If you’re making badass outdoors gear, you naturally pay badass athletes to wear it. You pay them to wear the gear in truly incredible places. The more badass the athlete and the place, the better. Customers are thus inspired to take on their own badass adventures in the best gear. For generations of outdoor brands, that’s been marketing 101. Inspiring and a bit unintentionally cynical all at once.

But there are more ways to be badass than to simply climb the highest peak, pack the most brutal hike, or ski the nastiest run. So Mountain Hardwear is taking a different tack with their sponsored pro budget in a new program—The Impact Initiative. Rather than focus just on the physical feats of their athletes, they’re throwing their support behind outdoors sportsmen and -women who are actively working in programs that benefit humanitarian or environmental causes.

People like Charles Post, a backcountry hiker, fisherman, and explorer, who’s also a dedicated ecologist fighting to protect open spaces and watersheds. And Angie Payne, a championship rock climber who is working to help preserve Nevada’s Red Rock Canyon from development. Or Tashi and Nungshi Malik, twin sisters from India who’ve climbed the world’s highest peaks, and who have set up their own foundation to help empower disadvantaged girls in India.

In all, more than a dozen activist/adventurers are part of the first wave of The Impact Initiative. The more people hear about what these activists are doing, and the more the activists share what they’re doing to benefit people and the planet in as many ways as possible, the better as far as Mountain Hardwear is concerned.

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It’s refreshing idea. The outdoor community is full of environmentalists and activists who dedicate massive chunks of their lives to preserving places they care about, and expanding opportunities for everybody to enjoy them. Supporting athletes who are making it their life work to have positive impacts on people and places is a natural fit for an outdoors gear maker. Marketing 201, maybe.

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