History of Brynje

This was an uneventful year in history. However, during a snow storm in Fort Keogh, Montana, the world’s largest snowflake fell – an incredible 38cm x 20cm! That same year, a young man in Larvik, Norway started a garment company. His name was Jacob Jacobsen and he was the youngest of 20 children. With such a high queue number, he was relentlessly sent out into the world to fend for himself. His big advantage was that he came from the area’s largest textile family. He had spent more of his childhood in the factory than at school so he started his own knitwear company. With his knowledge of textiles and use of local Norwegian wool, he was able to create a successful business enterprise. There soon followed a Norwegian wife, his own factory and children in close succession. Even today it is still the family sitting at the reins.


Norwegian wool was the gold standard for fishermen in the North Sea but wool’s ability to absorb water was a problem. Although it provided warmth when wet, it became very heavy. Additionally, since the time of the Vikings, everything possible had been attempted to make rough wool comfortable. This quest led the Jacobsen family and captain Henrik Bruun to work toward a solution.


Captain Bruun came up with the idea of a mesh fabric to get more air to pass through the garment and to provide additional warmth. In the 1890s, Fridtjof Nansen had used something similar to wool net, but now they tried it with cotton. Jacobsen developed a production method with their knitting machines and Bruun tested it out on the alpine climate of the Hardangervidda plateau with his soldiers. It worked great and production was ready to begin in earnest. The resemblance to Viking chain mail was striking. Viking chain mail was a composite of iron rings that gave good protection in battle yet it was lighter and airier than armor. The same was true for the new mesh underwear. It was airy, light and was excellent in combat – against nature.


Brynje attracted attention everywhere. When Englishman John Hunt planned his famous Everest expedition, he shocked the world with new theories about weight, speed, clothing and comfort. The entire expedition was equipped with Brynje “health shirts,” and on May 29,1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay stood on top of the world’s highest mountain at 8,850 meters with the exclamation, “We nailed the bastard!” Since then there have been many more visits. The Everest expedition did wonders for exports and the health shirt became more and more synonymous with sports stars like World Heavyweight Boxing champion Ingemar Johansson.


By now the cotton version of Brynje mesh was overwhelming popular, but in the mid-70s something completely new came on the market – synthetic yarn! This seemed to be the perfect material for the Brynje mesh. With SUPERthermo®, a new chapter was written for how underwear could transport moisture and provide insulation. Throughout the ‘80s, the polypropylene mesh base layer was the favorite of explorers, skiers and cyclists on the continent. The problem of sweating, while ascending a slope, followed by freezing descents had previously been resolved by plastic bags and newspapers. Now adventurers and athletes put their faith in Brynje mesh.


Brynje reached the South Pole with the Unarmed Expedition. This was the first time synthetic clothing reached a Pole. The theory was to keep all moisture away from the skin despite extreme exertion by allowing sweat vapor to pass through the garment while the air in the gaps insulated against the cold. It worked perfectly. Today there is hardly anyone who has more Greenland Crossings and Poles than Brynje.


This was the year when Brynje’s award-winning Arctic Double was introduced. Through close cooperation with numerous icy expeditions, Brynje created clothing with a mesh lining and a layer of wool outside. This proved to be a winning combination! The mesh reinforces the wool’s best insulating attributes while controlling moisture. This paved the way for new thinking on layering and garment design.


Into the new millennium! Brynje starts making several double layer products where netting is covered with wool or fleece and the market responds. Merino wool becomes well respected as a fiber for its comfort, wicking and odor management properties.


Brynje starts producing Merino wool mesh base layer garments. The company recognizes the weakness of 100% Merino wool and selects an 80/20% Merino wool/polyester yarn from the highly sophisticated Schoeller company. Consumers are now beginning to understand that a mesh base layer is a must to further improve current levels of function. For as the Norwegian’s say, “you cannot just live on air and love, one needs nets also…”


Brynje products now available in the United States at BrynjeUSA!

World Changing Expeditions:

Supporting expeditions has always been dear to Brynje’s heart. “It is important so that our products perform well for you in the most extreme environments and during the most awesome trips. While we have had extensive lab testing, we feel that nature is the primary lab. Feedback from countless trips, expeditions, hunting parties, climbers, cross-country skiers, cyclists and ordinary families have given us plenty of knowledge, confidence and better products.”

Historic expeditions and destinations with Brynje products:

  • 1953 First ascent of Mt. Everest – Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay
  • 1993 Unarmed to the South Pole – Harald Hauge, Cato Zahl Pedersen and Lars Ebbesen
  • 1998 North Pole Express – Sjur Mørdre and Lars Ebbesen
  • 2004 The first Norwegian woman to climb Mt. Everest – Randi Skaug
  • 2005 South Pole – Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft
  • 2010 Fastest solo crossing to the South Pole – Christian Eide
  • 2012 The youngest to cross the Antarctic – Teodor Glomnes Johansen
  • 2013 The first person to cycle across Greenland – Juan Menendez Granados
  • 2014 The first person to cycle solo and unsupported to the South Pole – Juan Menendez Granados
Brynje USA