It’s like going to a tailor, choosing a cut, a color and having a suit made to measure. The only difference is that in Liberec’s outdoor company, OutdoorKWAK, they will make a sleeping bag for customers upon request. And not just any. Here they also combined precise tailoring with a unique nanomaterial. The result is a sleeping bag that won’t blow, get wet, or heat up, and has the added benefit of containing only the finest goose down.
Although the company, which has a frog in its logo, has only been around for a year, the production of sleeping bags in Liberec has a tradition of almost 50 years. Jana Červenková first started sewing them for her friends, who then founded the company Alka in 1990. When she decided to quit sixteen years later, Eva Hrstková, then on maternity leave and who started sewing sleeping bags in the attic of a family home, buys him the cuts and the know-how.
“My limbs don’t bleed well, so my legs are always cold. That’s why my husband has called me a frog ever since we’ve known each other. When I came up with the name of our sleeping bag brand, it was a clear choice. And the ‘w’ is there because if you put the abbreviation KVAK in Google, Krnovské vodovody a kanalizace will find it for you”, reveals Eva Hrstková.
She was running her own business before David Pařízek joined her in 2019. Quite by chance. He was looking for someone to make him a sleeping bag. “I was amazed by her sleeping bag, it was made with great precision and I am a person who pays a lot of attention to detail. When I found out that Eva wanted to finish and go back to kindergarten after kindergarten , I convinced her that we were going to start a business and turn sewing into a business,” says David Pařízek, who moved to Liberec from Liberec.
Their meeting spun a carousel of change. From the attic of the family villa, the sewing workshop moved to a larger house in Vratislavice nad Nisou, orders began to increase, and so the seamstresses.
However, the uniqueness of local products lies not only in the precise processing, but also in the material. In cooperation with the Technical University of Liberec, the company joined the nanomembrane fabric manufacturer Nanomembrane, based in Svitavy, from which Alpine Pro sewed clothing for Czech athletes for the Winter Olympics this year, and is the only one in the country and in the world who can use this material to sew feather products. .
“Let’s start with the top layer. There we have polyamide 6, where there is a laminated nanomembrane on the inside and a DVR-C6 finish on top. This is the carbon footprint, i.e. how many carbon molecules are stacked on top of each other, creating such a column. And when we put several of them side by side, it looks like a waving brush under a microscope, on which a huge molecule of water and, in our oil moves in and prevents contact with the polyamide”, David Pařízek describes the properties of the fabric.
And the larger the number at the letter C, the greater the strength of the material. Most manufacturers use C0 or C3, while Kwak uses C6. And according to the company, there is a big difference, for example, between the Škoda 120 and the new Mercedes model.
“Our membrane has a vapor permeability of forty thousand millimeters and a water column of ten thousand millimeters. For example, a normal tent has seven thousand, an umbrella three to five thousand,” he notes. water column simply indicates how much water the product will last before it begins to seep in. And the nanomembrane also guarantees a ninety-nine percent chance that it will not explode.
The substance itself, although unique, is not enough. Content is also important. Kwak products guarantee that there is only goose down in their intestines. And the best.
“A lot of people think she’s allergic to feathers. But it’s an allergy to ammonia, not to the touch of feathers. And it’s usually from a duck, because unlike a goose, it usually stinks and plucks whole. Goose No. We only use the thoracic part, where the feathers are the finest, in the ratio of 95% to five. The five percent is a feather, or only part of its tip, and the rest is down,” says David Pařízek.
Other manufacturers often combine goose feathers with duck, which whitens chemically. The disadvantage is that when the feather product falls off a little, it feels more and can cause allergic reactions. That is why goose feathers are up to four times more expensive. Also, you need a different amount for each sleeping bag, depending on temperature, comfort, and size. The average is about seven hundred grams.
The fact that the Kwak brand is becoming more and more popular is also due to the fact that in the workshop in Wrocław they produce custom-made sleeping bags. “The client comes, he says what he has an idea, we measure it and we design exactly what he wants. We choose the colors, the shape. Our motto is that we create dreams”, notes the entrepreneur .
He also remembers the wish of one of the customers who wanted to have a domed sleeping bag on the left side for the knee. “She said she slept on her left with her knee bent. So she lay down on the floor and we measured her and sewed a sleeping bag with a bulging side. She was very satisfied.”
Otherwise, customers can choose from variations of a blanket or mummy sleeping bag, closed or more open type. Some feel anxious and want to increase foot space. And as each industry evolves, there is more and more information that sleeping bag manufacturers will benefit from.
“Perhaps today we already know that when a person sleeps, he emits a hundred watts of heat. This will allow us to know how much energy he consumes, how much water, humidity. And everything this helps us with the calculations. We also adjust the fit to a specific customer accordingly. It measures how much a person needs to heat up, how much energy they lose. We will calculate all of this and adapt the sleeping bag accordingly,” explains David Parizek.
They are able to produce a sleeping bag even in frosts of about sixty degrees, but it will be so bulky that the customer will hardly carry it in a backpack. The greatest interest is usually in sleeping bags for frosts around ten degrees. “We recently sewed one for a young woman who needed him in Altai at minus twenty-five degrees, but she also slept there at minus thirty-seven. He weighed one and a half kilograms. ”
In addition to sleeping bags, they also sew jackets, vests, gloves, slippers for sleeping bags in the workshop, as well as a special fabric insert covered with an aluminum layer. It is mainly used by firefighters against the heat, Kwak has it against the cold. It is inserted into the pocket of the foot part of the sleeping bag, since heat loss occurs mainly where sleepers generally press their feathers with their heels.
The company currently employs five people and its turnover is around four million crowns, but David Pařízek expects rapid growth. Interest is high and today’s orders must be postponed to June. A sleeping bag sews a seamstress for ten hours. That’s why they are currently looking for two more.
“Since we have a license for the fabric and no one else can sew it, it is clear that our production must be higher than it is today. This year we want to develop distribution even more, but we will choose carefully where to sell our sleeping bags, precisely because they are so specific and we don’t want to go in the direction of mass production,” he adds.
The uniqueness of sleeping bags is also emphasized by their price, the cheapest cost about six to seven thousand crowns, the most expensive sixteen thousand, children cost five thousand crowns. The feathers last ten years there before aging and losing their properties. This is why people should take care of their sleeping bags, according to Pařízek.
They should not tangle them in any way, but only squeeze them into the package. And only when they take them on a trip. When not in use, they should be stored lying down so that the material does not sag. “Otherwise, the sleeping bag suffers,” concludes David Pařízek.