The Best Part of Work 2 of 2

All businesses have certain criteria and filters they put on their work.

At Backbone, our criteria boils down to if we believe in the brand.

Taking this beyond the work environment we can see how ‘believing in the brand’  manifests itself on a recent personal trip to Antarctica to climb Vinson Massif with friends Linden and Slinger.  Expecting cold temps between 0 centigrade and -40C it was pretty reassuring to be able to rely on client’s products for protection from the elements.

So, how do you pack for a few weeks vacation on Antarctic ice? Here’s a selection of some client and non-client products that went down south.


Russian Ilyushin 76 cargo plane on the blue ice runway at Union Glacier


Stio Rivet jeans and Otto Shirt

BD  Post Op Hoody and Mission belt

BD speed pack  – for laptop to ski touring pack

Lululemon Metal Vent Tech LS and Hoody


Lindon Mallory on the Twin Otter flying from Union Glacier into Vinson Basecamp

Core & Insulation

SmartWool NTS Lite  Baselayers – I’m a big fan of boot top 3/4 length bottoms as they alleviate bunching up of too many layer and boots

Polartec CoEfficient Hoody and Polartec Powerstretch tight – lightweight and warm

BD Stance Belay Pants

First Ascent MicroTerm jacket – lightweight and fitted to layer under jackets

BD Cold Forge Parka & Stance Belay Parkas – double down on the down


Slinger and Linden looking out from high camp

Hands, head and feet

Gloves – BD digital liner, Rambla, Guide gloves and Absolute mitt. Both Slinger and Linden used thr First Ascent Guide glove extensively.

Headwear – Kask Headband – assorted Buffs (TGR and Strafe) – old Patagonia Highloft shell hat, BD Balaclava and Cloudveil 4 Shadows Beanie. Regulating your body temp starts with your head

POC Iris goggles and Jeremy Jones Signature glacier glasses. Spare glasses were Revo Guide glasses

Thermacell Heated footbeds – remote control heat at the touch of a button. Great in climbing/ski boots and around camp

La Sportiva Olympus Mons  – these things are MONEY

BD Sabretooth crampons – probably the best all around crampon ever made

BD Quadrant ski boots with Intuition liners

Forty Below neoprene overboots (for ski boots and around camp)


Windy, cold conditions on the fixed lines


BD Vapor Point Shell

Stio Hardscrabble soft shell pant

Old School Marmot 8000 meter down pant  – yup, the old yellow and red ones


Linden descending from high camp



BD Carbon Aspect Ski

BD Ascension skins – dependability is king

BD Whippet, Raven Ultra ice axe and Expedition 2 ski pole. The Whippet is more versatile and handy than an ice axe much of the time

Assorted locking biners – (I went with a Magnetron Vaporlock which is super great with gloves/mitts on), wiregates (larger body types like the Hotwire is better), ATC, Express Turbo ice screw, prussiks, Tiblocs and 1 ascender, SMC pickets

BD Saw and Deploy Shovel


Lunch stop on the glacier


Penn’s special gorp – mix of shelled pistachios and chocolate covered espresso beans (protein, anti oxidants and caffeine)

Mix of cheeses, salami, proscuitto, crackers

Dinty Moores, Ramen, and Tasty Bites. Real bacon and burgers at basecamp.

Couple of boxes of wine, a flask of Genepi.

Assortment of Honey Stinger waffles and chews, GU and Chomps and Voke Energy Tabs. CLIF bars and Snickers


Reflecting on the summit

Sleeping and accessories

Big Agnes Doubletrack insulated pad – the pad is key to warm and comfy sleep

Big Agnes girdle – turns any stuff sack into a compression stuff sack.

Alps foam matt

Old school Feathered Friends overstuffed -40 bag – I have an extra long to stuff in liners, gloves and pee bottle.

MSR XGK stoves

Klean Kanteen insulated thermos waterbottles X2

GoalZero Solar Chargers

Lumix DMC – Gm1 – compact interchangeable lens with a 12-32 and 40 – 200 lenses. Great small camera.

BD Mission 75 backpack

Journal, Team mascot Paco the penguin. Paco summitted with us then hung on our Christmas tree and now lives in my 7 year old’s room.



Stuff I did not bring but my partners did and I was jealous

Gregory Makalu Pro Backpack  – my buddy Linden Mallory has guided all over the world with this pack. It has seen a lot of time and is a classic Gregory pack

Sea to Summit – Padded Soft Cell for electronics and Aeros Pillow Premium. Apparently Slinger now sleeps with his pillow at home

Coal Freya neck gaiter – super warm, wooly gaiter.







The Best Part of Work 1 of 2

With 2014 coming to a close, we took some time to compile a “Best of” list for Backbone.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.17.24 AMOnce again this year, our accomplishments are the result of hard work, creativity and  partnerships with strong brands and great people.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.04.15 AMWhether helping to launch a brand via Kickstarter, winning stacks of editorial awards from both endemic and broad based media alike, or working with our partners to create best in class native advertising, here’s a quick look at some of Backbone’s best accomplishments in 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.04.38 AMHired 13 people

Won 13 new accounts

Tracked over 18.5 billion editorial media impressions (that’s with no multiplier applied)

Successfully launched a new digital programmatic platform – FastG8


Built out content creation solutions for multiple brands

Redesigned (and majorly improved) our logo and corporate ID

Created a new business process, strengthened our values and mission

Completed our best New York media events to date, including a very successful pop up in Midtown

Finalized a new website (look for it soon!)

Opened a new office in Denver in a stunning space and relocated our Jackson office

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.33.52 AM

Updated our wellness stipend to better reflect diverse interests and needs

Added more structure, titles and support to the organization to create growth opportunities

Increased structure and support in Jackson and Denver offices

Created the DCM monster that is now Lindsay Logan. Hired Colin Cares to support digital effort

Worked on some groundbreaking campaigns for our clients like The Human Factor for BD, Best Towns for Toad & Co., content creation for Opedix and Revo, and many more

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.17.56 AM

Finished a remodel in our Carbondale office

Paid for the remodel mentioned above

Bought stand-up desks for  everyone so we live longer

Shifted our file management and phone system to the cloud

Bought a new coffee machine and got it running

Installed a water filtration system

Spent 2000 nights on the road and called 174 ski days legitimate work (*estimated)

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.36.33 AM

Consumed 140 pounds of coffee – but only 8 kegs (weak sauce on the keg work)

Launched the YETI Hopper, ABOM goggles on Kickstarter, AvaTech, expanded business in active lifestyle, hook and bullet and destination markets

Devoted time, energy and effort to non-profits – Protect Our Winters, Big City Mountaineers, First Descents, Thompson Divide Coalition, Spring Gulch Nordic Center, Roaring Fork Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Red Hill trail system (you should support one too!)

Ran media trips stand up paddling on the Hudson, heli hiking in Squamish, multi-day rafing on the Green River, fly fishing in Patagonia, heli skiing in British Columbia, road riding with the US Pro Challenge, backpacking in the Uintas

Raised money and summited Mount Shasta for BCM’s Summit for Someone program

Named one of Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work for third year in a row

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.38.50 AM





New York, New York : Backbone Media 2014 Fall Showroom

With 15 different adventure and outdoor lifestyle brands, 18 mountain people Backbone employees, over 80 NYC media and a California brewery, Backbone Media took the outdoors to the big city last week in NYC.

Backbone travels east to host our bi-annual showroom every spring and fall to stay connected with the fast-paced and ever-changing media landscape in NYC .

For a city often referred to as the “concrete jungle,” NYC is home to a surprisingly large number of active lifestyle and outdoor publishing houses; Outside TV, Men’s Journal, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, Fitness, Shape, Self, Women’s Health, just to name a few.

The showroom showcased current and new for spring 2015 products from Eddie Bauer, YETI coolers, Chaco, Stio, Polartec, Gregory, Thule, Gerber Gear, Maven, HOKA One One, REVO, Opedix, Pat’s Backcountry Beverages, Poron XRD and non-profit First Descents. We were also thrilled to have our friends from Firestone Walker there to do a beer tasting during happy hour.

A few of our favorite images from the event are highlighted below. Thank you NYC for having us, and we are already planning our return in April so be on the lookout for details!

Backbone_NYC_FA14 (2 of 6) Backbone_NYC_FA14 (1 of 6) Backbone_NYC_FA14 (3 of 6)Backbone_NYC_FA14 (6 of 6)

True Innovation + Macro Relevance = ???

PR folks have a serious weakness for superlatives.

This new widget is the lightest, fastest, bestest (this truthfully is a word. A super superlative the best of the best!). It is quite silly, really. We’ve joked in our office of creating a new product release template structured in a Mad Libs format to fill in the superlative gaps for a press release.

Yet there also lurks true awesomeness (also a rarely used word defined as: an unmeasurable amount of awesomenimity). Smart people are creating solutions to problems and true innovation occurs everyday. What is ideal is when the innovation or launch of a new product or company correlates with trends that have macro or societal relevance.


Which brings us to AvaTech.  Avatech is a start up that came out of MIT. The Founder and CEO, Brint Markle, had a close friend get caught in a slide (he survived). In processing the situation Brint observed that all avy gear is basioally triage based, and reactive technology. Thus, AvaTech was founded to design a solution that would give skiers and riders good data to facilitate better decision making and avoid getting caught in an avalanche before it happens.


AvaTech is a proactive solution that quickly and accurately analyzes snowpack and facilitates real-time sharing. Backbone helped launch AvaTech to the media a few weeks ago  – and the group  is quickly catching attention as it  attends the International Snow Science Workshop (ISSW) in Banff this week.


Why has the launch been successful? AvaTech is honestly innovative. Don’t take our superlative laden perspective for it, in a feature article released last week in The Avalanche Review (TAR) considered the leading publication for snow pros and patrollers, Jordy Hendrikx professor of snow science at Montana State says,” “Every so often, new technology comes along in an industry that’s not step change, but orders of magnitude. We’re seeing this with AvaTech today in our industry.”

In the first 5 days of launch, AvaTech received over 25,000 youtube views, organic sharing of the content on Facebook was exceptional, (over 400 shares) as was the coverage on OutsideOnline, Wildsnow, Powder, Backcountry, Freeskier, Transworld, Unofficial Networks, TGR, and TAR. Innovation helps, but an overarching macro trend focusing on safety not just in snow sports but in all gravirty sports in general comes into play as well. As the number of off piste skiers rises, so too does the need for safety products. We’ve seen this with helmets, body armor, as well as an emerging trend for safety products and protocol in the backcountry. The Black Diamond JetForce airbag is a great example. So, while AvaTech’s SP1 is not the lightest, fastest perhaps it is the bestest as it hits the sweet spot of a thoughtfully innovative product, which has been carefully developed and is poised for success and relevance with snow pros, and backcountry enthusiasts alike.

Look for out on the hill this winter!














Charging into Fall 2104

Having just completed the bi-annual Backbone Charge (because we do not retreat) staff outing, here is a quick look at some recent projects we’ve completed—from product launches, to trend stories, to native advertising.


Bonfire at the annual Charge at the Harry Gates Hut (photo compliments the talented Erik Wardell)


At 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, September 7, we dropped the F-bomb. For the past several months we’ve been working with Abominable Labs on the launch of their game-changing goggles, which feature a lens that heats up to immediately eliminate fog, much like your car’s rear window defroster.  It’s a product that is really innovative, but also makes you think, “why didn’t I think of that.” We’ve been working for weeks to coordinate the announcement of the product with the launch of their kickstarter page and it was fun to see the stories roll in from the Oregonian (Abom is based in Lake Oswego) OutsideOnline, GearJunkie and Gizmodo in the first 24 hours. This is a brand that’s poised to shake up the goggle market.




On the heels of the Outdoor Retailer show and recent awards in Runner’s World, Competitor and Trail Runner, to name a few, HOKA is hitting it’s stride. Here’s a quick look at Deckers CEO Angel Martinez on Mad Money talking about HOKA along with other Deckers brands. Key take-aways: connect, create experiences and build relationships with consumers, omnichannel sales and “web-rooming.”

Black Diamond
Following up on BD’s popular Mountain Project mobile app is a native campaign with Outside. “If it ain’t broke, break it” takes consumers into Black Diamond’s QA/QC lab and provides a peak into the product testing that serves brand’s mantra: Use Design Engineer Build Repeat.

See you out there!


Post OR – wrap

Here’s a quick look back at the Outdoor Retailer show.

Greg Williams started his OR in Steamboat where he began a 4-day, 400 mile bike ride to Salt Lake City with 75+ other outdoor folks. In its seventh year, the SmartWool ride to OR battles heat, rain and 100+ mile days. This year Greg was joined by Chris Steinkamp, executive director from Protect Our Winters, Brian Vaughan, co-founder of GU Energy and chief endurance officer (how do I get a title like that?) and a Texan named Lance. Props to SmartWool and the entire group on their effort.

Funny how most of images of this guy Mellow Johnny are always from behind...

Funny how most of images of this guy Mellow Johnny are always from behind…

The demo day was highlighted by a Sperry floating pontoon boat piloted by our own Captain Ian Anderson. The Sperry boat passed out lobster rolls and Sam Adams beer to anyone who paddled or out to visit.

Capt. Ian 'Meryl Stubing' Anderson

Capt. Ian ‘Meryl Stubing’ Anderson

Mackenzie hands out lobster rolls

Mackenzie hands out lobster rolls

those Yeti Hopper coolers are everywhere

Those Yeti Hopper coolers are everywhere

Revo relaunched to retailers at the outdoor demo, showcasing its stylish new Spring '15 line.

Revo relaunched to retailers at the outdoor demo, showcasing its stylish new Spring ’15 line.

One of the goals Backbone collectively set out to achieve during this OR Show was to connect with people beyond the tradeshow floor. Whether it was an early morning road ride, fly fishing the day before OR or hiking up Mt. Superior in the afternoon—we worked to build key relationships—basically doing cool stuff with cool people.

Kara casting on the Provo

Kara casting on the Provo

Shannon Davis and Julie Ellison on Superior's south ridge

Shannon Davis and Julie Ellison on Superior’s south ridge

Climbing mag crew and JLD on summit

Climbing Magazine crew and JLD on summit

full moon below climber @ Psico Bloc comp

Full moon below climber @ Psico Bloc comp

Back on the show floor, editorial awards are highly prized by every brand as they’re often a bellwether for future sales. Per usual, our clients had a good showing. The new Big Agnes MtnGLOW collection of lighted tents picked up best in show awards from Outside and GearJunkie, HOKA won Editor’s Choice from Runner’s World and an award from Competitor Magazine for the new Clifton shoe, and Polartec/Bomber Gear got a Best New Gear award from Gear Institute for the Palguin dry top featuring Polartec Neoshell.

photo 1

Nyberg loves NeoShell



With Independence Day in the rear view mirror, Backbone salutes the independent-minded entrepreneurs of our newest brand partners: HOKA, AvaTech, Protect Our Winters and Pat’s Backcountry Beverages. As summer is hitting full stride we are excited to work with these new companies to build their brand stories via paid, earned and owned media.



HOKA ONE ONE is the fastest growing premium running shoe brand in the world. HOKA shoes were quickly embraced by the ultrarunning community, and today, more and more road runners, both everyday and serious competitors, are embracing the unique ride the shoes provide. As a brand, HOKA has been on the Backbone radar since they launched. As an agency of runners, HOKA’s technology coupled with first hand endorsement from many of our colleagues and running friends piqued interest. We are stoked to help continue growing the HOKA community and show how these shoes are revolutionizing the running industry.


AvaTech  is a start up out of MIT that was first introduced to Backbone through an athlete who was testing the product. After multiple discussions and meetings on skis and over beers with Brint Markle, one of the founders, AvaTech brought in long time Backbone friend Thomas Laakso, formerly Black Diamond’s ski category director. AvaTech is a proactive solution that quickly and accurately analyzes snowpack and facilitates real-time sharing. AvaTech will debut at Banff’s ISSW in September and be available in Winter 2014/15. AvaTech will set out to solve key needs of military, mining, railroad, highway, hydrology, oil and natural gas markets.


POW Long Logo

Protect Our Winters is a global nonprofit fighting climate change on behalf of the winter sports community. POW’s mission is to engage and mobilize the winter sports community to lead the fight against climate change. Their focus is on educational initiatives, advocacy and the support of community-based projects. With POW, Backbone will be working to engage and grow POW’s social media channels and outreach through programs such as the Rider’s Alliance, a community of athletes and Olympians who have banded together to amplify their first hand experiences and views on the impact of climate change. A great example of the Rider’s Alliance action on climate #actonclimate last month generated over 100 million in a few days in collaboration with the White House and EPA climate regulations.


Pat’s Backcountry Beverages invented the world’s first Beer and All-Natural Soda that allows outdoor enthusiasts to make delicious beverages anywhere. Pat’s patented, portable Carbonator Bottle replaces your standard water bottle with the added feature of being able to carbonate any liquid you put in it. The system significantly reduces the weight of carrying canned 12oz beverages by 87% and space in your backpack by 89%. Pat’s Backcountry Beverages also produces five gourmet, all-natural soda concentrates, made with pure cane juice, key replenishing vitamins and no preservatives

I mean seriously. We love beer and we love doing cool stuff. Pat’s is a perfect solution to every climber, hiker and paddler out there.




The strength of our business has always been built on delivering results for our clients first. Sure, we invest in Backbone in a big way annually, but to be honest we have never made it priority #1 to promote ourselves or overly focus on our brand. To this point, it is far easier and more genuine to tell another brand’s story rather than focus on talking about oneself. This client centric approach has served us well. New business has always been driven by great word-of-mouth recommendations from our clients, our agency partners and our friends in the industry.



However, 2014 marks a change. Our original logo designed in 1997, by our then shared-office graphic artist friends at Rainy Day Designs, has been a solid one for us. The history of the logo – a stylized yin of the Continental Divide, the backbone of the Rockies running through the heart of the state of Colorado, is being retired in favor of a more modern, bold mark with a hint of western design.




If you have ever run a new logo/design process it can be PAINFUL. It took over a year and we mangled more than one design team relationship. Internally, it was near contentious at times, bordering on combative and hilarity. Funny, because at first blush most people seem to care little about a logo or fonts, but if you dig just a bit deeper – oh, it gets real. As always, we persevered, trusted the process and each other and now are happy.

You may notice the B’s have a peaked center that represent the twin summits of Mount Sopris, the noble peak that sits above Carbondale. The new Backbone logo is  bold, clean and strong. I won’t get into some of the descriptors given about how the line below represents a continuum and progress in a static form. I mean, some of the stuff our graphic artist pals spun makes even the most flowery PR language look pretty tame.

Big call out to Fred Hammerquist and his team for helping shepard us through this process. We like Fred. We collaborate together on a few brands. Rumor has it when the snow is deep he skis on Megawatts. Thanks to Fred and his team.







There is a lot of static out there these days. As marketers and brands claim to get more targeted and specific, our collective social media channels gum up with all sorts of filler. What it comes down to, what matters are pieces that resonate.

Recently two projects have hit high marks in terms of target and scale. In mid-May, Black Diamond announced its partnership with Mountain Project. No big deal right? Well, actually Mountain Project is the most comprehensive online climbing guide to ever exist, featuring route beta for over 112,000 climbing routes at over 19,000 climbing areas worldwide. The mobile application allows users to download route information (location, description, images and rating) on their devices and access it anytime without a cell signal. Mountain Project features over 304,000 unique users per month and reaches nearly 2,500,000 climbers per year.


As a modern day climber you can search and discover new areas on your phone and go climbing. The tool is indispensable. The cool part about the BD/MP partnership is Black Diamond took the app and made it free. Make sure, you catch this part. FREE. Why? BD wanted to provide its core community with a great proactive mobile app to help them go climbing. Pretty cool. And the on the metrics side – Mountain Project has seen an immediate, robust and sustained level of engagement since partnering.

Spear of Destiny

Spear of Destiny

We searched for 4 star routes on River Road and got this single pitch chimney/tower

We searched for 4 star routes on River Road and got this single pitch chimney/tower

The second case study is from earlier this week working with Protect Our Winters. In a coordinated effort around President Obama’s announcement of new EPA regulations to limit carbon emissions POW worked with the White House and activated a social media campaign, #actonclimate asking POW athletes to organically share a place or reason why we should support these new EPA standards for the generational and long term health of our planet.


The results were staggering with positive trends in the first six hours upward of 100 million impressions. More importantly was the core audience initiatives where POW saw over 7,000 new Instagram followers day one and over 13,000 tweets by over 10,000 individuals. Taking it even a step further, the profiles of people posting included: Alex Honnold, Conrad Anker, Jeremy Jones, Gretchen Bleiler, Jamie Anderson, Jimmy Chin, Danny Davis, Renan Ozturk, Chris Davenport and brands such as The North Face, Teton Gravity Research, Camp 4 Collective, Goal Zero, and Snowsports Industry of America.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 11.45.59 AM

All this prompted the White House to comment on the authenticity of this social campaign and how the photos from the athletes were inspiring everyday people in a way only athletes could and driving a larger audience to identify with the cause of climate change.






6 Best Practices for Programmatic Advertising


By: David DeMartini

There are few locations within the world of digital media that can rival the reputation of San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Last month, Backbone was invited to attend a client immersion day hosted by Rocket Fuel, a programmatic partner with which we work closely. Eager to experience what some call the promised land of innovation, we jumped at the opportunity.

For two days, we attended roundtable discussions covering a range of programmatic topics spanning from ad security and viewability, to mobile device tracking. We were amazed by the level of intelligence and drive to innovate, evidenced by the group of 50 young, eager new hires attending orientation.

Anyone working in the digital advertising space would tell you programmatic advertising has profoundly impacted the marketing landscape. While this shift has provided brands with great opportunity, it’s also become difficult to navigate. In attempts to alleviate some of the challenges, we’ve compiled a list of 6 best practices for programmatic adverting.


6 Best Practices for Programmatic Advertising         

1. Integrate prospecting and retargeting efforts – Programmatic advertising works best when it’s allowed to combine upper- and lower-funnel efforts. Delineating funnel objectives can have a negative effect on performance and should be avoided if possible. Integration allows for maximum data capture, driving faster learning and optimization.

2.  Collect pixel data on every page of the advertiser’s website – Allowing for more data capture drives faster optimization and more efficient impression buying.  Programmatic tactics work best when the maximum amount of data is provided.  While capturing data from conversion pages is important, the systems can also learn from the behavior of users who do not convert, which in most cases is just as valuable.

3. Relax your constraints – Programmatic tactics perform best when they are free to optimize without constraints. Limiting the initial audience to a specific demographic slows the optimization process as less data can be collected. There may be users who convert that fall outside of the target audience- allowing the systems to test this audience will identify either a new group that’s likely to convert or a group that can be ruled out. Either scenario is a useful insight.

4.  Test multiple creative variations in real time – Just as programmatic tactics work best when they are free to analyze many different audience segments, allowing for creative/messaging optimization can vastly increase performance. When optimizing in real time, small variations in creative can greatly impact performance. Allowing the algorithms to make these optimizations based on the millions of data points they collect is the most efficient way to ensure maximum performance. The reality is that these algorithms are able to identify optimal messaging much more efficiently than humans, eliminating errors we sometimes don’t catch.

5. Allow the algorithms to make daily optimization decisions – Marketers by nature, carry a very hands-on mentality. We are used to constantly checking in on our campaigns and making adjustments when necessary: shifting targets, adjusting budgets, changing creative messaging. While this is necessary for traditional advertising tactics, it can be counterproductive in the programmatic space. The systems are able to take environmental variability into account and adjust at the most opportune time. Changing or shifting campaign initiatives can cause models to reset and decrease efficiency.

6. Embrace view-through conversions – View-through conversion is a topic we discuss frequently here at Backbone Media. If we as marketers are succeeding in our profession, a consumer’s path to conversion should be filled with our advertiser’s messaging. Whether it be a display ad, an FBX in feed post, a search result or an email, each play an integral role in driving users to convert. For this reason, it makes little sense to attribute the full conversion to the last touchpoint or click that the user executed before purchase. Ignoring view-through eliminates the value on any top-funnel initiatives. While it’s tempting to take this approach, the reality is it oversimplifies attribution models and can have far reaching negative effects on marketing strategies.


The programmatic space can be difficult to navigate. Feel free to leave any further questions in the comments section or reach out to us directly.