The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has unveiled its new all-weather kit for its crews, as part of its partnership with outdoor clothing brand Helly Hansen.
Norwegian brand Helly Hansen, which specialises in clothing for sports and work on the oceans and in the mountains, was announced as the RNLI’s new supplier of all-weather lifeboat crew clothing earlier this year, as part of a wider strategic partnership. The RNLI said that they were unable to reveal the total value of the partnership at this time.
It is providing specially designed kit to meet the demanding needs of the charity’s volunteer crews, which include a range of styles and design and, for the first time, sizes and models made for women.
The new kit was unveiled yesterday, with crew members at Tower and Chiswick lifeboat stations on the Thames being the first to wear it. The kit will be rolled out to a further 128 all-weather lifeboat stations across the UK and Ireland.
‘Help the RNLI defeat drowning’
RNLI’s partnership with Helly Hansen is said to be the first of its kind, with the brand committed to helping the RNLI defeat drowning.
It will support the RNLI by delivering safety messaging, generating income, product innovation and by supplying the best kit for its crew.
As part of the partnership, Helly Hansen will become the supplier of the RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat (ALB) crew kit. As well as supplying our ALB crew kit, Helly Hansen will also supply the RNLI’s new lifeguard kit (to be rolled out in 2019) plus corporate clothing and uniforms for the RNLI’s All-weather Lifeboat Centre, Inshore Lifeboat Centre and RNLI College workers.
As a strategic partner, Helly Hansen will also provide gift in kind donations to the RNLI and is providing improved financial terms for the kit purchased.
The RNLI said that to fully kit out an all-weather lifeboat crew member in the new Helly Hansen gear, it costs £1,265. However, it said that this figure is the recommended retail price (RRP) including VAT, and actual costs paid by the RNLI “cannot be released publicly due to confidentiality conditions contained within the contract”.
The RNLI said: “Our partnership with Helly Hansen extends beyond financial terms. Helly Hansen is absolutely committed to helping us reduce drowning. They will be promoting our Respect the Water safety campaign messaging on their channels and products, helping our lifesaving messages reach a large audience of people.”
The new kit is “lighter, more comfortable and designed to allow greater freedom of movement than the kit it is replacing and it will ensure the charity’s volunteer crew members have the very best kit to wear when they go out to sea in all weathers”.
The kit has been especially designed with the RNLI to ensure it “meets the demanding needs of the RNLI’s volunteer crews”.
It uses state of the art waterproof and breathable Helly Tech fabric which provides increased comfort compared to the previous non-breathable fabric of the old kit. The light but strong kit is reinforced for exposed areas and its technical layering system ensures crew members will keep warm and dry while out at sea.
The kit comes in a wide range of sizes and has bespoke designs to fit both male and female crew members, unlike the kit it is replacing. The new bib, midlayer and baselayer garments have a specific fit for female crew members, enabling better comfort and freedom of movement.
Alice Higgins, volunteer at Weymouth Lifeboat Station, was one of 60 crew members from six lifeboat stations across the UK and the Republic of Ireland who trialled the new Helly Hansen gear.
She said: ‘The new all-weather lifeboat kit is absolutely fantastic. It’s much lighter than the old kit and uses breathable fabric, which is ideal for the more demanding tasks we often need to carry out. While trialling the kit it was great to find out that it kept you both warm and dry, even while out at sea in some harsh conditions."