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swags for camping and sleeping


  • for those driving to a camp site, swags are extremely popular, especially for solo campers
  • you can get double swags but these are even more bulky and heavy
  • most common are the dome or tunnel types which provide more head room , less claustrophobia and better insect protection than traditional swags but they are more bulky and heavy
  • canvas should generally be at least 320gsm with ripstop nylon fabric
  • the base should generally be PVC base and not canvas to provide better waterproofing, but if you choose canvas base you can use a tarp groundsheet
  • the foam mattress should be 5-7cm thick as a minimum, or add a self-inflating mat
  • zippers should be YKK zippers
  • poles should be metal and not fibreglass
  • usual sizes are:
    • Single: 60-90cm wide x 180-230cm long
    • King Single: 90-115cm wide x 190-230cm long
    • Double: 110-130cm wide x 190-230cm long for comparison, a 2P dome hiking tent is usually 130cm wide x 230cm long and much lighter at around 2kg
  • styles:
    • traditional swag
      • no pole support framework and hence mesh/canvas can fall on your face
    • dome swag
      • these use two or three hoop “dome” poles to create a supporting framework
      • those with a ridge pole to connect these are generally freestanding
      • they usually have a mesh/canvas ventilation windows at each end - some have the head end window large enough to be used as a door or as a “hunter's window”
      • some have the mesh doors only on the sides
      • some have mesh on top to allow better sky visibility
      • some have a separate fly which makes them more like a tent and with better weatherproofing and sun blockout eg. Oztent DS-1 and DS-2
    • air swag
      • these are like the dome swags but use air poles instead and require these to be pumped up


  • swags have the advantage over most other tents in that they are warmer in winter or alpine areas as your body has less volume of air to heat up, yet the canvas with mesh windows can still be cool on warmer nights
  • tend to be very sturdy and long lasting
  • relatively fast set up as most come with a foam mattress in place
  • generally great in strong winds given their low profile but can be very dusty


  • bulky and heavy - unless they are hiking swags, they will take up a LOT of room on your vehicle and are way too heavy to hike with
    • they start at 5kg for “expedition” models, but the usual swags are 12-19kg - similar to a 4P touring tent which has far more amenity for the packed size and weight!
  • need extra gear to make them comfortable in the rain:
    • a stretcher bed to get them off the ground is preferred by many, whilst others will just use a ground sheet
    • a tarp or vehicle awning to protect from rain or sun
  • there is very limited headroom so you will need to get changed horizontally as you may not be able to sit up
  • can take a long time to dry out once wet
  • can be a major risk of being run over by a vehicle at night hence choice of camp site is important
  • ground water flooding can enter swag more easily than most tents as their bucket wall of the floor is not as high
    • this can be addressed by placing them on an appropriate stretcher bed to raise them off the ground which also keeps them cleaner
  • some may find them claustrophobic, especially the traditional swag designs
  • many are not freestanding and must be pegged out via guy ropes at each end
  • generally need to be seasoned to make them more waterproof
  • many are not as waterproof as you may need them to be even with seasoning
  • they can get very muddy on wet ground - some use a ground sheet to protect them.
  • if you want to replace the mattress with a better thicker one, it may need to be rolled up separately
  • most are too hot to be in during the day unless they are under the shade of an awning or tarp

Hiking swags

  • these are lighter basic swags often designed to be rolled up in a weathersealed manner with your sleeping gear and clothes inside and carried on your back instead of a backpack - you will also need a side pack (eg. haversack) and a food pack (“tuckerbag”) to counter the weight of the swag as the early 19thC Australian swagmen wore
  • Remote Projects Adventure Swag
  • Alton Walkabout Swag
    • 20,000mm waterhead 4gsm Nanopore triple layer windproof but breathable fabric at 20,000g/m2/24hrs breathability and no DWR coatings needed
    • NoSeeUm micromesh, YKK zippers;
    • ripstop nylon footprint
    • 2x 7.9mm aluminium poles - can be used without poles if you tie out these to elevated attachment points such as a ridge line
    • 2x 2m Dyneema guy lines
    • 10x alumiunium pegs
    • NO sleeping mat included
    • head end allows space for up to a 60L backpack as well as a large sleeping mat
    • 261 X 102 X 53.7cm; allows ~20cm space between face and mesh however when lying on side hips will contact mesh.
    • weight: swag only 925g without groundsheet, poles or pegs (poles add 180g); packed weight 1.47kg packs to 35x15x15cm

Car camping swags

insulated swags

air inner tents


australia/swags.txt · Last modified: 2023/10/20 17:59 by gary1

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