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.




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.






Springtime in the Rockies

Springtime in the Rockies.


Snowfall and sticky single track.

Sandstone in Escalante and Moab.

Spring ski touring.


Sunlight after work.

Mother’s day hatch on the horizon.

Spring is also full bore at Backbone. Today, April 2, Backbone adds two new team members, former Patagonia CEO Casey Sheahan and media planner Melissa Atwood.


Casey joins Backbone in a new role as senior advisor, focusing on client strategy and new business as well as our agency growth, efficiency and structure. Casey stepped down as the CEO of Patagonia in February. Under his leadership the company tripled its profits and experienced significant growth. Prior to Patagonia, Casey served as president of Kelty, Inc. In addition to his management roles, Sheahan has extensive experience in marketing, sales and publishing. He worked as the vice president of marketing at Merrell Footwear, category marketing manager at Nike ACG and the editor/publisher at POWDER Magazine.


Melissa is a Mainer who recently relocated to Carbondale with strong experience in traditional media channels: broadcast, cable, newsprint, and magazine, as well as digital media: display, re-marketing, SEM, mobile, social and video. Her past experience includes working with national and regional clients such as DeLorme, SYLVANIA, the University of Maine and more.  Prior work includes time at Time Warner Cable and more recently on the agency planning side at Garrand in Portland.

Spring has sprung and Backbone continues to thrive. We’re stoked to have both Melissa and Casey on board.



Awards Season

SHOT Show, OR, ISPO, SIA….tradeshow season is finally in the rearview mirror and we’re all happy to be back home (especially because it’s dumping snow again). Looking back on the past month, our clients have a lot to be proud of. It’s not quite the Emmy’s or the Grammy’s, but the industry and media accolades that are awarded during the annual tradeshows are terrific recognition for the hard work and dedication that goes into new product development.

Here is a  run down of all the awards our family of clients recently received in the past few weeks:

Black Diamond

black-diamond-jet-forceBD’s new Jetforce Technology was the certainly most talked about product of all, racking up an impressive array of awards including Gear Junkie “Best in Show”, an ISPO Award Gold Winner in Ski Advanced Avalanche Gear, a “Best New Gear” award from the Gear Institute, a Skiing Magazine “Hot New Gear” award and an Outside Gear of the Show nod.

gos-sia14-metallogo_phThe team at BD also laid claim to several other awards including:

ISPO Award in Ski Off Piste/All Mountain—Black Diamond Equipment Carbon Megawatt

ISPO Award in Ski Touring Equipment + Outside Gear of the Show at SIA + Skiing Magazine “Hot New Gear“—Fritschi Diamir Vipec 12

ISPO Award Gold Winner in Accessories—Cohaesive Embedded Components (Apparel)


Big Agnes

Backpacker Editor’s Choice Award—Double Z Sleeping Pad

ISPO Award in Adventure Equipment—Helinox Ground Chair



bestNewGearWinter2014_3d8e299b74542ab556656467451dc882Gear Institute “Best New Gear”— Scarpa F1 Evo

Gear Institute “Best New Gear”—K2 Route Helmet

Gear Junkie “Best in Show”—Scarpa F1 Evo and K2 Route Helmet

ISPO Award—Topo Athletic Sante shoes

ISPO Award—Tubbs VRT snowshoes

ISPO Gold Award—Descente Mizusawa Down Jacket and Platinum ski jacket

ISPO Gold Award—Thusane Malleo Dynastab Boa Ankle Brace



UntitledOutdoor USA awarded Chaco “Best In-Store Display” at OR.



ISPO Award for Action Segment – Accessories

Skiing Magazine’s Hot Gear Award

ISPO Award in Accessories—POC ICEdot Crash Sensor




ISPO Award in Helmets + Outside’s Gear of the Show—POC Skull Orbic Comp H.I. MIPS

ISPO Award in Accessories—POC ICEdot Crash Sensor



Skiing Magazine “Hot Gear” Award—Strafe Cham Jacket and Pant



SKI Magazine “Show Stopper Gear”—Kastle MX70



PhD SmartLoft Hoody Sport – ISPO innovation award.


La Sportiva

Gear Junkie “Best in Show”—Vapor Nano 15791





Ringing in the New Year right

There’s nothing like some great client media coverage to kick off the New Year at Backbone. Here’s a recent sampling.

Hilarious Klean Kanteen call out on Saturday Night Live:

MIPS and POC mentioned in this Outside Online story: The Top 8 Fitness Trends of 2014

Opedix in a terrific New York Times story: A Second Wind From an Injured Knee

POC featured in this FOX feature with Outside’s Sam Moulton:

Helinox (distributed by Big Agnes) featured in Outside’s “Covet” column: Covet: Packable Camping Cot

Redington highlighted in Outdoor Online’s Gear Shed column: What Are the Outside Staff’s Picks for Best Gear of 2013

Horny Toad mentioned in this Fox News article: 10 great gifts for adventure-minded travelers

STIO Seeker Jacket featured in the Boy’s Life “Stuff We Like” gear guide:

Gerber featued in Wired’s Design Life Gadgets & Gear issue:

American Pistachio Growers Dinner with Jeremy Jones

1479517_10152084647760530_214732620_nThe American Pistachio Growers (APG) hosted an intimate dinner with professional big mountain snowboarder and APG athlete ambassador Jeremy Jones last month in Boulder with leaders in snow sports media.

In an effort to tell a deeper story with active lifestyle media on the growing partnership between Jones and the American Pistachio Growers, the Backbone Media team worked with culinary experts at Frasca Food & Wine on Pearl Street to craft a pistachio themed evening full of great food and conversation.

Boulder continues to lead the country as a hub for active interest media. Frasca was the ideal venue to bring this community together with APG nutritionist Becci Twombley and Jeremy Jones for conversations regarding snow sports and nutrition. Courses including a raviolo with celery root, ricotta, black truffle and parmesan reggiano, capesante with scallop, cauliflower, blood orange and pistachio and finally crostata di fragile – a strawberry tarte with pistachio gelato.

University of Southern California nutritionist Becci Twombley spoke about modern sports nutrition – and the importance of pistachios – for winter sports athletes. Jeremy discussed his recent trip to Nepal and filming the third installment of his film trilogy with Teton Gravity Research. Jones stressed the importance of proper nutrition and his “recovery window” when he returns to base camp after extended periods filming in the most remote locations.

Twelve members of the media attended, representing titles such as Snowboard Magazine, the Atlantic, the Associated Press, ESPN, Mountain Magazine, SKI/Skiing, Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, Outside Magazine and the Active Interest Media House. We were psyched to reconnect with old friends and make new acquaintances as well!

Becci Twombley & Jeremy Jones

Becci Twombley & Jeremy Jones

Sue Jotblad from American Pistachio Growers, Kim Beekman from SKI Magazine and Sharon Houghton from Active Interest Media

Sue Jotblad from American Pistachio Growers, Kim Beekman from SKI Magazine and Sharon Houghton from Active Interest Media

Doug Schniztspahn from Elevation Outdoors Magazine & Radha Marcum

Doug Schniztspahn from Elevation Outdoors Magazine & Radha Marcum

Marc Peruzzi from Mountain magazine & Jayme Moye

Marc Peruzzi from Mountain magazine & Jayme Moye


Chris Thompson & Sam Bass from SKI Magazine/ Skiing Magazine and BackboneMedia's Amanda Boyle

Chris Thompson & Sam Bass from SKI Magazine/ Skiing Magazine and BackboneMedia’s Amanda Boyle

By: Amanda Boyle

Big Idea Day | Summer OR Recap

On July 30th, the day before the start of the Outdoor Retailer show, Backbone hosted its first-ever Big Idea Day (BID). The concept behind BID was simple—bring together the most influential media outlets in the active lifestyle space and ask them to present their lens into the future of media, the outdoors and adventure. In a marathon of seven, one-hour sessions, Backbone met with Outside Magazine, Men’s Journal, National Geographic, GearJunkie, Active Interest Media (Climbing, Backpacker, Ski, Skiing, etc), the Competitor Group (Velo, Triathlete, etc) and Mountain Magazine.

Backbone isn’t stopping there, and we already have plans to follow the same format with partners like Wired, ESPN, The Atlantic, Rodale, Demand Media, Google, Sports Illustrated and On the Snow to name a few. Below is a summary of what we learned. 


  • Without question, publishers are eager and open to partner with brands in new and creative ways. Almost every media partner now offers video production capabilities. Many are building slick, customized branded content for big and small brands alike.
  • For example:
  • Brands used to rely on media to deliver audience and scale. Now, through social media, many brands have their own audience that rivals the reach of many media outlets. The unique value proposition media offers today is engaging content with third-party validation.
  • A buzzword for 2013, Native advertising is advertising that is done in a style or format that is indistinguishable from editorial. This means greater collaboration between brands and media.
  • Regardless of whether it’s the brand or the media partner delivering content must be authentic in order to be valued.


  • While short stories, slide shows and lists like Buzzfeed delivers are driving a lot of digital content, there is still a demand for long-format journalism, especially if it incorporates multi-media elements and a beautiful presentation. For example this 5,500 word story on is one of the most popular on the site right now. 

Urban, Fitness, Technology

  • Obstacle racing, Cross-Fit and exercise in general continues to be a major U.S. trend. In many cities, people are using social media to schedule large scale fitness meet ups – or fitness flash mobs.
  • Marketers need to point their ideas beyond the outdoor niche. Consumers are becoming more urban. How can we engage and excite this segment? Whether it’s running, yoga, or SUP—there are many urban adventures to be had. Several media partners offer popular urban outdoor events.
  • Bike commuting is exploding in the U.S. Cargo bikes are everywhere. Ally cat races, gran fondos and gravel grinders are proving to be popular alternatives to traditional road racing.
  • Half marathons continue to be the fastest growing race segment but the explosion of fad runs (color runs, rave runs, neon runs, zombie runs, etc.) is unmistakable.
  • No longer is it a debate of whether technology belongs outdoors. Fitness is changing along side technology with the introduction and increased usage of mobile apps like Strava and Map My Run.

Social — bridging the social conversation to reality 

  • Use and create local events to create a 1 to 1 relationship with consumers. Bring people with common interest together for an afternoon run, happy hour, scavenger hunt — something that fits your brand’s voice.
  • Scalability: Don’t cross your fingers and hope that people attending actually capture the moment with the right hashtag. Instead, make sure you have the right people and partners on the ground to capture the moment and distribute your branded content beyond the event.

Thank you for your interest in our Big Ideas. For more information please check out these posts:


5 Things We Learned at the GoPro Mountain Games

It’s taken a few days to adjust back to reality after a hugely successful and high tempo-ed GoPro Mountain Games in Vail. Looking back, this was easily the biggest and best Mountain Games in the event’s 12-year history.

The crew from Backbone spent four days hosting and supporting media at the event, working with some of our old friends (looking at you Regenold, Metzler, Pattillo, Sturtz, Dwyer, Buchanan, Carberry, Blevins, Krogh, Rogers, Martindell, Ellison, Clark) as well as lots of new ones. One of the highlights of the weekend was hanging out with former NFL player and TV host Dhani Jones, who was in town to shoot for SpikeTV’s Playbook 360. Dhani is an incredibly nice guy and we had a blast showing him around the event. Kara helped Dhani with his fly-fishing.

Timmy O’Neil explained the World Cup Bouldering comp to him

He went nom nom nom on some Honey Stinger Waffles

And we even got him to go rafting (and subsequently go swimming) with our friend Seth from the US National Whitewater Rafting team.

We can’t wait to see the episode he shot at the Mountain Games when it airs in July.

Anyway, here are five things we learned this weekend.

1. GoPro is much more than a camera company.

Adding GoPro as the title sponsor clearly elevated the event to a new level. GoPro is a cultural phenomenon, and the company’s influence was clearly on display in Vail. Everywhere you turned someone was wearing a GoPro. Even the dogs got in on the action.

2. Slacklining is the real deal.

What started as a downtime activity for climbers at Camp 4 in Yosemite, has grown into full blown sport—a fascinating mix of balance, strength and gymnastics, set to a decidedly Euro techno-dance beat. The World Slackline Championships during the GoPro Games were a crowd favorite, drawing thousands to cheer on the skinny-jeans wearing kids bouncing and flipping on a “trickline.”

3. The kids are all right.

A 12-year-old won the women’s kayak freestyle competition. A 14-year-old won the slackline championships, a 20-year-old won the mountain bike XC and a 21-year-old won the slopestyle comp. The future generation of adventure sports athletes is here.

Kids were everywhere this weekend. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the GoPro Mountain Games is the most family-friendly event in the country. From the kids mud run, to a kids mountain bike race, to kayak, SUP and zip-line demos, the Mountain Games caters to kids of all ages. By Sunday afternoon, my kids were so exhausted they could barely stand.

4. Josiah Middaugh is the man.

Seven-years in a row he’s won the Ultimate Mountain Challenge. That’s an amazing feat of consistency. I’m biased because he’s a friend and an incredibly nice guy, but I think Josiah is the strongest all around athlete in the country, bar none.

5. For four days every year, the GoPro Mountain Games is the center of the outdoor universe. The Gear Junkie summed it up nicely. If you haven’t been, you’re missing out.