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Articles About Wiggy's Bags

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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 said.' "

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 "moisture

management." Is it possible to manage moisture? Yes, although the methods

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 these products.

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 state.

Managing moisture successfully is in your best interest.

During the past few years, many of the mills have brought to the market-

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 the

highly touted "waterproof breathables" don't work; they are not living, thinking

entities. If you are to manage the moisture coming from your own body, you

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 weather.

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 to work.

I readily agree that all of these materials will function reasonably, as claimed,

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 weather conditions.

I wonder if any of the companies making these materials ever test them on everyday people, rather than some celebrities who receive promotional fees.

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.


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


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