How To Season A New Canvas Swag

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Written By Jay Clatworthy

Off Grid Camping contributor.

How To Season A New Canvas Swag

It is very important to season a new canvas swag, before exposing it to weather, to make sure it is as waterproof as possible.

Many new canvas products (swags and tents) will come with instructions that suggest you expose your new product to water before using it. This process is referred to as ‘seasoning’.

Why do you need to season a new canvas swag?

Though canvas itself is reasonably water-resistant, the production process of sewing and joining and creating a new canvas product creates hundreds of tiny little holes in the canvas.

As a result, when you expose a new product to rain, there is a good chance that it will leak water around any seam area (joins and stitches, etc). This is unavoidable but very easy to fix.

What does seasoning do to a new canvas product?

When you season a new swag or tent the canvas contracts, and the thread (that was used to sew the product) expands.

This fills the holes that were created during manufacturing and maximizes the ability of your swag to repel water.

How do you season canvas?

Seasoning canvas is easy. All you need to do is expose it to water. This prolonged exposure to water makes the thread expand, make the canvas contract, and fill the holes that were created.

You can do this in multiple ways.

The traditional way to season your swag/tent involves:

  1. Set up your swag/tent
  2. Soak it with water (using hose or similar)
  3. Let it dry
  4. Do it two more times (at least)
  5. Spray with water and look for leaks
  6. Let dry and fold/roll and pack away

Can I use a waterproofing spray to do this?

Yes absolutely, these sprays can be used, but in some ways, they work a bit too well. They fill every little hole to the extent the swag/tent is unable to breathe, and it is likely to get hot and stuffy inside.

So if you use one of these sprays, they will definitely increase the level of water resistance but that will come at the cost of reducing its ability to breathe, making it less comfortable in many conditions.

Bonus ‘Bath Soaking’ Method

If you are interested in an alternative soaking method, you could consider placing the swag/tent in your bathtub, full of cold water, overnight.

I did this with some swags and had pretty good results. I placed it in overnight, pulled it out, and let it dry the next day, then soaked it again overnight, and again and again.

I’m not sure if it leads to better results or is just a more passive method, but in theory, it should lead to the same results, and you can be confident that it was given a decent soak.