Vintage Waxed Canvas Backpacks

laptop backpack Builford laptop backpack

What in the world is waxed canvas?

That’s what I thought the first time I heard about it. I was surprised to discover it seemed to be its own large niche in fashion bags, because I’ve never heard of such a thing. If I could have imagined it, I’d maybe think of a thick, waxy material, maybe a little slick or sticky.

But then, presented with Builford waxed canvas backpacks, I had trouble reconciling that first thought with the smooth material of the bag. I still, honestly, have trouble reconciling the two images. “Waxed canvas” is the technique of – well, waxing canvas textiles. It’s a process that’s been used for about a hundred years, originating in the industrial sector in America in the 1930s. At that point it was used for workers, laborers, outdoorsmen, and etc, because it was closer to the thick, inflexible material I expected when I first hear of the technique.

But these days, Builford has been working with the original makers, the Martexin family, to develop the material into fashion-worthy textiles.

That resolves the first question, but begs a second one: why do you need  waxed canvas backpacks?

There are numerous reasons. One of the reasons I like the waxed canvas is just the look and feel of it. As I mentioned, I was pleasantly surprised by the rugged smoothness, the way the material feels strong but flexible. The subtle grid pattern and the natural aging of the material makes it feel very vintage, with a mix of class and roughness. It fits my natural style really well.

The Builford waxed canvas backpacks in particular pair the waxed canvas with premium cowhide leather, specially treated with oil to keep it moist and prevent drying and cracking. I thought the balance of waxed canvas and leather was really extraordinary in the Builford bags, and the designs manage to feel old-time and perfectly at home in the modern world, at the same time.

Another perk of waxed canvas backpacks is their durability. Because of the material’s origins, it’s meant to withstand a lot. The waxing process also naturally waterproofs the fabric, so all of Builford backpacks are waterproof. It’s amazing how much water can get around an umbrella during a hard rain, and I’ve been grateful more than once for this aspect of my Builford backpack.

Also, as the waxed canvas and leather wear together, they manage not to look rundown and beat up, but just more and more vintage, like a sepia photograph that still looks right at home on your wall. For my part, I think that’s pretty cool!