Best Swags for Camping and Overnight Hikes (Australia Buying Guide)

Last updated: December 2, 2020

There’s nothing more Australian than sleeping under the stars in a classic swag. Just in case you don’t know what a swag is, it’s essentially a portable shelter used for sleeping and camping.

Using a swag to sleep in may not be for everyone, but there are some really comfortable swags out there that deserve your consideration. While the traditional one-person swag is rather basic, some modern swags can even be called luxurious.

In this article we’re going to share 5 of the best swags that are great for overnight hikes and camping trips, considering criteria such as size, mattress, weight, comfort, materials used, and price.

If, after reading this article, you still prefer to sleep in a tent (we won’t hold that against you), check out our list of best hiking tents for some great options.
Best Traditional Swag:
OZtrail Cooper Expedition
Best Dome Swag:
Darche Dusk to Dawn 900
OZtrail Cooper Expedition Single SwagDarche Dusk to Dawn Swag 900
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The swags recommended in this article are sold by Snowys and Tentworld, two of Australia’s most comprehensive online stores for outdoor gear. Please note that we may earn a small commission if you purchase via our website at no extra cost to you.

Top 5 Swags in Australia

Here we go, five high quality swags that you can use for your hiking and camping adventures. We have included traditional as well as dome swags, for one person as well as for two persons.

1. OZtrail Cooper Expedition Single Swag

OZtrail Cooper Expedition Single Swag

This Oztrail Cooper Expedition model is perhaps the most traditional swag you can get your hands on right now. And ultimately, this is what a swag should really be like. Simply roll it out, and you’re ready to rest and fall asleep under the stars.

This super sturdy 1-person swag is made from tough 230 gsm (gram per sqm) ripstop canvas, making it stronger without the extra weight. The base is made with PVC vinyl, which helps to keep you dry should the surface you’re lying on get soggy.

The foam mattress is 5 cm thick and is comfortable enough. The best thing about this swag though is that setting up and packing up is as easy as it gets. And with a weight of only 4 kg, it’s great for overnight hiking adventures.

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Summary
Sleeping capacity:1 person
Sleeping area:200 x 75 cm
Packed dimensions:75 × 24 x 24 cm
Weight:4 kg

2. Darche Dusk to Dawn Swag 900

Darche Dusk to Dawn Swag 900

If you’re looking for a 1-person swag with a little more comfort and protection from the elements than the traditional OZtrail from above, this Darche Dusk to Dawn model is a fantastic option. It’s slightly bigger than the OZtrail, but also heavier to carry around.

The Dusk to Dawn swag comes in three different sizes (900, 1100 and 1400), depending on how much space you need and if you’re going to have someone sleeping next to you. We’ve included the 1400 version in this list of best swags in Australia as well, at number 4, as a swag for two persons.

As you can see from the photo, the Dusk to Dawn is a dome swag. A dome swag typically has more height so you get more room to move around and sit up. Dome swags also often have curved tent poles to help with stability.

This particular Darche Dusk to Dawn swag comes with two large entries, a thick 7 cm foam mattress, 2 internal storage pockets, a strong PVC bucket base, and a 420 gsm proofed ripstop polycotton canvas. Overall, this high quality swag provides both the comfort as well as the protection you need while sleeping outside in the bush.

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Summary
Sleeping capacity:1 person
Sleeping area:215 x 90 cm
Packed dimensions:94 × 26 x 26 cm
Weight:12.8 kg

3. OZtrail Mitchell Expedition Single Swag

OZtrail Mitchell Expedition Single Swag

If you prefer the OZtrail brand and want to some more comfort than their basic Cooper Expedition model above, the Mitchell Expedition swag is worth looking into. The biggest plus is that the Mitchell has a bit more height, so you can move around more easily.

The Mitchell is made from ripstop canvas and has a PVC vinyl base. The swag also comes with three alloy poles to set it up and hold it together. It also comes with a handy ziped top entry, and full-size mesh panels for insect protection and extra ventilation during those warmer nights.

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Summary
Sleeping capacity:1 person
Sleeping area:210 x 90 cm
Packed dimensions:90 × 28 x 28 cm
Weight:6.3 kg

4. Darche Dusk to Dawn Swag 1400

Darche Dusk to Dawn Swag 1400

The Dusk to Dawn 1400 has a significantly wider sleeping area than the 900 above, which makes it suitable for two people too sleep in reasonably comfortably.

With 15 kg, it’s a rather heavy swag though, just keep that in mind. However, if you’re going to use it for a camping trip with your car, the weight shouldn’t be that much of an issue at all.

Overall, this 1400 model offers the same set of features as the 900, it’s just a little bigger to make it a high quality 2-person swag.

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Summary
Sleeping capacity:2 persons
Sleeping area:215 x 140 cm
Packed dimensions:140 × 26 x 26 cm
Weight:15 kg

5. Darche Nebula 1550 Swag

Darche Nebula 1550 Swag

Based on the picture, you may be forgiven to think that this is a tent. But really, it’s a swag. Or otherwise a miniature tent, since it does have certain features that tents also have.

With a weight of 22 kg, this 2-person swag is the heaviest in this list of best swags. That’s no surprise though, because it’s also the roomiest one. The internal sleeping area is 225 cm long and 150 cm wide, which is more than enough room for two people to sleep comfortably.

Setting up and packing away the Darche Nebula 1550 swag is still easier and faster than a tent, using its sturdy 5-piece pole structure. What’s great about this swag is that it has windows or entries all around, which creates a nice cozy atmosphere inside, especially on warm sunny nights.

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Summary
Sleeping capacity:2 persons
Sleeping area:225 x 150 cm
Packed dimensions:150 × 35 x 35 cm
Weight:22 kg

Swags Explained (And Why You Need One)

Camping has come a long way since Banjo Patterson first wrote about a “jolly swagman” in the song Waltzing Matilda, but the practicality and freedom of a swag hasn’t changed. If you are a solo traveller, or just prefer to travel light, a swag may be the perfect solution for you.

Let’s dive a little deeper into the wonderful world of swags in Australia.

What Is a Swag?

If you want a real Aussie bush experience, you should think about getting a swag.

If you’ve never heard of a swag before, you might be surprised to learn that it actually has quite a long history in Australia. A swag is basically a 1-person tent, but shaped like a sleeping bag with a mattress at the bottom. It is sometimes also called a bedroll.

The swag is believed to have originated in Australia in the early 19th century when it was used by solo travellers called “Swagmen”. These people who lived on the road, travelling from town to town looking for work in difficult economic times, sleeping in the bush in their swag when they couldn’t afford other accommodation.

Types of Swags

Lucky for you, swags are far more sophisticated these days, and there are plenty of different models to choose from depending on your needs and budget. There are two main types of swag, a traditional swag, and a dome swag.

A traditional swag looks very similar to a sleeping bag, it usually just has a top and bottom layer of material with a mattress sewn into the bottom. The top piece usually has a long flap at the opening of the swag that acts as a little roof to protect your head from the rain and sun. A traditional swag can be pretty basic, but the advantage is that it is lightweight, very easy to pack away, and to setup.

Dome swag in Australian outback
Dome swag in Australian outback

A dome swag is the next evolution of a swag, which looks a lot more like a modern tent. Dome swags usually have a higher roof to give you more space (around 60-70cm high), with curved tent poles at either end to hold the shape of the swag. Dome swags usually include fancier options, like ventilation windows for camping in warmer climates, and internal storage pockets for water bottles, and other accessories.

Swag or Tent?

You are probably wondering why you would invest in a swag when there are so many tent options available in the market.

Unlike a traditional tent, swags are often quicker and more intuitive to set up and pack away, leaving you more time to sleep or get started back on your hike.

Swags are ideal if you are camping by yourself, and they are really handy if you are hiking and carrying all your own gear. The biggest advantage of a swag is that it is more lightweight than a tent, and is designed to pack easily into a “swag bag” which is no bigger than your average gym bag.

Things to Look Out For

There are some key things to look out for when choosing a swag. Even though a swag is designed for 1 person, they are usually available in two or three different sizes to suit your body shape.

Key elements of a good swag include good quality canvas, which should be made from a blend of cotton and polyester to make the swag breathable, but also to prevent mould growth and tears. Some swags may be made from canvas with “heavy-duty ripstop”, which means that nylon has been woven into the material, and this will give it extra strength without adding weight.

High-quality zippers like YKK brand or coil zips are also important. They should be strong and robust, with large pull tabs to make them easy to open and close, especially when they get caked with dirt or salt.

Think about the climate or environment that you will be camping in, that will make a big difference to the options to look for in your swag. For example, if you are camping in a hot climate, ventilation windows will make a big difference to your comfort, as will having a canvas base instead of a PVC base on your swag.

PVC is super waterproof, but it doesn’t breathe, so you might consider using a tarp under your swag instead to create a barrier from the moisture from the ground.

A swag bag is also an important accessory to make it easier for you to transport the swag, and protect it from dirt and water.

 

Best swags for camping and hiking

 
 
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