MAKE IT HERE: Sleeping bag manufacturer Wiggy’s
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Sunday, March 27, 2011
An idea Jerry Wigutow once had in the late 1960s
in a small apartment in Manhattan is today a
plant in Grand Junction.
Wigutow, who at the time was selling insulation
to jacket manufacturers, came up with the unique
idea to seal the insulation to the liner without
using thread, in order to eliminate the cold
spots in sleeping bags.
He called his process Lamilite, and it’s
the exact same process his factory uses today
to make sleeping bags and other outdoor gear,
mostly for the United States military.
“It makes down an obsolete product,” Wigutow
His company, Wiggy’s, began using Lamilite
to make bedspreads for hotels. Then, Wigutow
landed a government contract in the mid-’80s
to produce 14,000 sleeping bags for the U.S.
That contract turned into 39,000 sleeping bags,
and a stream of business from other government
entities that the company still enjoys today.
Wigutow was enticed to move the company to the
Grand Valley by an incentive package to bring
new business to the city in the early 1990s.
“I make no bones about it ... We make
the best sleeping bag in the history of sleeping
bag manufacturing,” he said while leading
a tour of the multimillion dollar factory at
2482 Industrial Blvd.
Wiggy’s has 35 employees, most of whom
are expert sewing-machine operators, and his
crew produces “many thousands” of
bags every year, he said.
The manufacturing process begins with the making
of Lamilite, a proprietary process that uses
a special laminating machine to heat-seal the
filament polyester to the nylon fabric. Large
bolts of nylon and fiberfill run simultaneously
through the machine to form large, airy bolts
of insulated material.
The material is then carefully cut following
patterns specific to the type of bag being sewn.
The bag is constructed inside-out, and often
other material such as camouflage is added to
Each employee sews a specific side of the bag
before sending it to the next sewing station.
The final stitches are sewn near the zipper,
then the final inspection begins.
It takes approximately 45 to 90 minutes to make
Wigutow said that efficiency inside the factory
is a big reason the military depends on and purchases
products from the company.
“It’s because I can deliver the
big jobs,” he said.
Each bag weighs between two and seven pounds
and some are rated to handle 60 degrees below
Wigutow inspects much of the final product himself.
He offers a lifetime guarantee on all of his
products. If the zipper breaks, the filling bunches,
or a seam opens, he will replace the bag free
“I don’t know any other company
that would even consider such a guarantee,” he
He also doesn’t know of any other sleeping
bag company actually manufacturing bags in the
United States. He’s proud of the fact his
company has not outsourced its manufacturing
to foreign countries.
“I’m the largest single supplier
of sleeping bags to the U.S. military. If I can
turn enough profit here, anybody can,” he
In addition to sleeping bags, the company makes
an assortment of other products, such as clothing,
backpacks, gloves and footwear. All of the products
are manufactured using the same sewing process.
Wigutow also creates a number of other unique
products, including hypothermia bags used by
emergency medical technicians to warm cold patients.
Wiggy’s bags are even stashed under the
seats in U.S. military airplanes as part of the
ejection seat for pilots.
“What we make here is significantly better
than most brand names you hear about,” Wigutow
“Plus, we reach out to many, many thousands
all over the world from Grand Junction,” he