Behind the scenes in Antarctica

Behind the scenes in Antarctica

Mar. 2019 

Written by Georgia Scott
Co-Founder, GROUNDTRUTH Global & GroundTruth Productions
We believe that the most meaningful innovation is borne out of real-world experience. For GROUNDTRUTH, that experience came through our work as filmmakers - which took us to some of the world’s wildest and most challenging environments. 

Through our sister company, GroundTruth Productions, we spent a decade travelling between different worlds – from boardrooms in New York to the rainforests of Sierra Leone, to the refugee camps of Lebanon to the ice fields Antarctica. Antarctica was by far one of the most extreme locations we have ever operated in, and it left a massive impression on us. While setting up GROUNDTRUTH Global and designing our first bag, THE RIKR 24L BACKPACK, we were looking for an environment that would test our design to the extreme.

In March 2018, together with Rob Swan and his team, we set sail from Ushuaia (the southernmost tip of Argentina) on board the Ocean Endeavour and embarked on our journey across the Drake Passage - the world's roughest crossing. The Drake Passage earnt this name because it is where the Pacific, Atlantic and Southern oceans converge. 

" Antarctica was one of the hardest environments we have ever operated in, it left a massive impression on us "
Sophia Scott, GROUNDTRUTH co-founder and film maker

I have never in my life seen such massive waves, it was both a terrifying yet exhilarating journey. Before reaching Antarctica we stopped off at Deception Island – home to several scientific research stations and a number of significant ecological sites. Myself, Sophia and Rob Swan wore our prototype of the RIKR backpack on the trip, in order to undertake our first field-test whilst filming. It was the first time we were using the design on location - the bag that we had spent months designing was about to enter a new world of extremities!

To capture meaningful moments in the field, you need to be agile, and your equipment needs to be both accessible and protected. With its unpredictable weather and extreme temperatures, Antarctica is a particularly difficult environment in which to film.

Rob Swan testing the GROUNDTRUTH backpack in Antarctica

Our three-week shoot challenged us to work on the waters of the great Southern ocean, the snow and ice landscape, and endure freezing temperatures. As we followed the work of Rob Swan and his 2041 Foundation to protect and preserve the Antarctic environment, we learnt of Rob's shock at the changing landscape that he had witnessed over the decades he had been visiting Antarctica.

The once hard snow beneath our feet was now a sea of slush ice. these first hand experience further fuelled our drive to play an active role in creating real meaningful impact. Working in wild places, with complex equipment in changing conditions, was an important catalyst for the GROUNDTRUTH concept.

For years, we struggled to find a backpack that fulfilled our needs – something that could keep our cameras and equipment secure, accessible and protected from the elements, whilst being smart enough to serve in more formal scenarios.

The lessons we learnt in Antarctica were vital in the development of GROUNDTRUTH and the RIKR range, and galvanised our mission of building a transport, sustainable and ethical company. The vast silence of Antarctica, the resilience yet fragility and the purity of such a natural environment will remain with me forever.

Reading next

Field-testing in Finse
A Journey to northern Sumatra