Product Care & Upkeep

Pack Maintenance is a large part of your pack lasting a lifetime.

There’s a steadfast durability, a quiet confidence built into each one of our waxed canvas bags. It comes from using the highest quality raw materials and hardware, assembled with tried and true techniques and it’s part of what makes a Frost River pack special. Everything we make is built to last and be used outdoors: All our reliable softgoods are held to the standard of our canoe packs. Large, purpose built packs, specially designed and reinforced to handle heavy loads over the rugged terrain of the northern canoe country wilderness. No matter if you’re looking at a brief, tote, purse, bike bag, or piece of luggage, you’ll benefit from the traditional materials and handcrafted construction that have been refined over generations in our hometown, Duluth, Minnesota.

Cleaning Instructions for Returning From the Field

Once you’re in from a trip, empty out your bag (and all your gear!) and let it dry out.

Once you’re in from a trip, empty out your bag (and all your gear!) and let it dry out. Using a soft or medium bristle brush, remove any stuff that may have come back with you. Don’t use a metal brush, they’re too rough. An old tooth brush can help with the details. Use plain water, it works remarkably well on its own. Only use a small amount of non-detergent soap if the water and brush didn’t do the trick. Don’t forget about the inside of your pack, turn the whole thing inside-out and be sure the interior reinforcements are clean. Then let it all dry out, inside and out.

Some say that campfire soot, coffee stains, and other evidence of adventures all combine to make a waxed canvas pack better, BUT if you've got a stain or mark you are looking for get rid of, give our Waxed Canvas Cleaner a try. It takes just a bit and its cleaning power is quite impressive.

Pack Storage Recommendations

Damp basements are a tough place for a canvas and leather bag to live. 

This environment breeds mold and mildew and you don’t want either of those around your pack. Don’t store your canoe pack or waxed canvas bag in your basement if it’s prone to those issues. Same goes for concrete, keep ‘em up off the garage floor. Hanging the packs or storing them on a shelf is a good way to keep your pack in good shape between excursions. 

Better yet, keep it partly loaded and ready to go!

Waxed Canvas Maintenance

You can easily re-wax your pack to regain water- repellency.

After several years, if you find the canvas drying out and wish to retreat it, you may re-wax your bag. We offer a wax conditioner right from Martexin, it’s their original formula and should be used sparingly.


1. Warm up the canvas and the can of wax a little bit. Sunshine works, so does a hair dryer. 

2. Rub a little of the wax conditioner in, apply a little more heat (using a hairdryer) so the wax sinks into the canvas then let it cool and dry. 

3. Repeat if necessary but don’t overdo it, a little is all you need.

Leather Treatments

Use a pack awhile and the leather will need to be conditioned. 

There are a lot of different products available and even more philosophies on what’s best. We say: don’t overdo it. Test small, inconspicuous areas first— less is best. All our straps, handles, trims, reinforcements, and odds and ends, are conditioned and good to go when they leave our shop; they’re treated at the tannery. Leather needs be cared for and the heavy duty stuff that we use takes a while to break in, but you’ll be happy once it does!

Some conditioners will work better than others. Take care with load bearing straps so as not to over-treat and over-soften them. Shoe polish does well to condition leather without over softening like can happen with a big glob of mink oil. Several light coats are always better than saturating with lots of conditioner. Wipe off any excess and remember, less is best!

We carry a leather cream that’s been working well. It restores, waterproofs, and protects with a nice blend of conditioning and polish. Plus, it’s made in the USA and comes in a handy portable tin!

Waxed Canvas is Tough, but like Anything Worth Holding onto, it Needs to be Cared for.

It’s guaranteed to last, and stand up to hard use outdoors, and, like anything worth keeping, it requires some care and cleaning to fulfill its potential and be with you for years of adventure… on and off the beaten path.

Happy trails and good paddling to you, we thank you for the support!