In the August / September newsletter I reprinted a letter
I received stating the possible danger of the so-called
waterproof/breathable-designated materials. It took a while for me to get
to speak with the author, Randall Osczevski. The Canadian government
employs Randall in the Defense and Civil Institute of Environmental
Medicine, located in Toronto. He is very well versed in the field of cold
weather products. He wrote a paper, "Trial by Adventure," a snow-machine
trip that took place between 1986 and 1989. It was a self-supported trip
for 1,000 miles, from the southern end of James Bay north. He experienced
temperatures as low as -58 degrees (still air).
Over the course of the
three years of experimentation he found that the higher the quality of
down used in a sleeping bag the greater the ice build-up. The down
clusters of 700 or better fill power down can absorb more moisture than
400-fill-power down. For those of you who aren't familiar with
"fill-power," I'll explain. 400 fill-power down means that one ounce of
down will occupy an area of 400 cubic inches, and one ounce of
700-fill-power down will occupy 700 cubic inches. The greater the
fill-power of the down, the more costly the down. This is a contradiction:
costs more, does less. During the trip, accumulation of ice in a down bag
was typically one pound of water, after eight nights. From the report:
"Most of this was probably condensed water that had evaporated from the
skin, or from the breath. The outer shell collects frost, especially at
the head end, which melts and soaks into the bag. In 1989 we attempted to
protect the sleeping bags with Gore-Tex covers (bivi bags). After eight
nights it appeared that the bags with covers might have picked up more
moisture than the control bag which had no protective cover." More proof
that waterproof-breathable materials don't work as advertised.
noted that more heat was lost through the bottom of the bag, on an air
mattress, than through the top of the bag. The reference to an air
mattress is misleading, as they were pads, possibly Thermorest or some
other brand. They did make bags with a built in pad that utilized
fiberfill in the pad. From the report; "This proved quite successful,
although it was still a little bulky for dismounted infantry. On another
trail we used it comfortably in an unheated and uninsulated tent at a
temperature of -58 degrees F." I have been making ground pads that utilize
"densified fiberfill" since 1988. They have proven to be much better at
insulating against the cold ground than foam pads. Here is further proof
of that fact.
Several years ago when I was still trying to sell to
retailers, I exhibited at the Outdoor Retailer trade show. At one of the
shows I encountered an engineer from Cascade Designs. They are the company
that makes the Thermorest brand of ground pads. This engineer told me they
had bought some of my pads and thought they were pretty good. I offered to
sell them my fiberfill product since it could be used in the construction
method they use. He declined my offer, stating they were working on some
new applications. The new application is a less dense pad, which has less
insulating properties. Another company creating less for more.
is a letter I received from a customer who read Randall's e-mail to me.
"Hi Wiggy, Back in January of '99, I wrote you a letter of my trip to
Mt. Fuji the previous April and the great success I had with one of your
"sweaters" after losing my wind jacket during a night storm.
did not mention, and had not thought about until reading your Letters
section in the latest newsletter, was my experience that night in a
"waterproof/breathable" bivi bag.
I had the "exciting" thrill of
waking up at 10,500 feet shortly after getting to sleep, with that typical
"suffocating" sensation because I had closed the bivi zipper, leaving only
a few inches open.
That was when I learned just how "un-breathable"
Gortex was under those conditions. Until then, I had simply "assumed"
because the bivi bag could be closed against the weather, it was safe to
do so, and the fabric would allow adequate CO2 and O2 exchange. To my
knowledge, the manufacturer did not advise against closing the bivi
completely. It's about time someone got the word out concerning this very
real hazard. Dave Nicholson
Editors note: In this case the words are coming from
Randall and Dave, and I am just publishing their findings. I never really
gave it much thought, but it does appear that using any of the bivi bags
made with Gortex or Gortex-like material is no different than getting into
a large poly bag.
I have been manufacturing a military-style bivi bag
for years without having a problem. After reading these accounts of the
discomfort and possible danger, I have modified the hood section of mine.
The area that would normally cover the face is now made with a completely
air-permeable fabric. In addition, when pulling the draw cord to close the
hood around the face, it will leave an opening which is six inches in
I have spoken with people at our Natick Test Laboratories,
and they are aware of the problem. To date they have not heard of any
problems, but what concerns them is if troops are constantly waking during
the night, they are obviously not getting good rest. A new product is
being tested, so a change may very well take place with in a year.
FISHNETS, THE HISTORY
Recently I received from a person who wishes to remain
anonymous, information which they received from the Brynje Company. Brynje
is the only other company in the world besides Wiggy's that manufactures
fishnet underwear. Brynje has been a knitwear manufacturer since 1887.
They are located in Larvik, Norway.
They have been manufacturing
"Stringunderwear" since 1953. The first "Stringvest" was handmade by a
captain in the Norwegian military, Henrik Brun, around 1933. He presented
it at a meeting in the Norwegian Officers Club, attended also by the
Norwegian king Haakon VII. It was said to be a revolutionary addition to
the soldier's outfit. In 1950 Brynje took over the rights and the
trademark. Since 1953 they have supplied all branches of the Norwegian
"Captain Brun believed in the layer of air next to the skin
working as a thermostat, keeping the body cool in summer and warm in
I believe we who wear the fishnets will concur with the
I want to thank the person who sent the Brynje information to
me as I found it very interesting.
I had a most interesting experience
in the winter of 1995. I was hunting near Gunnison, Colorado, during third
season, the first week of November, and got lost for three days. While
lost, it snowed about five feet. I was between 11,500 feet and 13,000
feet. According to my guide I was not supposed to survive in the mountains
in these conditions. I did not have a sleeping bag, tent, or food. I had
plenty of water from the many streams. I told him I never experienced
being cold the whole time. I am sure the reason was the fact that the
first layer of clothing was the fishnets. I encountered two boys, about 20
years old, who were also lost. They also were without sleeping bags, tent,
or food. They are lucky to be alive; they were wearing poly-pro long
underwear, which retained their perspiration. They couldn't get warm, no
matter what they did. They couldn't get dry.
I wrote a story about
this near-tragic adventure, so if anyone wants a copy, send me $5.00. It
will also be autographed.
THE UNITED NATIONS
I recently was requested by the U.S. Navy's Natick Testing
Laboratory to have my insulated flotation suit type-classified by
Underwriters Laboratories. I was reluctant to initiate the procedure on my
own due to the expense. However, since it was the Navy asking, I
acquiesced. I learned something very interesting when I submitted my
Underwriters Laboratories will not start testing the garment
until either a laboratory at the University of Minnesota or some
University in Calgary, Canada, has tested it. The testing they do is
designed to see how long seven people will be able to stay warm in the
garment in frigid water. This initially sounds like a reasonable request
on their part, considering that they will eventually tell the U.S. Coast
Guard the product is sea-worthy.
The cost of the test? A mere $10,000
This is a requirement setup by the United Nations, and
Underwriters Laboratories will not touch a product unless and until it has
met the United Nations requirement.
My immediate response was for the
garment to be returned to me.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I
now wonder how many things in our country have to meet United Nations
I couldn't help thinking about the young man in the army who
refused to take orders from any military officer who wasn't an U.S. Army
officer, when he was stationed in Europe as a part of NATO.
to say I will never submit my insulated flotation suit for testing. It may
hurt my sales, if so too bad for me and too bad for the people who can use
a suit that will probably save their life if they fall into frigid waters.
All I can tell you is that I tested the suit personally before I gave
it to anyone else. I tell all customers, when you receive the suit, jump
into the water and if you're not satisfied when it is dry, return it for a
complete refund. To date, not one has come back.
I thought that this
article was finished, however, I just received a copy of "The Free Market"
publication, published by The Mises Institute. In the article "Hijacking
the Internet?" In the article an individual named Tarek Ahmed of Brooklyn,
New York, found himself evicted from his Internet domain, microsof.com.
Microsoft Corporation thought the address would confuse its customers.
Microsoft Corporation went to a little known agency of the United Nations
called the World Intellectual Property Organization. Microsoft appealed to
them to get Tarek Ahmed to relinquish his use of the domain even though he
had registered the name prior to Microsoft.
The United Nations at work
in the United States of America. For those interested in the whole
article, contact the Ludwig von Mises Institute, 518 West Magnolia Avenue,
Auburn, Alabama 36832-4528. Phone 334-321-2100, Fax 334-321-2119, or visit
their Web site: www.mises.org
I have until now been a supporter of
Microsoft in their fight against the Department of Justice since I believe
the antitrust laws are a farce. I am now interested in changing from the
Windows operating system to what ever can replace it.
should be ashamed of himself. I can't imagine in my wildest of dreams that
this fellow could somehow have hurt Microsoft. Microsoft should have
contacted Tarek directly and bought the domain if they felt that he was
somehow a threat.
I, for one, will be asking my representatives to get
me a list of the agencies within the U.N. that affect us, the citizenry of
the United States.
"In the end, more than they wanted freedom they wanted a
comfortable life. And, in their quest for it all (security, comfort and
freedom) they lost it all. When the freedom they wished for became the
freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free."
Edward Gibbons discussing the decline and fall of the
ancient city of Athens***.