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A New Product

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During a hunting trip in 1995 I managed to get myself lost. It was an interesting experience to say the least. I was hunting the Fossil Ridge Wilderness area north and east of Gunnison, CO. in early November. On the evening of the forth day out I strayed to far to the north east of where I was supposed to end up the day. So, I spent what turned out to be the first night out. During my search for my way home (back to base camp) I met two young men who said we could go back to their camp. That was all well and good, except they were as it turned out also lost.

At about two o’clock in the afternoon it started to snow, and when you are located at 12,000 feet the snowfall can get heavy very quickly and it did. In our travels we passed a number of streams and I started to consume as much water as I could. I did not have a canteen of any sort with me. The boys did and I encouraged them to drink as much as possible too, and to keep their canteens filled. When night came and it does in the mountains during November very early, we set up a camp in a thicket of spruce trees. I was very comfortable but they were freezing. Aside from not having food we didn’t have any more water, and filling their canteen with snow to melt was not an option. Their canteens were plastic, so we couldn’t put them in the fire to melt the snow.
The out come of this adventure was positive; they found my camp after meeting Rudy (my guide) and Rudy found me.
Now that I had the experience I decided what was needed was a single wall stainless steel water bottle. Something that could be put in a fire to melt snow. I started a search that lasted until this past summer. Imagine not even finding a Chinese factory that would make a product for me. However, I did find a company in California of all places that has made them for me. They are polished stainless steel inside and out with a stainless screw on lid. It is important that the inside be polished to make it safe and sterile. The lid is held to the canteen by a stainless steel chain. Best of all whether or not you are lost, if you need water and you have snow as a source, fill the canteen and place it in a fire.
There is a stainless steel cup and it all fits into our military style, and military tested insulated carrying case. See enclosure.

BEING COPIED

In the last newsletter I wrote about being copied. This past August I took the opportunity to attend the Outdoor Retailers trade show. While there I looked at all of the sleeping bags being offered and didn’t see anything new, as a matter of fact I didn’t see anything new in most areas, other than color change. As for any company copying me there was only a new very lightweight bag from The North Face Company. Instead of a complete lamination of the Polar Guard to the nylon they have “welded” (glued or laminated) the fiber to the nylon in lines similar to stitch lines only less frequent. The bag has no zipper is very thin, probably rated for 50 degrees and up. Now the best part of what they have is the price at retail, $259.00. I can’t imagine any buyers at that price level. My over bag is almost as light, has a zipper, is rated for +35 degrees and only costs $144.00. I would say what I have is a bargain. Therefore, I will not take any legal action against them, (technically they are in violation of my patent) but enjoy knowing the company that for years had been the king pin of the outdoor industry has chosen to make an effort to copy me.

BACKPACKER MAGAZINE

The August issue of Backpacker magazine had a remarkable article about the U.S. Navy SEALS. It was remarkable on two counts; first that it appeared in the magazine and seconds that it was excellent. I thought this is something that should have appeared in Soldier of Fortune. Being a supplier to the SEALS, I called two men interviewed for the article to find out how it happened, and was informed the writer was a former military man.
I couldn’t wait to see the letter to the editor column in the next issue, as I knew they would have some negative readers to the military, and they did. However, the negative letters were nothing compared to the article about backpacking in Cuba. I must admit that I only perused the article I will not read it. At the end of the article they give the method you can use to travel there. I am sure it would be a wonderful place to visit but not until it is a free nation.
I have a problem with helping a communist dictatorship country run by a leader who openly hates us. I am sure that Castro is involved in drug trafficking and more than likely in terrorist activities. There is no production of anything in Cuba other than cigars and the growing of sugar cane. All of the best thinkers and doers that lived in Cuba left when he took over. Therefore, he will do anything necessary to maintain his position and if that means dealing with drug runners and terrorist he does it.
Encouraging American citizens to travel there where they will spend American dollars only helps Castro; it does not help the Cuban people. We should have done to him what we did to Hussein and the Cuban population would have been better off.
Ardath Rodale you should be ashamed of yourself for allowing such an article to appear in your publication, and also the method to get around the laws of the United States.

LAMILITE THE BEST INSULATOR AVAILABLE

I have stated that Lamilite is without question the best insulator ever created for use in sleeping bags, outerwear, hand wear, footwear or any other apparel item you can think of. It not only works better at retaining body heat than any other form of insulation presently being used by all other manufacturers, but it also does it when it is wet, actually soaked.
In 1986 when I started using the Lamilite I knew it was the best insulator I had ever used, however, I didn’t know how it would work when wet. Today I know how well it works because of the many thousands of customers who have purchased my products. I have reprinted a number of letters extolling its ability to perform in wet conditions. I have hundreds more on file that has not been printed. Lamilite’s ability to perform when wet is the primary reason people write to me. It is because of the reports from my many customers that I know how well it works.
The following story I believe would never have been written if the people involved had any other brand of sleeping bag regardless of the insulation in them.

LETTERS

September 17th, 2003

Jerry,
Well, I never thought I’d be writing a letter and thanking you for saving my life, but well, that’s just what this note is for. I went on a caribou hunting trip with my twelve year old son over the past weekend, flying out on Friday to a remote wilderness area about two hundred miles from Anchorage, Alaska. We were in a PA-18 Supercub floatplane. On Sunday afternoon, during the takeoff roll the aircraft flipped and went inverted, literally upside down and partially buried in the bottom of the lake. At the time the winds were probably 10 to 15 mph, with some occasional gusts higher than that. After the accident they increased continuously over the next several hours. By nightfall they were gusting to at least 40. The temperatures were in the fifties, but were dropping rapidly. The sky was clear, and the terrain was flat and open without any trees.
When we flipped we, and everything we owned, were instantly soaked. Totally—submerged in fact. My son and I were wearing inflatable CO2 survival vests, and synthetic clothing with hip boots--all typical attire for Alaskan bush flying. After we successfully extracted ourselves from the upside down airplane, I took the time to get as much stuff out of it as I could. I wanted my Wiggy's sleeping bags, as I knew if we had any chance to survive they would be key. It took me 30 minutes to get them—I had to cut a hole into the part of the aircraft that was still out of the water and push them forward where I could swim down and grab them from inside. We both had the Super Light FTRSS bags, in their stuff sacks. They were drenched; literally, the pressure from being held that long under water had been enough to soak them pretty thoroughly. Still, they were the only things we had. I tried to find the tent without success, and finally gave up looking for it.
We swam to shore, and my son and I were both hypothermic, him more so than me. We dove behind some small bushes, which was the only visible cover within miles. The bushes didn't completely block the wind, but they helped a lot. The ground was boggy, and wet, but to go to higher ground would have exposed us to the full force of the wind. There was no firewood or any other large trees—just miles of rolling tundra typical of caribou habitat. The picture I've attached captures the bleakness of the place pretty well I think. It was taken 24 hours after the accident. Anyway, after we got to shore the real survival had just begun. My son wasn't talking much at this point, and I knew his situation was more desperate than mine. Since we were both shivering so badly we were losing coordination, I recognized the symptoms of hypothermia and took the only action open to me. Like something out of a survival manual we stripped off the wet clothing and got into one of your sleeping bags. I would have mated them together but I was too cold to try and change the zippers, so we just unzipped one partially and crammed into it (mine is a wide model) and I covered us up with the other bag. We shivered together for twenty minutes or so, behind those little bushes, and unbelievably, we warmed up in that wet bag. With the temps dropping and the wind whipping the prospects were ugly. I was really amazed how that bag was holding in our heat, what little we could generate, even though it was totally soaked and was sitting on wet, boggy ground.
I had an Iridium Satellite Phone with me, but it had gotten wet and wasn’t working. I had it in a watertight bag, but during the impact something had ripped a tear into it. I laid it out on a clump of grass to dry, praying it might work later after the wind had blow on it for a while. Knowing we needed something warm inside of us, I left my son in the bag and threw on some rain gear I had salvaged, and then ran around the shore and picked up some more stuff that had washed ashore. I hung what clothing I could find on the bushes, so that it could begin to dry in the wind as well. The gear I found included the dry bag with my small stove, along with a metal bowl, and some of our food bags. I started shaking again—as the sun was going down and getting low in the horizon the temperature went into the forties, and with the wind chill it was just unbelievably cold. I started shaking again too bad to continue gathering stuff, so I went back to my Wiggy’s bag and got inside. This time I just grabbed my son’s bag (he was still in mine) and jumped inside. I warmed up in minutes---it was the only “shelter” we had and it felt so good it's hard to describe. I stayed in the sleeping bag this time. I had found two of our foam pads during my search and put one under my son and the other under me, which got us out of the bog at least and made an improvement in the situation. What was strange was the sleeping bags were drying in the wind, even as we were inside them. The moisture was wicking out of them, and they seemed to get better and better and warmer at the same time. From the sleeping bag I lit off the stove and boiled some lake water and made us two cups of hot cocoa. It tasted so good! After drinking it I was thinking more clearly, and remembered I had a spare battery for the Sat phone in my survival vest. I got it out, and put it in the phone and this time it worked.
I made the call I needed to make, and luckily I had passed the GPS coordinates of our campsite to my wife the night before. She still had them. After that, we just huddled in the sleeping bags and stayed warm, in spite of the dropping temperatures and high winds. I figured with less than an hour left of daylight we would probably have to spend the night, but luckily, an Alaskan State trooper flew out to us before the sun went down. With some red pen gun flares I had in my vest and the GPS coordinates he was able to locate us without any searching. The subsequent ride out of there in his floatplane was the best flight I’ve ever had. That night the temperatures plummeted into the 20's.
Wiggy, thanks! Plain and simple, you make an incredible sleeping bag. It works, and does what you say it does, and more. For me, and for my son, we are alive today because your product insulates, even when wet. If I had brought my down bag instead, I would never have made it. So, I thank you personally, and appreciate your sleeping bags in a way few others will ever know. Every single one of your employees should take pride in the work they do, and the efforts they make. All of you have my gratitude.

With my sincerest thanks,
John C. Dieffenderfer


“Intellectual freedom cannot exist without political freedom;
political freedom cannot exist without economic freedom;
a free mind and a free market are corollaries.”
--AYN RAND

Wiggy's Signature

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