ThruDark | Endeavour Through AdversityGear
Stories Behind the Gear: ThruDark
Written by Harriet Osborne // Photography by Matt Hardy & Nikolas Soderlund
Former Special Forces Operators Louis Tinsley and Anthony ‘Staz’ Stazicker harnessed their first-hand experience in some of the world’s most arduous environments to create a brand inspired by night operations.
White noise from the Special Forces aircraft muffles the sounds of clicks and zips as the final parachute checks are carried out. Laden with kit, rifles, and goggles restricting their vision, Louis and Staz line up behind their fellow operators, some of whom have dogs strapped to their chests. They have no choice but to harness their fear. Hesitate and they risk throwing the whole operation off course. One by one, they step up to the edge of the aircraft and prepare to jump into darkness. ‘Stand by,’ a commander shouts into their ear. ‘Go!’
Louis is a former Special Forces Operator with 14 years in the military. Staz spent 13 years in the Special Forces, with three years as a highly experienced chief sniper instructor and demolitions expert. Together, they harnessed their first-hand experience in some of the world’s most arduous conditions to design and develop ThruDark, a high-performance outerwear brand inspired by operations that were almost always led through the night.
‘Tier-one operators are equipped with the best clothing and equipment in the world,’ Louis says. ‘They have to be – their lives depend on it. As any good operator does, we’ve always pulled at the kit we’ve been issued and questioned its function and performance. If it doesn’t function as it should, we won’t use it. If it doesn’t look sharp, we won’t wear it.’
Louis and Staz started thinking about life beyond the Special Forces while still operating in 2017. ‘Most of our guys go on to work in the security industry, but Staz and I didn’t want to go down that route. We saw an opportunity to make a difference to the kit and directly feed it back to our guys. Not only that, but we can find a niche in the civilian market for military-grade and Special-Forces-approved clothing and equipment.’
They modelled the business on a military organisation, recruiting a small but hard-hitting multi-talented team of eight full-time staff based in Poole, Dorset. Materials are sourced from a diverse range of specialist factories all over the world, depending on the garment the team are producing – whether it’s waterproof, insulation, or stretch. All fabrics are laboratory, factory, and field tested before nailing them down for the final product, which also goes through a rigorous testing process before it is available to buy.
The SF Zodiac Jacket is one of ThruDark’s launch products, designed for intermittent weather with a softshell fabric and hardshell upper torso. The fabric features a military-grade, three-layer waterproof ripstop fabric, developed in the Schoeller factory in Switzerland to adapt to harsh conditions. A Cohaesive cord lock system allows hardware to be embedded into the fabric to enhance its functionality. ‘We don’t compromise on any element of our garment and we don’t limit ourselves on raw material costs, hence the premium price tag. You get what you pay for,’ Louis says.
From door kicking to fabric pulling, product testing is inspired by methods of insertion for Special Forces troops. The SF Jacket was worn while running face-first down cliffs wearing a reversed climbing harness. It has also been abseiled off waterfalls and submerged in icy waters on the Isle of Skye. ‘It’s fair to say it’s been put through its paces time and time again.’
‘As any good operator does, we’ve always pulled at the kit we’ve been issued and questioned its function and performance. If it doesn’t function as it should, we won’t use it. If it doesn’t look sharp, we won’t wear it.’ —Louis Tinsley
The brand’s high-end technical nature lends itself to professional athletes and operators. Ambassador Nimsdai Purja is a record-breaking mountaineer and elite soldier who has spent his life venturing into the death zone. In January 2021, he and a team of nine mountaineers achieved a feat thought to be impossible when they achieved a winter ascent of K2, the second-tallest mountain on Earth at 8,611m. To support the expedition, ThruDark developed a state-of-the-art Summit Suit designed to withstand temperatures of –65 degrees Celsius and hurricane-force winds. Other ambassadors for the brand include Olympic gold medalist and former world champion track cyclist Victoria Pendleton CBE, former Royal Marine Commando and Special Forces Operator Jason Fox, and former England rugby captain Dylan Hartley.
ThruDark’s slogan ‘Endeavour Through Adversity’ relates to the team’s experiences in some of the world’s most challenging environments. The brand represents endurance through difficult situations, experienced not only by themselves, but by all those who encounter hardship in their lives.
‘From the inception of the brand, we envisioned a broad spectrum of equipment that can be utilised in land, sea, and air. We’ve built some rock-solid foundations in the mountain arena and we’re now in a strong place to show our diverse credibility in other climates and environments. We’re currently working on wetsuits, luggage, hot-weather gear, and a footwear collaboration. We didn’t come here to take part, we came here to take over.’