Conditioning canvas packs
Before using your One Planet canvas pack it should be conditioned to maximise its weatherproofing. Simply wet your pack thoroughly and allow it to dry, then repeat the process. Hey presto: your pack is ready for action!
The canvas used in our rucksacks is highly water resistant; it won’t let rain through. But to make it into packs, we put stitch holes all through it, with double rows used on all the seams. However, both canvas and thread have polyester cores wrapped in spun cotton: this provides strength as well as water-resistance as the cotton swells when wet, filling any gaps. The process of conditioning a rucksack causes the stitches and the fabric around them to expand and contract, closing any remaining gaps.
First, give your rucksack a good shake: you’ll be amazed at the bits and pieces you’ve been carrying around! Then brush off any excess dirt with a soft-bristled brush. Put the pack and a natural, mild, non-detergent soap in the bath, cover it with warm–hot water and leave it to soak for some time. Brush the pack to remove any residual dirt. Rinse the pack until the water runs clear – it may take a while…
Once the pack is clean, hang it on the clothes line to dry. Drying time will depend on the weather: it may take several hours in summer, or a day or two in winter. Lubricate zips with a silicon lubricant suitable for use on fabrics.
Be careful not to twist or push heavily on the pack as this may damage the aluminum frames.
Mould is a living organism and needs to be killed: sunlight and antiseptic will both work. Start by soaking the product with a diluted solution of an antiseptic (follow instructions on the bottle), then gently scrub the pack with a nail brush (or similar) to ensure all seams around the mould are soaked by the solution. Rinse the pack until it is clean. (Plain white vinegar may be added to the rinse water as it inhibits the return of mould.) Hang the pack in an airy place to dry. If the weather is agreeable and it’s not too hot, leaving the pack in the sun will finish the process nicely.
For those who live in a humid climate where it is hard to prevent mould, investigate storing your pack with Silica or a similar product. Don’t store your pack on concrete. It is better to keep your pack in a cardboard box with air holes in a well-ventilated place than on the floor in the shed.
Store your pack in a cool, dry place away from rodents. Never keep it near concrete as the moisture and chemicals in concrete can damage nylon. Any nearby fuel should be kept in a fuel-safe container as otherwise it may damage the fabric. (Although if there is a naked flame around, this will be the least of your worries!) If you live in a humid climate, read the section on mould as well!