-Wiggys, the Home of Lamilite

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Mr. Jerry Wigutow claims that his company is the largest manufacturer of sleeping bags in the United States. His bags and other products all use "Lamilite," a synthetic, for insulation. Wigutow is outspokenly negative about down insulation. His information-packed, lengthy website explains why. www.wiggys.com

Wigutow remembers that he's met some of the major pioneers of gear, including Gerry Cunningham, Roy and Alice Holubar, and Jack Stephenson of Warmlite. All three of these pioneers used down in their sleeping bags and other products. Wiggy is 81*, and so was younger than these other pioneers, but of these pioneers, only Jerry Wigutow is still living. He's been based in Grand Junction, Colorado for many years. I would love be able to post a picture of him from the 1970s, the time period when he began selling his lamilite sleeping bags. If anyone has a picture like that, please send it to me (brucej@Oregonphotos.com). (*81 as of 2023). My picture of him is fairly current.

George Lamb* has been a special friend of Wigutow. In fact, Wiggy's purchased the design of Lamb's "Antarctic Parka," and that product is still offered. I believe Wiggy's purchased other designs related to the sleeping bags. (* Lamb started Alp Sport, then was involved with Alpine Designs, and finally ran Camp 7; all three companies sold excellent gear that was rated highly by such sources as Backpacker Magazine). See my page: Alp-Sport1.html

Below is a picture of three sleeping bags: a Holubar "Royalight" down bag with 8.5" of loft and rated to 20 below zero F. I've talked to an ex-employee who described to me sleeping inside a frozen meat locker in Boulder, Colorado. A very unusual job duty, but one which Alice Holubar insisted upon.
The center bag is a Wiggys "Superlight" lamilite bag, which has about 4.5" of loft. On their website, Wiggys rates it to 0 degrees F. Mr. Wigutow generously gave me this bag to test out. It is covered with a very lightweight ripstop nylon, has a spacious cut, and is well-made.
The bottom bag is a North Face down bag named the "Chrysalis," rated by them to 25 degrees. It measures 4.5" of loft according to my ruler. Re: the Wiggys Superlight, I have never tried to sleep in it anywhere close to its rated 0 degrees F. In fact, I am dubious of that claim.

In the history of gear, sleeping bags have always been a major product. Many companies have had their design innovations and preferences.
Alice Holubar created in the mid-late-1950s what my research concludes is the first truly backpack-able sleeping bag. Lightweight, filled with down, and compactable enough to be backpacked into the wilderness while capable of keeping the sleeper warm into late Fall and winter conditions. Eddie Bauer's bags were close, but in my opinion not as technically advanced. The Holubar bag shown above was sewn in 1964 and still in fine shape.

Loft vs. temperature ratings have always been a subject of great interest to the buyers/users of sleeping bags, whether filled with down insulation or synthetic insulations.
Above is a chart developed by major maker Sierra Designs. It's taken from their 72-73 winter catalog. To Sierra Designs a winter bag good to 5 above zero requires 8-9 inches of loft, as in their model 200.

The Warmlite Triple bag (picture below) incorporates several really big innovations. Jack Stephenson was an aerospace engineer and was not afraid to throw out old ways of doing things.

Dry down is essential, this fact is well-known: In the big picture, there have been three approaches to the issue: 1. Ignore that consideration. 2. Throw out down entirely in favor of synthetics such a Polarguard or Lamilite. 3. Use vapor barriers inside your down bag to keep your body's insensible perspiration out of the down, and, when necessary, add a waterproof top to keep exterior moisture from wetting your down from above; eg. Frost falling from the roof of ones tent. See the Warmlite SSS bag (Super Silver Sleeper).

Gerry Cunningham's sleeping bags were of standard construction: a breatheable nylon shell and interior, and for insulation filled with goose down. Sierra Designs, North Face, REI and others all used the same basic formula. With the advent of Goretex in the late 1970s, some companies began to use it for the sleeping bag exteriors. However, this did not fix the issue of the large amount of water vapor that the human body gives off constantly. Especially under extreme cold conditions the body vapor would travel halfway through the down shell then freeze, then the frost would get thicker each night you were out, thus stealing much of the bag's warmth. Some companies added synthetic insulations to their product lines (eg. Polarguard) because those type of fibers were easier to dry off than down once the frost problem would begin. But those sleeping bags were quite bulky and heavier than comparable down bags.
As bag design entered the 2000s, various other synthetic fillings entered the competition, each claiming special qualities; eg. "softer and more comfortable." Meanwhile, Wigutow's Lamilite had been in Wiggy's sleeping bags since 1975. The Wiggy's website has extensive content about how Lamilite remains the best in Wigutow's opinion.



The picture (below) shows a Stephensons Warmlite "Triple Bag," their signature bag model. It comes with two separate zip-on-zip-off down tops; when used with both tops it's rated to about 30 below zero. I formerly owned a Warmlite Triple Bag myself. Below: a Warmlite "Triple" down bag with Red Top, Blue top, gray vapor barrier liner....The yellow object is the DAM-- it's a 4 inch thick "down-filled-air-mattress."

.Jack Stephenson, founder of Warmlite, was an aerospace engineer who was an Innovator totally ready to throw out conventional wisdom about how to keep warm in a sleeping bag. Jerry Wigutow knew Jack. Above is a picture of a Warmlite "Triple Bag," Warmlite's best-known bag. It was introduced in about 1972, about the same time Wigutow introduced his lamilite bags. However, unlike Wiggys, Warmlite uses down in its very unique design.


User comments about the Wiggy's Superlight bag pictured at top of this page:

The Wiggy's bag has a roomy cut, which I like. The interior has a nice drape despite it not being a non-differential down bag like the blue Holubar bag. I do not like the hood very much; here the lamilite has trouble cuddling close to your face, not a problem when temps are warm, but when temps approach its rated zero degrees F it doesn't block out the frigid air very well. A collar would help a lot. Lacking that, when it's really cold, wear a good stocking cap and a sweater or stout turtleneck.

In my opinion, Wiggy's bags are excellent for use where their substantial bulk is not an issue. Examples include horse packing, river trips, car camping, backyard camping (!), boat camping, Vanlife,and more. For backpacking; however, the Wiggy's bags are far too bulky; I had a similar issue with the Warmlite Triple bag that I once owned. Below is a picture of me trying to stuff that Wiggys Superlight bag into its stuff sack (I gave up on it!):


Link back to Alphabetized List of Gear Pioneers

Link to my pages about Gerry Cunningham

Link to my pages about Holubar Mountaineering

Link to my pages about Warmlite and its founder Jack Stephenson


Page Last Revised: August 25, 2023