How Teton Sports is getting more people outdoors

Spencer Schwendiman

The world of advertising has been completely changed by the Internet. A company would spend large amounts of money for billboard space or airtime on the TV or radio. Now, the Internet and social media provide opportunities for free or cheap advertising that reaches a larger audience. A great example of this evolution is the Utah-based outdoor gear retailer: Teton Sports.

Teton Sports is a small company based out of a single warehouse on the industrial side of Salt Lake City. They started with making backpacks that were a high quality product that people could purchase for cheaper than most products of equal quality. From there they moved to sleeping bags, tents, sleeping pads and cots.

Shawn Perry, the head of product design and marketing at Teton, spent years doing print marketing has helped Teton to avoid this dying system. In his opinion, using social media is a more beneficial system of marketing because it “brings people together.” Once he saw that Twitter was a way to bring a community of people together he helped Teton Sports co-create a twitter chat known as “Hikerchat” which is the largest outdoor chat on Twitter and trends quite often on Friday’s when it is held. The other perk of using social media for marketing, according to Parry, was the “instant feedback we can receive from customers.” He finds it is much easier to keep customers happy when he hears directly from them about a problem.

From Twitter they adopted a form of marketing many companies use known as an ambassador program. This program makes it possible for people from all over the country to get their hands on a product and share that on their own social media or with friends. Ambassadors are selected based on their ability to teach others about enjoying the outdoors or staying safe. Once selected, the ambassadors develop a strong relationship with the people at Teton Sports.

In order to do that, Teton decided that they would take their ambassadors on an adventure, hiking throughout Colorado, Washington, Oregon and other surrounding states. This helped to create a fun new idea to send the ambassadors throughout the country advertising Teton Gear.

The idea grew into a program that would send ambassadors all over the country. This is known as the Your Lead Van.

The van is handed from ambassador to ambassador and will be driven all across the country, even up into Alaska. They will stop at Sportsman’s Warehouse stores along the way and educate the store associates, as well as the general public on products from Teton Sports, Goal Zero, Merrell and Camp Chef.

This is part of their three-part system for the van, Parry explained, first is education, second is a thank you to the ambassadors and the third is a “trade-up program”.

The trade-up program is a way to say thank you to people who have helped them to grow as a company and help people who want to share in a passion for the outdoors. People can send their old, worn out gear to Teton via the ambassadors, and Teton will send them new gear that matches what they sent and then repair the old gear to give it to someone else. The best part according to Parry is when they “connect the two people through social media” that way, the person who donated sees the gear that they loved being used by someone else and bringing them joy.

Teton Sports’ motto has always been “get outdoors”. Now, according to Parry, using a mixture of social media and the “Your Lead” van they encourage people to do just that. To see where the van is going next, visit: or follow the van on Instagram and Twitter by following @yourlead_van.