Women Making Strides in Outdoor Gear

Central Park foliage photo-walk, Nov 2009 - 51 by  Ed YourdonHappy International Women’s Day! Technically it’s tomorrow but we’re celebrating it today. From solo lady travelers to gals rocking it on the crag, women have just as much an important place in the outdoor world as men. Mother Nature’s obstacles don’t care if you’re a man or a woman. That being said, there are few women who work in the outdoor gear industry to improve outdoor products. Two women from Sweden, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, are the exception to the rule and have made a revolutionary invention that protects bicyclists. It’s an invisible helmet. Yes, really. It’s called the Hövding.

The Hövding itself looks like a rugged looking scarf that’s worn around the rider’s neck, zipped up in the middle to create a circle around the rider’s neck. Inside is some pretty advanced technology that monitors movement and watches specifically for dramatic changes, such as when a biker is hit by a vehicle or hits an object. When that happens, the Hövding deploys.

The Hövding itself is essentially an airbag for your head. When the programming sets it off, it blows up with helium gas and pops up around the rider’s head using a fabric made out of super strong nylon made to take a beating. The helmet shape is designed like a hood and leaves the rider’s vision open so they can react to the situation while being protected. After inflation the impact is softened and provides more protection and coverage than conventional helmets. It slowly deflates after deployment.

But of course the whole point is so adults can wear helmets while enjoying the breeze in their hair while riding (or to prevent helmet hair while commuting to work). With that in mind, the two women behind the Hövding made the outer shell removable to be washed but also so it can be changed out to match outfits!

As you’re talking with your friends about International Women’s Day, tell your friends about Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin and their invisible helmet. They’ll be as blown away as we were the first time we heard about it.

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