Technical clothing company educates boaters about lifejacket checks and equips all-weather lifeboat crews across the country with new hi-tech kit to keep them warm and dry

Over half of those who drown around the UK coast never planned to get wet. It’s a surprising statistic, and it’s these people who the RNLI are reaching out to in a new partnership with Helly Hansen.

Lifejacket safety checks play a key role in Helly Hansen’s drive to educate boaters about drowning. Accidents can happen when you least expect them, and a lifejacket is useless unless worn – as seen back in 1861 when the sole survivor of the Whitby lifeboat disaster was trialling a cork lifejacket. Now, the RNLI offers free lifejacket clinics and online advice on how to perform simple, regular checks.

The advice to boaters is always to wear a lifejacket, but if you enter the water unexpectedly without one, fight your instinct to swim; let your body adjust to the coldwater shock, which can steal the air from your lungs. Trust in your clothing; in most cases, air trapped between the layers helps you to float, and if you move less, this will improve buoyancy.

“Respect the Water, is our key message,” explains RNLI Media Manager Luke Blissett. “Stay calm and float to live. We’ve had around a dozen people already who say this advice has helped save their life.”


Delivering safety messaging is only half the story for Helly Hansen, who are also the suppliers of the charity’s new all-weather lifeboat kit. For the first time in RNLI history, the kit – which is now on service at lifeboat stations across the UK and Ireland – has been tailored for female crew, of which there are over 500.

Alice Higgins, volunteer at Weymouth Lifeboat Station, was one of the first crewmembers to trial the gear.

“Our new Helly Hansen lifeboat kit is absolutely fantastic,” she says. “It’s much lighter, uses breathable fabric, and keeps you warm and dry.”

The synergy between the RNLI and Helly Hansen goes back a long way. Both organisations were formed in the 19th century. Whilst one was saving lives in wooden rowing boats, the other was soaking coarse linen in linseed oil to create ‘oilskins’. One preserved life, the other preserved the lifesaver.


Fast-forward to the 21st century and the RNLI has joined the 55,000 professionals that Helly Hansen work with to create technical clothing ‘to help people stay and feel alive’.

The Norwegian brand draws insight from living and working in the world’s harshest environments. From the first supple waterproofs in 1877 to fleece in the 60s and technical base layers in the 70s they’ve been first-to-market with a number of fabrics, right through to today’s H2Flow temperature regulating system.

Helly Hansen Chief Executive Officer, Paul Stoneham, says the company is “both proud and humbled” to be supporting RNLI volunteers:

“As a brand that defines itself through its work with professionals for over 140 years, Helly Hansen has a tremendous amount of respect for the RNLI’s mission, heritage and the individuals who sustain this critical institution.”

In association with Helly Hansen.