Liquid Mountaineering: Outdoor Industry's Best Viral Marketing Campaign?

"Liquid Mountaineering" is the term given to a new sport introduced in 2010: Running on Water. Not running through a puddle or on a soaking sidewalk. We're talking about running on top of a pond or lake without falling in.

Here's the YouTube video demonstrating the pioneering athletes behind this new endeavor: Turns out the video was the centerpiece for a viral marketing campaign from Hi-Tec for its new "Ion Mask" waterproofing technology. (As the video points out, you need some seriously hydrophobic shoes to be a Liquid Mountaineer.)

Following its release in late April 2010, the video was viewed more than 4 million times in the ensuing weeks. According to the Hi-Tec press release that confessed the company's involvement in creating the video, this already placed it in the "top 100 favourite all time viewed global sports clips on YouTube." To date, it has been viewed more than 8 million times. Learn more about it on the Liquid Mountaineering page on Hi-Tec's web site.

The goal of the video campaign was to tout the company's latest waterproofing technology, which is explained in-depth in a nice interactive web site. According to the site, each pair of ion-mask treated shoes is placed in a special chamber, all the air is sucked out to create a vacuum, the machine generates a "plasma" to "activate the surface of the shoe," and then the chamber is "injected with a fluoro carbon (monomer) which fully penetrates every fiber of the shoe" and creates a hydrophobic layer "only nanometers thick." Or to sum it all up: "The plasma process enables polymers to infuse the shoes/boots on a microscopic scale."

As always, my take on this is the same as most outdoor gear technology: 90% marketing, 10% science. There may indeed be some advantages to the IonMask coating, but I would be surprised if it significantly outperformed anything else out there.

I'll leave it to consumers to determine how much reality is behind the hype—on all fronts.

Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid