FAQ: What are the properties of the different fabrics and textiles used in Oak Roads travel gear?
Although canvas is the most common textile you'll find on Oak Roads, it comes in multiple varieties and we've been known to explore some other great fabrics as well. Textiles tend to be more affordable than leather but their woven nature also makes them less durable. Even so, these textiles are typically rugged enough for external use and are also used for internal lining.
Canvas - Simple canvas is a strong, coarse cloth typically woven from hemp, flax, cotton or linen threads. It's very heavy duty and well-suited to the outdoors, having long been used as the primary material for sails and tents.
- Duck Canvas - Duck canvas is a more robust and tightly woven form of traditional canvas, made with cotton thread. Duck is classified according to weight, with No. 1 grade being the heaviest and No. 12 grade being the lightest variety. For travel gear, you'll typically want to stay within the No. 1 (18 oz) to No. 6 (13 oz) range, although there are times when a breezy, loosely-woven roughspun canvas bag is just right for a little bit of light carry.
- Rubberized Canvas - For an even heavier, fully waterproof canvas, you can bond two layers of cotton canvas to either side of a central rubber core (either natural or synthetic). The result is definitely rugged but we find the canvas loses much of its character and simply doesn't ever achieve that lived in feel that you get from more natural adventure gear.
Waxed Canvas - This is our favorite. For centuries, sailors, miners and outdoorsmen of all stripes have applied paraffin and beeswax to their canvas goods to give them added strength and protection from the elements. You don't get the full water-proofing of a rubberized canvas but water will generally bead and roll off without entering the canvas fibers. The wax also helps the canvas strike the right balance between stiffness and suppleness, allowing it to behave and hold shape much like a true leather.
- We carry some wonderfully affordable Waxed Canvas items here at Oak Roads that we're sure you'll enjoy.
Nylon - A synthetic thermoplastic textile first produced in 1935, nylon was intended to be a synthetic replacement for silk after the natural fiber became scarce during World War II. It quickly replaced silk in military applications such as parachutes and flak vests. It's light, durable, abrasion-resistant, easy to clean, and wards against insects, fungi, animals, as well as molds, mildew, rot and many chemicals. We're not big fans of nylon on the exterior of our travel gear due to its synthetic look and feel but it's various properties to make it an excellent lining. It's much more robust than other synthetic linings like Polyester, for instance, which will quickly tear and fray, even after only limited use.
- Cordura - Cordura is a brand of particularly rugged nylon with a longstanding military heritage. The fabric is known for its durability and resistance to abrasions, tears and scuffs. Originally used in the manufacture of tires during World War II, it's proven to be a highly versatile textile and many modern US military fabric specs are based on Cordura brand specifications. So if you are wanting to explore a nylon exterior, this is a good choice.
Wool - Not only do we like lambskin as a leather but we like wool as a textile as well. Wool fabrics have greater bulk than other textiles and they hold air, which causes the fabric to retain heat. This insulation works both ways: in their desert environments, Bedouins and Tuaregs actually wear wool clothes to keep heat out and protect the body. Wool is also hypoallergenic, hydrophobic (meaning it repels water), and slightly antibacterial. It's typically too shapeless to build a full bag out of it but we've seen some nice items that use wool as accent panels or interior lining.
- Tweed - This rough, unfinished woollen fabric has a soft, open and flexible texture. It is made in either plain or twill weave and may have a check or herringbone pattern. Subdued, interesting colour effects are obtained by twisting together differently coloured woollen strands. Tweeds are a longstanding icon of traditional British country living, being desirable for informal outerwear due to the material being both durable and moisture-resistant. Tweeds were created to withstand the harsh climates of Ireland and the United Kingdom and are commonly worn for outdoor activities such as shooting and hunting.