Waxed canvas is a tough, rugged material that’s been used for generations to make outdoor gear and clothing waterproof. It’s a natural fabric that requires some maintenance, but with the proper care and upkeep, your waxed canvas bag can last a lifetime.
The fabric starts out as a cotton canvas tarpaulin that’s coated in oil and beeswax. It’s this beeswax coating that makes the fabric water-resistant. It’s also the same beeswax that’s been used on ice chests, tents, and saddles to keep moisture out. This durable material is a must-have for any outdoorsman, whether they’re hiking in the backcountry or camping in the city.
A great feature of the waxed canvas material is that it naturally softens over time. However, the speed at which it softens depends on a few factors, including the amount of beeswax on the fabric and how often it’s exposed to moisture. If your waxed canvas bag is used regularly, it’s likely to start softening within a few months.
You can clean your waxed canvas bag by removing dirt and stains with a cloth or sponge. For more stubborn stains, try an absorbent cleaner such as corn starch. It’s a good idea to test any cleaner on a small area of your bag first to ensure it won’t damage or stain the fabric.
If you’re in a hurry to get your bag clean, we recommend using a lukewarm, soapy cloth and water to wipe down the surface of the bag. Then, you can use a dry cloth to wipe off any remaining soapy residue. Be careful not to use too much water, as this can weaken the canvas and cause it to crack or shatter.
Another important tip is to never wash your waxed canvas bag in the washing machine. The hot water and tumbling cycles will damage the fabric. Instead, let your bag air dry in a warm place, preferably overnight.
Keeping your bag in good condition requires regular maintenance, including re-waxing it as needed. You can use a traditional beeswax or a special wax treatment such as neatsfoot oil and sperm oil. When re-waxing your bag, apply the product with a cloth, working one section at a time and ensuring it’s evenly covered. You can check out this tutorial from Trakke for reproofing wet-finish waxed canvas, or check out this video from Fjallraven for reproofing dry-finish waxed canvas.
Both waxed canvas and leather have their advantages, but the decision comes down to personal preference and how you plan on using your bag. Leather is a bit stiffer, but it’s also stronger and holds up well to abrasions. A leather bag is also less prone to tears, and a small hole won’t make the whole bag fall apart like it would in canvas. Waxed canvas bags