Bushcraft: The Case for Canvas


By Darren Bush

A canvas lean-to can be warmed by an open campfire in chilly weather. Photo by Darren Bush.

In 1969, chemist Bill Gore took some polytetrafluoroethylene, heated it and stretched it, creating a membrane that had 14 million microscopic holes per square inch. The holes were large enough to let water molecules escape, but too small to let liquid water through. Waterproof breathable fabric was just around the corner, and Gore-Tex became the eponymous substance that made Bill Gore the richest man in Delaware.

Gore-Tex changed the outdoor industry, no doubt. The waxed cotton slickers that marinated folks in their own juices became a thing of the past. Canvas tents went the way of the dodo, mostly. Rustic was out; high-tech in.

Nearly 50 years on, though, you’ll still find a few adherents to the old stuff. And that raises the question: If synthetics and sophisticated coatings are all that, why do some of us still use tight-weave cotton cloth for shelter and clothing?

I’m glad you asked. There are still good reasons to use canvas.

Read more at Canoe & Kayak


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