Canvas Needs Seasoning Too

Author: Bundy Outdoors  Date Posted:19 June 2020 

Outdoor enthusiasts and people who are familiar with Cast Iron will be familiar with the word “season” simply this means preparing your cast iron for use, but did you know that canvas needs to be seasoned too?

Canvas is by nature a very dense, heavy material and so when making items out of canvas large heavy duty thread and needles are used during the sewing process and creates hundreds if not thousands of tiny holes through the material especially at the seams. So, by seasoning canvas, it causes the poly cotton canvas core spun threads to expand and contract multiple times, filling up any of the holes, and ensures your canvas products perform well in wet weather.

After purchasing a new canvas product before you take it out in the field for it’s maiden voyage it’s best to follow a seasoning process. Seasoning is a very simple process but depending on the weather can take a couple of days so it’s best to plan ahead. Instead of Shake and Bake seasoning that you would for food, it's more like a Shower and Bake process. Shower - Bake - Repeat - simples.

What do you need?

  • A spray Bottle
  • Garden Hose with a shower nozzle
  • 2 or 3 days - yes to properly season your canvas you may need up to 3 days

Here’s what you do:

  1. Erect the awning, tent or swag completely, that is use every guy rope, every peg loop, every awning attachment, and pole. Make sure your awning, tent, or swag is erected on a flat surface, not a sloping one or one that only allows you to partially erect it. It needs to be put up as symmetrical and as taught as possible or the seasoning will not work properly and as canvas is a mouldable fabric as it expands and contracts, it could cause it to permanently favour the incorrect position if not erected properly. TAKE YOUR TIME!
  2. Shower inside (season the inside) – grab a spray bottle and fill with water and spray along all the internal seams, make sure you give it a good wet down (but don’t use a hose, you don’t want to create a swimming pool inside).
  3. Shower outside (season the outside) – using a hose with a shower nozzle (not a pressure hose or jet nozzle – these will damage the  waterproofing that may have been added to the outside) shower the outside of the tent or swag. Be sure to give each seam a good wet down. At first water should bead on the outside but after a while you will see that the canvas will absorb the water. Continue showering all the seams for about 5 minutes, the seams and the canvas should be saturated.
  4. Bake - Leave the tent, swag or awning erected and allow it to completely dry – full sun is best (needless to say the best time to season would be Summer in the southern states and all year round in the tropics) to make the most of full sun. But LET IT DRY COMPLETELY! You want to basically BAKE the canvas. 
  5. Repeat the seasoning process another 2 or 3 times.
  6. After wetting down for the final time, inspect the inside to see if it’s watertight. If you notice that water is still coming through in some sections a seam sealer may be needed in small sections to fully make it watertight – it’s not a warranty issue, but just the nature of canvas.
  7. RE-SEASON - just like Cast Iron, canvas should be be re-seasoned every 12 months or so regardless of how many times you use it. This is the only way to ensure full long term canvas waterproofing. You may also chose to use a canvas waterproofer for the larger flat areas then re-season.

By seasoning well ahead of time, it will save time and heartache if you are out on the road and get a few leaks because it hasn’t been seasoned, not to mention it gives you practice erecting and packing away your new toy.

On a final note, being that canvas is a porous material – meaning that it has lots of little troughs and wells it will collect and hold moisture, never ever pack canvas products away wet, they will get mould and mildew. Best to dry them out and pack them away in a dry area off the ground.

By taking care of your canvas, you will have a product that will service you well and last for years!