a legitimate environmental projectfor two months. What a concept! The day ended with an amazing dinner intown with Hal, Keith Morton from Explore, Steve Madden from OutdoorExplorer, Kevin Fedarko from Outside, and myself. We then turned in, andeveryone took off the next day. In the long run, the trip seemed wellworth all the travel hassles.

For more information on Gore, contact Cynthia Amon or John Reaney at(410) 392-3600, or for more information on Patagonia, contact HalThomson at (805) 667-4744 or Kurt Weinsheimer at (805) 667-4763.