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Definitive Proof

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The spring issue of World Sports Activewear magazine, which is published in England, has a very interesting article, which is actually a report "Condensation Can Be Systematic," by Julie Gretton. In essence the results are definitive, classifying all materials as both waterproof and breathable (wpb). I quote: "The heated dish test [first they did testing in a laboratory and then in the field] indicated that the transport properties of microporous polymers were detrimentally affected by the formation of condensation and allowed much condensation to accumulate. Once condensation formed on the surface of a microporous polymer, it could not easily be removed from the clothing system because liquid water could not travel through the pore network."

Working with doctors involved in wilderness medicine one learns how important it is to eliminate body perspiration. If you are generating lots of perspiration, it is initially a vapor. If the vapor molecules band together they make liquid. Therefore, if you are wearing a garment with the supposed wpb properties, we now know they inhibit the flow of vapor and cause condensation on the interior of the garment. In addition we find that the water now gets into our clothing. Once the water is in the clothing it reduces the insulation value of the clothing. The researchers used fleece garments, with and without windstopper treatment. They found the fleece that with the windstopper treatment caused greater amounts of condensation, on the side of the garment facing the body. The windstopper is a polymer material that has been laminated to the fleece.

I could go on and on about why these wpb materials don't perform, so I will not be redundant. I will say that I am happy to see science demonstrate the truth. I should also like to point out that advertisements for Gore-Tex are conspicuous by their absence from outdoor-related publications such as Backpacker.


Almost two years ago I introduced a wash-in water-repellent treatment. In view of the poor performance of the materials sold as wpb, water-repellent treatments have become more important. In order to keep an expensive rain garment working as a water-repellent garment, you have to treat it with a water-repellent. Do not expect a water-repellent to last forever. The chemical attaches to, or bonds with, the fiber from which the fabric is constructed. Laundering will deplete the water- repellent, hence the need for re-water-repellent treatment periodically.

How do you know when to re-treat the garment, when the fabric no longer sheds water? The water-repellent treatment does not inhibit the natural vapor permeability of the fabric. It does not clog the holes or spaces between the yarns. It is for this reason you will be more comfortable in a rain situation with a garment which is made from a fabric that is not coated or laminated to any film. If you happen to own a rain garment that is laminated to a film, which is no longer keeping the rain out, just treat it with my water-repellent. An 8-ounce bottle is $15.00.


Sometime ago I wrote about the antibacterial finishes being put on fabrics. The purpose is to inhibit the growth of germs that cause odor. According to an article in the trade publication SPORTS TREND, clothing items labeled "antibacterial" are poised to take off. The EPA is clarifying what manufacturers can and can not say about these garments. The antibacterial agents are pesticides and, therefore, fall under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The EPA is not concerned that consumers are placing a poison against their skin, which I suspect will be absorbed if you sweat. They are only concerned with what the manufacturer can and can not say in advertising.

To fight, if you will, the EPA, the fabric producers created the Antimicrobial Treated Article Coalition (ATAC). ATAC has developed an acceptable product claim, which will, I suppose, appear on a hangtag with each garment: " Antibacterial properties are built-in to inhibit the growth of bacteria that may affect this product. The antibacterial properties do not protect users or others against bacteria, virus, germs and other disease organisms. Always clean and wash this product thoroughly before and after each use." The last sentence caused me to shake my head. We experience lots of unexplained illnesses these days, could this be one of the causes?


I am very pleased to announce that Lamilite insulation is now being used in boots. I am working with a very old company (established 1879), Herman Survivors. They have tried everything that all of their competitors use and found the insulation's to be poor at best. I explained to Anthony De Paulo, president of the company how the Lamilite works, as well as its success for the past 12 years in demonstrating that it is the best insulating medium on the planet for use in sleeping bags and clothing. I also stated that it would do the same for footwear, citing how well my mukluks perform. He requested sample yardage and a program developed.

All boot manufacturers have used foam as insulation. The drawback is foam's ability to absorb moisture. With vapor coming from your feet, as it does from the rest of your body, getting trapped in the foam, it condenses, forms water and draws heat as is explained in the article's first section, if the conditions are cold enough the moisture in the boot will freeze; hence, you have an icebox around your feet.

Then there is a version of Thinsulate 3-M makes; they have made different types of Thinsulate for various applications. The boot is a very dense, stiff type. It collapses easily and quickly. Once this occurs, whatever insulating quality it had is gone; and it also traps the moisture. The Lamilite is very different; it never collapses. When you put your foot into a Lamilite-insulated boot the Lamilite surrounds your foot the same as it does with our sleeping bags and clothing, which many of you have experienced, since you own these products. The vapor permeability of the Lamilite is legendary, so moisture is never left in the boot. It will condense in the leather, an action that can not be helped. The fact that you're skin surface is dry means that your feet stay warmer longer. From my own personal experience the only socks I recommend are the Smartwool brand. They have proven to perform better than any other brand I have ever worn at moving moisture from the foot to the outside surface of the sock. It is very important to wear this type of sock. It aids the performance of the boot. We will have both ten-inch and six-inch height models for fall sales. I expect delivery in late July. Pricing will range from approximately $125.00 TO $150.00.


Dear Jerry:
Your Overbag sleeping bag has proven itself during the last six months on my vacation in Australia and New Zealand. It was affordable, easily stored, cleaned and durable. It is a pleasure to sleep in as the hood and construction make for a very comfortable temperature in the moderate to hot climates; I have been in. (Not too hot or cold.) Thanks for superior product.

- Lee Bailey (Received this post card from Christchurch, N.Z.)
March 2, 1999

I just finished reading the March/April newsletter. I have been meaning to e-mail you to tell you a story about your sleeping bags. Last summer myself, a friend, and his girl friend decided to go on a canoeing trip on the North Plate in Wyoming. We arrived late to our drop off point and decided that we needed to get down stream a ways in order to not have to push each day to make it to our pickup area on time. So we headed out.

After about an hour we heard what sounded like some pretty nasty rapids (it was dark by that time). So we headed towards shore. Little did we know that there was an old car in the river? We hit the car and submerged our canoe. None of us had gear in a dry bag (big mistake). So we climbed to shore only to realize that our tent wasn't tied to the canoe and it went down the river. It was raining pretty hard with no shelter around. I pulled out a tarp, my Wiggy's pad and bag (Overbag). My friend had a down bag and his girl friend a Quallofil bag. All soaked through. I jumped in my bag and within fifteen minutes or so I could feel nothing but warmth and fell asleep. I woke up in the middle of the night realizing that they had pulled the tarp off of me and I was sleeping in nothing but water. But I wasn't cold so I went back to sleep. In the morning they told me that they froze their butts off. I slept like a baby.

Little to my surprise we capsized the canoe two days later. This time we had time to stop. We tried to dry out three bags. The Quallofil bag was about half dry by morning and the down bag was still soaking wet despite our efforts. I didn't even bother to dry my Wiggy's bag out; I just threw it on my ground pad and went fishing. When I returned and was ready for bed it was dry as a bone

Thanks for a GREAT product

- David J. Malara
1 April 1999

I had a chance to use my Ultra Light for the first time this weekend in the Shenandoah National Park. The Wiggy bag was amazing. The temperature kept dropping throughout the night from 45 to 40 to probably 35 but I was absolutely totally warm in the Ultra Light. In fact, I was almost, almost hot I felt like I was warn enough to be perspiring slightly but there was not a bit of moisture inside the bag. I had some trouble adjusting to the mummy hood but even that was sorted out by morning.

Imagine my surprise when I woke around six and it was probably 36 degrees in the tent and I found the tent sagging with moisture, moisture on the outside of my bag, moisture everywhere and inside the bag was as dry as a bone. I had never experienced anything like it. Jana said that she had started to get chilly in her North Face 20-degree bag. Granted, I am a much warmer sleeper than she is but I couldn't help but wonder if it was because she was a wee bit damp. She used the Wiggy pillow and I had my old horrible slumberjack so I've decided I've got to order another pillow. Amazing night.

The only thing I wonder about is whether the bag might be to hot in the summer; I think I will sleep on it or open it.

- Chris Adams
25 April 1999

Incidentally - I did a midweek reading trip (sometimes when I have lots to read I go to the mountains) and I used the bag on top of a 4200-foot summit. The temps to dropped around 30. I have never slept so well. The bag is simply amazing. Absolutely changed my view of sleeping in a tent.

- Chris Adams
May 1999

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