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Goodbye, Gore-Tex? Waxed Canvas Is Durable, Water-Resistant Alternative

waxed canvas
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Canvas treated with wax looks great and can keep you dry. Not to mention it lasts just about forever. The jackets and packs in this list serve as alternatives to more technical, waterproof outerwear.

Waterproof-breathable membranes, like Gore-Tex and Polartec NeoShell, have permeated into the mainstream. And while the highly technical apparel functions brilliantly for mountaineering, skiing, or other epic functions, it’s often overkill for wearing around town or at camp. Technical outerwear also screams, “I just got off the mountain!”

On the other hand, canvas is an ultradurable material, usually made with cotton, that forms a water-repellent surface when coated in wax. Water on waxed canvas beads right off.

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Plus, waxed canvas looks great rain or shine and will work fine commuting to work, trudging from building to building downtown, or sipping brews around the campfire. Not to mention it was the go-to material for old-school forestry workers in the Pacific Northwest.

One of our contributors tested a commuter pack in waxed canvas for 9 months. He never found a drop inside. Another used a pair of Filson Tin Cloth Chaps for 37 years. They held up the whole time.

My favorite part about waxed canvas? The patina-esque look that forms after years, or even months, of wear. The creases and folds grow each time you wear the garment. So nobody will have the same creases or patina you do — because you’re unique (awww).

A lot of the garments and gear listed below have a break-in period. But after you break it in, the gear should reflect your body perfectly because it’s essentially molded to your shape.

And best of all, the canvas is extremely durable. Don’t worry about sharp corners or prickly branches anymore. Just don’t forget to re-wax your gear every so often.

Stay Dry With Wax: Cotton, Canvas, Leather

Filson Cover Cloth Bomber Jacket

Filson Cover Cloth Bomber Jacket

Filson turned to flight jackets of yesteryear for inspiration in its Cover Cloth Bomber Jacket. This piece uses Filson’s lightest waxed canvas, 8 ounces, and intends the jacket for use in warmer weather to block rain, snow, and wind. To top it off, this minimal jacket uses wool in its cuffs, hem, and collar for an extra bit of style and comfort.

Flint and Tinder Flannel-lined Waxed Trucker Jacket

Flint and Tinder Flannel-lined Waxed Trucker Jacket

Flint and Tinder, Huckberry’s in-house outdoor lifestyle brand, crafts the Flannel-lined Waxed Trucker Jacket with 7-ounce sailcloth, which doesn’t feel as stiff as other canvas materials. Plus, with a flannel lining, this might be one of the comfier waxed jackets out there. I’ve worn one through the winter and attest to the durability of this piece — I imagine it will last for years.

Fjällräven Greenland Zip Backpack

Fjällräven Greenland Zip Backpack
Photo by Adam Ruggiero

Fjällräven’s cornerstone fabric, G-1000, is used across most of its products for durability. It’s a densely woven polyester and cotton blend used in conjunction with the brand’s Greenland Wax for natural weather protection. The Greenland Zip launched last year as an alternative to the brand’s popular Kanken.

I own the Greenland Zip, and it wears comfortably. I’ve also noticed it develops a slight patina after use, which adds to the character of this pack.

Duluth Pack Roll-Top Scout Backpack

Duluth Pack Roll-Top Scout Backpack

Duluth Pack stretches beyond typical tan-colored wax canvas with new wax colors: Olive, Khaki, and Grey. The brand, made in Duluth, Minn., introduces the colors on its canvas packs and gear, like the Roll-Top Scout.

This 15-ounce canvas pack combines leather and nylon grab handles in a simple pack that should last for years, if not decades, and accrue a “better-with-age” aesthetic.

 Give’r 4 Season Glove with Wax Coating

waxed leather: giver gloves

Wax isn’t exclusive to cotton. The Give’r 4-Season gloves, or any leather glove for that matter, can take a wax finish for extra weather protection. The Give’r gloves are intended for burlier tasks — like grabbing a burning log out of a fire, or ice fishing when it’s below zero.

Give’r also makes the glove in an uninsulated version.

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