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Wiggy's Sleeping Bags

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INTEGRITY: Soundness of moral principle; the character of uncorrupted virtue; uprightness, sincerity.

The following discussion is about insulation.

When it comes to those in the civilian sector of our society who chose to provide products to our military they disregard their own integrity or they show a lack there of.

Why (?) because the civilians for the most part who are employed by the military to research and acquire various products do not necessarily have the basic knowledge of what it takes to make the products in question. In addition the civilians in the private sector who are the manufacturers of sleeping bags (an insulated product) do not have any more knowledge than those whom they want to sell product too, which includes the military and the non-military consumer markets. Each party, the civilians working for the military as well as the civilians who want to sell the military are morally bankrupt.

In February 2007 an RFI (request for information) was published by Natick Laboratories wanting to know if a sleeping bag could be made that had the following salient characteristics; weight 2.3 pounds, compact to approximately 500 to 600 cubic inches, perform at +20 F, be able to go through 20 launderings without being destroyed (my words), and have lots of resilience; ideally.

Since this is only an RFI I was able to have a one to one communication with the points of contact. If it were a bid all questions would be accumulated and answered at one time for all interested parties to see. It was noted in the RFI that the current issue sleeping bag system that the Army is fielding as well as the Marines wasn’t adequate and they wanted a new one to replace it. The dialog which I initiated is some what redundant, but since people at Natick change from year to year I find I have to start all over. The new people went to the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show and spoke too people who produce sleeping bags in Asia and fabric manufacturers in an effort to discover if what they were looking for could be made. In two instances two men were given audience at Quantico Virginia Marine Base. In one case the company represented does not make any sleeping bags and in the second case the company does have a U.S. factory but seldom uses it and prefers to get all production from China. Wiggy’s is the only production facility in the U.S.A. producing sleeping bags daily and is the single largest supplier to our military and guess what, these people never made contact with me. Of all the different sleeping bags issued to our armed forces whether made by a contractor, and designed by Natick or purchased on the open market from a variety of brands, only one brand has never been a problem; WIGGY’S BAGS. In addition Wiggy’s is the only one made in the U.S.A. I get orders all the time from individual soldiers who have a buddy who was issued a Wiggy’s bag when they weren’t. The reason is simple; the soldiers issued Wiggy’s are sleeping because they are warm and those with the Government Issue bags (?) or the other brands of supposed sleeping bags (?) are not sleeping because they are cold. People do not sleep when they are cold, even soldiers.

The problem is, has been, and always will be for the companies who chose to offer an insulated product to the overall market place, to include the military is their lack of knowledge of insulation among other things, those other things being the proper shell and lining fabric, construction and proper sizing necessary to assist the insulation in performing better. If the lining material is not easily vapor permeable it will inhibit the flow of vapor, air laden with moisture to get out of the cavity of the sleeping bag and by virtue of the moisture being trapped in the sleeping bag it, the moisture will absorb the heat of the body which in turn causes the insulation to perform poorly. A second fact that is not considered is where the moisture eventually goes, into the clothing that is being worn by the person inside the sleeping bag which is what the Marine RFI wants the Marines to wear when the temperature is as low as +20 F. In addition the RFI asks that the Marine be able to stay comfy in the sleeping bag with additional clothing when the temperature drops to 0 F. With all the additional clothing the chances of the moisture escaping are further reduced to zero and now the Marine is in real danger of entering a hypothermic state. The sizing of the sleeping bag must also be considered, if the sleeping bag is cut to small when you are in the bag wearing clothing the chances are definite that the insulation thickness will be reduced by your body mass and you definitely will not sleep. How can you perform especially in a combat zone without needed rest, you can’t for very long.

I have advised the writers of the RFI that I have tried to make a sleeping bag that would perform at +20 F, basically the same weight as they want, unsuccessfully. It failed for all of the noted reasons. I know every other company that believes they make sleeping bags has failed to accomplish what the Marines are interested in acquiring. We know this because it does not exist. Where is the integrity of those who want to satisfy this Marine Corps need? It does not exist and they are morally bankrupt as well. These people are at this moment trying to accomplish the impossible rather than standing up to the RFI authors and telling them; I am sorry but it can’t be done. They are also spineless.
In all of the years I have tried to work with the civilian employees at Natick Labs I have been courteous to them and patiently listened to their objections, and all I had done was shake my head and say “they are obstructionists and really don’t want to solve the problem.” If the did solve the problem they would be out of a job.

As I stated at the outset this is an article about INSULATION. I have written volumes on the subject but a review is necessary from time to time. The two following articles have been on my web site recently in the “follow up articles section.” Both were sent to the points of contact so they could if that is possible learn something about insulation.
In the article titled “Clo Value” I note the clo calculation, not value, they want to accomplish of 5.3 to 6.0. According to the KSU graph “predicting temperature ratings for sleeping bags” the temperature for a 4 hour survival period equaling the clo calculations would be between 29.6 and 17.1 degrees F. These temperatures are predictions at best and take into consideration the wearing of clothing. It does not account for the retention of moisture in the clothing etc. Trying to make them aware of these variables is almost literally an impossible task.

In the second article titled “Technical Data” I have written what I would have presented to them had I chosen to offer a sleeping bag for their review. I chose not to offer a bag based on my knowledge that what they want can not be accomplished. The writers of the RFI do not understand and chose not to understand that the most important component of a sleeping bag is the insulation. They do not want to accept how much insulation is necessary to retain the body produced heat in order for an individual to stay warm, and sleep. They simply do not recognize the importance of the required insulation necessary to retain body heat that will drive the moisture in the sleeping bag out. They do not recognize the need for the lining and shell material not stifling the moisture flow out of the bag. They chose to continue to use a flawed method of determining a temperature rating of a sleeping bag, machines are not humans and can not tell you anything, such as I am or I am not warm.

Why you might ask is “what is wrong with these people” for not accepting tried and proven information?Knowledge frightens them. If they accepted the tried and proven information I have been presenting to them they would be out of a job. The insulating medium I use and have used for 40 years and the method of manufacturing I have employed even longer has not changed. Literally every other sleeping bag manufacturer has been trying to make a sleeping bag that works trying every form of material touted as insulation without any success. These Natick people continue to look to all of these companies even though not a one makes product in the U.S.A. The Natick people are what I call “obstructionists” because they work at keeping performing products as best they can out of the military, or at least in the textile area. They have no concern for the troops, grunts, soldiers; call them what you may; of all branches of military service; they only have a concern for their jobs and budgets. The longer they can delay recognizing what works and instead produce failure they will be rewarded with more R&D money and therefore keep their jobs.
The absolute losers are the soldiers because they do not get issued to them the best sleeping bags our tax dollars can buy. Also we the tax payers are the ones burdened with continuing to fund the failure. The failure to accept continuous filament fiber as the absolute best insulating medium has gone on since 1968. The failure to accept the lamination of the fiber to make it usable to its maximum advantage has gone on since 1968. The money savings in R&D as well as product that has continually failed, hence the need for more R&D, would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. As an example, one company received I believe two contracts to develop a down alternative, cost to the tax payers I believe $750,000.00. Totally unnecessary expense, however this trash material is now being specified in cold weather clothing that will not perform in the field in cold weather. 

There is a program called Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR). A small company is being paid probably $50,000.00 (a guess) to study the differences between insulations and determine which is best. The company is being paid by the Marine Corps. The people in the employ of the company do not know proper testing methods as a start and once they get their results haven’t a clue as to how the materials should be used.

What we have is the blind leading the blind.

As I said I have not nor will I offer a product that will perform batter than any other candidate but still not accomplish what the RFI is looking for. However, I have told them when they have exhausted all possibilities I will still be around making the best sleeping bags in the world. The bag I make that will meet all of their needs is the Ultra Light.

This will be the last newsletter mailed. I have been posting them on the web site for quite awhile and it is more cost effective for Wiggy’s to continue posting them. There is also the “Follow up Articles” section that I place articles on frequently. For those of you who want to continue receiving the newsletter in the mail I will have to charge $50.00 per year.


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