All-In-One: Australian ‘Swag’ Tents Hit U.S. Camping Market

Heavy-duty construction, a built-in mattress, and quick setup make ‘swag’-style tents unique. An Australian company is betting the all-in-one design could become popular in the United States.

Last month, after writing an article about roof-top tent camping, a small company from Australia contacted me about a shelter it claims has many of the same benefits.

The Pioneer Swag Tent ($299) is definitely car-camping gear — it weighs 20 pounds and includes a “2-inch egg-crate style foam mattress with washable cover.”

The shelter is made from heavy ripstop canvas, the same material as many roof-top shelters. It’s all suspended by three 5/16″ aluminum poles.

All-In-One Tent

The main fabric is burly, waterproof stuff, much heavier than that used by regular camping tents, and that plus the included mattress help form the tenuous relationship to rooftop tents. The heavy materials will make for a warmer structure than lighter nylon tents, and it should prove to be solid in winds, rain, and snow.

However, this is decidedly an “on the ground” tent, and it will have to compete with more versatile (and much lighter) tents, inflatable sleeping pads, and even bivy-type structures that do a similar job at a tiny fraction of the weight.

outback swags pioneer swag tent

A ‘Swag’ Is Shelter

If you’ve never heard of a “swag,” you probably don’t live in Australia. Swags are a style of heavy-duty shelter aimed at the individual car camper. They often have built-in mattresses or even cots, and they don’t have much internal storage or vestibule space.

Think of them as a burly, easy-to-pitch bivy shelter with an Australian accent and an integrated bed.

outback swags interior

Outback Swags launched about three months ago in the U.S. and is hoping to grow this variation on the camp tent in the North American market.

I hadn’t seen similar tents until I was contacted by Outback Swags. But researching the genre and seeing a few similar swags for sale, it seems like these shelters from down under could fill a decent niche in the U.S. for anyone looking at a no-fuss outdoors shelter.

Some of the purported benefits could be good for people who spend a lot of time car camping or living on the road. With the significant interest in rooftop camping, we’ll watch as swags make their way into camping consciousness over here in the States.

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Managing Editor Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in Denver, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.

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