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Fire Retardant Sleeping Bags

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For the past 4 years, and as recently as yesterday, I have been quizzed—not just asked—about my sleeping bags using fire retardant chemicals on the fabrics used by me to make my sleeping bags.

I dutifully answer all questions about the fact that I do not now, nor have I ever in the past, or will I in the future ever apply a fire retardant to the fabric used to make my sleeping bags. In addition I tell the questioner that I use pure finish fabrics which mean there are no chemicals—not even durable water repellent treatment—applied to them. I am very proud of the fact that Wiggy’s is the only sleeping bag that can be used by chemically sensitive people.

For most of these four years the questioners have been mothers who justifiably do not want to subject their children to chemicals of any sort! When they call me it is after they have spoken with other companies that sell sleeping bags and in a majority of the cases they are told that the bags do have fire retardant treatments. They have even been told by REI that their bags are fire retardant treated. Learning this is a surprise since I really did not think sleeping bags were fire retardant treated. Recently, I have been getting calls from fathers as well.

Years ago the old Coleman company did a study demonstrating that an all synthetic bags, when lying flat on the ground—which is how it is used, allows the bag to self-extinguish if any embers from a fire landed on it. Down bags will allow the smoldering to move through the bag.

Now that the subject has become steady I decided to go into a search engine and I typed in “fire retardant treated sleeping bags”. I was amazed to see most brands: Kelty, Klyment, Big Agnes, Marmot, and Mountain Hardwear (to name a few) who show fire retardant models. Aside from the fact that the people who run these companies have no clue about insulation, they obviously have no clue about the dangers of fire retardant chemicals.

It should also be noted that these companies have their bags made mostly China and there is no telling what other chemicals are applied to the fabrics used to make the bags. The fiberfill used is, in my educated opinion, more than likely waste fiber—which was common in the 60’s in the USA. It was used because it was cheap and abundant. Today, as all know, I use only continuous filament fiber which is only a first quality product and, as all know, the Climashield is not adulterated with any chemicals. So what I receive is a fiberfill product that is used in comforters by companies much larger than Wiggy’s in the bedding industry. It is also used for mattress tops and pillows. It is a hypoallergenic material. So it fits very well with the other fabrics that I use.

I have observed a roommate who did not have allergies develop them over time working with chemicals—demonstrating that use of a sleeping bag over time can initiate an allergic condition in a person who was not allergic in the first place.

Keep in mind that these same materials that I use for the sleeping bags are also used for my clothing items, so you need not be concerned about them having chemicals either.

I do make fire retardant outerwear for the oil workers in Alaska but there I use Nomex which is high-melt nylon versus a fabric with an additional fire retardant application.

I am not surprised to have learned that parents today are more concerned about chemicals than my parents were. When I was in my youth in the 40’s and 50’s we were not subject to the preponderance of chemicals that not only youth are subjected to, but chemicals we all are subjected to. Am I surprised by the number of natural food stores and dedicated natural departments in large food stores? No. Adults have been rebelling against GMO’s and all sorts of chemicals for several years and some companies are listening and doing whatever they can to eliminate the offending chemicals.

However, in the textile industry I personally believe the consumers get lip service versus real chemically free garments. Just review all of the articles I have published pointing out the various chemicals that are applied to materials that are supposed to keep you from sweating, or smelling, how about giving you more energy and there are more than I chose to remember.

I sometimes think about people who get old and they are prescribed pills for one ailment or another. They then start to decline further and faster, until one day either the individual or a family member terminates most of the medications and low and behold the individual starts to recover. I do not discount that there are some chemicals that do a good job but when you are subjected to a new one every week as I seem to read about in the textile publications it gives you reason to pause and wonder how much testing and evaluation the maker of the chemical has put it through testing for any length of time. In almost all cases they haven’t done due diligence. They are so marketing oriented that they want it on the market as soon as is possible.

Gore-Tex is a perfect example of a company that put a product on the market when they had almost no knowledge of laminating. They were laminating to water repellent treated fabric and when the water repellent washed away they had delamination. Then the film was laminating poorly so they coated it with urethane to make it easier to laminate. That is when the term hard shell was born since the end product was stiff. Now when they laminated they laminated to non-water repellent treated fabric. But they had the deleterious water action—seeping into the garment—so they sprayed the water repellent on the face of the fabric. But it too washed away so they started making their own brand of water repellent to retreat the garment. Then they had to learn about drying the laminated fabric, or rather the adhesive holding the film to the fabric. When I first came to Grand Junction Marmot was still here they received a shipment of Gore-Tex laminated nylon that actually cracked and was useless.

The point being that the Gore-Tex material was put on the market before all of the bugs were worked out of it. The biggest bug still to be worked out is when Gore-Tex will actually show itself to be waterproof and breathable. Not likely ever!!!

This policy of companies in the textile chemical business functions in the same manner as Gore did, or still does, and has to do with how quickly they can get something to market. Whether it works or not is of no importance.

All of these companies that have fire retardant treated sleeping bags want to satisfy all segments of the marketplace, even someone who doesn't want a fire retardant treated bag.

Wiggy’s bags are naturally fire retardant when they are lying flat on the ground. Wiggy’s bags are made with materials that are unadulterated with unnecessary chemicals.

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Wiggy’s Inc.
PO Box 2124
Grand Junction, CO 81502

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2482 Industrial Blvd  •  Grand Junction, CO
(970) 241-6465

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