Waxed canvas is a tough, waterproof material that can hold up to hard use. It’s used to make rugged gear like flak jackets and expedition backpacks, and it’s also increasingly popular in fashion to make bags, wallets, and other accessories. It’s easy to clean, and scuffs and marks don’t make it look dirty, they add character. A good waxed canvas bag will last decades, if you treat it right.
Waxed cloth doesn’t breathe as well as Gore-Tex, so it can get stuffy and sweaty under heavy loads. But if you don’t mind that extra weight, it’s a great alternative for outdoor enthusiasts and anyone else who wants a durable, weatherproof bag that looks better as it ages.
The best waxed canvas bags are made by companies who love the fabric and want to bring it to a wider audience. One such company is Winter Session, a husband-and-wife team who design and manufacture all sorts of waxed canvas gear. Their flagship pack, the Bucktown Backpack, is a modern take on the old-timey canvas backpack. It uses a 14oz TexWax original waxed canvas and features thick straps with metal ladder lock clamps, YKK water-repellent zippers, a large external pocket that holds a 32oz Nalgene bottle, and a padded laptop compartment that can accommodate up to a 16” MacBook Pro.
While the bag is designed to carry a heavy load, it doesn’t feel too big or bulky. It has plenty of pockets for organization, including a zippered front pocket, a pocket with a key clip, and an interior sleeve that can fit a 13″ laptop. A padded backpanel keeps the pack comfortable on your shoulders, even when loaded.
If you do need to wash your bag, it’s best to spot clean it with a damp cloth. Don’t put it in the washing machine, though, as the hot water and tumbling can damage the fabric. Once the bag is clean, you can re-wax it.
Re-waxing is relatively simple, but you should only do it on an as-needed basis. The coating on your bag will start to thin over time, and the more you use it, the more often it will need re-waxing.
You can buy re-waxing kits that contain everything you need to do the job. These kits usually include a tin of wax, a lint roller, and a hair dryer or heat gun. You’ll need to warm the wax slightly before you apply it to your bag, so that it’s mushy and spreadable. You can do this by setting the tin on a hot vent for a minute or so, or by placing it over a blow dryer set to low.
As you re-wax the bag, work carefully around any seams, lash tabs, and other specialized parts of the design. Once you’ve covered the entire surface, let it dry overnight. You can accelerate the drying process by placing it on a heating vent, but you should be careful not to overheat the fabric, as this could shrink it. Waxed canvas bags