I was unpacking my winter camping gear to get ready for the cold season and found that my cotton canvas anorak was full of black mold.

Oh, the horror!

It was stored in a waterproof bag and tucked away in my tiny shed in the backyard. I must have packed it away last spring while it was still damp. What a terrible mistake.

The anorak was gifted to me by Lure of the North a number of years ago. I’ve used it on countless winter treks and absolutely love it.

photoKevin Callan

Canvas is an amazing material to wear as an outside layer. It breathes better and vents moisture away more than any other common waterproof breathable fabric. Moisture is absorbed from your body, pulling your sweat through your inner layers. Basically, it pushes out moist air and excess heat. It obviously gets wet from your sweat, but you can dry it fairly quickly around the fire at night. Even if it doesn’t dry out, the anorak is not an insulating layer; it’s an outer protective layer. It acts as an excellent wind breaker while trekking across a windswept frozen lake.

Mine is trimmed with coyote fur (ethically harvested from an old fur coat from the second-hand store). I also added a voyageur waist sash to keep things tight and provide a place to hang my mitts. The traditional design has no zippers and is just pulled over your head, fitting loosely over your other layers.

I tried out a new product to remove the mold: Esker Canvas Tent Cleaner.


It’s a non-toxic, biodegradable, non-chlorinated cleaner that cleans mildew, creosote, leaf stains, bird droppings and other stains from cotton canvas tents, tarps, awnings and, hopefully, anoraks. The product is also water soluble, gentle on skin, is colour-safe and will not degrade canvas fabrics.

I followed the instructions, adding one scoop of the dried powder to one litre of lukewarm water and stirred it until the blue colour turned clear (one container of tent cleaner makes 11 litres of solution, with one litre of mixed cleaner cleaning 3.5 square metres of material). I then applied it on the moldy sections of the anorak with a sponge, let it stand for 15 minutes, scrubbed the areas with a wire scrubber and then rinsed it with water.

It worked quite well but didn’t remove the worse areas. So, I soaked it entirely in water and the solution for six hours, then scrubbed it again. It worked. My anorak was saved.

Check out the video of the entire process on my KCHappyCamper YouTube channel.