Waxed canvas is making a comeback, and for good reason. The sturdy fabric is saturated with wax to create a water-resistant exterior, and it’s a rugged material that’s ideal for use on outdoor gear. In the hands of a skilled craftsman, it looks beautiful and even better with age — much like a well-worn leather jacket or briefcase. Unlike most other fabrics, however, waxed canvas doesn’t stain easily, and the marks and scuffs that accumulate with everyday use look fashionable rather than dirty.
The best way to care for a waxed canvas bag is to spot clean it with a damp cloth, and re-wax it periodically. The process is simple: Heat a bar or tin of wax until it’s mushy, and apply it to your bag in long, even strokes. Pay special attention to the seams and lash tabs, and work around the hardware (if applicable). Let the bag dry completely before using it again.
Avoid ironing waxed canvas if at all possible. The fabric is thick and sturdy, and the high temperatures of an iron can melt or warp it. If a bag has been stored in extreme heat or cold, lay it out flat to help it re-wax and regain its shape. The same goes for storing your waxed canvas bag in direct sunlight, as the sun’s UV rays can weaken the fabric over time.
If your waxed canvas starts to look dull or sticky, it’s time to re-wax it. This is a simple process, and a small investment in your bag’s longevity. To start, use a blow dryer to warm up the wax until it’s soft and mushy. Apply the wax to your bag, and then allow it to dry thoroughly — overnight works well. You may need to re-wax your bag more frequently than other bags, depending on how much you use it.
A great place to start is with a classic weekender from Tom Beckbe, which combines the sportsman aesthetics of Filson and Orvis with an urban edge that’s perfect for business or leisure trips alike. The bag’s durable waxed army duck canvas is complemented by quality cowhide leather and basic cotton webbing, and its standard brass hardware makes it look as if it’s been put to the test for years. Available in field tan, navy and mod-green, it’s the kind of piece that gets better with every trip. In fact, we’d be hard-pressed to find another bag that comes close in terms of durability and style. Waxed canvas bags