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Children's Outerwear

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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 well.

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 advertised.

It all boils down to either getting an education about fabrics or buyers beware.

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 Thinsulate.

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 arrogant liar.

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.

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