FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions about our products that we get. We help it assists. If not please feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to assist.
What is the difference between 'Canvas' and 'FibreNyte'?
In simple terms ‘Canvas’ or ‘FibreNyte’ refers to top layer of fabric on our bags – the facecloth.
‘Canvas’ is a mix of cotton and polyester. ‘FibreNyte’ refers to our face fabric that is completely synthetic. Canvas is hard wearing, FibreNyte is very hard wearing.
Both fabrics are bonded to a non-wicking polyester backing fabric with a middle layer butyl rubber – this rubber layer makes both fabrics equally (and very) waterproof. Water can’t get through that rubber layer.
Both fabrics have a similar weave - the FibreNyte looks similar to canvas. Canvas is slightly softer to the touch, FibreNyte is slightly rougher to the touch.
People tend to choose Canvas if they want the bag to age gracefully and look vintage over time. This is particularly true of people who chose our ‘Khaki Canvas’ fabric as this looks particularly lovely as it ages.
People tend to choose FibreNyte if they want the bag to look newer for longer or if they are particularly hard on their gear - for example by carrying the bag to work with them every day, doing a lot of hiking or filling it particularly full. If you are buying a black bag it’s particularly worth considering FibreNyte as it will stay looking blacker longer. Also Sage FibreNyte is particularly attractive as a colour – it’s probably the most popular colour among our staff!
Are Billingham bags waterproof?
Yes – Billingham bags are made to survive even the heaviest downpours. Between their face fabric and backing fabric is a layer of butyl rubber that is impermeable to water. So long as you don’t damage the fabric then the bag is likely to remain waterproof for its lifetime - you'll find many testimonials online from our customers that attest to this with bags sometimes decades old.
Because the butyl rubber is bonded into the middle of the fabric you do not need to apply waterproofing agents yourself like you would with a coat or walking shoes to maintain the waterproofing. The bag also doesn't have to be kept clean to remain waterproof.
We would always advise common sense when in the rain – for example make sure the top flap is properly closed and make sure your bag is in good repair.
Why don’t you make your bags in all leather?
Occasionally we have made leather bags in the past however canvas and FibreNyte are our preferred materials as they are much, much lighter to carry. A bag made of our canvas is 20-50% lighter than the same bag made in leather depending on the type of leather – this can make a real difference when you have to carry it all day!
Being sparing with our use of leather also means that we can make sure the leather that we do use is of exceptional quality – vegetable tanned top-grain cow-hide leather from the finest tanneries.
Where do I find the serial number on my bag?
The serial number can be found on all bags that were made after 2001. You are looking for the white square label sewn into the bag with Martin Billingham’s signature on it, it is ten digits long and begins with at least four zeros. https://www.billingham.co.uk/blog/en/billingham-backstage-ui-numbers/ Any other numbers inside the bag are not the serial number (and so shouldn’t be used for registration).
Bags made before this date will not have a unique serial number but will have a batch number which will indicate to us which batch it is part of. Unfortunately we are not able to register these older bags through our serial number registration system although we are looking at ways we might be able to accept registrations of them in future.
How can I tell what material my bag is made of?
Sewn into one of the seams of your bag there is a small white label which has the bag model, the batch number (also known as works order) and the colour & material combinations.
Our Canvas bags will just state the colour of the bag and the colour of the leather, as an example ‘Hadley Pro Khaki/Tan’ is Khaki Canvas/Tan Leather.
Our FibreNyte bags will state on this label the model number then Colour of the outside of bag with the word FibreNyte or ‘FN’ afterwards and then the colour of the leather – as an example ‘Hadley Pro Khaki FibreNyte/Chocolate’ is the Hadley Pro with Khaki FibreNyte with Chocolate leather.
Some of our older bags were made out of Nytex and this label will state the model, colour combination and will either have the word Nytex or the abbreviation ‘NY’ on it.
If you are still unsure which material your bag is, and would like to know, please email all the information you have and some pictures of your bag to help @ billingham.co.uk (remove the spaces from that address when sending).
Are the bags made in England?
Yes, all of our bags and accessories are made in our factory in ‘Cradley Heath’ in the ‘West Midlands’ region of England.
Do you offer a repair service?
Yes, we do offer a repair service in the first instance please email some pictures of your bag and the issues with your bag to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once we have these we can estimate the cost for repair (if outside of guarantee) for you and advise you on how to proceed.
Do you offer a cleaning service?
No we do not. However you can find instructions to clean the bag yourself: here
Bear in mind we do offer a repair service - mentioned in the previous question.
Where can I buy a Billingham bag?
The best two options are from this website or from an authorised retailer. This way you can be sure that the bag is genuine and comes with our 5 year guarantee.
- From our website we can ship to almost anywhere in the world using the UPS service.
- You can find an authorised retailer here: https://www.billingham.co.uk/retailers/
Please note some of our retailers sell used bags – these can sometimes represent an excellent bargain and some people appreciate the vintage look some of them have. However please note that these would not be covered by our 5 guarantee which only applies to new bags.
We would recommend against purchasing the bags from eBay as you may end up receiving a bag that requires repairs or has missing accessories (such as padded dividers) both of which we would have to charge for. Also we have had customers buy bags on eBay that were listed as new but when they tried to register the bag we were able to tell from the serial number that it was in fact several years old and already registered previously.
With used bags please also note that they may not be designed to the specifications of new bags – for example some very old 5-series bags do not have the Velcro and foam padding lining that new bags do and so would require an paid upgrade at our factory (we have to dismantle the bag to sew a new lining in) before they could accept Superflex dividers. The waterproofing on our modern bags is also considerably improved because of the use of butyl rubber instead of natural rubber (natural rubber can degrade over time) and other added techniques to keep the water out.
Do you offer factory tours?
Unfortunately we are not currently able to offer factory tours however we are considering this in future.
Can I buy a custom colour bag?Usually yes (from a limited selection of colours). You can find out more about our customisation service: here
I don't think you're shoulder slings will be long enough for me. Can I can a bag with a longer one?
Usually yes! You can find out more about our customisation service: here
I'd like to buy a new bag in one of your old designs - is this possible?
Yes and no! There are some bags we can make and some we can't - find out more about our customisation service: here
My card has been declined, whats going on?
There are lots of reasons transactions can be declined. Here are some common ones with advice about how to deal with them:
- You might have typed your 'Shipping Address' or 'Billing Address' wrong. Sometimes its a spelling mistake and you just need to carefully type it correctly. Annoyingly simple but often fixes things!
- Other times people mix up 'Shipping Address' or 'Billing Address':
- 'Shipping Address' is where you want us to send it to.
- 'Billing Address' is where your payment method is registered to - where the bank sends letters and statements to etc.
The checkout asks for 'Shipping Address' first and the 'Billing Address' second. Again annoyingly simple but really easy to get wrong.
- Your bank is worried that it might be a fraudulent transaction so decline to let the payment go through. Just ring your bank and explain that the purchase was deliberate.
- Paying by PayPal instead of by card directly can often cause things to go more smoothly. Signing up for a PayPal account is free and they accept most types of credit and debit card (including some that our normal checkout doesn't such as Union Pay). In some countries PayPal also let you connect your bank account to pay by bank transfer.
Remember that we will only be able to post to the address you provide under 'Shipping Address' due to the rules of our bank. If you enter a wrong 'Shipping Address' let us know here so that we can cancel your order so that you can place a fresh order.
What is your company name in Chinese characters?
Our name translates into Chinese as "白金汉". Our bags always arrive branded with the name "Billingham" though - with a "Billingham" woven label sewn into the seam (and sometimes a Billingham leather logo too).
Which bags have removable padding?
The following bags have removable padded inserts that fill most or all of the bag. Removing the padding reduces the protection the bag offers but does increase capacity and flexibility:
- Hadley Small
- Hadley Small Pro
- Hadley Pro
- Hadley Pro 2020
- Hadley Large
- Hadley Large Pro
- Hadley One (Comes with a padded insert that fills half the bag as standard - one that fills the whole bag can be purchased as an optional accessory. The padded inserts can be removed but the walls of the bag also have padding which can't be removed).
- 35 Rucksack
Is there anywhere I can find out about your old bags?
Yes! You can look in our Product Archive. We are in the process of building it - we'd love to hear from you if you have any old brochures etc from us that we can use to fill out the details and photography for the section.
I have one of your bags. How do I tell how old it is?
For a rough estimate of date - some bags made in our previous 'Old Hill', 'Lye' and 'Brierley Hill' factories usually have a label saying so. You can use these to judge their approximate age in some situations.
1977 - 1980 - Old Hill
1980 - 1991 - Lye
1991 - 2011 - Brierley Hill
2011 - NOW - Cradley Heath
For clarity - we don't put 'Cradley Heath' labels in our current bags.
You can also look in our Product Archive that gives the production dates of many of our bags.
In some photos online I have seen your products supplied in black boxes with a Billingham logo? Do all the bags come in black boxes?
We do not (and never have) supplied our bags in black boxes. However our distributors in South Korea and Thailand both sometimes do provide the black boxes when you purchase in some stores in those countries.
Why do some bags have the oval leather Billingham logo on and others don't?
Simple! We think some bags look better with the logo and some look better without. They all still have the Billingham tag (the green or black one) sewn into the outside seam and they are all still made at our factory in England.
I am from outside of the United Kingdom/European Union - can I make a purchase without VAT (British Sales Tax)?
If you make an order to be shipped outside the European Union then British tax will automatically be deducted from the price - so if you are having it shipped to the USA, Hong Kong, China etc you won't have to pay British VAT (although remember to read the note about customs fees above). The website will do its best to automatically display prices including VAT to customers inside the European Union and excluding VAT to customers outside the European Union (it will say next to the price if VAT has been included).
If you have it shipped inside the United Kingdom or European Union you will have to pay VAT and won't be able to get a refund of that tax from us (or customs officials at the airport). VAT is based on shipping address not billing address.
There are two exceptions:
- Some retailers in England (especially London) are able to give you a form to reclaim the VAT at the (British) airport. This only applies to some shops, only to transactions made in person and never to internet or phone orders (because of restrictions in UK law). You can find more info here: https://www.gov.uk/tax-on-shopping/taxfree-shopping and find our list of retailers here: https://www.billingham.co.uk/retailers
- People/companies who are VAT registered in the European Union (but outside the UK). See below.
I am VAT registered in the EU (not UK). Can I make my purchase without VAT?
Yes! We can allow you to purchase with the British VAT already deducted. We will need information from you before we can do this though such as your company name, company address and VAT number. Please contact us BEFORE ORDERING if you want to do this - we cannot give VAT refunds after an order has been placed.
Where do you ship?
We ship to almost every country in the world! Find out more in our Delivery Information section.