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Other Products

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Since I have been manufacturing products for use in the outdoors, I have received a multitude of questions about other products available in the market- place. It is very gratifying to be thought of as a person knowledgeable in all areas of camping equipment. Unfortunately, I am not. However, here are my recommendations for products that I buy and that I will continue to buy as they need replacing.

Socks from Smartwool/Duke Designs.

I have been wearing only wool socks for more than 20 years. For the past two plus years I have worn only the Smartwool brand. I wear boots all year long, so I have worn the socks winter and summer. They are the best wool socks I have ever worn.

When I purchased them, I accidentally cut a small hole in one while opening the package. The socks have been washed more than 50 times, and the hole has not gotten any larger. Also, the thickness of the fabric has not diminished.

I will be offering them in my catalog in 1998.

Boots from Redwing Shoe Company are probably as good as you can get. A week before my hunting trip, I was waxing my old boots, only to have the upper come away from the sole.

I went to a Redwing dealer. Boots average about $150.00, and I decided to buy "Made In America." I visited the Redwing factories in the early '70s, and they are impressive. In any event, I purchased a pair of boots. When I went hunting, I found myself in 12 to 15 inches of snow from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m., without my mukluks. My feet never got cold.

In addition to the Smartwool socks and these boots, I was wearing my fishnets and a Fossil Ridge hunting outfit. By keeping my body warm, I was sending warm blood to my feet. But, if the soles had been too thin I'm quite sure I would have had cold feet.

Stoves are forever discussed. They should be simple. I don't know what is necessary for climbing mountains like Everest, but in my experience up to 12,000 feet, I like the Trangia brand. The source of fuel is alcohol. The burner looks like a Sterno burner. I have always been amazed at how long the fuel lasts.

They are also very safe. When I sailed, I had a 28-foot sloop that I lived on for 13 months. I had an alcohol stove, as most sailors do, because they are safe.

Hope these suggestions are helpful.

THE INTERNET

I am important, or so many people seem to think who post comments on the Backpackers Geartalk Website.

I obviously read the posts that appear in the "sleeping bag/pad" subject area. I am pleased that I, my company and my products are a major topic of discussion.

Those who are somewhat hostile to Wiggy's generate positive comments from satisfied customers--which is great. The end result for me, of course, is the free publicity. I do not know who said it, but, "It does not matter what is said about me as long as they spell my name correctly." Thanks and keep it up.

I have also noted, with respect to the on-going discussion of Lamilite, a significant number of erroneous comments as to what Lamilite is. It appears that those who profess significant knowledge of sleeping bags have either not read my catalog or do not understand my explanation of Lamilite. I believe the explanation in the catalog is clear and concise, although I have had a call now and then from somebody who needs additional help.

In several instances I have suggested that the hostile person(s) on the Internet call me for further information or clarification. Not one of these individuals has done so. My suspicion here is that they simply like seeing their name in lights, or maybe they are associated with another sleeping bag company and do not want to identify themselves, or maybe they just like playing "devils advocate."

Truth also seems to be a problem for some. It is claimed that I "bash" the competition serving the outdoor industry. Question: Is telling the truth about a material or product that doesn't conform to the manufacturer's information "bashing" the product? No.

It is not in my best interest to mislead those whom I am interested in selling my products to. After all, if I mislead people and they buy my products and find I have not been truthful, I am sure they will never listen to me again or ever buy another product from me.

I stand by every word I have ever said about any fabric that doesn't live up to the advertising, and I challenge the companies that make these materials to prove me wrong. To those who think any of them will, do not hold your breath.

WATER REPELLENCY

Several months ago I read on the Backpacker Geartalk Website a question about rewater repelling a jacket. The questioner also said he had tried spraying the garment with Scotchgard, but without good results. To rewater repel is to place a water repellency on a fabric where it has worn off.

One person said he could redistribute whatever water repellency was still left on the garment. If some still existed on the sleeves, it could somehow be thinned out and moved to other areas. He never said how this could be done. I said that was impossible. The postings went on to discuss the chemicals used for water repellency.

In any event, as a result of this discussion, I started to research the subject. I now have found a water repellent that I will have available in mid to late January.

The way it works is easy. Add three ounces to your wash in the final rinse cycle and then place your garment in the drier. Use the maximum heat that is recommended for drying the garment. It is the heat that activates the chemical.

I tested the product on a jacket that was made with a fabric that was not water repellent treated to begin with. It is now very water repellent.

This product has been used for several years as a water and stain repellent for hospital uniforms. The hospital market for this type of product is very large. It is necessary for a product to last through a multitude of launderings before noticeable chemical breakdown. Also, it is desirable that the chemical be stain resistant.

According to my supplier, the chemical has not been rejected by any fabric that has been treated with it. Also, a wash-in treatment is far superior to spray-on types.

Cost: $15.00 per 8 ounce bottle. Two to three ounces per garment depending upon size.

GORE ADMITS GORE-TEX DOESN'T WORK?

Sporting Goods Business, December 15, 1997, issue has an article about W.L. Gore introducing a water-repellent treatment.

A similar article came out in the January 1998 issue of Outfitter magazine, both industry publications.

The article from SGB starts as follows: "Attempting to combat the `wetting out' that plagues DWR (Durable Water Repellency) garments from both Gore-Tex and its competitors--W.L. Gore is introducing Revivex this month, a DWR patent-pending water and stain repellent."

The term "wetting out" means that a fabric which has lost its water repellency will then be able to absorb water. Once a fabric absorbs water it is impenetrable by vapor. However, the water now absorbed by the shell fabric migrates through the microscopic holes to the inside. This is deleterious water action. The end result is, sweat stays inside the garment and rain- water gets inside the garment.

If what W.L. Gore company has been advertising for the past 20 years has been true, as well as for the other companies who market the same or similar products, why do these products suddenly need to be water-repellent treated?

Is it a statement of admission that the film does not keep water out? If so, why purchase a garment that has a film laminated to the shell fabric. If you are going to water-repel treat it after the initial water repellent has broken down, why pay the high price for what obviously doesn't work?

If you purchase a jacket that is made from non-laminated fabric, which has been water-repellent treated, you will have the best of both worlds: a vapor permeable garment that is water repellent. Now all you have to do is get a water repellent that works. However, do not expect it to last forever. Treating the garment every third wash would keep it water repellent.

As for the articles, "Gore is going to make efforts to educate and train how to best care for and maintain the performance features of Gore apparel products." It is a spray-on product. I doubt that it would work any better than the other spray-ons presently available.

My final thought on this subject has to do with the many complaints Gore has received over the years. Instead of replacing the non-breathable, non-waterproof garment or refunding the money, which could be as much as $350.00, they will simply send you a water- repellent treatment to put on the garment yourself.

At least that is a senario that could happen.

Now, isn't this really a roundabout way of admitting that the stuff doesn't work, without really saying it? YES!

FLOTATION GARMENTS

Recently I received samples of a 7mm- thick flotation foam made in England. I have combined it with Lamilite L-6 and L-12

in order to manufacture flotation garments that will also keep you warm. In addition these garments will also be easy to move around in.

Until now, all flotation garments have been made with 1/4- or 3/8- inch, close cell foam. While it is excellent for flotation, movement is constricted and awkward, and it isn't very warm.

This is a project that I have looked forward to for years. Since I owned my own boat for six years and sailed in the Northeast during the months of October, November, March and April, I know how unpleasant the weather can be and how cold the water is.

I did make samples with the 1/4- inch foam, but the parkas became huge when finished. Also, they would have been very expensive. That has now changed.

In the early 1990s I received an order to supply the U.S. Navy Natick Labs with my standard Antarctic parka, bib and snow suit. I think two or three of each. They were testing them for use as garments to be worn when going topside on a surfaced and moving sub.

What I learned from the Navy was that Lamilite has a reasonable amount of buoyancy. Since the fiber is coated with silicone, water molecules do not attach to the fiber's surface. Therefore, the fiber is not burdened with the weight of the water, and floats easily. (This also is the difference between Lamilite and the non-siliconized fiber found in other sleeping bags, and why water does not have an adverse effect on the Lamilite.) The exterior fabric for the garments will be waterproof, urethane coated nylon. All seams will be taped.

From my own experience, I found it very difficult to stay dry no matter what I wore while sailing in heavy weather. If you are working hard, you perspire; if the wind and sea are up, the spray finds its way into your clothes, and that's just the way it is. This new garment is not guaranteed to keep you dry, but warm while you are wet.

More important, if you were to find yourself in the water, you would not only float, you would stay warm. Once the water enters the garment, it can't get out. Just like a wet suit. The stagnating water will absorb your body heat, but it doesn't get away from you. On land, wind passing your body takes heat. In very cold water the longer your heat can be kept around you the greater your chances of survival.

I expect to have this product available in February.

AROUND-THE-WORLD BALLOON FLIGHT

On January 6, 1998, a balloon with two men was to lift off from Albuquerque in an attempt to circle the earth. All of the clothing, sleeping bags and other survival gear was supplied by Wiggy's.

For several years I was involved with the Earthwinds Hilton two-balloon project. The pilots utilized Wiggy equipment on several test flights and training at the U.S. Marine mountain warfare training school at Bridgeport, California. Their experience gave to this new balloon project a reason to contact me for my equipment.

As you can imagine, I am honored to be a part of what some consider to be the last major flight challenge left.

I just hope they carry this saftey equipment with them and not have to use it.

Good Luck and good flying.

The Web site is www.hilton.com and click on World Balloon Flight.

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