Why camp in a canvas swag?
I am often asked why a swag is better than tent or hammock camping so I thought I’d take a few moments to write up my thoughts on the subject. While I don’t necessarily suggest that any one system is better, they all have their pros and cons, there are a lot of benefits that the humble canvas swag can offer:
Super fast set up (and break down)
As with the early bedrolls in the days of the Jolly Swagman, modern swags are incredibly quick and easy to pitch. You can just turn up at your chosen site, throw the swag on the floor and unroll it. OK, in some cases it’s a bit more than that, but most swags need only two pegs, or none if tying up to a tree or vehicle. Dome swags usually have between 1 and 3 poles and set up really can be done in around a minute. Couple that with the fact that you may wish to keep your sleeping bag or blankets inside the swag when travelling and you have a very quick and efficient set up.
Carry the swag and nothing else
If you are looking for a no-frills overnighter it is perfectly possible to take everything you need in your swag roll. Lay your sleeping bag, pillow and maybe a tarp on top of the mattress inside your swag and roll it up. This gives you a single item to throw in your vehicle or carry a short distance. A packed and rolled swag may weigh about 8kg, so it’s not a lightweight trekking option but it gives you a useful way to carry all your gear and not leave anything behind.
Excellent temperature control
Swags are made from heavy duty cotton or polycotton canvas which has great insulating properties. So if it’s cold outside, the swag will keep you warm. The supportive foam mattress and PVC base add to the warmth, giving you an extremely comfortable place to lay your head. Most swags have great ventilation which means that, coupled with the relative small size, condensation is pretty much non-existent. In the summer the swag will keep you cool. That ventilation and the ability to fold back the storm cover, leaving just the bug net, allows the breeze to cool you down.
Stargazing – the romance of the great outdoors
In the summer months it is a joy to spend a night under the stars. A swag, with its bug mesh, allows you to sleep in comfort with the storm cover open safe in the knowledge that you’re safe from bites. The solid canvas sides of the swag still afford you a feeling of security with the entire universe looking down on you.
Swags were originally developed in the Australian outback where conditions can be harsh. Heavy duty canvas and thick PVC bases are only part of the story. Quality stitching, wide nylon webbing and aircraft grade aluminium poles all contribute to a tough piece of equipment that can be relied upon for far longer than your average polyester tent. Brushing against thorns, being thrown onto the top of the truck, freezing cold nights – all no trouble for a quality canvas swag.
A perfect quick ‘ready bed’
A lot of people in the UK drive pick up trucks, just like the Aussie ‘Ute’. A swag is perfect to chuck in the back and sleep in the load area. It’s equally at home as a guest bed when you turn up at your mate’s unannounced. Just unroll your swag and you have a comfortable mattress and sleeping bag at a moment’s notice.
Forgotten your pegs? No problem
If you were to lose, forget or break your tent pegs it is much less of a problem with a swag. A swag generally needs between zero and three pegs but, because so few are used, it can be tied to nearby trees or other objects. Just try pitching a tent correctly using only pre-located branches and so on!
Due to the heavy canvas, a swag lets in very little sunlight when the storm cover is closed. This means that you won’t ‘boil in the bag’ like a brightly coloured polyester tent but you will also find that the bright early morning sunlight won’t necessarily wake you up before you want it to. The heavy canvas also gives a real sense of security as it deadens sounds from outside. It gives the swag camper an incredibly comfortable night’s sleep with a feeling of safety and sanctuary that other systems cannot.
Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it. The only way to really find out is to try for yourself. Pay a visit to one of our retailers or see us at a show and we can let you make up your own mind about the virtues of camping in a canvas swag.
More details on our range of canvas swags can be seen here.