At first glance, the Ribcap appears to be a nicely sewn wool cap, perfect for cold weather activities. Look a little closer and you will find that the Ribcap can not only keep your head warm, but simultaneously protect your head from impact injury.
Officially launched last year, Ribcap does not claim to replace a full helmet, but offers an alternative that will provide significant protection from head trauma in a number of impact situations. Basically, wearing a Ribcap provides much more protection that wearing nothing at all.
Ribcap is currently used in certain outdoor activities such as alpine climbing, skiing, snowboarding, urban cycling, ice skating, and skateboarding, where one may not normally wear a helmet but would appreciate the added protection. I can see wearing the Ribcap for traditional non-helmet activities, but I would definitely not trust my brain to the cap for something like rock climbing, ice climbing or cycling.
Similar to back protectors in downhill apparel, viscoelastic protectors are sewn into the pleats of the Ribcap wool cap. The protectors are made out of a light plastic foam material called StructUre. The foam protectors are further laminated with a thin layer of shock-absorber fluid that hardens at low temperatures.
While hard material stays firm or shatters on impact, the StructUre viscoelastic material reshapes itself, absorbing the impact energy. The protectors are porous and breathable, meaning you are less likely to sweat or overheat when wearing your Ribcap and may be able to hear better.
The wool cap folds up easily for storage in your pack, luggage, or even jacket. Removable chin straps can be adjusted on both sides to keep the cap from falling off on impact. The Ribcap bill can be folded up for better vision, while reflectors on the back offer more visibility in low light conditions.
All the wool caps have an inner fleece lining for extra warmth. You can also throw the Ribcap in the wash when it gets dirty, something you can’t do with your normal helmet.
The Ribcap comes in three different styles- the Jackson, Palmer (with added face mask), and Dylan. The wool caps come in 5 different sizes and a variety of colors. The Ribcap retails for CHF 119-139 ($125-$145) depending on style and can be purchased from the online shop.