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Mountain rescuer team receives £45k worth of Helly Hansen kit


By Mike Merritt

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Mountain rescuers test out the new clothing. Picture: Assynt MRT
Mountain rescuers test out the new clothing. Picture: Assynt MRT

Mountain rescuers in Sutherland and Caithness have become key guinea pigs for the next generation of outdoor clothing in a deal worth around £45,000.

The 30 members of Assynt Mountain Rescue Team cover what is believed to be the largest area of any MRT in Scotland and face some of the harshest conditions.

Norwegian-based clothing manufacturer Helly Hansen – a subsidiary of the Canadian retail chain Canadian Tire – is traditionally associated with snow sports, yachting and other water sports.

But it is keen to develop a high-end outdoor hiking range to cash in on the booming UK walking market, which has increased since the pandemic as more people seek wellbeing in the countryside.

Assynt is among four teams in the UK which are now trailling the kit, which arrived this week.

Tim Hamlet, leader of Assynt MRT and a mountaineering and climbing instructor, said the team had signed a three-year deal with Helly Hansen which began at the weekend when it took delivery of the first kit.

"It is a phenomenal deal for us. We have 30 members who normally would have to kit themselves out and we would have to raise the money. This deal is worth about £45,000. It is amazing," said Mr Hamlet (35), who lives at Achiltibuie.

"Helly Hansen's slogan is 'trusted by professionals' – so it came to us.

"We will be kitted out with everything – full mountain waterproof and shell jackets, gilets, hiking and other trousers – all high-end gear. We will will then give feedback to Helly Hansen on its performance any any adjustments we think are necessary.

The Assynt mountain rescue team start to put the Helly Hansen kit to the test. Picture: Assynt MRT
The Assynt mountain rescue team start to put the Helly Hansen kit to the test. Picture: Assynt MRT

"This is a very important deal because so much of clothing sold for the Scottish outdoors does not cut it or does not perform well enough, because it is tested in places like the Alps which have a drier climate.

"So the gear does not stand up to the extremes of Scottish weather and has no real longevity."

So far this year the team, which has bases at Inchnadamph and Thurso, has responded to 10 call outs. A normal year will see between 12 and 18, mainly in the summer shoulder months where the weather catches out a number of hill walkers.

The team also regularly trains in all weathers.

"They could not have picked a better place to test their new equipment – we have to deal with all extremes of weather and cover such a huge area. We probably have the biggest patch of any MRT in Scotland," said Mr Hamlet.


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