Not all canvas horse rugs are created equally and just because a rug is called canvas - don't always expect it to be waterproof. The fabric construction and waterproofing process can vary greatly.
Canvas can range from a 100% cotton blend, which is cool and breathable, to 100% Polyester which is strong but also can be hot as they don't breath. You will see a huge range of Canvas horse rugs that fall between the two extremes and their performance will vary significantly. The type of weave and machine the fabric is manufactured on also plays a huge part in the success of the rugs ability to perform well.
Canvas comes in different thickness or weight, often from 11oz up to 24oz. Obviously the heavier the canvas - the longer the potential waterproofing and the stronger it is. ( as a good benchmark to understand fabric weights - our white paddock everyday ripstop rugs, which aren't canvas, have a fabric weight of around 11oz. This will help you gauge how thick a 20oz or 17oz fabric is in comparison.
Please follow the link to our range of Canvas Horse Rugs.
Corespun Canvas is gaining popularity as the technology to create the fabric comes down in price and becomes more available.
What are the benefits of Core Spun Canvas? Numerous! A traditional canvas thread comprises of a blend of numerous fibers grouped and spun together to create a single thread, (At a simple level think of braiding your hair!) which is then woven into a canvas. Core-Spun canvas is made from a much more intensive process. Each thread consists of a strong centre core of polyester, which is then tightly entwined in a 100% Cotton outer layer. This creates a very strong dense fabric that is considerably lighter and stronger but achieves the same performance as a much heavier traditional canvas otherwise would. The tighter weave also helps to improve waterproofing as the cotton around the core expands and gives better waterproofing while still maintaining excellent breathability.
Canvas has lots of uses & benefits - but exceptional waterproofing is not a canvas strong point. With Canvas, it's important to understand how canvas has been weatherproofed. There are three different processes used to waterproof canvas.
1) Wax Coated (90% of imported Canvas)
2) Immersion Treated (Caribu Canvas)
3) Immersion Forced (Dyna Proofed)
Immersion Forced. The good old fashioned Canvas, that some of us remember from days of old, is treated via an Immersion forced process. In simple terms, the fabric is submerged in a waterproofing agent and the agent is forced deep into the fabric. This is the best process for treating canvas, as if the canvas is scraped or torn, water won't wick through the fabric. It is also very expensive in today's market and the canvas tends to be heavy - cost makes it prohibitive for most horse rugs.
Immersion Treated. Similar to Immersion forced canvas. The fabric is submerged in a waterproofing agent. Both sides of the canvas is treated and it relies on the absorption of agent into the fabric. This process is much better than wax coating as it takes much longer to degrade.
Wax Coated waterproofing process is where the fabric is simply sprayed with a light wax coating. These rugs are at best, only light shower proof, and it's how most of the canvas rugs from overseas have been treated. We see many marketing wax sprayed rugs as 100% waterproof - you will be disappointed. The wax coating begins degrading extremely quickly when exposed to the elements.
Our canvas horse rug fabric is proofed via an immersion treatment. (not wax coated) and delivers improved performance compared to the wax coated canvas. We quote our canvas horse rugs as being Showerproof. They will outperform wax coated canvas. In our mind to call a rug waterproof, it has to be able to withstand extended or heavy wet weather and still keep your horses dry. (something our synthetic rugs and combos do very well) We are yet to find a Canvas rug that could be classed as 100% Waterproof. Any Canvas slowly absorbs the water over time, getting heavier, until it reaches the underside of the canvas. We see many retailers advertising their wax-coated rugs as 100% waterproof - which is misleading. Likewise, a heavier canvas horse rug will provide better longer term waterproofing: ie: a 20oz canvas will outperform a16oz canvas.
No Canvas rug is 100% waterproof. While the fabric may provide good waterproofing, water will initially enter via stitching lines, along seams, necklines and around fittings. Canvas rugs use are sewn using a specially developed cotton covered nylon thread. This is designed to swell when wet, to completely fill the stitch holes. But you will never stop water entering along any stitching seams. Canvas has lots of benefits - but if you need a rug that will keep your horse dry for long periods, avoid canvas and look at using synthetic deniers which are 100% weatherproof.
A high wool blend lining (not just felt) creates a membrane between the canvas and horses coat to extend water penetration. Canvas will absorb moisture from exposure to rain and from condensation under the rug. If you use canvas in wet conditions, you will need to remove canvas regularly and allow to dry out completely. During heavy rain or longer periods of light rain, the canvas will eventually 'wet out' and the fabric will become saturated. This is part of the breathability of a canvas horse rug. Provided you have a wool layer or wool lining between the canvas and the horse, the horse should remain dry for longer periods (even thou placing your hands between the wool and canvas it may appear wet) The wool will repel the moisture and keep it at bay between the wool and inner canvas. As soon as the rain stops, the horse's body heat will start drying the rug.
Lined or Unlined Canvas?
Unlined canvas rugs are great for warmer days and cooler nights, but horses in unlined canvas rugs often have high moisture transfer during very heavy rain or extended hours of rain, due to difference in the horses body heat and the cool canvas. Wool lined Canvas helps reduce this problem and creates a buffer to trap the moisture. Like touching the inside of a tent when its raining, the tent will start to leak at the point you touched it.. A similar process happens where the rug makes contact with the horse, creating moisture transfer onto your horse. Amount of transfer depends on many factors like air temperature, humidity and body heat.
During heavy rain or longer periods of light rain, canvas will eventually 'wet out' and the fabric will become saturated. This is part of the breathability of canvas. Provided you have a wool layer or wool lining between the canvas and the horse, the horse should remain dry for longer periods (even thou placing your hands between the wool and canvas it may appear wet) The wool will repel the moisture and keep it at bay between the wool and inner canvas. As soon as the rain stops, the horses body heat will start drying the rug.
Canvas is ideal in many situations, it provides superior strength to synthetic rugs, is very breathable and is ideal for short bursts of wet weather protection.
We suggest for best performance that you apply a waterproofing treatment to your horse rug after the first 12mthsto increase its life.
To insure the long life and durability of your canvas rug - please follow these instructions:
- Prior to using we suggest you thoroughly wet the canvas with a light hose and let the rug dry fully in the sun. This is necessary to allow the fabric to settle and stitching to swell. If you fail to do this you may find your rug absorbs excessive water in the initial exposure to rain. Store away only when completely dry - this will avoid disappointment when you next get your rug out again and find it very moldy! Do not use a high pressure nozzle to wet your rug as the high pressure could compromise the waterproofing.
- Never scrub the canvas - to remove dirt use a damp cloth or try brushing the fabric with a soft brush when any dirt has dried. Do not use soaps, detergents or other liquid cleaners.
- Remove any mildew as it appears, and allow the rug plenty of sun exposure afterwards.
- No Canvas rug is 100% waterproof - the waterproofing process is designed to repel showers & light rain & wont stand up to heavy or prolonged weather, as water will slowly seep thru the fabric. The thickness and tight weave helps to slow the seeping process. With exposure to heavy or prolonged periods of rain - you will need to remove canvas regularly and allow to dry out completely.
- Our Canvas is 100% Cotton - please insure before storing your rug away it is 100% dry - as any moisture in the fabric will cause mildew and deteriorate the canvas during storage.
The waterproofing agent used on canvas breaks down with exposure and you may need to apply a waterproof coating every 6-12 months to insure the waterproofness of the canvas. Much depends on the weave and fabric composition. Please click the following link for our full range of Canvas Horse Rugs.