What Is Waxed Canvas?

What Is Waxed Canvas?

One of the staple materials for products that we make here is waxed canvas.   We love waxed canvas for its robust history and its unique properties that make it a great choice in so many applications. 


Market Tote- Waxed Canvas (Red)

I have a special affinity for waxed canvas as my first experiences with it were in a surplus army tent perched on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.   This was our family tent growing up, and if I woke up to the smell and feel of the old green canvas tent, it meant I was in one of my favorite places on this planet. I cherish the countless mornings waking up in the dim green glow of the canvas,  tracing the patterns of the folds and creases evident in the wax canvas, getting the gumption to leave my warm sleeping bag to get ready for the adventures waiting for me.   

The tent was heavy and hard to set up, but it was reliable and comfortable even in the unpredictable weather of the Eastern Sierra, and it was our second home,  filled with the memories of our trips to the mountains.   

Our tent saw years of service (beyond whatever service the military used it for),  but eventually our family tent was replaced with lighter more efficient models,  and was retired into the rafters of the garage.  Despite the newfangledness of the technical gear that gets me and my family faster and farther in the wilderness,  nothing evokes nostalgia like our old waxed canvas tent.  

Small Ditty Bag- (Tall) Waxed Canvas Army Green

Waxed canvas has a long storied history.   It started as a way to make sails more efficient in the 15th century (although they were not yet using wax, but fish grease to impregnate the fabrics).  British Millerain developed a paraffin-based waxed cotton in the 1920s.  This paraffin based waxed cotton was the beginning of the fabrics we now know and love.   

The reality is that we now have synthetic materials that can outperform waxed canvas in most ways-except one...Soul.  These materials are just that “synthetic materials”, and come with all of the global disadvantages that are plaguing our planet.

Blackout Market Tote- Limited Edition

This does not mean that waxed canvas is obsolete.   It is a fantastic material for bag making,  and has all many of the same desirable traits that leather has.   It is extremely durable,   it gains a beautiful patina that tells the story of its travels through the creases and marks made through time and use.  I have a waxed canvas bag that was given to me by my family long before I began using the material in my work,  and it is still going strong, despite the years of use and abuse that I have subjected it to.  

I use Durawax waxed canvas from Sailrite in my bags.   I have found it to be the best choice at this point for my work.   You can learn more about this specific waxed canvas in the following links.  

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