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ANTIMICROBIALS

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ANTIMICROBIALS “Regulatory Considerations: U.S. regulatory laws consider any product used to control microbes a pesticide. The active ingredient in any antimicrobial must be registered with the EPA and be approved by the FDA. Whenever an antimicrobial claim is made for a product, it must be registered with the EPA for a specific use.”


The above comment was the last paragraph of an article titled “Keeping It Fresh,” appearing in the February 2002 issue of Textile World magazine.


Historically the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps started investigating how to treat cotton fabrics that were being decimated during World War II in the tropical and subtropical areas of the world.

As a result of the investigation, it was determined that fungi, yeast and algae were the cause of the deterioration of the fabric. In the mid to late 1950s fungicides were used on cotton fabric. These fungicides were compounds such as 8-hydroxyquinoline salts, copper napthenate, copper ammonium fluoride and chlorinated phenols. When the government and industry became aware that these compounds were hazards alternative products where sought.


There are a host of new chemicals currently being used: polyhexamethylene biguanide hydrochloride (PHMB), triclosan, a diphenyl ether (bispheny) derivative, know as either 2,4,4’–trichcloro-2’-hydroxydiphenyl ether, or 5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy) phenol. These specific chemicals are used in soaps that are used in hospitals. Doctors probably wash with them before performing surgery. They do not wear clothing all day with these chemicals coating the fabric. The chemicals are quickly washed away, so they have little or no chance of being absorbed into the skin. These chemicals retard or kill microbes on cotton fabrics, and I suppose any fabric that absorbs liquid, such as wool, silk, rayon or lyocell.


The problem I see with these chemicals as I have previously stated has to do with the absorption of the chemical into the skin. Are these chemicals necessary? No. More and more of the fabrics we wear are synthetic, e.g., nylon, polyester, acrylics. These synthetic fabrics are inherently resistant to microbial decomposition. In recent years the emphasis has shifted from protecting textiles from microbial attack to protecting the environment and users of textile products, such as humans from the microbes.

If these killer chemicals of microbes were safe for us as the advertisers tell us, why would they have to register with the EPA and FDA? They are not safe and should be avoided. It may take years, as for someone smoking cigarettes, but sooner or later I believe something will show up that is abnormal, and then the doctors will start their search for the cause, and microbial chemicals in your clothing will not be thought of as the culprit. It is obvious to me that the textile mills and the manufacturers will not, regardless of the potential consequences, back away from these chemicals easily. If anything, they will try to present information showing they are safe.


For years I have received calls from people who say they are chemical sensitive. I always send them a sample of the materials I use, so they can sleep with them. If they do not have a reaction, then they purchase a bag. To date I have never lost a sale to a chemically sensitive person, probably because there are no chemicals that are used in the components of my products. I believe that more and more of our population is becoming chemically sensitive because of our exposure to chemicals, so these textile companies are not helping. If enough people seeing the antimicrobial hang-tags on garments leave them on the racks, maybe, just maybe the retailers will stop buying these garments from manufacturers, and then they might get the message.

REFLECTIVE MATERIALS FOR ADDED INSULATION
In the mid 1960s a company making the suits worn by astronauts while outside the space craft were made with 29 layers of fabric. Inter-spaced between the 29 layers are nine layers of metallized Mylar. The reason given for the use of the metallized Mylar was to reflect radiant body heat back to the body. The body does radiate heat, and each layer of metallized Mylar is supposed to return 5 percent of the radiated heat that reaches it. That means that 5 percent of 100 percent is hitting the first layer and 5 percent of what is left hitting the second layer and so on. In reality the process doesn’t work, because a space suit is hermetically sealed and there is a self-contained heating system, therefore as long as the heating system is operational the astronaut is warm.


Over the years many companies have made jackets and sleeping bags with metallized lining materials, and one company went so far as to metallize the fiberfill. All to no avail. But, the failure of these products has not stopped more people from attempting to convince first, manufacturers, second, retailers and eventually, consumers to invest in their new, metallized fabric.


As an example, recently I received a sample of a nonwoven material, a scrim that looks like tissue paper with what appears to be aluminum powder applied to it. The manufacturer of this product is located in England and the product is trade-named Therm-Alweb. Their literature glows with information about how this material will reflect body heat back. They even went as far as saying that they have a customer making bags for the military for patrolling Greenland in temperatures as low as –40 degrees. When I asked the name of the company they would not tell me. They never mention which military is using the product, probably because as I believe it is an untrue statement. At the present time the British military is field-testing Wiggy’s Ultima Thules.


Just the name is misleading; a flat web material has as much but no more insulation than tissue paper. It is also no stronger than tissue paper; one laundering and it will be shredded. The following is a letter I received from a Marine recently: “I recently purchased a competitors sleeping bag (rated for use as cold as +20, I believe) in NATO green. The purchase was based on small-pack size and color as I intended the bag to be a replacement for my “ranger roll.” The first night I used the competitors bag it was about 50 degrees, with no wind, and I froze my butt off. Additionally, the new Mylar-like liner inside the bag generates so much static electricity, it is like a lightning storm every time you move! For three-season use I’m going back to the bedroll (USGI poncho and poncho liner tied together as a makeshift sleeping bag). For winter use I’ll use my Wiggy’s Super Light.

P.S. I’m four years in the Marine Corps; I NEVER used the GI sleeping bag outside of boot camp. It was just too heavy and took up too much room. We all resorted to ranger rolls, sometimes enhanced with a tarp, casualty blanket, or Mylar blanket, and we usually froze.
Steve”

That was testimony of how well metallized material doesn’t work. I did write back that he should consider the over bag, and the response was that he would be buying one.

HEAT-GENERATING FIBER

Is it possible? Yes, according to a Japanese company, Toyobo. According to the published literature their fiber trademarked “eks” will generate heat. Their claim is as follows: “At last a fiber that generates heat! Existing fibers used for cold-weather wear/gear simply insulate with its bulk. They do not actually create heat on the body. eks is a perfectly NEW fiber based on a different concept. eks generates heat. It absorbs water quickly and keeps you dry and comfortable. eks absorbs much more moisture than other fibers. It means that eks generates much more heat, because heat generating ability is in proportin to moisture absorbing ability. How does eks generate HEAT? Remember the last time you got an injection at the doctor’s office and the cold feeling you experienced when the alcohol disinfectant was applied to your body? That cold feeling is a result of the heat evaporation phenomenon. When alcohol evaporates, it becomes moisture. The moisture takes the heat away from the skin. eks adopts the opposite reaction to heat evaporation. This is called “ADSORP-TION HEAT.” eks absorbs perspiration and supplies heat to the body to help keep you comfortably warm. eks generates heat even when you are not perspiring. Even a person who is not exercising his/her body will perspire. Automobiles and PCs do a similar thing; they idle so they are ready to work at anytime. So, eks will always give you heat.”


Having said all this, at the end of each page from which I took the above information is the following statement: “The information on this page, to the best of our knowledge, is accurate and correct. However, Toyobo makes no warranty and assumes no liability whatsoever in connection with any use of this information. Users determine for themselves the suitability for their intended use of the material. This information is subject to revision as new information becomes available.”


Their claims defy all known knowledge of why people get cold when they are wet, so how does this product work? It doesn’t. The analogy of a car idling or a PC in sleep mode fringes on stupidity. One more time a company trying to prove the unprovable, with words. If you ever see a cold weather garment made with this stuff, the appropriate response should be “eeeeeekes!”

WATERPROOF/BREATHABLE

As many of you know I have, since the inception of my newsletters, stated that waterproof/breathable material doesn’t exist. I have presented as much fact as possible to prove my position. Recently I had conversations with a representative of a company that makes a knock-off of Gore-Tex and, also, with a Natick Army Labs textile technologist, and learned a lot more about why products such as Gore-Tex simply do not work as advertised. And you thought there wasn’t more to learn about these sham products.


There is a film, a monolithic film to be precise, that is incorporated in the makeup of a waterproof/breathable construction. First, monolithic film has the ability to absorb moisture. This is a very important part of the structure; without it, moisture from the body would have almost no chance of getting out of the garment. In the case of Gore they apply a urethane “pu” coating, which incorporates the monolithic film chemical in the lamination structure.


When you sweat while wearing a garment that has Gore-Tex the moisture is absorbed by the monolithic film, or whatever moisture that can pass through the spaces left after the adhesive that holds the materials together will allow. Like cotton the moisture that does reach the outside fabric will possibly evaporate. That is, of course, if it is not raining or humid.


Do you remember the term “wetting out?” That is when the water repellency on the surface of the garment has worn away, as happens, and the fabric now retains rainwater. Remember the monolithic film absorbing the sweat on the inside? Well, it will absorb the rainwater coming from the outside as easily as it did the sweat, only more so. There is nothing to inhibit the outside water from being soaked up by the fabric. This is why Gore came up with a water-repellent treatment for garments made from their materials.


Last year I wrote about two British soldiers who suffocated in Gore-Tex bivi bags. The reason is simple; no air can pass through these materials. According to information obtained from Natick Army Labs in the tests to demonstrate “air permeability,” there is none. Makes a good wind protector, I guess, since wind cannot pass through the fabric once it has been laminated with the various films. Doesn’t sound like the best choice of materials to use for a bivi bag. 

The substitute or knockoff products aren’t any better than the Gore product.


Since “breathability” is a term used extensively in the textile industry when describing the air permeability of a fabric, neither Gore nor any other company should ever have used it in making similar claims about their product. Misuse of language in advertising is misleading the potential buyer of a product.


The following is a letter I received from another customer: “Hey, I used your booties this weekend on a camping trip in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. It was 35 degrees and sleeting. The conditions were awful. I stood around the campsite all night with your booties on over a pair of wool socks. My Gore-Tex jacket was wet, my gloves were wet, my hat was wet, everything, was wet and cold. Everything, that is, except your booties. I had modified them slightly. I coated the bottoms with shoe goo, and sprayed them down with Camp-Dry (Camp-Dry in my opinion is pretty much worthless anyway). So, here I was standing in slush, getting sleeted on, and the only part of me that was dry and warm were my feet. Standing in slush and snow my feet were bone dry and my Gore-Tex jacket was soaked. How do you do that? Thanks you again for making such good products.

Lindsey (Marquette, MI.)
P.S. I think I sold everyone else on the trip a pair of your booties.”

The information that I received explains why Lindsey’s jacket was wet and, why therefore, he was cold.


We can now proceed and examine the hoax these products represent. When Gore first offered their product it was ptfe film laminated to nylon fabric. To the best of my knowledge this was what they first patented. They had two primary problems, one of which was delamination. They were trying to glue a teflon material to a water-repellent- treated nylon. Neither would stay attached to the glue very well. The second problem had to do with the ptfe film lying flat against the nylon. It was at this point they decided to apply the urethane to the ptfe film. This kept the film smooth and the urethane was easily laminated. As we have learned, the monolithic film is the material that helps move the water from one side of the fabric to the other.


The question one should ask is: if the monolithic film is the moisture mover, why is it necessary for the ptfe film to continue to be a part of the structure? The answer is simple, Gore needed the ptfe film there to keep the patent. Monolithic film has been either coated on fabric or laminated to fabric since before Gore-Tex existed. The ptfe film is not only unnecessary but a detriment to the overall product. The solid part of the ptfe film will inhibit movement of the moisture as does the extra adhesive. You would be better off if it wasn’t a part of the structure. Not that it would make the end product work any better. We know this because all of the manufacturers who have their own product are probably using monolithic film and their jackets don’t perform any better than Gore-Tex. The bottom line as I see it is that a whole lot of people-and it is in the millions-have been hoodwinked for more than 20 years, and it is still going on. Mysticism is in evidence throughout the outdoor industry.

LETTERS
“Finally got the opportunity to use my Ultra Light bag (ordered in June, I think) in San Diego County this last weekend. Not being totally sure, I’d taken a few chem packs to slip in the bottom of the bag, and was prepared to sleep in sweats if necessary. Imagine how absolutely amazed, delighted, relieved, gratified (the adjectives can continue on and on) I was to be totally comfortable in mid-40-degree nights. Too warm, even! I’ve made this trip several times and have included a fleece sleeping bag liner to the chem packs and silk underwear to be even marginally comfortable. I’d taken my Wiggy’s hot socks but had absolutely no need for them. For the first time in 20 years I slept with bare feet in a sleeping bag! After an accident 12 years ago, I seldom sleep well camping, no matter what I do. I didn’t sleep as well as at home, but I wasn’t totally exhausted when I got up, either. Made the ride home MUCH more pleasant.


When anyone asks, and even when they don’t, I’m singing the praises of my Wiggy’s sleeping bag. What a great purchase.
Karen R.
Phoenix, AZ.”

“Mr. Wiggy,
Wanted to take the time to say thanks for your sleeping bag (Ultima Thule). On a hike in the Green Mountains of Vermont with the National Guard I slid 75 feet down a ice chute while traversing a gully. Being scared out of my wits I had no strength or will to carry on. My team sergeant made me go on to the top where we spent the night in –20 degree weather. That night, being exhausted and dehydrated from the energy expended on the hike, my body was shutting down. Your sleeping bag kept me warm and prevented me from serious injury. Not to say that anyone should ever be put in that place, but I know that it was your bag that kept me alive. My teeth chattered a few times during the night but when I woke up I was fine. The other soldiers that had the issue mummy bags had some real cold feet the next morning and their toes felt like fire. Many of our mountain men have purchased your bags over the years and I’m glad I listened to one of them when I purchased my bag. Thanks and keep up the good work. 

Shawn 3/172 MTN BN”


Mysticism. What is mysticism? Mysticism is the acceptance of allegations without evidence or proof, either apart from or against the evidence of one’s senses and one’s reason. Mysticism is the claim to some non-sensory, non-rational, non-definable, non-identifiable means of knowledge, such as “instinct,” “revelation,” or any form of “just knowing.” Reason is the perception of reality, and rests on a single axiom: the Law of Identity. Mysticism is the claim to the perception of some other reality—other than the one in which we live—whose definition is only that it is not natural, it is supernatural, and is to be perceived by some form of unnatural or super-natural means. 

--Ayn Rand “Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World”

Philosophy: Who Needs It (1982)

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