VH × Redningsselskapet
Redningsselskapet reached out to Varsity with hopes of developing a safety cap for their crew and members. They had specific safety feature requirements that needed to be met and were previously unsuccessful in finding a supplier who could meet their demands. With Redningsselskapet's long-standing history in Norway and our personal connections to the organization, we were honored to have been selected for this project. Through extensive development and testing, we are proud to have created a cap that is both practical and functional, increasing your visibility at sea, in even the harshest conditions.
For over 130 years, Redningsselskapet has been there for Norwegians when it has mattered the most. The volunteer-run sea safety society has played a crucial role in the safety of Norwegians, saving over 680,000 lives since its inception. With over 100,000 km of coastline in Norway and some of the roughest sea conditions, the crew members of Redningsselskapet take on a huge responsibility for keeping our coastlines safe and are highly skilled in the work they do.
The history of the organization runs deep within Varsity Headwear. Founders, Alex and Sebastian Adams, have family ties to Redningsselskapet. Their grandparents were sailing enthusiasts with long, international sailing adventures to look back on. Their stories and journeys stimulated Alex & Seb’s over average interest and fascination with sailing and boating. Safety was naturally a key part of this and they were both lifetime members of Redningsselskapet. Back in 2019, Sebastian personally experienced how important Redningselskapet can be.
The accident happened while transporting a boat from Kristiansand to Oslo. At cruising speed just outside Kragerø, the outboard engine suddenly tore off Sebastian’s boat. Creating a huge hole in the boat's hull, water immediately poured in and Sebastian found himself alone in a sinking boat. Luckily, he managed to use his phone to call Redningsselskapet and got forwarded directly to the captain of the nearest RS boat. Explaining his position, the RS crew immediately set off on the rescue mission. Several nerve-racking minutes later, the RS ship came to his rescue and were able to save both the boat and Sebastian – a close reminder of the dangers at sea, how quickly a situation can change and how crucial Redningsselskapet are.
Redningsselskapet places great value on the importance of general sea safety, while offering products that not only protect users but increase the effectiveness of their missions. The RS team came to us with very specific requirements for the cap’s functionality and challenged our team with three main objectives.
1. Visibility – Visibility is the most important element to sea safety. Regardless of the time of day, RS wanted the cap to be visible from most angles and that could be visible in or out of the water. When recreational users are more visible on the water, it decreases the number of incidents and also increases the efficiency and effectiveness of rescue missions in emergency situations.
2. Durability and Functionality – They needed a fabric that would withstand harsh conditions at sea and that would be practical for different on-water activities such as boating, kayaking, wind-surfing, etc.
3. Wearability – In order for the caps to be effective, people need to actually wear them. They wanted a cap that was comfortable and stylish for the user to increase the likeliness of being worn.
Using the knowledge and requirements of the Redningsselskapet team, our designers got to work. As cap specialists, we pride ourselves on being able to understand the needs of a user, select the highest quality materials and create thoughtfully designed caps for top performance. Multiple renditions of the cap were made and tested by the RS team themselves. Matt Skuse, Director of the RS academy and former British Royal Marine, was one of the leaders in the testing of the product.
“We decided to work with Varsity Headwear because they have a very high standard for quality and style but who also understand the importance of testing the functionality of the product.”
Partnering so closely with the RS team gave us insight into their requirements and the demands that needed to be met. For a safety product, there were no negotiations with functionality – the cap needed to perform and be visible regardless of the environment.
After multiple testing rounds in the Oslofjord and with the approval from the Redningsselskapet crew, the Refleks cap was finalized. Although it was initially conceptualized as a safety cap, it was important to us to create a cap that could also be used for off-water activities such as running and hiking and that was elegant enough for everyday use.
The Refleks cap has 180 degrees of certified SOLAS reflective paneling across the back and can be seen from most angles. At the highest point of the cap, there is an attachment point for a searchlight for optimal visibility. The pro version is in safety yellow to only further increase the visibility of the cap.
We have used a durable, yet breathable, softshell fabric that is both wind-proof and water-repellant. The cap is lightweight and designed to withstand the wear and tear of on-water activities.
“Our goal has always been to create the best products on the market and that perform for our customers. Redningsselskapet challenged us to further develop ourselves and learn new things. It was our goal to create a new product that would simplify the rescue work that RS does and further contribute to increased safety at sea. I hope that we have succeeded!”