It’s a question both new and experienced campers need to take on board when planning for that next big camping trip: swag or tent? Let’s unpack the pros and cons of our portable accommodation options, load up on the best product choices for your own travel needs, and roll out the tricks and tips for camping in swags to ensure you get convenience and comfort from dusk until dawn.
What is the difference between swags and tents?
When it comes to modern camping needs, conventional tents are no longer the only option. Camping in swags is a uniquely Australian experience, though modern swags are becoming increasingly popular overseas and have significantly evolved from a simple bedroll. For those of us “waltzing Matilda” nowadays (travelling with lightweight, convenient, versatile camp gear, that is), camping by a billabong under the shade of a coolabah tree means choosing a portable shelter that is weatherproof, compact, durable and comfortable. So to be jolly swagmen and women, let’s see then how camping in swags compares with tackling a tent.
Swags are shelter, mattress and sleeping bag literally rolled into one. This cocoon-like sleeping unit opens out into a neat self-contained bush-bed, and this is why swags are increasingly popular among modern adventurers on the move because you can just load it in your 4WD and hit the road.
The simplicity of the all-in-one swag is not its only appeal. When you reach your campsite, the set-up is satisfyingly easy and quick. No tent pegs to hammer or poles to assemble or air-mattresses to inflate – a swag means more time enjoying the great outdoors and less time setting up camp.
Although a modern swag is comparatively bulky and heavy compared to the traditional bedroll you could sling over your shoulder, that’s because nowadays this tough durable unit is purposely made to survive harsh elements and last for years. Well-designed and hard-wearing for stowing in the back or mounting on the roof of your 4x4, swags also only take up a small space on your campsite. Plus their sturdy weather-proof and water-proof canvas means they are guaranteed to stay secure and warm, along with the heat-retention and comfort of their in-built foam mattresses.
This cosy cocooning might seem confining for some, or a problem on hot summer nights, but with more ventilation than tents, you can also open the upper layer of canvas and windows with insect-proof mesh for cool air and to sleep peacefully under the stars. There may only be room for laying down in your swag, but when they come in single and double sizes, and with dome options, snug won’t mean cramped.
And when it’s time to move on or head for home, just throw your entire accommodation back in the 4WD and be on your way. No rolling up sleeping bags, tangling up guy ropes, or trying to find that bag for the flysheet - because all good holidays and weekend adventures should end as stress-free and fun as they started.
If you’re taking the whole family including all the kids and Gran and the dogs on a fortnight camping trip, there is still something to be said for tents. Sure, they can have a longer and more complicated set-up time, you’ll need to pack separate bedding and inflatable mattresses, and purchasing a good-quality tent can get expensive, but having room to store all that extra gear, a wet-weather common area for card games or group meals, and indoor space to move on a rainy day can be a family-holiday life-saver.
Despite being less durable than a swag, for a long stay and big groups, tents can certainly have their advantages. They can be weather-proof, versatile, lightweight and spacious. Even single-person tents mean you can still sit up or crouch if the weather isn’t being kind. But then, there’s always the 4x4 waiting for you, and the next campsite you can move on to, and travel time can be a precious commodity. So while a tent can be a helpful family home-away-from-home, if you’re out for adventure and a real road trip, bagging a swag could be the option for you.
Types of Swags
But then which swag to pick? The flexibility and versatility of swags has continued to improve for our modern camping needs and to suit a variety of budgets - so in any weather, for any location, on your own or with a partner, camping with mates, taking a quick nap or catering for an unexpected guest – the swag has it in the bag. Check out our comprehensive guide below.
When it’s just you hitting the road, or meeting up with mates, a single swag is all you need. Models like the Darche Dusk To Dawn, with its domed structure, twin entry doors and windows, and trigger-lock ridge pole are roomy, convenient, and up in a trice. But if even that isn’t quick enough, the inflatable Darche AD Swag boasts the latest in swag design with a set-up system under 20 seconds, because who wants to mess around when there’s outdoors to explore?
If you like to stretch out, or if a romantic getaway under the stars sounds perfect, you’ll need something more spacious. The Coleman Swagger is value for money in utilising some conventional tent features with the compact and versatile appeal of the swag, while the stylish yet heavy-duty Darche Nebula hybrid is as spacious as a tent, with the instant cosy-bedding interior and tough-wearing exterior we love in a swag.
For Crashpad fans, choosing a swag may be easy with one of our most beloved Aussie camping brands. The sleek king-single Crashpad Swag comes in a variety of colours to blend in or stand out and was designed specifically for our harsh outback environments and extreme weather conditions. Then, for those wanting extra comfort and room without compromising on convenience and durability, the Crashpad Double Swag is hard to go past. Finally, with maximum versatility for a solo trip or a couple’s weekend, the Crashpad Hybrid Swag will give you plenty of camping options – and no matter which swag you decide to snag, we have all the best advice for getting the most of your brand-new gear.
Tips for Camping in a Swag1. Setting Up
Properly seasoning your swag before use is essential. Set it up, wet it thoroughly, allow it to dry, and repeat a few times. Letting that heavy canvas swell and contract closes any small holes in the stitching, and makes your already weatherproof swag as waterproof as it can be.
2. Settling In
Before you leave your campsite for that epic hike or swim or 4WD trek, make sure to close up your swag during the day because you don’t want to be cuddling up with any unexpected critters or creepy crawlies that night. And although sitting around the campfire is always a camping highlight, always keep all gear well away from rogue flames or blowing embers – we promise your swag is warm enough at night as it is.
3. Heading Home
Swags make for a quick and easy departure at the end of the trip, but maintaining your quality gear is always worthwhile in the long run. Sweeping out your swag and airing and shaking out bedding post-travel means you’re ready to go next time, and loosening that tight roll when storing your swag for a longer period of time between trips will let the foam expand again and prevent the straps from biting into the canvas.
Whether swag or tent, for the best swag tips and the latest gear, and no matter what your camping needs, AUSWIDE 4WD has the products you want and the expert advice you’ve been looking for. To ask us more about our range of gear and the camping choices that are right for you, contact us via email, call us on 1800 4WD AUSWIDE, or message us on Facebook.