User Tools

Site Tools


swags for camping and sleeping

see also:

  • I don't sell any of these nor do I receive any remuneration if you buy them, and I have not personally reviewed all of them, they are listed here to give you perspective
  • a wet, cold swag will make you cold - if rain or dew is forecast, cover it with a tarp or 4WD awning and consider elevating on a stretcher bed
  • if I was designing them, they would have 3 layers for the entrance(s) - but they only have 2
    • the mesh layer is obvious for ventilation, insect protection and ability to see the stars (although many do not allow a clear view of the sky above)
    • the wind/rainproof layer is obvious and this needs to be outside the mesh and zip downwards to optimise rain proofing which is a bit unfortunate as you have to open the mesh and let insects in to adjust this layer
    • as a 3rd layer, I would also like to see a privacy internal layer which zips UPWARDS from the bottom to not only give you some privacy whilst you can still see sky above, but it allows you to adjust ventilation at body level without having to unzip the mesh - on cool clear star gazing nights, you may want the breeze off your head and such a layer would help achieve this but still allow star gazing.
    • its not as if such a layer would add excessive weight - they are already too heavy for hiking so a bit extra weight is not important
  • It is also a pity the mattress is included and not an optional extra - you may wish to go with your own mattress such as a self-inflating mattress


  • 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 or air 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 are generally best when used OFF the ground on top of a stretcher bed and under a tarp or awning
    • this gives better water insurance from flash flood situations in a storm and allows a more comfortable sitting option with legs over the side when putting boots on, etc
    • the problem with nearly every swag stretcher is that you cannot adjust the leg heights individually - this means you have to choose your site carefully so your head is not downhill which can be problematic if you are setting up under a 4WD vehicle side awning with limited options
    • one of the few stretchers with individual adjustable leg heights is the Wanderer Premium King stretcher BUT this is not really designed for stretchers as it is not flat and has some padding
      • nevertheless some 2 hoop 90cm wide swags may be able to be rigged so they sit nicely on it
      • I am thinking the Darche AD900 Air Volution might work well - would love to try it but unfortunately I only have the stretcher
      • the Darche AD 1100 Air Volution might also work but would overhang the sides by 4“ on each side but the extra width gives greater versatility


  • 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 relatively light 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
  • Geertop Plume Bivy 2 Camo Tent
  • Geertop 1P Camouflage Bivy tent
    • much taller than the above Plume Bivy and inner part is mostly mesh consisting of 2 side mesh doors and a central ceiling fabric but unlike the Plume Bivy, it is dual wall as it also has a fly that can be put over it if rain or cold wind is forecast.
    • 210T PU5000mm polyester fabric fly; 210T polyester fabric, PU2500mm floor; 8.5mm aluminium poles; similar to swags, it has rain protected vents at head and foot ends when pegged out.
    • internal 213x101x91 (head end max height)cm;
    • 1.5kg; packs to 43x11x11cm;
  • Mountain Designs Burrow Bivy Tent Treetop
  • 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

Compact motorcyclist swags

Car camping swags

air pole swags

  • no poles to break or feed through sleeves, may be more storm proof than those with 8.5mm diameter poles
  • Darche Air Volution swags
    • 2 hoop design; 2 large side doors; 20sec pump up into single valve; 5cm mat;
    • 800mmWH 320gsm Proofed Polycotton Ripstop Canvas; super fine mesh; 600gsm PVC floor;
  • AD900 single
    • 205x80cm internal sleeping area
    • 215x90cm external
    • 11.9kg packs to 95x30x30cm; generous bag; includes hand pump
    • this could be the BEST swag to fit on the 85cm wide Wanderer Adjustable Leg Premium King stretcher bed (which is not designed for swags but is one of the few stretchers with adjustable legs)
      • I have not tested this concept but I think it should work!
  • AD 1100 king single
    • if you are not using a stretcher or your stretcher is 110cm wide, then this version may be more versatile for you as you could squeeze a second person in if need be
    • it may just fit the 85cm wide Wanderer Adjustable Leg Premium King stretcher bed but with 4“ overhang on each side
    • 205x100cm internal sleeping area
    • 215x110cm external
    • 14kg packs to 115x40x36cm; generous bag; includes hand pump
  • double version also available.

insulated swags

air inner tents


australia/swags.txt · Last modified: 2024/07/09 12:26 by gary1

Donate Powered by PHP Valid HTML5 Valid CSS Driven by DokuWiki