THE U.S.M.C. & NATICK LABS HONOR ME
Imagine after me lambasting both organizations starting in 1969 with Natick first and then the U.S.M.C. in 1993 they have combined to present me with the greatest honor I could have asked for. It is often said that copying someone is the greatest form of flattery. And that is exactly what they are doing, or rather trying to do. The fact that they are destined to fail is irrelevant to me, the fact that they have finally recognized that continuous filament fiber is the best insulating medium in the world and that the method of manufacture incorporating lamination is the best manufacturing method says it all.
In 1968 the original continuous filament fiber batting was made at Camden Fiber Mills located in Warminster, PA. I was the sales manager at that time. They are long out of business. The product was trade named POLAR GUARD by Celanese who marketed the product. At the time I had been experimenting with the lamination of fiberfill. When I realized that our laminating operation could laminate the Polar Guard I had samples made and started showing the laminated package to manufacturers all over the country. My only success was with mitten and glove manufacturers. Sleeping bags and outerwear came in 1975 when I opened my first company Olam Outdoor Sports Products, also no longer in business. I submitted my Super Light and Ultima Thule bags to Natick Labs and they wash tested them and then copper manikin tested them. The year was 1977 and the results came to me in 1978. They couldn't damage them and the warmth rating was higher than any other bag ever tested until a couple of years ago when Natick bought an Ultima Thule from me and it tested far better than the earlier one. The CLO rating exceeded 10.
In 1993 I was working with the U.S.M.C. material command in Washington D.C. I had already had some success with them when I made 200 sleeping bags called the Desert bag. I still make it to this day thanks to the performance it exhibited when they tested it. The major who was now running the operation asked the sleeping bag manufacturers who existed in the U.S. at the time for a two bag system that would perform from summer conditions to -20 degrees. I was the only company to make the sample system and was given an order for 12. The major sent a captain to visit my factory and get information which I had no problem sharing with him. He then shared the information with Natick and they bastardized my product. My product has never failed in all these years, and their bastardization of mine has been as successful a failure as can be. They worked with a government contractor who quilted the continuous filament fiber and had the bags joined together with snaps versus a zipper as I use. In addition the weight of the insulation used and still use today is about ¼ the weight I use. Is it any wonder that the bag system does not work? As a result of the bag system not working they continue to try to make a product that does work and of course they continue to successfully fail. We tax payers have paid for 125,000 center zip bags that do not work. This bag was designed for them by a guy who knows what a sleeping bag looks like but has no actual knowledge of how to make one. His knowledge of the single most important component of a sleeping bag, the insulation, he has even less knowledge.
So much for the history. If you go to my archived newsletters you will read substantially more about the folly of Natick and the U.S.M.C. about their desire to make a sleeping bag that will actually perform. That said their reason for honoring me as I see it follows.
I have explained to all of the Natick representatives as well as U.S.M.C. representatives for all these years that laminating the continuous filament fibers are without question the best way to use it. And I have for all these years thought that what I had to say was falling on deaf ears. That has changed.
Mountain Hardwear Company has tried to copy what I have done for 40 plus years — make products using laminated continuous filament fibers in a variety of products, all of which have proven to perform far and away better than the same product made with other fibers or construction method by other companies. The first time they tried using continuous filament fiber in a form of lamination was a disaster. See the Spring 2005 Newsletter in the Archives. The second time it is with chopped staple fiber and it is proving to be a disaster. See the current Newsletter. However, they apparently got the attention of both Natick and the U.S.M.C. They probably introduced Mountain Hardwear to a company in El Paso, Texas by the name of ReadyOne Industries. ReadyOne Industries is a non-profit that employees blind or significantly disabled people. Please do not get the wrong idea that I am in anyway against their existence but for this article it is important to know about the company. It is my understanding ReadyOne Industries has licensed the Mountain Hardwear technology of adhering the fiber and material together as they do in China where they make the Lamina line of bags, and I guess pay a fee. The difference is that ReadyOne is again using the continuous filament fiber. The reason is simple Natick and the U.S.M.C. want continuous filament fiber only. From what I have read on their web site they have built a machine to apply the strips of adhesive and have called it a LAMATRON machine.
The question that I have is a simple one: If Natick and the U.S.M.C. recognize that lamination is the best way to go why they didn't they come to the expert who has proven over and over and over again the products made with laminated continuous filament outperform every other similar product ever made? I'll leave it to you to come up with an answer. What they are doing is not destined to fail but is a failure to begin with. That would not be the case if they came to me and asked if I would work with ReadyOne Industries. I would not have charged them a licensing fee, just charged them to do the lamination. They would also have had the benefit of my expertise.
One thing that I have learned about Natick and the U.S.M.C. is that they have a very close relationship with failure. As I have presented every sleeping bag or sleep system they have made has failed. The Natick failures started in the late 60's or early 70's when they first started using the continuous filament fiber in sleeping bags. Then in the 1980's they used a chopped staple fiberfill product trade named Hollobond 2. This product was used until the early 1990's and was displaced by the continuous filament I am happy to say because of me. Unfortunately Natick did not learn and they I believe influenced the U.S.M.C. to also choose not to learn. By the 1990's I was already the single largest sleeping bag manufacturer in the country because I was and still do make the best sleeping bags the world has ever seen. They ignored the test reports done at Natick in 1978 that showed my bags had the highest CLO readings they ever saw and that after washing the bags they were retested and the CLO reading increased. As I previously stated their test of my Ultima Thule a few years ago was far better than the original test. The Ultima Thule bag was tested some years ago and the U.S. Navy issued it a National Stock Number 8465013954094 part number WIG20UL. I was faxed this information on June 19, 2000. The Navy has temperature rated the bag for -35 degrees. There are 400 or 500 of the Ultima Thule's currently in I believe 100 survival capsules on Navy ships deployed all over the world.
According to the information published by ReadyOne Industries the bag they are attempting to make is supposedly rated for use as low as -20 degrees. The article states the following:
"Among its new products now in test is a cold-weather sleeping bag for the U.S Marine Corps that could withstand temperatures of 20 degrees below zero and would not allow moisture in the bag." I saw a picture of the bag and it is a center zip bag. The 125,000 center zip bags that were made for plus 25 degrees didn't work when tested and they asked for a liner but the liner was never made to go with the bag. Armed with this knowledge they decided that they would have a center zip bag for -20 degrees. None of them at Natick or the U.S.M.C. understand that there is very little insulation over the body when there is a zipper down the middle of the bag, regardless of how thick the draft tube maybe. As I said it will not work from inception. The reason it will not work is simple, the weight of insulation used is 4 ounces per square yard per layer and there are two layers. I use 12 ounces per square yard per layer in my Ultima Thule and there are also two layers on top.
Natick and the U.S.M.C. have for about 4 years wanted a single bag for -20 degrees. They had to look no farther than the bag already in the system which I informed Natick of when they bought the Ultima Thule in the first place. Periodically the U.S.M.C. has also purchased them both vacuums packed and non-vacuum packed. As a point in fact I worked with one of my customers over a year ago who presented the U.S.M.C. with basically my bag under their label. The U.S.M.C. was given as complete an explanation as is possible showing them the construction of the bag in detail. This presentation may very well have been the reason why they want a laminated constructed bag today.
After all is said and done I am very appreciative of the fact that both organizations have recognized my accomplishment to want to have a laminated sleeping bag in their system, hence they have honored me.
However, as I also see it this is a perfect example of the blind leading the blind.