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August 2009-The Outdoor Retailer Trade Show

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The Outdoor Retailer Trade Show is an exhibition of almost all companies that sell to outdoor retail, hunting or general camping stores. The attendees are from the hunting, climbing or general sporting goods stores. Wiggy’s has not attended as an exhibitor since the show has been in Salt Lake City, Utah. The reason I went to the show as an exhibitor this year was to introduce Wiggy’s bags to the retail stores. I was pleasantly surprised by the reception I received, almost all who visited the booth had prior knowledge of the company and its products. Over the course of the next 12 months Wiggy’s bags will become available all over the country through local retail outdoor and hunting shops.

While at the show I attended a symposium that was supposed to explain the newest take on a standardized method of testing sleeping bags that could be universal. One should always be careful when they hear “standard or universal methods”. The speaker was Elizabeth McCullough the director (I believe) of the Institute for Environmental Research Kansas State University located in Manhattan, KS, that is where the copper manikin is that is used for testing and coming up with the “clo” value for sleeping bags. The basic subject she was trying to explain was the European EN 13537 sleeping bag standard. This standard came into effect on January 1st 2005. I guess all of the makers of sleeping bags located in Europe must abide by this standard. What I learned from her talk was the simple fact that she disagreed for the most part with the standard. She was quite clear that much of the standard did not make any sense which I strongly concur with. However, she avoided the fact that the clo ratings she promotes at KSU do not make any more sense than the European standard does.

Prior to the symposium I went to the greatest source information there is; the internet.

Just type in EN 13537 and a huge amount of information will appear. What you will see often is the following disclaimer; “Despite this extensive testing, temperature ratings remain subjective and should only be used as a guide. Quality of clothing, differing ages, ground temperature, whether or not a sleeping mat is used is all external factors which may affect the rating of sleeping bag.”

This European rating system has as much value as the clo value ratings; which have no value. Her discussion is my opinion was “gibberish”.

With it all one quite large camping equipment retail chain has made it clear to their suppliers; Wiggy’s is not one of them; that they will not buy their sleeping bags unless they carry tags showing how the bags are rated on the European system. When they have dissatisfied customers maybe they will wake up to reality.

NEW CONTINUOUS FILAMENT FIBERFILL

In 1968 Celanese Corp. introduced continuous filament fiberfill to the jacket and sleeping bag industries and called it Polarguard. I was the sales director of the company that actually made the Polarguard for the Celanese Corp. We experimented with the machinery and came up with a straight line construction. Up until that point we only made a cross lap construction. Upon reviewing the new concept we decided we did not have a product that had any value so we cast it aside and ever since continuous filament fiberfill has been made as a cross lap product. It is the only method of manufacture that will allow the product to be made in a variety of thicknesses.

Now a company has introduced their “new” straight line construction of a continuous filament fiberfill product. One medium size retail chain picked up on the product for sleeping bags that they have made for the stores in China I believe and now a major marketer of sleeping bags has adopted it for a series of bags. One even rated for use as cold as -40 degrees F (a pipe dream).

INFINITY


The quality of being infinite or having no limit; boundless. Source: The Universal Oxford Dictionary.

The name of this “new” continuous filament fiberfill product is trade named “Infinity”. In my humble opinion it is a contradiction. Maybe I am wrong but it seems to me that the name of a technical product might possibly represent some aspect of the product. As an example Lamilite, I called my insulation Lamilite because it is a laminated product and it is light; LAMI-LITE. Referencing a product with the term “infinity” suggests longevity at a minimum. This “new” continuous filament fiberfill product does not in my humble opinion meet the definition of an item that could carry the name “infinity”. I do not for one moment believe that the one thickness that is being made to the best of my knowledge will perform adequately in any sleeping bag rated below + 40 degrees F. I know and one must trust me here that the resilience of the fiber has been compromised due to the resin boding process it is put through and repeated stuffing into a stuff sack will ultimately damage the fibers ability to ever come back to its original loft which is not much (maybe 3/8th inch) to begin with.

Once again we see lots of advertising dollars being spent to promote what I consider a bogus product. What I always fail to understand is what some companies have against the people who buy the products they make either as a finished product or as a component used in the finished product. Don’t they like their customers nor have any respect for them? Apparently not! After all it is the consumers who are putting out their hard earned dollars for a product. If the manufacturer does not know whether or not the end item will perform, why has the manufacturer placed it on the market in the first place? If the component maker also does not know if the component being offered does not work why is the component maker offering it to the manufacturer? Again my opinion is that neither one cares if the product works or not, only that they make a sale and they like to trade on their name as being prominent in their respective fields. Where is their integrity (?) it does not exist!

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