A whole swag of fun
  |  First Published: May 2004

NOT SINCE that old bloke camped by the billabong have swags been more popular than they are today.

A typically Australian product, swags are used by thousands of campers, from jackaroos to anglers. In some circumstances, a swag can be the only convenient way to get a good night’s sleep when you’re in the Outback. There are also countless riverbanks and streams that are just calling out to be fished, and sleeping under the stars is often the best option. The swag is the ideal solution for overnight fishing trips, whether you’re staying on the boat or on land. They even make excellent seats when rolled up.

The main criteria for a swag are that it should be waterproof, comfortable and easy to use. While there are many styles available, the idea is the same: a tough canvas bag with a comfortable mattress and maybe even some insect protection.

Australian made swags are the best around as they are made to suit Australian conditions. Down Under Swags makes one of the best ranges of Aussie swags. The cotton canvas is plain weave and heavily re-enforced TearCheck, also known as Ripstop. It’s exceptionally light but is the toughest on the market. Fully proofed, the canvas is 17oz and the mesh is super-strong, sandfly-proof Finetex. Styles vary according to taste, with prices ranging from around $200 for a single to $600 for a double. The most popular is the king-size Goanna, which sells for around $380. You can find your nearest stockist at swag.com.au/downunderswags or by calling Paragon Wholesale & Import on (08) 8396 1677.

There are many other Australian-made swags on the market, as well as a few imported varieties – just be sure to check the quality of canvas and denier of mesh before you buy, as this can make the difference between a good camp and a great one. The imported models don’t have the same quality canvas and the inner mattresses are not quite as comfortable as the local items. The mesh doesn’t appear to be as strong and the weave is a lot more open, so sandflies may get in. Prices range from $99 to $269, and these models are probably best for those who aren’t sure how often they’ll use a swag. Remember though, that a quality swag will last you a lifetime.

Once you have purchased your swag, take note of how it is rolled before you unroll it. If you understand how it comes rolled up, when you have to re-roll it the job won’t be too daunting.

When setting up your swag, if there is any wind make sure that that the foot of the swag is pointing in that direction. It keeps the swag streamlined against the wind. When packing your swag it’s a good idea to lay out your clothes first, then place your sleeping bag on top before rolling the swag. This creates a soft layer for sleeping and also ‘irons’ the clothes at the same time.

All swags suffer from condensation under adverse conditions, and in this respect they’re no different from any other enclosed area. An important feature of swags is that the cotton canvas has the ability to breathe. The proofing process is strictly controlled so the pores don’t become clogged, allowing water vapour to escape from the inside but preventing rain droplets from the outside.

Because the swag is a confined sleeping space it needs to be aired regularly. Airing ensures that it remains dry and doesn’t develop mould. As with all camping equipment, if you take great care with it while it’s being used and store it correctly, it will last a long time.

Overall, a swag is a fantastic addition to the outdoor person’s equipment. You won’t have to put up a tent, blow up a mattress or hammer in pegs. Just throw your swag on the ground, unroll and hop in.



Swags roll up to a convenient size for transport or stowing in a boat.


Down Under Swag’s Goanna is probably the best seller on the market.


There is plenty of room for two youngsters in the average adult swag.

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