Welcome to Wiggy's Newsletter! All of my
newsletters and letters appear here
every two months. The topics deal with the effectiveness of materials in
use today, and whether or not finished products using these materials
perform as advertised.
I have been asked about children's outerwear insulated with Lamilite
for at least 10 years. I have reluctantly told all that I do not
manufacture any. All of those asking have some Lamilite-insulated product
such as a sleeping bag or parka and have been so satisfied they wanted the
same (outerwear) for their children. I am happy to say it has come to
pass. No, Wiggy's is not doing the manufacturing, but supplying a
children's outerwear firm, Molehill Mountain Equipment, located in Golden,
Colorado with Lamilite.
The firm has been in business for several years making high quality
fleece garments, concentrating on the three months to 10-year-old market.
This past winter they made a vest with Lamilite insulation and were so
successful they have increased the line to include a parka and bib, also
insulated with Lamilite.
As soon as I have photos I will put them on the Web site as well as
including the photos in the bi-monthly mailing. Pricing will be noted as
Availability will be April 2000.
MORE ON MIRACLE FABRICS
In mid January I attended the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show and
Conference, (SHOT), an exhibit of most all the manufacturers who sell to
hunting retail stores. The list of exhibitors includes gun manufacturers,
accessory manufacturers, and clothing manufacturers (from footwear to
headwear and everything in between). I was not an exhibitor, just a looker
and possible buyer.
I had an interesting conversation with one manufacturer about his
products. He told me his products were made from heavily advertised
components. He said that if the components didn't perform as stated by the
manufacturer of the component it really didn't matter, just so long as he
had a hangtag to put on his product. Not wanting to be argumentative, I
refrained from asking why he didn't test the material in his product to
find out if, in fact, it worked as advertised. It probably would have been
useless on my part, since he doesn't care; after all, these component
manufacturers are investing millions, yes millions, in advertising. My
unspoken thought was "buyer beware."
This is, I am sorry to say, the attitude of almost all manufacturers
these days. They appear not to have confidence in their own ability to
know how to make their products of good quality and functional.
For fall 2000 you will see a variety of shoes, boots, gloves, and
mittens incorporating materials that must be "very smart," because these
materials somehow know when you are hot or cold and provide you with
either heat or cooling. Thus far these companies have been unsuccessful in
convincing jacket manufacturers to use the stuff. I called each company to
find out if any outerwear makers were using it, and they couldn't name
one. These are materials that have the ability to "regulate" your
temperature, they claim. I have mentioned them in previous newsletters;
they are Outlast (a product of Outlast Technologies) and Comfortemp (a
product of Frisby Technologies). Each starts out with these miniscule
beads of paraffin (wax). These beads are applied to fabric as a coating.
The primary material that they are applying the beads to is open-cell
polyurethane foam. Almost all the baseball caps you buy have this foam
laminated to the fabric used for the crown of the cap.
If my knowledge is correct, the foam was developed in Germany in the
1930s. After WWII foam plants were started in the U.S. For many years,
until the early 1980s, manufacturers tried to sell insulated garments and
sleeping bags utilizing open-cell polyurethane foam as the insulation-all
to no avail. It didn't work as a form of insulation then and it won't work
now. Had it worked polyester fiber for insulation purposes would never
have occurred, in 1959 or 1960. The foam absorbs the moisture that the
body emits, and if you are in a cold enough climate, it will freeze and
build an icebox around your body. There is one company still trying to
sell the idea to people in places like Alaska. I have spoken to several
people who have purchased these garments, and they have confirmed the ice
build-up problem. The garments were returned.
Each of these companies has similar wild claims. The following is taken
directly from advertising literature handed out at the SHOT show. I quote:
"Comfortemp provides the best thermal protection available. Insulating
foam originally developed for the military. [I do a lot of work with the
military, and I have never heard of this product being used in anything].
Comfortemp makes outdoor adventures more comfortable when its hot by
drawing heat away from the feet, and more comfortable in severe cold
conditions by keeping feet warm". (This brochure that I am quoting from
comes from the Cove Shoe Company, maker of Matterhorn model boot).
Get this bit of information. "Comfortemp actually stores body energy
[emphasis mine] and heat for release when you need it. Its ability to
provide cooling and heating benefits is unmatched by any other material.
Comfortemp is rechargeable. It traps heat from the environment or vigorous
activity and stores it for release later on. The more active you are, the
more body heat it captures for use during periods of rest or inactivity.
THERMASORB, the material that makes up Comfortemp insulating foam, can
absorb heat when you are indoors and warm, and store it for release when
you need it outdoors. THERMASORB is the secret behind Comfortemp's
extraordinary heating and cooling abilities. THERMASORB is made up of tiny
balls or capsules that contain a heat-absorbing center within a durable
"shell." These capsules are designed to take in or give off heat. Heat is
absorbed by the capsules when the inside of the boot goes above 83
degrees. The heat is released later when the temperature in the boot
drops. The lightweight, breathable Comfortemp foam provides the greatest
comfort in any extreme."
The photos on the advertising piece show footprints in sand and snow.
Now we have Outlast's advertising literature. They ask lots of
questions, which they then proceed to answer. There are several questions
and answers; here are some samples: Q. What is OUTLAST Temperature
Regulation? A. OUTLAST Temperature Regulation, the only fibers, fabrics
and foams guaranteed to absorb, store and release body heat. It works to
keep the wearer's temperature not to cold*. not to hot*. But just right,
over a broad range of environments and activity levels. This cyclical
process of absorbing, storing and releasing body heat, called Perpetual
Comfort Management, represents the next leap forward in comfort technology
for outdoorwear, extremitywear, workwear and home products. Q. What is the
OUTLAST Temperature Regulation "Guarantee"? A. When end-use products are
designed and manufactured to the approved specification of product
manufacturers and Outlast Technologies, Inc., OUTLAST fiber, fabric and
foam products are guaranteed to absorb, store and release heat. In other
words, it works and we can prove it.
All of the other questions and answers paraphrase those I have
presented. When they state that their material will absorb heat, they are
correct, all materials have the capacity to absorb heat. The problem that
arises has to do with the storing of heat and releasing of heat. No heat
is stored such as putting meat in a freezer, where it is stored for future
use. So long as heat is being generated by a source, in this case they
reference the human- body, it will heat whatever is next to it. Once the
production of heat has slowed, all material next to the body will start to
lose heat proportionately. Yes, the beads of paraffin will also release,
as they state; I chose to say "lose the heat." It will not be directed
back at the source, it will continue to move away from the source,
rapidly, when the heat source produces large amounts of heat and more
slowly as the heat source cools. Does the addition of the paraffin beads
give an advantage over the same material without the paraffin beads? No.
Without insulation such as Lamilite, the material coated with the paraffin
beads is useless in a cold-weather environment. What I am amazed at is the
fact that hands and feet are the most vulnerable parts of our body, with
respect to cold. These companies are concentrating their efforts in
suggesting that their materials will work to keep these body parts warm.
I expect many will be encouraged to buy footwear and handwear made with
these fabrics, and they will be very disappointed.
Colorado State University has also gotten into the act. A research
department at the university has been working with Outlast Technologies to
devise an instrument and test procedure that gauges the performance of
fabrics containing paraffin beads. You will see the fabrics advertised as
phase-change materials, (PCMs). According to Outlast Technologies the PCMs
reduced temperature fluctuations. Mind you, this was tested on the new
machine, not on a human. The director of the Solar Energy Applications
Laboratory where the machine was developed, is apparently proud of this
piece of equipment. He states, "Not only have we created an instrument and
testing protocol that will meet the needs presented by a new technology
that [could revolutionize] the textile industry, we are providing much
needed technical support to a local business that is destined (emphasis
added) to have huge, worldwide markets."
These materials will not revolutionize the textile industry-the remark
is asinine. The only support the university offers is that it sounds good
that a university has been doing testing and nothing more. Finally, most
of the world couldn't possibly afford to buy garments, good or bad, made
from these materials. Sometime in the early 1980s The North Face Company
sent sleeping bags to Kansas State University's Environmental Laboratories
for testing on their copperman manikin. As a result, almost all sleeping
bag manufacturers did the same thing, myself included. What was discovered
is the simple fact that machines don't give accurate, consistent results.
I published many of the results previously, January 6, 1992. Write or call
for a copy. The point is, the only way you can find out if an insulating
medium works is to go into the field, and laboratory results have proven
consistently to be bogus.
Advertising by 3-M Company put Thinsulate on the market for several
years, I don't know what firms use it in clothing, none use it in sleeping
bags, and some boot companies use it. The same is true of Goretex and all
the other laminates or coatings. Advertising dollars put the stuff on the
market, and people have learned that these materials don't work as
It all boils down to either getting an education about fabrics or
I thought I had finished writing this article when I received my copy
of Sporting Goods Business. In it is an article titled "3-M Fights Fraud."
As we know, many U.S. companies produce products in Asia. Sometimes we
are told that well-known brands are counterfeited. 3-M is going to help
manufacturers with its Product Authenticity and Selection System program.
The program is designed to make sure consumers buying outerwear garments
made with the Thinsulate product aren't buying garments not made with
I think their effort is admirable, but it is smoke and mirrors as far
as I'm concerned. As I stated earlier, I don't know who is using the
Thinsulate for insulating outerwear. Therefore, there can't be counterfeit
product if, to begin with, product isn't made. In the event some company
is using the Thinsulate, I can't imagine anyone wanting to counterfeit
such a poor quality product. Of course they may be doing this in hope of
getting a manufacturer suckered into using the stuff. In the final
analysis I think their actions are a joke.
WHY WIGGY'S IS NOT LISTED IN THE MARCH 2000 BACKPACKER GEAR GUIDE
For as many years as I have been making sleeping bags, i.e., throughout
the history of Wiggy's, I have not been on good terms with the staff of
Backpacker magazine. But now they have reached a new low. Many of you know
that they have a Web site. For about one and a half years, starting about
September 1997, a single individual took aim at me personally. He
criticized my products, which was his choice, even though he was wrong,
and he also said some very nasty personal things about me.
Because of this on-going situation I terminated any advertising in the
magazine. The moderators of the Web site refused to cull his posts, no
matter how many times I asked for them to be removed.
Approximately one year later two things occurred on their Web site that
gave me cause to terminate having my name or company name ever published
in the magazine again.
First, a comment by Tom Shealy, one of the editors, was reversed. For
two years he had been telling how well my Ultra light bag had performed
for him over a six-or seven-year time span and especially in a week-long,
rain-soaking kayaking trip. For some reason he decided that his former
testimonial was not to be used by anyone, any longer, as it was reprinted
on the sleeping bag talk forum. So, he chose to state on July 28, 1999, on
the same talk forum the following; "For the record, I no longer use a
Wiggy's bag, and haven't for years." However, his complimentary comment
had been included in the magazine's Gear Guide issues of 1998 and 1999.
That is pretty recent, and if he really hadn't been using the bag for
years, why did he suggest that he had been using it as recently as 1998
and 1999? My guess is he didn't think his comment would be read. The
second activity on the forum is a little more interesting. In early
December 1999 one poster chose to write that I was a "child molester and
stalker." When the moderator, a paid employee of Rodale Press, owner of
Backpacker magazine, was asked to remove the post he chose instead to
state the following: "it was part of the whole scenario that leaves the
other remarks (stalking and child molester) as proven." The moderator was
making reference is to the claims made by the individual whom I am
presently suing. He stated that I had done both.
In any event the moderator was asked to remove these posts, unless of
course he could present proof that I had committed these crimes. None ever
was presented and the posts to this day have not been removed.
Under these circumstances I of course decided that any association with
the publication was out of the question.
Now here is a little about why you can not trust what Backpacker
product testers have to say about the products they test and write about.
The publication is advertiser-oriented, i.e., they want to please
advertisers, the companies that spend money with them.
For those of you who read the reviews, please note that from about 1992
until 1996 3-M Corporation was advertising their Thinsulate insulation in
sleeping bags. Backpacker testers wrote volumes about how well it
performed. The general public bought into the stuff only to find out how
poorly the bags performed. Today, I do not know of any sleeping bag maker
who uses the stuff.
Every material advertised that is supposed to perform like Goretex,
works as advertised, according to Backpacker testers. And, according to
the rest of the world these materials don't have the waterproofness and
vapor permeable characteristics as advertised. Also according to the
Backpacker testers Primaloft is an excellent synthetic insulation. Every
bag they tested was terrific. The general public bought bags made with the
stuff and experienced the same failing they did with Thinsulate: the cold.
I once met the president of Albany International, the company that makes
Primaloft, at a trade show. He had on display a sleeping bag made by
Caribou Mountaineering (they may now be out of business) that was rated to
-35 degrees. He asked what I thought of the bag, and I asked if he had
ever used the bag when the temperature was -35. I didn't let him answer,
but said that if he had used the bag in that environment he would still be
there, only quite stiff.
At this time I do not believe any sleeping bag companies use the stuff.
I fully expect that the Backpacker testers will have wonderful things
to say about Outlast, Comfortemp and any other new miracle material as
long as it is advertised in Backpacker.
How about long underwear articles? Each and every year these same
testers write how marvelous the closely knitted synthetic long johns wick
away your sweat. The only problem with that statement is that synthetic
materials don't wick, because they can't wick anything. Moisture that is
absorbed on one side of a material will find itself moving through the
fabric away from the source, your skin surface, to the opposite side of
the fabric, the side pointing away from your skin surface. The only
materials made for use as long underwear that can wick are cotton, wool
and silk, materials that absorb moisture readily.
Have you ever skied, chopped wood, or done anything while wearing long
johns made of synthetic or natural fibers, and perspired. When you stopped
the activity you noted that you became chilled. All because the moisture
was against your skin surface.
There are Norwegian companies that make fishnet long johns and have
been making them for more than 100 years. They have proven beyond doubt
that fishnet long underwear is simply the best first layer there is
because the open mesh knit doesn't inhibit the flow of moisture away from
your body. Have the Backpacker testers ever tested fishnet long underwear?
No! Why? Because aside from Wiggy's no other manufacturer of fishnet long
johns exists in the United States.
I have presented a few instances showing that Backpacker magazine is
not the guru of backpacking equipment and that they show total favoritism
to the advertisers. They would like you to believe that they are unbiased.
As far as I am concerned they present false evaluations of the products I
have noted. Therefore, they have misled the readers of the publication
with respect to their equipment reviews.
I also believe that those in the employ of Rodale Press, who run the
Backpacker magazine division, are despicable, vile, base, contemptible and
I should like to point out that Wiggy's has grown to become the single
largest high quality sleeping bag manufacturer in the country without the
endorsement of Backpacker.