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Testing Bags by Publications

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When I first started making sleeping bags I thought I would get magazines that I was advertising in like Outside and Backpacker to contact me so they could test my sleeping bags. After all, I was advertising in these publications that I made the best sleeping bag in the world and I said things that I still say today: “to buy any other brand of sleeping bag is a waste of money.” It seemed to me that my attitude about making the best product of its type, ever, would generate some interest. Since these publications were often testing some other brand and writing about it when the company making the bag didn’t even advertise I chose to call them and ask why? Other than to say send us a bag and we will test it, was their response. That “give me stuff” did not sit well with me. If they were to be completely objective I thought they should buy the bag and since it was now theirs they could say anything they wanted to say. I was actually told that they could not afford to buy products from companies to test. The outlay of money would be enormous so they depended on the generosity of the manufacturers. Is it any wonder why these publications wrote splendidly about the many products given to them to test? Wash my back and I’ll wash yours. I have never been a good old boy. There is something called integrity which they lack to this day.

As time has gone by Wiggy’s has grown to become the single largest producer of the best functioning sleeping bags in the world that are also the finest sleeping bags that have ever been produced. As a result of the reputation that my bags have attained I periodically get an e mail (they don’t call anymore) from someone who is on assignment to climb a mountain or hunt an elk and write about it for this or that publication and would very much like it if I gave him a bag to use. And of course he will mention that he used a Wiggy’s Bag. I inquire if someone is paying his airfare, hunting permit, food, etc. or is all of this coming to him free? I can just imagine telling Delta Airlines or whoever that you will mention them in the article and they of course we will transport you there at no charge. I ask why they are contacting me at this time, and they tell me they have heard good things about my bags. If that is the case they should buy one. Word of mouth advertising is the best form of advertising and numerous people have in fact bought bags from me because someone told them about the bags.

For years I have received letters from an “adventurer” who wants a bag donated so they could write about it in their published adventure on the internet. One day I received a call from a fellow who told me that his son was going to be doing something great and needed a sleeping bag and this father though I should give the bag to his son. I informed him of my personal venture for 13 months on my boat and that I never thought to ask someone to finance my pleasurable interest. It never occurred to me to solicit. One customer back then gave me a survival raft that his company made for the Navy during WW 2, however it was out of the blue since I never knew he made that type of product. His offer was a complete surprise. Fortunately for me I never had to use it.

With respect to someone at, say Backpacker Magazine, testing my sleeping bag (and this goes for all the publications that have ever made contact with me) they are insulting me. They have come to me now because they have heard good things about my sleeping bags and possibly have also read the numerous testimonials on the web site. But “they” want to test my sleeping bags to see if all of those who have come before them are telling the truth. As for me, I tell them that I know what I am doing with respect to making a sleeping bag—or any cold weather item for that matter—because of my knowledge of insulation materials, as well as the best way to use them and the best coverings (i.e., for the shell and lining fabrics). I do not function on guess work; solid factual knowledge that I have acquired for the past 50 years is my guide. The people who are employed at publications like Backpacker do not have any knowledge of what it takes to make a sleeping bag or any insulated product. You can also include in that group the people who are given the job of sleeping bag buyer at “all” the retail stores in the country. They too haven’t any clue as to what it takes to make a sleeping bag. If in fact they did the research to find out which bags are the best on the market they would want to carry Wiggy’s bags. They cannot say any of the following about any bag that the magazine has tested and writes about or the retailer sells:

  • Only a Wiggy’s bag can be laundered an infinite number of times without degradation
  • Only a Wiggy’s bag can be stored in its stuff sack without losing its loft
  • Only Wiggy’s bags use the number 10 YKK molded tooth zipper (which do not break); all other companies use the number 7 or 8 YKK coil zipper which is guaranteed to break)
  • Wiggy’s bags are the most accurately temperature rated bags ever made
  • Only Wiggy’s bags are completely unaffected by water (they can get soaked and they still keep you warm)
  • Only Wiggy’s bags will allow you to dry your body and clothing when you are in the bag and your body heat will also dry the bag

If any retailer were to carry the Wiggy’s line of sleeping bags they would not have any reason to carry any other brand since all other brands fall short on every single count. And someone working for a magazine has the audacity to “tell” me they want to test my sleeping bags, when they haven’t a clue as to what it takes to make a sleeping bag is an insult to my intelligence.

Over the years numerous people have asked why I do not appear specifically in the once a year publication of Backpacker‘s gear guide. It is simply because they allowed arm chair members of their gear forum to not only say nasty things about my products but also about me personally a number of years ago. One guy accused me of making an obscene phone call to his 8 year old daughter. I had a private investigator check into this situation and the report stated that the guy did not have an 8 year old daughter. When I asked the moderator to remove the post he basically left in on as if it were true. During the time the magazine was owned by Rodale Press the editor John Vehman contracted with Larry Amkraut a writer and walker, he walked across the USA from east coast to west coast and then from the US Mexican border to Barrow Alaska and wrote about these experiences. The guy Vehman contracted with him to write a review of my bag, the Ultra –Light. The review in my opinion was fair to me. It was not so gushy that it would cause people to run out and buy my bag versus whatever else was on the market. Vehman never did publish the review. However, one of my customers from a shop in Rapid City S.D. called Vehman when I told him that the review was never published to find out why. Vehman in his delirious state sent me a copy of the letter he sent to my customer. I could not believe the lie. Basically he told my customer that Larry and I had conspired to get him to print the review. Vehman never did explain why he paid Larry a kill fee.

I do not want to have anything to do with this publication or any of its employees. I find the occasional comment on their gear forum and I have asked for them to remove any mention of me or my products and sometimes they do and sometimes not. If they do not remove the comments then I consider it is free advertising. My thinking in this regard is simple, “it does not matter what is said about you so long as it is you they are talking about!” Regardless, I find that they cater to a small group who are no more knowledgeable about insulation and what it takes to make a sleeping bag than any employee of Backpacker has ever been or will be. So in my opinion those who buy the magazine for information are wasting their money and time.

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