Waxed canvas, as we know it today, traces its roots to the sailing industry of mid-19th century England and Scotland. Sailors found that their sails performed more effectively when wet, but wet sails, in turn, generated too much weight to be efficient. To solve this problem, sail makers discovered that the application of linseed oil to flax (linen) sail cloth fabric could create a similar effectiveness, while limiting additional weight. As an added bonus, the linseed oil created a waterproof sail that stayed dry and light in wet weather. Sailors took notice of the waterproofing effect of these sails, and soon began to waterproof their cotton clothing and capes in similar fashion, even using sail scraps to fashion their garb.
Unfortunately, linseed oil proved to be a less than desirable waterproofing agent, as the oiled clothing and capes were heavy, stiff, and turned a yellow hue over time. To remedy these issues, linseed oil was replaced with paraffin wax, and traditional waxed canvas material was born. Paraffin waxed canvas provided a much lighter, flexible, breathable, and waterproof fabric than ever before. As an added styling bonus, paraffin waxed canvas also did not "yellow" with age. Over time, waxed canvas manufacturing refinements allowed the material to solidify its rightful place in rain-wear, military garb, and a variety of outdoorsman products due to its ability to stand up to the elements and remain durable.
Today, waxed cotton canvas can be found in a variety of consumer products including jackets, travel bags, and backpacks; however, due to the endless variety of canvas weights, dyes, and wax application processes, it is difficult for a consumer to know and understand the quality of the waxed canvas used to manufacture the goods.
At Duckworthy, we use 10.10oz weight "army duck" waxed canvas as the primary fabric material for our products. The term "duck" hails from the Dutch word (doek) for linen canvas and refers to, more specifically, a type of tightly woven cotton canvas that is tougher and more resistant to tearing than standard canvas fabrics. When the duck canvas fibers are impregnated with wax, the canvas becomes completely waterproof, and even more capable of withstanding the harshest of environments with the longest of lifespans. What's more, properly dyed and waxed duck canvas patinas tastefully over time, thereby maintaining its classic appearance even after a lifetime of use. In this regard, duck waxed canvas is superior to other technical fabric choices, and has been deemed worthy of being the go-to naturally waterproof and durable fabric of sailors, militaries, adventurers, and explorers for millennia.
Because of its superiority, it only makes sense that we would use duck waxed canvas in our products. Few products today are rugged enough, capable enough, and refined enough to consider themselves duck canvas worthy or, as we say, Duckworthy.