• Leon Pantenburg | Survival Common Sense


Best cold weather sleeping bag? Gear review: Wiggy’s Thule

600 300 Survival Common Sense Blog | Emergency Preparedness

I bought this bag several years ago, and received no compensation for writing this review. At the time of publication, Wiggy’s is not an advertiser on SurvivalCommonSense.com.

A reliable sleeping bag is a survival tool, and a faulty one can be dangerous. Here’s what I learned about Wiggy’s sleeping bags.

by Leon Pantenburg

My garage looks like a used outdoor gear store, with backpacks, skiis,  snow shoes, boots and camping stuff in most available crannies. My sleeping bag collection used to be pretty extensive, with probably well over a dozen or so in stock. (Over the years, as my kids have left the nest, I have donated surplus bags to the local Community Center. My inventory is down to a more reasonable level now!)

The Wiggy's Ultima Thule has become my favorite sleeping bag.

The Wiggy’s Ultima Thule has become my favorite sleeping bag.

When my family of five used to go camping together, everyone needed a good bag. Then, when my sons got into Boy Scouts, we were always going somewhere, and camping in all sorts of weather. I experimented with all sorts of sleeping bag styles, weights, insulation and shell material.

While I found a few bags I liked well, at some point, the insulation always deteriorated. When they got to a certain point, they were relegated to loaners. I generally could plan on a zero- rated bag lasting about two or three years.

About three years ago, on the suggestion of survival expert Peter Kummerfeldt,  I took a look at a Wiggy’s sleeping bag.

Several things pre-disposed me to consider buying a Wiggy’s bag:

Made in America: The Wiggy’s factory is located in Junction City, Colorado. Today, all other major sleeping bag manufacturers have moved overseas, and Wiggy’s is the sole American sleeping bag factory.

Lifetime guarantee: Any Wiggy’s bag comes with a no questions asked guarantee.

Machine washable: The cost of cleaning a sleeping bag must be amortized into the purchase price. I’ve seen some sleeping bags come home from scout summer camp that had little hope of ever being really clean again. But Wiggy’s recommends their bags be machine washed after every use.

Lamilite insulation: Lamilite is synthetic, polyester fiber. Wiggy’s brand sleeping bags are the only bags purchased by all branches of the U.S. military, according to the website. The Air Force uses them in their fighters and transports. The Navy uses them on all four and 12-man survival rafts. The Army has them on aircraft and helicopters and the Marines on transports.

This Wiggy's Thule works very well in extreme cold.

This Wiggy’s Thule works very well in extreme cold.

I ordered a Wiggy’s Thule, and it has become my go-to sleeping bag. After using it for several seasons, here is what I’ve learned about the product.

  • The bag is very comfortable to sleep in. I’m five-foot, ten-inches tall and weight 183. The bag fits me very well. There are other sizes for bigger people.My five-foot, six-inch tall wife fits very comfortably in the standard Thule.
  • The Thule came with a pillow that fits perfectly inside the hood. One of the worst things about sleeping in a mummy bag is that most don’t work very well with a pillow inside.  The Wiggy’s pillow/sleeping bag combination is incredibly effective, and I never wake up  because my head slides off the pillow.
  • The zipper is well-designed and easy to use. A quality zipper is critical to sleeping bag efficiency and safety. A jammed zipper in the down position can reduce or eliminate completely the insulating value of the bag. A jammed zipper in the up position could mean you’re trapped in the bag.

After my initial field testing post, I got these unsolicited comments from Bardy Jones, a scoutmaster from Pelham, New York:

“Not sure if Wiggy’s hates me or will love me. Hate me because I am such a bad customer: Love me because why I am.

“I started a kayak tour company in 1988 and because I had bought bags from Jerry Wigutow’s previous company, I ordered 12 Wiggy’s 20 degree bags. Twenty years of use, 10 trips a year at least, washed after every trip = at least 200 washes and about 4,000 stuffing into compression stuff sacks. Makes me tired to think about it, usually my last packing task. The only damage to ANY of these bags is from a too-hot dryer that scalded the nylon off part of a bag. Most of the time they were line dried. They look used, which is fair, (sun from the line drying a part) and I thought about replacing just for a fresh look, but decided they did the job perfectly well.

“Every zipper works great, loft is better than new, the bags are awesome. I feel guilty to have been a one-time customer of Wiggy’s, but when you make a lifetime product, you only need one.” – Bardy Jones

In the final analysis, I really like the Wiggy’s Thule. For the type of winter camping I do in Central Oregon, it meets all my needs and then some. The Tule might be a little heavy for a backpacking bag, but on the other hand, it is just what you need for cold weather camping under most circumstances. The ability to launder the bag, and the cost saving from that  can’t be underestimated.

But as frequently happens, when I get a piece of good gear, I generally get pre-emptied by family members.  The Thule has also become my wife’s favorite sleeping bag, and when we go out together, I end up with another bag.

I’m fine with that, though, and budget permitting, there will be another Thule in the family by the time summer camping rolls around.

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    Leon, it takes a real man to give a fair and positive review of a product after having previously been read the riot act by the product’s developer; I commend you on your character and integrity. It is no coincidence that you are a leader and a mentor- job well done. And, yeah, Wiggys makes good bags.

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