What is a swag?
A swag, in Australia, is a portable sleeping package, but it is also known around the world as a bedroll. In its simplest form, a swag consists of a mattress and bedding wrapped in canvas for protection. It is laid on the ground for sleeping and rolled up for transport.
The humble swag has come a long way from its modest beginnings when shearers, miners and explorers carried their swags across Australia on foot or horseback. This is where the term ‘swagman’ came from, and the swags they carried were a simple yet comfortable means of sleeping at night in the Outback.
Little did these swagmen know that what began through necessity would grow to be appreciated by modern campers and 4WDers far and wide, all seeking the simple pleasures experienced when sleeping under the stars.
Modern swags for camping
Even the simple envelope style swags available today could be considered high tech compared to the traditional swags of years gone by, with their zippers and advancements in fabrics. Most swags today have forged ahead to blur the lines between swags and tents and probably deserve their own title as ‘swents’.
The new styles offer an alternative for people seeking the simplicity of camping in a swag but with more than just a few flaps of canvas to protect them from the night air. Many swags now come with even more poles than your average hiking tent whilst others just boast a single awning pole to keep the canvas off your face. The most popular design, however, is the tunnel or hoop style swag, consisting of two or three flexible poles. They also offer multiple entry points with door covers that double as awnings, as well as mesh panels for ventilation.
Single, King Single or Double?
Once the original swag design was refashioned, a choice of sizes soon followed. Swag styles now cater for solo travellers, couples, and for those who desire more room to either stretch out or allow for their four-legged friend to bed down for the night alongside them.
Luckily for the consumer, swag sizing is relatively consistent between makes and models, with single swags offering 90 cm width, a king single swag offers 110cm plus a little more length, and double swags with 140cm. A biker swag is a bit different and usually comes with 50cm swag mattress to enable it to be strapped to a bicycle
Buying a swag online
Whilst the range of swags we have to choose from nowadays is far greater than the choice available to the swagmen of yesteryear, the number of styles is relatively synonymous and for those shopping online, much can be ascertained from 'user' reviews, making the process much more transparent and straightforward.
The phrase ‘you get what you pay for’ Is particularly important when choosing the swag that best suits your needs. A cheap swag is likely to be made from low-quality canvas and utilise less durable stitching and components. This may suit the very occasional user but regular campers will benefit from investing in a higher-end swag that offers materials and a level of construction that will ensure your swag can be passed down for generations to come.
Australian made swags
With the popularity to outsource manufacturing abroad, Australian made swags are few and far between. Snowys are proud supporters of Aussie Outback Supplies (AOS) whose range of swags are made from high-quality canvas in Perth, Western Australia and are designed specifically for the Australian Outback. By buying an AOS swag, you are supporting Australian made.