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Swag Tent (What are they, how to use them and are they safe?)

Many people have probably heard of the word swag before. It has become commonplace to use in society. However, today we are using it to talk about something many people from the US, especially if they are not outdoorsy, may not have heard before.

The swag tent is a one-person roll-up canvas bag with a built-in mattress for camping invented in Australia. It zips all the way around and is generally waterproof and keeps bugs out.

Swag Tents: What you need to know.

• What is a swag tent?

• How the swag tent is designed.

• Why use a swag tent?

• Best swag tent for camping.

• How to use a swag tent.

• Are swag tents safe?

• Swag tents compared to regular tents.

What is a swag tent?

The swag tent began in Australia. It was used by travelers and workers who had to move for employment. The swag was initially designed to be rolled up and be easy for people to carry on their backs as they moved about the Australian countryside. Shepherds, miners, and agricultural workers mainly used it.

They have now evolved into something much outdoors people love to use. It is still common to see people using one in Australia, but they have gone through some modernizations that make them less realistic to carry on your back.

How the Swag Tent is Designed.

Swags started very simply as canvas bags with a small mattress inside to be rolled up and strapped to a person's back. The general idea behind a swag is to have a bed and tent be one thing so a person can quickly move about. That idea has been kept to the modern era and has gone through some improvements.

Modern swags are now waterproof, sometimes bug-proof, and still include a thin mattress. You can easily fit a sleeping bag inside for further comfort and warmth. Swags zip completely shut as well. They break down easily and are very compact, making them ideal for quick trips and light packing.

Why Use a Swag Tent?

Swags are small, convenient, and easy to use. They were developed for use in one of the most challenging camping terrains in the world, the Australian outback. They were initially made to be tough and last a long time. That is something that was not lost in translation when updating designs and materials.

They are small, which means controlling the temperature inside is easier because there is less space to heat and cool. They retain body heat very well, so once you get inside and set up a sleeping bag, it will stay warm. The same ease can be said to cool it as well.

The swag needs to be opened slightly while leaving the built-in mesh layer sealed, and cool air will come in while keeping pests out. Swags also have built-in foam mattresses, which means you don't need to bring a sleeping bag if you don't want to.

Best Swag Tents for Camping (4 Things to consider).

When shopping for a swag and picking the best one, there are a few things to keep in mind: the material the swag is made of, the design of the swag, the mattress that comes with the swag, and the price. Knowing the answers to these will help you pick the very best swag for you.

1. Materials are a significant factor for a swag. The fabric used for the canvas will ensure how waterproof it will be. For the best water resistance, you want to get a canvas made from high-quality cotton or poly-cotton, which was milled precisely to make swags. Some swag manufacturers will try to use other waterproofing methods to improve their swags.

2. Swag designs play a vital role in how well the swag performs to keep you dry and warm. Look closely at the drainage and ventilation. It should be keeping water away from the zippers and other openings. Also, look at where the swag meets the floor, as this is an area where leaking can be an issue.

3. A benefit of the swag is the mattress that comes with it. This is a big reason people decide to get a swag instead of a sleeping bag and tent. The mattresses are generally only 2-3 inches thick, but that can make all the difference when you are sleeping on the ground for days at a time. When looking for a swag, pay attention to what is listed, so you are comfortable with the purchase and the swag.

4. Lastly, look at the price of the swag. Like tents and other camping supplies, the costs can vary. The higher the price, the better the quality, most of the time. So bear in mind when you go shopping for a swag, you might think the price is a bit high, but it is an investment that will last you for years. As long as you are willing to do the upkeep, swags can last for a long time, even when facing the elements.

Here are three swags you may want to look at:

Here is a great swag. The design of the walls is tapered, which makes sure it is stable during windy nights. Inside there is space to move some, and pockets are installed in the walls for added storage and comfort when inside.

There are zip-up windows at both ends and doors on either side. Each opening and window has mesh netting to allow ventilation while keeping bugs out when they are open. The mattress is a few inches thick and made of high-density foam with a poly-cotton covering.

The waterproofing is excellent but not the best out there but should be enough to keep anyone dry with very minimal leaking. The doors can be turned into awnings with the purchase of other polls.

The alloy polls help it keep the shape and make it easy to put together for anyone of any skill level. The swag can be broken down just as easily and comes with a canvas carrying bag.

When it comes to swags, there are few that are as tough as this one. The great thing about this one is that it not only comes in a single-occupancy style but as in doubles, so you can bring a spouse, sibling, or close friend with you and still feel like you have space.

There are ventilation spots on both ends of the swag and on each side where there is a door. The ventilation has a tough mesh which allows only the breezes in. The alloy dome and spreader poles assure the swag keeps its shape is stable even when the weather is less than ideal.

The Wanderer also comes with pegs attached at either end or can be staked into the ground for more stability. You are guaranteed to stay dry with a bucket floor and a poly-cotton canvas. Included with the swag is a weatherproof bag you can use to store shoes or other items you want to keep dry and outside the swag.

How to use a Swag Tent.

Swags are perfect for solo adventures or campers who are looking to travel light and without tents but still want to be comfortable. Swags can be easily set up. They operate much like tents in the aspect that they require some assembly involving poles. Whether you stake them to the ground or not, that is up to the individual. They do not need to be staked for stability.

They have built-in mattresses that can be removed with a bit of work. All that has to be done is assemble the poles and the stretching rod to ensure it is taut. Once that is done, it is move-in ready. You can add a sleeping bag for added comfort if you feel the included mattress is not enough.

You will need to season your swag before using it in the wild. Seasoning a swag is a lot like what you do to a tent after applying waterproofing to it or cleaning it.

First, you must assemble and put it up completely. Next, you take out the mattress and thoroughly close up all the entrances and zippers. Once it is closed up, you soak the entire thing. Be sure to get the stitches, seams, and any relatively drier place than the rest of the swag.

Once the whole swag is wet, you leave it out in a nice dry and sunny spot and wait for it to dry off. Once it is completely dry, you can pack it up, and it is ready to go.

For backpacking, I like this Bushnell. It’s a “copycat” swag tent design. It only weighs 3lbs and fits nicely into any backpack. It’s 8.5 feet long and 4 feet wide giving you plenty of room to sleep and store light gear. It does have a rainfly and mess covering. It’s ready to go right out of the box unlike the other models above that need prepping and cost about a third of what they cost. This is my choice and recommendation.

Are Swags Tents Safe?

Swags are every bit as safe as a tent. They are made of rigid materials, so they do not break easily. The rods supporting them are often alloyed to hold it up well, and for the cautious, they can use tent spikes to add further support.

There are plenty of places for ventilation in a swag, so access to air is never an issue. The same precautions you would take when setting up a tent should be used when using a swag.

Avoid setting up under trees, don't set up too close to water, and make sure to keep it closed when not in use. Common sense and experience are what will keep you safe when camping. Bear that in mind and use the swag how it is intended, and there will be little chance of injury or danger.

Why are swags better than tents?

Swags and tents serve a lot of the same function. They both shield campers from the elements. They are meant to be slept in and are assembled in much the same manner. The main differences are materials and space.

Tents provide much more space as they are functionally portable rooms. A camper can store their gear themselves and depend on the size of the tent other people. Some tents are big enough to house camp stoves and animals.

The materials of a tent are often nylon and various other artificial materials, which have waterproofing added as an additional layer and can include UV protection. They can also break down to be smaller and lighter than some swags.

Swags are made for individuals to inhabit, with the occasional double-sized being used. They are made of tougher cotton-poly canvas material produced to withstand harsh conditions and water. Unlike tents, you do not need to have a sleeping bag as the swag has a mattress built into it.

The swag also has several ventilation points where some tents only have one entrance. Assembly and set up are done efficiently and can be done faster than putting up a tent. Both sides have their merit. It truly comes down to how the campers want to experience nature and how much gear they want to bring.

Join the Aussies.

If you are looking for an alternative to the average tent and try camping differently, try a swag. This will be an investment you can keep and use for years to come. It brings a new way to solo camp and still be comfortable. Swags bring a new meaning to pack up and go. Join the Aussies and get one and give it a whirl. It will not be a wasted experience.

And in case your are wondering this is how I choose a camping tent.

Thanks for reading.

Do yourself a favor, take a kid camping!

Alex Anderson


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