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Rules ?????

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RULES ????? I have been supplying the U.S. Air force and the U.S. Navy with vacuum-packed sleeping bags for survival purposes for nine years. Both of these services tested the bags extensively before they were adopted and issued national stock numbers for them.

Recently the U.S. Army put out a solicitation to bid on vacuum-packed sleeping bags for survival in arctic conditions. I
received a copy of the bid package and a huge amount of encouragement from the contracting officer (they want as many bidders as possible), until I told him I would be bidding a synthetic bag and not a down bag as was described in the bid package. He said that they could only accept what was written in the bid package. I countered with: "my bags, several of them were already in use by other branches of service for the same purpose and already were listed with NSN's (National Stock Numbers)." He said that my bag would have to be tested and they didn't have the time to test it, as they were needed immediately, and the fact that they already had a NSN meant nothing. My response dealt with the fact that these other branches of service had already tested the bags and that is why they were buying them, and had been since 1991. This statement fell on deaf ears.

I took my case to my congressman and senator. All their involvement did was delay the process. My protest was denied "due to the urgent requirement of the product." The contracting officer told me that SBCCOM-Soldier Systems Biological and Chemical Command-technicians advised him that "down is the only known insulating material available
in the market that maintains its loft to a point the Army considers acceptable, while providing an acceptable level of insulation." These are the same people, who brought the Army the modular sleep system I reported on several years ago. This is the system that is supposed to perform to a low temperature of -30 degrees F, when in fact the best
that any soldier has been able to use it as has been "+15 degrees F. The technicians, whose names I couldn't get, have as much knowledge of insulation as I do of flying an F-16, which is nothing.

I fully expect that the contract will be given to a company that is not in the business of being a manufacturer of sleeping bags. This will be unfortunate, because, the bags will be filled with down, probably as low a quality as is possible to buy. The technicians do not know that when down is put through the vacuum packaging process 20 percent of the down is immediately destroyed and the balance deteriorates over a five-year period. The Air force changed from down since no down sleeping bag manufacturing company had ever been able to give them a bag that would meet the necessary temperature rating after the vacuum package was opened. Actually, the manufacturers couldn't make a bag that would meet the specifications before vacuum packing. The technicians apparently know better. The down bag is undesirable as well since it would be useless in any wet situation. I pity any individual who is put in a survival situation with one of these bags, unless of course the temperature is above +32 degrees F and is on land. 

So, we have to live with the "rules" regardless if they make sense or not.


For the past few years I have been selling a single-style backpack in three sizes, that I have been importing from Australia. I now have stock of additional models of backpacks from Crossfire, the Australian manufacturer. These backpacks are different from what has been available from the American producers in several ways. The main difference is the fabric used. They use a corespun-canvas, which is densely woven and saturated with a mixture of waxes, polymers and an anti fungal agent. The impregnation of this mixture makes the fabric highly water repellent and mildew resistant. I have used one of these packs for about nine years, and I think it is waterproof, since I have not had a water penetration occur. I believe they are the best fitting (most comfortable), and easily
the most durable packs made. If you are interested, contact us for a separate backpack catalog.


In the January 2001 newsletter I printed a letter from a customer named Dan. His letter to me mentioned how he tried to use a parka made with Goretex laminated fabric under optimum conditions to no avail. It didn't
work. Here is a second letter from Dan.

"30 March 2001

In my letter of 01/04, I stated that steam should have been pouring out of my Goretex parka during a +20F New Year's day hike. I enclose an advertisement for Goretex clothing that ran in February 2001 Backpacker magazine and December 2000 Ice and Rock magazine. This appears to be a photograph of a hiker/climber in winter conditions, and visible vapor (steam) is seen emanating from his Goretex parka about the chest and shoulders. Is this honest advertising? If you contact the graphics producer of the ad you will learn that the steam was added to the photo, for effect, in Photo Shop. (Photo Shop is a software program installed on computers that can work miracles in creating ads.) But if Goretex functions as advertised, then steam should have been coming out of the parka in the original and would have been visible to the eye and camera. I have photographed my compost pile in December for the Master Compost workshops I conduct, and the rising steam is clearly visible. No enhancement was necessary. Does this mean that the photo was produced in a studio (almost certainly), or that no vapor could be made to escape through the fabric under conditions specifically chosen for this to occur? When is digital manipulation of a photograph mere enhancement, and when is it falsely demonstrating an advertised feature that doesn't occur in reality?

I have not spoken with Dan, I just wonder how he found out who the graphics producer was. However, I am not that interested in knowing. I am enjoying Dan's research and happy to report it. Also, his letter has brought out a significant number of responses agreeing with myself.


All e-mails.

"Subject: Other brands of overpriced, under-performing sleeping bags.
I just got in the mail my April 2001 issue of Backpacker magazine.
It has several "editors' choice" awards in it. Including one for a
Mountain Hardwear Quantum sleeping bag. The model pictured in the
article is the Galaxy SL, rated to +15 degrees F, and priced at $305.00.
A 600-fill power down bag, with a water-resistant/breathable shell,
weight is 3 lbs. and 3 oz.
Toward the end of the magazine's brief description of the bag, it
says, and I quote: On cold nights in the Grand Canyon, editors split on
the Galaxy SL's ability to handle temperatures in the 20s'.
Here it is advertised as rated at 15 degrees, and editors "split"
on weather or not it will even keep you warm in the 20's!!!
Well, I KNOW my Wiggy's Ultra Light bag will keep me warm at +15
degrees, which is 5 degrees better than it is rated for, and for less
money. As you say, you can pay more for a bag, but you can't buy a
better bag. Wiggy's is simply the best.
Tom Hudgens"

"Subject: The bag.
Wiggy-Thank you for suggesting the two bag system and not selling me
what I thought that I wanted-and saving me $50.00 the bag performed
better than I ever expected. We were in Utah last week camping on the
Green River, and we had rain, snow, and freezing temperatures gives you
frozen water every morning to make coffee with an idea of the
temperatures. I had an old el-cheapo tent that my son had long since
thrown away for his nice new expensive one that he slept in-he didn’t
have a Wiggy bag and was cold all night every night, even though his bag
was an expensive, name-brand bag. I would not have believed that you
could produce a bag that would have kept me so warm and comfy in those
conditions. The tent leaked and I got my head and feet wet three nights,
but still stayed very warm. I mopped up the water in the tent in the
a.m. with some fleece, and dried out when the rain and snow stopped.
What a bag-thanks Wiggy.
This is from a guy that hasn't camped out since Vietnam and swore
that he never would. You have changed my idea of outdoor living!!! It
can be comfy!!!!
Owen Pepper"

"Message: just wanted to say that I purchased your Ultra Light bag last
February for the third-season hunt in Colorado. This bag was worth every
penny and performed flawlessly. While the temperature dropped at night
into the teens and single digits, I was never cold or uncomfortable.
While my buddies were sleeping with hats on and adding blankets to the
inside of their bags to keep warm, I never once felt cold. I slept well
and I feel this helped me get my first elk. Just wanted to say thanks
for a wonderful product.
Tom Markey"

"Subject: Sleeping Bag!!!

Dear Jerry,
I wish I had bought your sleeping bag a long time ago. I saved your ad
from Alaska magazine. I finally decided to spend the money. My camping
hasn't been the same since. On one of my trips some friends of mine
moved about twenty miles south of Petersburg, Alaska. I went with them
to help unload their cabin package. During this time, we were staying in
a tent that the only thing waterproof was the floor. I ended up sleeping
in an inch and a half to two inches of water. Even though I was wet I
stayed warm with the temperature running in the low to mid thirties.
What an incredible bag!! And at what a bargain. Thank you so much for
such quality merchandise.
Cleve I. Noble Jr."

"Subject: Another great experience.

"One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men.
No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man."
- -Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915)

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