The Goat Blog
by Toni Isom
When Wisconsinite Rocky Thompson isnít dipping cheddar cheese in his Schlitz, heís scouring the lands for the greatest and lamest trends in the outdoor industry and informing you via The Goat. The Goat is a blog (web log if you live in a cave) that reviews the latest outdoor gear and discusses industry trends. Basically, Rockyís job is to a) make sure you donít look like a complete dork in the outdoors, b) give you something clever to say at the next aprŤs ski, and c) totally piss off certain brandsí disciples. Donít quote The Goat if your friends donít understand sarcasmóRocky understands the need for brutal honesty when it comes to talking about equipment.
Rocky sifts through the riffraff to find out whatís really going on in the industryóno corporate strings attached. We caught up with the mustachioed word-slinger and gear connoisseur.
Q: What is your name?
A: Rocky Thompson (real name).
Q: What is your quest?
Q: How many posts do you write a day?
A: I write ten a day, usually. Sometimes Iíll only write eight or nine if Iím feeling entitled or itís really nice out. For example, Iíll probably only write nine today since itís really nice out and Iím going to spend an hour or so answering these questions.
Q: Describe your background in 20 words or less.
A: Midwesterner whoís worked in gear shops since 15 years old. At least tried every outdoor sport except kayakingónoseplug aversion.
Q: How do you think the industry fat cats feel about you ripping apart their latest offerings from time to time?
A: If The Goat has a goal besides entertaining outdoorsy people, itís to cut through marketing bullshit. A lot of technologies developed for outdoor gear are nothing more than marketing initiatives from big companies. Gore Texís new materials are a good example. All they did was change the name from XCR to Gore-Tex Pro and then embark on a PR and marketing blitz to sell more gear. If you think youíre upgrading when you replace an XCR jacket with a Pro jacket, youíre crazy. I should probably write a post about that now.
Q: Do you ever get feedback from reps?
A: When I began work on the blog, I received loads of hate mail but it was always from people who wouldnít identify themselves. I mostly get emails from public relations people hired by the big outdoor companies. Itís clear that the PR people who email me have either never read The Goat or donít know anything about outdoor gear because they always pitch super lame products. A few reps have sent angry emails, more often itís the person who owns the company. Paul from Arborwear probably had the best response. He sent me a long email that was pretty funny, but the gist of it was that I wasnít really qualified to slam Arborwear since I didnít use any of their stuff. He sent a big box of Arborwear clothes and told me to get my story straight. I havenít tested them yet, but I applaud his confidence in his tree-climbing clothes.
Q: Do you think Backcountry.com is shooting itself in the foot by letting you be so blunt?
A: Initially I thought they made a mistake giving me room to slam a bunch of gear they sell, but I donít feel that way anymore. If Backcountry.com is selling gear thatís stupid or useless, people are going to find out about it. The best way to deal with that kind of stuff is to just be brutally honest and totally transparent about the stuff we choose to sell. Negative reviews are going to be on the net anyway, weíre better off if weíre providing a forum for those discussions. If the stuff weíre selling really is garbage, then Iím sure weíll stop selling it.
Q: Have you ever been tempted to give a product a glowing review just to get free stuff?
A: No, but Iíve felt bad saying mean things about gear that really nice reps have given me.
Q: What do you wear while you work?
A: I dress fairly normally, rotating through my stable of T-shirts and jeans. Iím a little ashamed to admit I also wear some brown Birkenstock clogs that my parents bought me in 10th grade.
Q: What would you say is your mission statement as The Goat blogger?
A: Corporate mission statements are unspeakably stupid. Theyíre either marketing-speak for ďHow are we going to spin this brand expansion?Ē or theyíre simply dishonest. The only honest corporate mission statement Iíve heard came from a software company, it was: Do good, have fun, make money. I mean, at least they want people to have fun. A personal mission statement, or ďgoal,Ē makes a lot more sense. My goal while working on The Goat is to become the most powerful person in the outdoor industry. I want The Goat to come up during product development meetings and product managers to break out in a cold sweat when they see that one of their pieces of gear has been reviewed on The Goat.
Q: Does The Goat have any super loyal readers?
A: Yeah. Itís actually really nice to get consistent feedback from a few people.
Q: Can you list a few of your favorite reader replies?
November 7th, 2006 at 3:05 pm e
Slizzard. What do you know about anything bird or jackson. Judging by your play list you were weened on a pickle, went straight to the lean, and you smoke it wet. Go steal some click emí from you local mortuary and give Jaime Kennedy back his Ipod!
March 30th, 2007 at 3:35 pm e
Because snapping that stick over your knee would rob you of the slow pleasure of sawing it with a wire.
Q: You have any fierce Goat enemies?
A: I donít think the people at Ninthward like me, but they canít do anything right anyway.
Q: What are your five most commented blog posts?
A lot of these are the same reasons skaters are cooler than Rollerbladers.
Dick Bass drills a hole through Snowbird, but you still canít bring your dog to the resort because it causes environmental damage.
This ski company canít do anything right.
I think the best thing someone said was, ďOpinions are like elbows.Ē
Shimanoís trying to change the world and the way we ride bikes.
Q: Any scandalous outdoor-related stories?
A: My friend thought his girlfriend had disappeared into the woods late one night and spent several hours looking for her. When he gave up the search and tried to climb into his tent to rest for a couple hours, he discovered that heíd set the tent up on top of her in the dark after sheíd passed out from drinking too much.
That was about all we could get Rocky to give up, but we do happen to know that he loves Bob Dylan and once tricked his roommate into telling people he had necrophilia.
While Rocky remains elusive and mysterious, itís hard not to trust his majestic moustache (Forget it, ladies. Heís married to The Goat).