Throughout the year we will be checking in with members of the Sea to Summit team to talk about gear, adventures, beer, dogs, and life in general. First up is our Marketing Communication Manager Ian McWilliams.
Ian tell us about your role at Sea to Summit.
I work in the marketing department and have the good fortune of being able to put my creativity to use daily in communicating with our dealers and retail customers through a variety of mediums.
How did you end up with a career in the Outdoor Industry?
I grew up in a big city with great access to outdoor adventures. I used being outside as a way to get out of the urban environment. One thing led to another and I found myself selling boots and cleaning rental tents at a mom and pop gear shop before I could drive. I did this for a few years after school and summers then went off to college where I worked as a guide and spent a lot of time in the mountains and ocean. After graduating I did the obligatory ski bum stint and realized that maybe there was more to this outdoor industry thing than bumping chairs in the Sierra. Someone decided to take a chance and welcome me into the world of 15D fabrics and 900 fill power down (thanks buddy!) and the rest was history. No getting out now!
What is your favorite part about working in the Outdoor Industry?
The people. I cant say this enough. Outdoor folk are a special breed who know how to have fun but also know how to work extremely hard. I have been fortunate to make some great friends throughout my career based on shared passions for being outside and helping others get outside.
Tell us about your last big adventure?
The Four Pass Loop in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness here in Colorado has been on my radar for a while. Late this past September my girlfriend, my dog and I finally got it done. We spent a relatively leisurely four days backpacking this 27-mile loop. We really lucked out on all fronts: The weather was amazing, the Aspens were going off, the trail was nearly empty and of course, we traveled through some amazing country. It was nice to unplug from everything for a while and just enjoy being outside.
Wow, that sounds really cool. Did you have a favorite Sea to Summit product on the trip?
Sure did! I was lucky enough to get to take a couple early samples of our sleeping mats with me. I slept on the Ultralight model and my girlfriend slept on the Comfort Light. Our dog Baker slept on both. I may be biased but these mats are amazing. I think they are going to change how people look at ultralight sleep systems and sleeping outside in general. Comfort aside, I was struck with how quickly and easily these mats completely deflate and, as a result, how easily they slide back into their stuff sacks. The morning ritual of wrestling your mat into its sack is gone! We also carried the Air Stream Dry Sack Pump which is a great multi-purpose piece of gear. It kept all of my clothes dry and out of the way and also allowed us to quickly inflate our mats after a long day. You don’t even have to remove the contents of the sack for the pump to work. How’s that for convenience?
Can you tell us one good backpacking tip we can pass along?
Bear bagging is an art form. You want to get your bag as high off the ground and as far from the tree trunk as possible without losing your grubstake to the canopy. I carried one of our Neoprene Pouches and 60 ft of paracord in order to get our bear bags done. When not in use the cord stows nicely in the pouch. When it is time to deploy, pull the cord out of the pouch, make sure it is clipped or tied to the loop on the pouch, put a few rocks in the pouch and launch it over yonder branch. You’ll nail impermeable bag placements you never thought possible with this little setup.
What’s your favorite trail food? Favorite Apres-hike drink?
Trail food: I prefer meat in the jerky form above all else. Apres-hike? What’s that? Must have something to do with SUP. But seriously, A cold hoppy beverage served on the tailgate of my truck is about as good as it gets for me. (side note: backpacking in September carries the added benefit of temps cool enough that beer left in a vehicle parked in the shade will remain ice cold even after a few days, ready to greet you upon your return.)