In the little coastal town of Varberg, Sweden, the aspiring entrepreneur Paul Rydholm starts a small-scale production of sportswear together with his sister and two seamstresses.
Throughout the years, Tenson products were always tested in the most demanding conditions, keeping the adventurous dry in extreme and wet conditions, including those hearty souls attempting Arctic and Antarctic expedition firsts.
The DNA of Tenson remains the interplay between design, materials and technology - where function and style meet. Its brand history is a never-ending voyage of outdoor adventures.
Tenson launches the Fjäll Anoraken (Mountain Anorak 7031) and soon takes part in the Norwegian expedition in 1971 to the summit of Huagoruncho, a 5,800+ meter peak in the Chilean Andes.
The Tenson Fjäll Anoraken was made with a cotton-poplin fabric, a durable, coated mix of cotton and polyester for wind and water proof properties along with very good breathability in dry conditions.
In 1963, during a trade show in Cologne, Germany, Tenson founder Paul Rydholm has an “Aha!” moment that further cemented Tenson’s developing legacy as “The Swedish Outdoor Brand”. In his own words:
“As I left for the evening to get my car at the parking lot I saw smoke coming up from the chimneys of an adjacent industrial complex and I thought that “this is not natural for us people, we’re were once created to be free hunters and gatherers, and now we’re getting tied down by our own progress. Back to nature will definitely be something people will need to break free from modern life…” It was in this very moment that the idea for an outdoor, nature-driven collection was born.
This first truly outdoor collection features Tenson’s first pants with leg pockets and Tenson’s classic style wilderness jacket with four outside pockets.
For the outdoor collection, Tenson introduces its legendary trekking-fabric made of 55% cotton and 45% polyester and treated with wax. This hard-core outerwear fabric withstands the wear and tear of serious outdoor adventures. A new and improved version of this legendary fabric is re-introduced in 2021 as Tenson XT: Soft. Silent, Durable.
In developing outdoor apparel for the most challenging and demanding conditions, Tenson needed to ensure that all aspects of its clothing were designed to perform. With this in mind, Tenson introduces, ”expert testad” (or, in English, “expert tested”) which becomes essential to the corporate culture onwards. Bottom line: to push the envelope and keep the competitive edge, Tenson products must be tested by true experts in the toughest of conditions.
Although reaching the world’s highest summit is not for everyone, Tenson’s inclusiveness - providing an all-conditions apparel offering — inspires people to live closer to nature and to seek a more adventurous life outside.
”We are not selling products, we sell the
dream of a getaway experience and
becoming part of a community - A way of living”
Paul Rydholm 1966
Tenson founder Paul Rydholm Paul further explores other activities the brand might support. Could skiwear could be something to add to the product range? Nordic skiing fit the current production set-up, so Paul contacted the Swedish Ski Federation.
The challenge with Nordic skiing at the time was that everyone was skiing in the same type of loose outfit, mainly, navy blue anoraks and pants, which was better suited as a recreational outfit. Paul applies a new vision for nordic skiing and creates an innovative, stylish looking collection with functional stretch fabrics. The collection debuts at ISPO Munich in Germany, which today remains the world’s largest outdoor trade show. An immediate success, many big German retail customers immediately place orders, among them, the renowned Sport-Check in Munich.
Fellow Swede Sven-Åke Lundbäck wins the Gold Medal at the 1972 Sapporo, Japan, Olympics, wearing Tenson’s innovative and stylish nordic ski outfit. The race outcome propels Tenson to become partner to the Swedish national nordic ski team during the 1970’s.
Tenson launches the Himalaya Jacket. It becomes one of the most iconic outerwear jackets in history. To further test and develop Tenson “survival” jackets, Tenson begins sponsoring yearly polar expeditions carried out under the leadership of mountaineering and alpine specialist Torsten Kjéssel. Torsten and his team regularly test Tenson product under the most challenging circumstances to ensure superior function and comfort.
The “Himalaya”, designed in the early 1970s, was inspired by man’s first trip to the moon. It becomes an iconic product and signature silhouette for Tenson. It remains so today.
The Himalaya jacket is made from a high-tech fabric: its back is laminated with aluminum foil, providing effective insulation and warmth for extremely cold conditions. Numerous expeditions are performed during the Himalaya’s development, including a polar expedition to ensure high quality and superior function.
During the British Mount Everest expedition in 1975, several of the world’s leading climbers commit to the Tenson Himalaya Jacket as their primary choice for the extreme conditions. Led by the legendary Sir Chris Bonington and Hamish MacInnes, they set off to climb Everest’s southwest face, which, up to that point, had never been successfully climbed.
Upon its 1975 release, the “Himalaya” quickly became a success across Europe. It was known as, “The Swedish Wilderness Jacket”. It featured the latest fabric technology to ensure quality, function, and fit. It also became very popular with sailors who sought a jacket with good protection for the stormy days out at sea. In fact, it was so popular with the sailing community that the collection was expanded to include matching trousers in the same durable material.
It turns out that 1977 was the year the first ever Swedish team sets out to compete in the world’s most prestigious sailing race, The Americas Cup. With Swedish sailing legends Pelle Pettersson and Stellan Westerdahl at the helm, the effort was supported by the Swedish Trade and Industry Council as well as Sweden’s Royal Court.
The design of the Swedish Challenger match boat began to take shape already in 1974 and in June 1977 the 12-series match boat Sweden built by Sweden Match in Stenungsund left the home port. Unfortunately, the crew were poorly outfitted as the cold North Sea water seeped through every seam of their overalls and they soon became “frozen to the bone”. Tenson gets the call and soon provides a wind- and water-repellent garment with taped seams that was up to the challenge: the Himalaya jacket and custom-made sailing pants were made to compete and completed the set.
The Tenson Lapplander is Tenson’s first jacket with down filling 90/10: a 90/10 ratio means that the product is 90% down - the “fluffy” stuff - and 10% feather. This is the science behind any down-to-feather ratio you see, the higher the down percentage, the warmer it will be. Designed and developed in and for cold conditions, it is tested by the professional dog sledge racing team led by Marsha and Bob Crockett and Lewis Leonardin near Mount Alyeska, approximately 160km southeast of Anchorage, Alaska.
The “Lapplander” was later used in the Japanese Mount Everest expedition of 1981. Some 40 years later in the autumn of 2021, Tenson sets out to relaunch an updated version of the Lapplander, paying homage to world-renowned adventurer, Naomi Uemura. It is appropriately named, The Tenson Naomi Expedition Jacket.
In winter 1981, Tenson sponsores and equips the Japanese Mount Everest Expedition in which the well-renowned adventurer Naomi Uemura participates.
Naomi was particularly well known for doing solo what had previously been achieved only with large teams. For example, he was the first man to reach the North Pole solo, the first man to raft the Amazon solo, and the first man to climb Denali solo.
Sadly, he disappears on the descent a day after his 43rd birthday after summiting Denali, North America’s highest and most challenging peak, in winter.
Tenson equips the Swedish Mountain Everest Expedition in 1981 with its Skerfe MPC shell jacket and pants. The endeavour begins in the jungle and continues all the way up to the Glacier Dome at about 7,000m. The garments proven ideal protection against the fierce tropical rainstorms, all while letting body moisture evaporate.
The Tenson Skerfe is Tenson’s first, proprietary, MPC (“Moisture Permeability Coating”) shell jacket and pant set, and pushes the envelope in terms of innovative technical functionality.
Tenson introduces other soon-to-be classic in the spring of 1982: a classic that lays the foundation to Tenson’s functional rainwear specialist legacy, The Tenson Skagway, a 3-layer shell MPC (“Moisture Permeability Coating”) set, jacket and pants. It is waterproof and highly breathable, keeping nature enthusiasts comfortable and dry, while preventing in-garment condensation. The Skagway gets refined over the years with the latest fabric enhancements and remains an integral, signature piece of Tenson’s range some 40 years later!
The Nordland parka gets produced with Tenson’s legendary trekking-fabric, 55% cotton and 45% polyester and treated with wax. It is a highly durable fabric that withstands the wear and tear of active outdoor adventures.
Nordland is part of Tenson’s cold collection tested in harshest cold conditions in Kootenay National Park, in the Rocky Mountains of British Colombia, a remote wilderness territory rich in wildlife, where grizzly bears, deer, moose and elk roam the mountain slopes, while falcons soar above.
Made in Tenson’s Nordland trekking fabric, its Mount Robson Jacket was among others tested by Guy Clarkson who, up until that time, had the most successful summit ascents in the world.
In the picture on the far right, Guy Clarkson assists Buck Corrigan on the ascent. Both are wearing Tenson’s Mount Robson, which they afterwards praised for its domfort and ease of movement. The tests were carried out in Snowpatch Spire surroundings in the Canadian Rockies.
Tenson launches its proprietary AirPush, a microfibre technology focused on improving breathability. AirPush offers maximum freedom of movement suitable for strenuous activities which require maximum comfort and breathability along with wind and water resistance.
His Majesty the King of Sweden and the Swedish Climbing Association support the 1987 Swedish Mount Everest expedition. The preparations to develop the products included an expedition to climb Mount Assiniboine, a 3,600+ meter pyramidal peak mountain located on the Great Divide, on the British Columbia/Alberta border in Canada. Tenson undertakes the expedition to test the prototype of a completely new, advanced survival jacket, which is then worn by the Swedish Mount Everest expedition.
Tenson’s Mount Everest jacket is a down-insulated AirPush jacket. The outer fabric is made of Super Microft and the padding is made of high quality 90/10 duck down. Eleven roomy pockets and a double material construction in the detachable hood make the Mount Everest jacket one of the most advanced products ever presented by Tenson.
On the 17th of July the Dutch Seven-Up K2 expedition, led by Ronald Naar, reaches the top of K2 at 8.760m equipped top-to-bottom by Tenson.
The survival jacket of choice was the Tenson Mount Everest jacket.
The Greenland Ice Cap is the coldest place in the Northern Hemisphere. Ronald Naar, the seventh mountaineer to climb the Seven Peaks, crosses the ice cap on skis. He combines the expedition with climbing the highest mountain in the Arctic region, the 3.753m high Gunnbrøn Fjell.
The expedition takes 38 days. The team uses Tenson MPC Extreme and Airpush fabrics to conquer the extreme conditions. Tenson MPC Extreme “20,000 water pillars and 20,000 breathability” is first introduced by Tenson in 1996 - a new generation of advanced technical shell products by Tenson.
Tenson introduces X-lite series. These garments are lightweight, easily packed and comfortable to wear.
The characteristics, combined with durability, make the X-lite garments particularly suitable for backpacking and adventure travel. As X-lite is made of synthetic fibers, it has some important advantages like: quick drying, enhanced moisture transportation, and hard wearing durability.
Tenson XLITE - Xtreme Light Intelligent Technical Equipment.
Tenson equips Dutch lead adventurer Ronald Naar who sets course for the South Pole, deliberately choosing a route never travelled before. When he and his companion Coen Hofstede reache the Amundsen-Scott base after 63 days, they had truly blazed their own trail. The Antarctic expeditions features Tenson’s newly developed ”Xizang” 3-layer MPC Extreme jacket and pants.
Tenson is the official clothing supplier to all volunteers at the alpine skiing World Cup event in Åre, Sweden.
The young adrenaline race sport of Ski Cross has proven that it is here to stay. Since 2011, Tenson is the ski cross team’s clothing sponsor.
Slovenia boasts a competitive heritage in alpine skiing with many top results and superstars in the skiing world (e.g., Tina Maze). Tenson sponsors Slovenia’s national alpine team 2015-2019.
A young sport featuring both speed, technique and grace mixed with a lot of respect and heritage. Tenson sponsor Sweden’s Freestyle Team 2012-2018.
David Wembrand had already climbed three out of the Seven Summits (the Seven highest peaks of the seven continents), when he embarks on the expedition to the Alaskan wilderness to climb Mount McKinley (or “Denali” as the mountain was originally called, the name which was restored in 2015 by President Obama).
Denali, at 6,190m, is known to be the coldest mountain in the world. ”It’s paramount to think of one’s own safety as weather conditions can be unforgiving with temperatures down to -45°C”. To withstand such extreme weather conditions it is vital to have the right equipment. David turned to Tenson to equip him with the right apparel for his epic journey.
In 2020, ISPO honours outstanding products and services of the sports industry for the ninth time with the renowned ISPO Award. The international neutral jury of experts is made up of media representatives, retailers, athletes, consumers and material experts reviews several hundred submissions according to certain criteria such as design, function, sustainability and innovation.
The independent jury chooses the Tenson Aerismo JackoRak™ MPC Extreme as “Gold Winner” in the Category Snowsports - Jackets, which means it was the best voted product in this category!
Tenson's brand history is a never ending voyage of discovery. A journey filled with observations where adventure and outdoor enthusiasts are constantly learning and where beginner's luck seldom leads to good results. Instead, success comes from knowledge, experience, endurance and equipment. At Tenson, we have been making outer wear for 70 years. Naturally, this does not say everything about a product and its quality. But, what we can say is that when you choose Tenson outer wear it has nothing to do with beginner's luck.
Celebrates with us our Tenson Himalaya Jacket 50th
anniversary, introducing a Tenson Himalaya Premium Outdoor
collection made in recyclable fabrics with carbon zero footprint - stay tuned!