Philosophy of Design: Saddleback’s Waxed Canvas Quality

By Erin Murphy

So what’s with that Roald Admundsen story on the Waxed Canvas product pages? What does the first explorer to the South Pole have to do with waxed canvas???  When you go where no one has gone before, you look for quality that your life depends on.

Roald Amundsen
Roald Amundsen. Picture from

Dave has always loved exploring. He finds travel is not just arriving at your destination, but the journey of getting there. He has always admired people like Admundsen because he went where no one had gone before. Magellan, Cook, Leif Erikson, all of these explorers hungered to see what was over the hill, and thoroughly enjoyed the adventure of getting there.

When Dave travels, he goes in a Toyota Land Cruiser because it’s the highest quality vehicle in the world. Those explorers of old didn’t hit the road in bargain parkas or carry discount tools. When you’re charting a course through the Northwest Passage, you’re not looking to save a buck. Your top priority is staying alive. They bought the best because their life depended on it.


Dave wanted to make a line of bags that any explorer would grab first if their life depended on it. With Saddleback’s Waxed Canvas products, he’s achieved that goal. Sure, you can find lighter-weight, more organized canvas bags with zippers and velcro and snaps. Dave says, “But if your life depends on it, people will want one of mine.”

Here’s a cool thing about these bags. Let’s say you wind up neck-deep in a bone-chilling river, or your car breaks down on a mountain pass in a blizzard, and you have one match. However, you remembered your  Indiana Waxed Canvas Gear bag. You can slice off a piece of the bag and light it up. The canvas will burn like a torch if you need it. Or you can just light up your Waxed Canvas Firestarter Kit and save the bag for later adventures.

Waxed Canvas Gear Bag

Even better: you’re prepared in the event of  World War 3 breaking out. You will REALLY be excited about your Waxed Canvas Backpack because it only weighs 4.2 lbs as you’re running for cover. Plus, it’s super-durable, and will survive alongside you. When your life depends on it, buy quality.

“Quality intrigues me,” Dave explains. Canvas intrigues him too. His journey to Saddleback’s Waxed Canvas line has helped him understand even more about quality in other areas. We buy low quality all the time, usually without even knowing it. Just doesn’t seem right. Landfills are full of low-quality junk that no one wants or needs.  Dave continues to share all he learns, because “poor quality keeps poor people poor, and that bothers me.”

Stay tuned for a full documentary on the making of Saddleback’s Waxed Canvas line. It’s gonna be epic.