To understand why we had to invent Litetrex™ fabric, you need to understand canvas swags/tents and materials used to make them.

What is a Swag?

An Australian term for an outdoor portable sleeping unit. Made famous by an old Australian folk song – “Once a Jolly Swagman (old time person) camped by a Billabong (waterhole/small lake)”. The sad irony is that this Jolly Swagman was being chased by police and ended up drowning in the Billabong (waterhole/small lake). Sadly today, homeless are also often chased away by police for sleeping in doorways and bus shelters. Canvas Facts.

Canvas swag
 – the era of pirate ship technology

The traditional Australian swag is made of heavy canvas – sometimes up to half a kilo (1.1lb) per square meter. But tradition – does not mean canvas is the best fabric to use. You live in the 21st century – and not in the era of tall wooden ships and pirates. Think about it. If canvas was so amazing and waterproof – why is it NOT used by skiers and athletes around the world? How many people in extreme conditions walk around in heavy canvas outfits? None. Instead they wear Gore-tex™, Thinsulate™ and soon our Litetrex™ products. Technology is how we landed on the moon – not by tradition. Litetrex™ involves the latest technology and R&D.

Canvas uses very toxic treatments

Yes, canvas swags are very heavy, rigid, not comfortable and typically contain dangerous chemical treatments e.g. copper – that if set alight will give off highly toxic chemical smoke and generally keep on burning. What toxins are you sleeping in? Litetrex™ is formulated to meets the strictest European standards – including for use in kindergardens.

Canvas is not fire retardant

Unless it has been treated with very toxic chemicals – it is very easy to burn. We don’t’ know of any canvas swag that is fire retardant on the market, this may be because of the toxic chemicals needed. As such, there is good chance your canvas swag is not fire retardant – so don’t sleep too close to the traditional warm camp fire, it is perhaps better to freeze. Litetrex™ is fire retardant to European and USA standards – using a formula that meets the strictest European standards.

Myth. If canvas is heavy – it must be strong

Dry canvas swags are heavy, and very bulky – mostly weighing in at 7 to 12+ kg (16 to 26+lb) each. We hear of 10 ounce and 16 ounce weights – what for? There is a whole science to weaving fabric at the mill. Some mills do a bad science – and so heavier weights are required to get the same strength as other weaves. Remember the heavier the canvas swag is – the more water it absorbs and the longer it takes to dry. Remember, if you roll a canvas swag up while wet or damp – it will go grow mold and smell. Next time you sleep in it – you will fill your lungs with growing mold bacteria. Litetrex™ is scientifically weaved at the mill to produce optimum weight balanced fabric with strength.

Did you know canvas swags are NOT waterproof when you buy it – crazy?

Surprise. When you first open your expensive canvas swag – read the instructions. If you want it “reasonably” water resistant before your first use – you need to wet it down. Yes. You have to wet the canvas and then dry it, test it and maybe do the whole process all over again and again – until you are satisfied – so much work with no confidence of success? Remember, if you roll a canvas swag up while wet or damp – it will go grow mold and smell. Next time you sleep in it – you will fill your lungs with growing mold bacteria. Litetrex™ is ready for use straight out of the box and is 5 times more water resistant than canvas.

Why you must waste time preparing a canvas swag before first use?

The ‘hope’ and ‘theory’ is that you have to wait until the cotton fibres shrink tight around stitching and the fibres that make the canvas itself. Then ‘maybe’ it’s water resistant to a certain level – but no guarantees. So let’s say you have shrunk the fabric enough to make it ‘reasonably’ water resistant. Canvas is typically made of cotton. How many cotton clothes do you have that are waterproof? Now you understand why it’s so thick and heavy – you have to shrink a lot of fibres – hence unnecessary weight and bulk. Remember, if you roll a canvas swag up while wet or damp – it will go grow mold and smell. Next time you sleep in it – you will fill your lungs with growing mold bacteria. Litetrex™ requires no preparation before first use – your time is valuable.

What happens when canvas swags get wet?

Over time it can be dangerous for your lungs. Apart from also being very heavy when wet, it also takes a very very long time to dry.

  • Canvas has a high percentage of organic fibres – these fibres naturally rot when exposed to water and not thoroughly dried.
  • Mold loves wet organic fibres – and naturally as part of the rotting process results in mildew and mold setting in. Which as all know is that terrible smell of bacteria.
  • So when your canvas swag smells, it’s mold – so please think of the mold bacteria that you breath in – all night. You go camping for fun – not to get sick lungs.
  • Question, did the mold start growing when you first bought the canvas swag and prepared it for first use – remember you have to wet it down to so as the canvas shrinks in an attempt to make it water resistant. Crazy.

Litetrex™ is inherently resistant to mildew and mold.

Why is concrete the enemy of canvas swags?

We read on one expensive canvas swag that you should not store your canvas swag on concrete – ridiculous, but necessary for canvas owners. Concrete drys the canvas out and makes it brittle. What happened to canvas being tough and strong? Litetrex™ fears not concrete.

Canvas swags need vehicle transport and lots of space

Canvas swags are heavy, very bulky and difficult to carry. Canvas swag owners all say the same thing, I need a car and it fills up a huge valuable area in the car, ute or 4WD. You can forget about hiking or walking a distance from your vehicle to get to your campsite when you have a canvas swag. Litetrex™ offers lightweight strength which results in very little bulk.

Canvas swag problems solved with our Backpack Beds using Litetrex™ fabric

So unless you like lifting heavy canvas swags and have time to pre-prepare / dry your canvas swag thoroughly after each use so as you don’t get sick from mold – we hope you now understand why canvas is the most ridiculous idea for use in a swag? Again, just because canvas is traditionally used on tall wooden ships in the era of pirates. It does not mean we should be using it to sleep in or use in extreme conditions.

At Backpack Bed for Homeless we think it is cruel to have homeless people prepare canvas before first use and then force them to walk around with a bed that is heavy. When wet takes a long time to dry and then deal with the added dangers of rot and mildew and dangerous chemicals if burnt?