ARTICLES ABOUT WIGGY'S BAGS
I cannot tell you how many times I have been queried about
Backpacker magazine's article about Wiggy's bags. In the most
recent issue of Backpacker, the "Gear Guide" for March 1998 has the
following comment: "Editors' Note: Our editor has been using a
Lamilite-filled, 20 degree F ULTRA Lt FTRSS for about 6 years now, and he
reports that, despite the countless number of times it's been stuffed and
unstuffed, the bag is still holding its loft and fighting off the chill.
The bag's warmth-when-wet capabilities were literally pushed to the brink
when, during a 5-day sea kayaking trip along the Maine Island Trail,
record rain pounded the region. `The bag got soaked--actually, it
resembled a sponge more than a sleeping bag--and I still slept warm," he
All good things come to those who wait, or so the expression goes. Ever
since I have been making sleeping bags (1986), I thought it would be nice
for Backpacker magazine to publish an article about my bags. While
this is not an article, but rather a comment, it is nonetheless greatly
appreciated by me.
Management: The action or manner of managing. Manage: To
carry on successfully or otherwise; to control the course of (affairs) by
one's own actions.
Source: The Oxford Universal Dictionary.
For several years a "buzz" phrase in the outdoor industry has been
management." Is it possible to manage moisture? Yes, although the
suggested by the many textile companies who supply fabrics, which they
claim have the capability to manage moisture, are off base. They are
obviously interested in selling their fabric, so they promote these
materials with erroneous statements about the functional properties of
As I have pointed out in numerous articles, in a cold environment,
moisture produced by the body is your worst enemy. Therefore, it is
necessary to get
rid of this moisture as quickly as possible, preferably in the vapor
Managing moisture successfully is in your best interest.
During the past few years, many of the mills have brought to the
place a number of materials, which are supposed to manage the moisture.
These materials are supposed to get rid of the moisture. Have these
fabrics accomplished their mission? No. Why? For the same reason none of
highly touted "waterproof breathables" don't work; they are not living,
entities. If you are to manage the moisture coming from your own body,
and only you have a responsibility to get rid of it. The materials used
for the garments you are wearing can help you accomplish this task.
However, you must also put them on in a layering system, which will allow
them to perform as you want. Also, the activity level (aggressive or
passive) and time of year (warm vs. cold weather) determines what is the
best material that a garment should be made of. Synthetics for cold, plus
a cotton or wool garment mixed in, and all- natural fiber garments in warm
The long underwear manufacturers developed a love affair with
polypropylene a number of years ago. They claimed that the fiber did not
absorb any water, which is correct; therefore, when wearing the long
underwear, your perspiration will not be absorbed and will be "wicked"
through the fabric. (Non-absorbent fiber cannot wick; see my Aug. '97
newsletter.) Anybody who has ever worked up a sweat while wearing
polypropylene long underwear has found out the moisture stays "trapped"
against the skin surface, and that they got a chill when they went into a
rest mode, while still outside in the cold. The same is true of the
various brands of polyester long underwear. The reason this occurs is
because the fabrics are knitted very densely, and it is difficult for the
vapor to escape. The more vapor molecules that build up while trapped
between the skin surface and the fabric, the more they eventually become
liquid. In addition, one would be wearing a two, three or more layers,
which makes moisture movement even less likely. Doesn't sound like the
moisture is being managed very well does it?
Each one of the mills claimed that they had produced a synthetic fiber
with the capacity to absorb moisture and "transport" the moisture away
from the skin surface. If this were true, why doesn't it work that way?
During the next year you will probably see a major ad campaign about a
nylon fabric made with a polymer that has the following: "properties,
actually absorb water, rapidly wick and then dry. It creates a dynamic
system that moves moisture and moisture vapor away from the skin, into the
fiber itself, across the surface of the fabric and into the atmosphere."
It is called Hydrofil nylon.
"Hydrofil nylon actively works [emphasis mine] to keep the body
dry and comfortable at all [emphasis mine] activity levels and in
any weather." There are graphs and charts that show and explain how all
this happens, just like the companies who market waterproof breathable and
insulations have used in the past, to show how their products are supposed
I readily agree that all of these materials will function reasonably,
in warm weather, when the surface of the fabric is exposed to
the atmosphere. Under that condition, I personally will only wear cotton.
None of the synthetics can even come close to the comfort level of cotton,
even when it is completely saturated with sweat.
Did you ever hear the expression "He who governs least, governs best."?
Well, when it comes to "managing moisture," it is best to allow the
maximum freedom of movement. Fishnets are always the best choice
for that first layer. The moisture very easily moves away from your skin
surface and goes wherever it chooses. This scenario takes place in cold
I wonder if any of the companies making these materials ever test them
on everyday people, rather than some celebrities who receive promotional
What is interesting is the fact that these companies want you to
believe that their material "knows" that its job is to relieve you of the
moisture you are generating, regardless of the activity or weather
conditions. More magic.
CLIMBING DENALI (MT. MCKINLEY)
I usually get calls about this time of year from people who are
planning to climb Denali. The primary question is which sleeping bag
should I use. After answering this question, I ask about the clothing, to
find out what is being worn.
For the past six or seven years I have supplied Alaska Denali Guiding
Service with sleeping bags. Last season (summer '97) Diane, the owner,
asked if I would make overpants and my Antarctic bib with less insulation?
I did, and these items were very successful. At this time she is testing a
Lamilite insulated overmit. If all goes well, as I expect, she will order
them for the 1998 climbing season.
Until now I have not offered any products for the climbing market,
other than my sleeping bags, since all I have seen are climbers wearing
high-fashion garments, which I don't make. Also, I have sold to people who
have summited Denali, and I needed their feedback as to how well my
products actually perform in the field or on the mountain.
The one thing that I have learned from Diane and dozens of climbers is
one does not want to have a down bag or down clothing. The down
will absorb all of the moisture that your body generates and
keep it. This is a simple fact. There is no place to hang a bag or jacket
to dry them. The atmosphere of Denali is one of high humidity. Therefore,
the down will also absorb moisture from the atmosphere. (I had my own
sailboat for six years, and spent 13 months at sea, mostly in the Bahamas.
It is warm, dry and very breezy. However, any material that can absorb
moisture will do so. The same applies to Denali, even though the
temperature is at the opposite end of a thermometer.) It is not uncommon
for golf ball-sized ice to form after about a week in the down in a down
filled bag. The same applies to down filled clothing.
I can speak about my clothing from first-hand experience. In November
1995, I got lost on a hunting trip in the Fossil Ridge Wilderness area
near Gunnison, Colorado. I was walking up and down the mountain in
waist-high snow for two of three days. I was sweating as much or more than
any climber ever has; temperature was about 0 degrees F. It was because of
this experience that I can understand what people on Everest go through,
and why I believe wearing Lamilite insulated clothing, with fishnet long
underwear as your first layer, is the most logical clothing to wear.
At the expense of being redundant, fishnets as a first layer lets the
moisture move away from the skin surface. The second layer can be any
thing, so long as it is loose-fitting. The third layer, a Lamilite
sweater, and the final layer, the Antarctic Parka. I now use a three-ply
Supplex as the shell for this parka. It is very light and pliable. For the
lower half of your body also use the fishnets, pile pants, or you get a
custom Lamilite L-6 pant from Wiggy's. Over that an Antarctic bib. On your
feet, Smartwool socks; boots are your choice, as I have no knowledge of
climbing boots, and my Joe Reddington Mukluks over your boots. If you send
us your boots and crampons, we will custom-fit the Mukluks with special
openings for the bales. Handwear--my Sierra and the Overmit that Diane is
presently testing. I am sure they will perform well.
By the way, I recommend the Super Light FTRSS. It has the versatility
for use 12 months a year. As for Denali, it will go to -40 and this bag
system performs very well in those sub-zero temperatures.
In addition, remember if you are on Denali and get into trouble and the
search-and-rescue staff has to find you, when they do, and if you're in
good shape but they can't get you out, a Wiggy bag is thrown to you. If
you have to be carted out, it's in a Wiggy hypothermia bag. The entire
search and rescue team has personally used Wiggy bags for years.
So, if any of you are planning to climb Denali, or any other mountain
this year, give me a call, and I will tell you all about what we are
making for the climbing market.
Logic is man's method of reaching conclusions objectively by
deriving them without contradiction from the facts of
reality---ultimately, from the evidence provided by man's senses. If men
reject logic, then the tie between their mental processes and reality is
severed; all cognitive standards are repudiated, and anything goes; any
contradiction, on any subject, may be endorsed (and simultaneously
rejected) by anyone, as and when he feels like it.
-Leonard Peikoff in The Ojectivist Newsletter
I read this in THE AYN RAND LEXICON, OBJECTIVISM FROM A TO Z.