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The founder of Sea to Summit, Roland Tyson has relentlessly followed the path of innovation to equip self-supported adventures all over the world for more than three decades. As a young climber and adventurer from Western Australia, Roland began designing and producing well thought out gear from his home on a second hand sewing machine, solving some of the basic gear hitches that outdoor adventurers faced. By 1986, he had founded Namche Bazaar (the predecessor to Sea to Summit) to meet an ever increasing demand and recognition of his purposeful and lightweight gear. In 1990, Roland went on to custom design gear for Tim McCartney-Snape’s successful solo Everest expedition from Bay of Bengal to the top of Everest and launched the company Sea to Summit. While Roland built the Sea to Summit business he continued to climb and adventure extensively including the audacious self supported ski traverse of the great Himalayan range in India. These adventures became a source to not only hone big-mountain skills but also to further develop as well as test his functionally beautiful products. Roland also did Himalayan first ascents in Lahaul-Spiti and several rock climbing trips to Dhauj and Ramanagram with fellow climbers from India during this period.
Translating epic adventures into design perfectionism, Sea to Summit soon grew to make a wider range of products targeting the self-sufficient outdoor travelers. With Penny Sanderson’s adept initiatives, the course of Sea to Summit business transformed and it became an international brand bringing the carefully designed drybags and other storage solutions to a global audience in the US, Europe and Asia. Roland and Penny tapped into their extensive network of global adventurers to bring likeminded professionals from around the world to work at Sea to Summit.
This included Roland’s long-time friend and fellow adventurer Paramjeet Singh from Delhi
This included Roland’s long-time friend and fellow adventurer Paramjeet Singh from Delhi, an architect who is a senior designer with the company. Over the next few decades, Sea to Summit’s product range diversified to include sleeping bags, kitchen gear, tents and Sea to Summit has become a very well known brand in the outdoor industry selling around the world. Sea to Summit has now added the newest country distributor to the family delivering lighter, better made, better performing gear for all kinds of outdoor adventures to the people of India. Alka S Singh, co-founder of the Adventure Gearbox, is excited about the move and says, its perfect timing as more Indian travellers moved towards outdoor based activities and more self-reliant trips”. “When not compromised and challenged by one’s equipment, it makes the adventure limitless and adventurer more self-reliant” says Alka.
I recently asked co-owners Roland Tyson and Penny Sanderson about the backstory and brand ethos of Sea to Summit. Then I chatted with Alka S Singh, co-founder of the Adventure Gearbox, the Sea to Summit distributor in India, about what it means to bring Sea to Summit to India – the original testing grounds and the birthplace of the name.
Q & A with Roland Tyson and Penny Sanderson – Owners of Sea to Summit
TOJ: Working at an adventure gear company is a dream job for so many of us. What are the reasons you get up every day and go to work? What is the best part of your day?
Roland & Penny: Design. It’s our reason for being. It’s the best part of the job and most of our products are inspired by our trips. It’s an enormous privilege to be able to create gear that we use ourselves and call it “work.” Product testing enables us to get outdoors frequently. Being outdoors fuels design improvements and new ideas.
TOJ: What does Sea to Summit bring to customers that no one else does?
Roland & Penny: When we enter a category, we never want to be a ‘me too’ product. Our design brief is that it must be truly innovative and unique. We’ve proven this in our Cook Systems, our Sleep Systems, and now our Tents. We make products that are well designed, functional, and durable-designed by passionate outdoors people who get outside and use gear consistently.
Roland met Paramjeet on a ski lift in Gulmarg, learning to ski before his first ski mountaineering expedition crossing the Himalayan range.
TOJ: What is the motivation for bringing Sea to Summit to India?
Roland & Penny: We are delighted to make Sea to Summit gear available in India. There are opportunities to grow the brand and the range to a new audience, which is exciting. Roland has had a long association with India, since 1986 when he met Paramjeet while he was planning his first Himalayan Expedition.
TOJ: So there’s a great backstory here… Tell us more about the connection between Roland and Paramjeet and Sea to Summit!
Roland & Penny: Roland met Paramjeet on a ski lift in Gulmarg, learning to ski before his first ski mountaineering expedition crossing the Himalayan range. They discovered they had much in common, including a love of rock climbing. Roland invited Paramjeet to join the trip. After several attempts, Paramjeet was part of the successful crossing of the Himalayan Range in the middle of winter. Following this trip, Roland and Paramjeet embarked on multiple rock climbing trips around India.
Many years later after subsequent expeditions and climbing trips in Australia, Paramjeet agreed to emigrate to Australia with his partner Alka and join Sea to Summit as a designer. Now, Paramjeet is a Senior Designer at Sea to Summit and is involved in many design projects, most recently, our new range of tents. The tent project has been the largest undertaking yet and has won several industry awards in the US during the launch. Paramjeet has been pivotal to the success of this project and the launch.
Paramjeet is also an architect by trade. In between designing Sea to Summit product, he designed and built the Sea to Summit Headquarters building in Perth in 2017.
TOJ: What is most exciting about opening the Indian market?
Roland & Penny: The opportunity to introduce Sea to Summit to the country that inspired many of the products made today.
Sea to Summit is a 100% Australian family-owned company based in Perth, Western Australia
TOJ: Tell us something about you and Sea to Summit that most people don’t know about?
Roland & Penny: Sea to Summit is a 100% Australian family-owned company based in Perth, Western Australia. Being based in the most remote city in the world has advantages for outdoor product design. The wilderness is on our doorstep. A short drive from the office and we’re in the bush for product testing, overnight or weekend camping, bushwalking & mountain biking. Western Australia is an enormous state with a very diverse range of environments. From the remote outback to oceans, our location has testing grounds for almost every requirement. Worldwide, Sea to Summit employs more than 230 people dedicated to making the best product possible.
Q & A with Alka S Singh – co-founder of Adventure Gear Box
Alka and Paramjeet have climbed extensively since the late 1980s, and were part of a select few Indian rock climbers who pushed the boundaries of trad climbing in India. They both have represented India in India’s first-ever participation in a World Cup climbing competition in 1991. Alka now splits her time between India and Australia, and is well-known and active in the outdoor community of India.
TOJ: Why did you decide to become the distributors of Sea to Summit in India?
Alka: Sea to Summit gear has been integral to all our adventures and climbing expeditions. It has always been functional, durable, and dependable and was well-liked by our fellow climbers too. There are many climbers and adventurers in India who share the Sea to Summit ethos of no compromise and small-scale, self-supported adventurism. Making Sea to Summit gear available here also means sharing the excellence and quality of the brand that we enjoy with the outdoor enthusiasts in India.
Sea to Summit has won more awards in more categories than any other manufacturer in the outdoor industry
TOJ: What excites you most about this endeavor?
Alka: Sea to Summit has won more awards in more categories than any other manufacturer in the outdoor industry. For us, the excitement is precisely to bring this award-winning outdoor brand to Indian doorsteps. I think its innovative and field-tested products will change the ways people think about and interact with the outdoors in India. For example, my own trips to the Himalayas evolved using Sea to Summit gear. The perfect balance of weight, durability, and packability means that as a climber I can depend on Sea to Summit gear safely. The dependable quality of the gear is clearly reflected in the use of state-of-the-art materials, manufacturing, and persistent testing. Adventure Gearbox is really excited to make such quality gear available to a large number of discerning adventurers in India.
TOJ: Can you tell us something about the current outdoor adventure scene in India?
Alka: There are certainly a growing number of outdoor enthusiasts who are connecting with the outdoors in a variety of ways. For instance, Sea to Summit India has been proudly supporting the Himalayan Adventure Challenge (HAC) since 2017. Besides the usual mountain trekking and rock climbing, people have now taken up extreme sports such as motorbiking, watersports, cycling, and adventure four-wheel touring more than ever in India. Sea to Summit gear is versatile and can enhance all these activities. The rising popularity of offbeat travel experiences by families is a new promising trend, as is a rise in the number of independent woman travelers. And, the current climate of overseas travel restrictions also means that outdoors and wilderness areas will provide great recreational opportunities for more people.
TOJ: What opportunities do you see in this market?
Alka: Anyone can make things more complex but Sea to Summit makes gear that is lighter, well-built, and more packable, and purposeful. For example, the Sea to Summit Flame series of sleeping bags demonstrates a commitment towards being sensitive to the specific needs of women adventurers. Similarly, the recently launched tents with more space and superior ventilation have unmatched versatility. Indian adventurers appreciate gear that balances performance with being sensitive to the wilderness. That’s precisely what Sea to Summit brand stands for.
TOJ: What barriers, if any, do you hope to help break down?
Alka: The design innovation and excellence at Sea to Summit evolve products that enable small-scale clean adventure activities. Making durable gear that lasts means this is true value for money and doesn’t encourage ‘use and throw’ culture. Sea to Summit is a future thinker in the industry and is already anticipating the wicked problems and addressing them in its product design solutions. I believe Sea to Summit gear will assist Indian outdoor enthusiasts in indulging in more self-reliant outdoor experiences and pushing their limits. Adventure and climbing are avenues of expression of self-reliance and freedom, something very relevant in India.
Sea to Summit can be purchased in India
Ecommerce Website: https://seatosummitindia.com/
Retail Outlet: Atali Ganga, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand.
Contact email: [email protected]
Phone number: +919811410203
Associated TOV trips to use your new Sea to Summit gear!