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A Truly New Fabric

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I was recently shown a fabric that actually works the way the manufacturer claims. It is called Super-Fabric. It has small dots of a proprietary material impregnated in a double- thick knitted material. It has various applications. The first product I am making is a glove. There are several models in production at this time. They are for fishermen or law enforcement and SAR use when rappelling down a mountainside or jumping out of a helicopter. The second product is snake-proof-gaiters.

Fishermen need a glove that will allow them to hold a fish, and the larger the fish the more important the gripping capability of the glove. When handling lobster or king crabs the same is true. These small dots give a gripping ability far better than any other material I have seen, including leather, which I thought was the best. In addition you cannot
cut through the fabric. Another quality is that even when wet with water or oil, it still retains its gripping ability.

I can imagine a multitude of applications for gloves with this fabric on the palm and fingers.
When the fabric has the small dots on both sides it demonstrates that it is impervious to puncture by a rattlesnake. One of the video demonstrations I observed showed a five-foot diamondback rattlesnake biting through three layers of 1000-denier Cordora nylon; however, the same animal could not penetrate one layer of the Super-Fabric. I will also be making the gaiters.


HEAT RETENTION

As long as I have been making sleeping bags I have refrained from putting my bags into any sort of competition against other sleeping bags. My reason was simple: my bags were tested before they were sold on
the open market, making sure they were correctly temperature-rated. I have always believed the manufacturer is supposed to do his homework before putting a product on the market. Recently I contributed one of my airplane engine covers for a test sponsored by Northern Pilot magazine. Northern Pilot is located in Anchorage, Alaska, so they have a good reason to examine and compare the engine covers available. It is crucial for Alaskan bush pilots to have an "engine cover" that will hold the heat of the engine for as long as possible. You do not want the engine cooling down too fast; otherwise, it may be very difficult to restart in extreme cold conditions.

Each of the four aircraft used, Cessna 182s, was placed in a warm hangar overnight. In the morning covers were placed on each of the planes and they were rolled out into the cold. Heat Loss Analysis, Inc., a well-respected company that conducts similar work for the major oil companies in Alaska was hired to take the thermal photographs. They did thermal imaging of each airplane engine, which exposes where the heat loss is coming from. Three of covers were quilted, and the quilt lines were quite discernable because the color red appeared along the quilt lines and the color blue appeared where the areas were thick, in between the quilt lines. The Lamilite cover was dark blue all over, indicating the least amount of heat loss. This proved that the uniform loft insulates better than quilting. Therefore, the aircraft engine covered with the Wiggy's cover cooled slowest. "According to our tests, the Lamilite used in the Wiggy's cover is a superior product. While the Wiggy's cover may not have the perfect Tanis fit, the low price of Arctic Covers or the smooth nylon buckle-free design of E-Z Heat, it does offer the best heat retention, smallest stowed size and, at $360.00 including shipping, a competitive price."
"Wiggy's takes the stowage and compressibility award," said the NP staff. What I thought was interesting is that my engine cover was the heaviest of the four and it is still the smallest when stuffed. If the same test was done using people and sleeping bags, I expect the same results. If you want to read the whole article online, go to www.northerpilot.com. It is in the December 2000 / January 2001 issue.


INSULATED BOOTS

Several years ago I noticed an ad in one of the industry magazines for four different models of boots made by the Rocky Shoe Company, each with extraordinary temperature ratings. The ratings ranged from -20 degrees F
for the mild-weather boot to -100 degrees F for the cold-weather boot. If you don't believe the numbers, pick up a Cabelas catalog and review the boot section. Having read the ad, I called the sales director at Rocky and
introduced myself. I explained that I had been in the insulation business from 1961 and was very interested in the insulation used in the boots and the test method used to determine the ratings. He was very friendly and I believe totally honest with his answer. The insulating medium was Thinsulate, a product that I believe is as bogus as Gore-Tex, and there had been no testing done. He went on to tell me that "everybody" in the industry says the same thing. I believe he exhibited in that one sentence a total disregard for both this customers and potential customers. I did ask if he had any second thoughts about what the ad stated and what he was telling me, and he said no. At that point I ended the conversation, as I realized he was immoral. Two years ago I read an interview between a boot manufacturer, Herman Survivors, and the writer for, I believe, Sporting Goods Business, in which the interviewee stated that they now had boots that were good for, you guessed it, -100 degrees F. These boots were using a new insulating medium, trade-named Comfortemp. Comfortemp is the phase change material I have warned you about in previous newsletters. It is made of the micro-encapsulated beads of paraffin, which are supposed to
absorb heat from your body and then give the heat back to you when you start cooling down. Another bogus product. In any event, I called Herman Survivors Company (now, way I believe, out of business) and asked to speak with someone who could give me more details about these boots and how they were tested. I was transferred to the president of the company. I introduced myself, explained my background and again asked about the insulation and test methods. To my amazement he told me that nobody goes out in weather when the temperature is -100 degrees F and he surly didn't make boots for such conditions, and as a matter of fact they were getting many
complaints about their Thinsulate insulated boots not performing very well. The person I was speaking to, the president of the company, was Anthony DiPaulo; the person quoted in the trade magazine was Anthony DiPaulo.

He was very friendly and was interested in hearing about Lamilite. I sent him some sample yardage and he made a couple of sample boots. That is how I got into the boot business. During the course of the following year we made boots and had good success selling them because of the reputation Lamilite has acquired. I received many letters from satisfied customers, which I shared with Anthony, and which I also shared with you who receive the newsletters. I thought that if he saw the response, he would increase his use of Lamilite in other models, not just for me. That never happened. Since he had no interest in working the Lamilite into his product mix, I looked towards the other manufactures in the industry. I proceeded to contact several other boot manufacturers, companies
you are familiar with: Redwing, LaCross, Cove and Weinbrenner. I told my story of successful involvement with Herman to each manufacturer andinquired if they would be interested in seeing a pair of boots and receiving some sample material. Not surprisingly, they were all veryinterested, and each of them told me what I originally heard from Anthony: Thinsulate just wasn't cutting it as an acceptable insulation. Lamilite when used in a boot is not a miracle insulation, it is just better than Thinsulate or foam, and because it does not absorb moisture, when it does get wet it dries very quickly. Thus far in my experience with the boots, they are excellent when moving in temperatures as low as -10 degrees F; when sitting still you would need the over boots. So far not one of the boot manufacturers mentioned has contacted me for additional yardage. In the case of Cove Shoe Company the sales director I dealt with was so discourteous I wrote to the CEO of the company, explaining why I would fire him. No, I did not get a response.

It does not seem to matter to these companies if the boots they offer for sale do not perform as advertised. This is a way of life in the outdoor industry, for the most part. Illusion is more important than substance. As long as 3-M Corporation is willing to spend untold amounts of money advertising these manufacturers, the manufacturers will
continue to use the Thinsulate even though they know it doesn't perform very well. Now we have two companies (Outlast and Frisbee) marketing their phase change materials in the footwear industry. They are getting a "foothold" with the manufacturers, the same way 3-M does: with advertising dollars. Their product has proven not to be any better than Thinsulate. I still have a few hundred pairs of the Hermans boots in stock. So if any of you want a decent boot (because I do not expect any of the boot companies to be knocking on my door in the foreseeable future,
unless I come up with mega bucks for advertising) they are still available for $110.00 a pair.


INSULATED FLOTATION SUIT

During the past year, sales of the insulated flotation suit have been
very brisk. Recently, I reprinted a letter from a customer who jumped
into 38-degree water and I used the comments in my advertising. That
letter has helped to further increase sales.
I have had the opportunity to hear from commercial fisherman some
interesting information about the other survival suits on the market,
which is directing them to my buy mine.
Generally, commercial fisherman do not wear any form of flotation
device. The reason they don't or haven't worn what is available is
because they are uncomfortable or are cumbersome. Therefore, the
flotation devices end up stowage on the vessel. The neoprene suits
deteriorate. In a survival situation, aside from being difficult to put
on, the "gumby suit," as it is referred to, shouldn't be worn if it has
the slightest hole. It will fill with water and you will sink like a
rock.
I find it interesting that neoprene survival suits deteriorate very
quickly and are still mandatory as per the Coast Guard, since nobody or
very few wear, are to be carried on all commercial fishing boats,
anyway.
The suit I manufacture is to be worn all the time, so in the
unfortunate situation of having to abandon ship you are already wearing
your survival suit.
I recently received an order from a fireman who also does ice
rescue. The reason he wants to try my suit is for the same reason
fishermen are buying it: comfort and ease of movement. It is also much
warmer than neoprene suits.
In addition to commercial fishermen and ice rescue, you will find
sport fishermen, snowmobilers, duck hunters and dog mushers using them.


LETTERS

I am happy to say that I receive letters weekly and would like to print
them all. However, I am only printing those that are unusual. Here is
one of them:

"Dear Jerry,
I am writing this letter to thank you for making such a fine product.
Some years ago I bought an Ultima Thule, and in the summer of 1999 it
saved my life.
Some friends and I have been going into the Selway Crags of Idaho
for over 20 years. It is a harsh but spectacular land. On the second day
I got onto some snow in a very steep gully and went for a long slide.
When the crash was over, my right leg hurt like hell and things were not
looking good. I had heard a loud wet snap when I hit the rocks, so the
immediate and ugly swelling was no surprise. The walls were too steep
for any type of extraction, so I grabbed my pack and made my way
painfully to the bottom. I set up my tent and got my partner to fill a
garbage bag full of snow. I stuck my leg in the bag, duct taped the top
shut, crawled into my Wiggy's bag, and wished the world away. It was the
longest night of my life. Your bag kept the rest of my battered body
warm with one leg immersed in snow. I don't know if I would have
survived the night in a lesser bag. The temperatures dropped to around
freezing and it rained/snowed all night. It took me seven days to very
slowly make my way out of there. The leg was broken straight across on
the big bone, and slant wise on the on the small bone about three inches
above the ankle. Walking out of there was the most technically demanding
thing I have ever done. While the rain pounded down, I would hobble
along and think of how nice it would be to be curled up in my warm bag.
Thank you again. I truly believe that your sleeping bag saved my
life. Please send me a current catalog / pricing, as I need to invest in
a new parka.

Thank you,
Steve Armstrong
East Wenatchee, WA.


If a small group of men were always regarded as guilty, in any clash with any other group, regardless of the issues involved, would you call it persecution? If this group were penalized, not for its faults, but for its virtues, not for its incompetence, but for its ability, not for its failures, but for its achievements, and the greater the achievement, the greater the penalty-would you call that persecution? That group is the American businessmen.
--Ayn Rand, "America's Persecuted
Minority: Big Business," 1961

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