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  • Tony Forder

The Backbone of Active Lifestyles

By Tony Forder

Backbone is well-named. The marketing agency really is a backbone of the active lifestyle world and each spring they showcase some of their clients brands at the Altman building, 18th street, in Manhattan.


Who hasn't heard of YETI, the benchmark in outdoor flasks, backpacks and coolers; Patagonia, the sustainable clothing company; Ooni, the pioneer of home pizza ovens; Orvis the fly fishing legends; Thule, roof racks and mobile camping legends, to name a few.


My connection with Backbone came through the Brewers Association. Why wouldn't craft brewing's clearing house be connected with an outdoor lifestyle agency? Craft beer pairs so well with outdoor activities, plus both entities are based in Colorado, so it's a natural fit. The folks at YETI acknowledged that a high percentage of their customers are craft beer drinkers. I mentioned to them the plethora of YETIs I have seen on the disc golf circuit (I'm not talking about Par Infinity's annual Bigfoot Disc Golf tournament in California!). They agreed there is a big crossover with craft beer and disc golf. I asked them why they hadn't yet come up with a YETI cart for the disc golf community. That is a demographic we're aware of, they said. Ok, I'll take royalties. By the way check out their French Press coffee maker for camping!


Two years ago UAG (Urban Amour Gear – quality, rugged protective gear for your essential tech devices) gave me a phone case. One of the reps was familiar with an anecdote I had shared with the company. I had just arrived in Rio de Janeiro for my annual gig working at the Mondial de la Biere festival. Jetlagged, I was naively standing on a street corner trying to find direction on my phone when a kid on a bicycle swooped by and snatched it. But, fortunately for me, he dropped it, which I attributed to the heavy duty UAG casing.


You see some really cool things at the show. Thule had an impressive deluxe tent and trailer that unfolds from a box attached to your car needing only a heavy duty bike rack hitch. The whole thing weighs only 150 pounds.


You come across some interesting facts. I told the Orvis people that I was the proud owner of an Orvis fleece, thanks to my wife's shopping taste but I did not know that the Vermont company owed its popularity to fly fishing. Founded in 1856 they told me that Orvis was the first company to come up with a marketing catalog, predating even Sears.

I saved the best for last – Pendleton Whisky. Oregon-based, their origins go back to the Pendleton Rodeo, and they had a real live cowboy at their booth who said he does about 80 rodeos a year. I asked him what kind of injuries he had endured. "Oh, couple of compressed discs in my back and I tore up my meniscus – nothing life-threatening," he said. Pendleton is an uncommonly smooth whiskey distilled in Canada and finished in oak barrels in Oregon with the addition of Mt. Hood glacier fed spring water. Also 1910 Pendleton Rye Whiskey, aged 12 years, a homage to the first Pendleton Round-Up; and Midnight, aged for 6 years in American brandy barrels.


What else – Gerber, quality outdoor culinary wear (not baby food); Aventon electric bikes; Coop Sleep Goods; Outdoor Afro, apparel and gear and outdoor experiences informed by Black outdoor enthusiast insights; Wiley X, protective eyewear.


For more on Backbone and their clients, go to




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