Swag Buying Guide

Getting away from it all is easy with a swag — a compact, all-in-one shelter and bed. Swags come with a mattress and are made from sturdy materials to protect you from the elements. They're small, portable and extremely easy to set up, so you can find a spot and set up camp fast. This guide outlines the key things to consider when choosing the right swag for you.

Swags are:

  • Small, light and easy to carry
  • Extremely easy to set up
  • Comfy thanks to an included mattress
  • Waterproof and long-lasting
  • Sturdy in rainy, windy conditions
  • Warm in winter and cool in summer
  • Popular for motorbike and 4WD 

Is a swag or a tent best for hiking?

It's really a personal choice, but the two key things to consider are:

  • Weight
    • Swags are made from heavier fabrics (cotton or polycotton) so they're great for motorbike, car and 4WD trips
    • Hiking tentsare made from lighter fabrics (nylon or polyester) and are usually far smaller than a swag when packed so they're easier to carry on your back
  • Comfort
    • Swags are lower to the ground so usually have less head height than hiking tents
    • Swags have a built-in mattress and they're also quick and easy to set up
    • Swags are insulated and breathable, so you're cool in the heat and warm in the cold

Want to know more about what to look for in a hiking tent? Check out the Tents Buying Guide for a detailed run down.


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Which is the best swag for camping?

Swags aren’t a one-size-fits-all so it’s a good idea to work out which swag will best suit your unique needs before you make a purchase. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Where you'll be using the swag, and in what range of weather conditions
  • How much space you need — the length and width needs to be the right size for your body and any camping gear you want to keep with you
  • If you'll be sharing the swag, or just want some extra room, you might want a double swag
  • How fast you want to set up and pack down the swag 
  • How often you'll campand for how long
  • How long you want it to last (do you want a swag you can use for many years to come?)


Which swag should you buy for camping?

Choosing a swag is simple when you break it down into these four steps:

1. Size

Swags are designed for one or two people, and it's often a trade-off between comfort and weight:

  • Bigger swags with more headroom and more legroom are heavier
  • Double swags are usually too long to fit in a car boot, so you'll need a set of roof racks

Swags generally come in three sizes:


Swag Size Length Width
Single Swag 180-230cm 60-90cm
King Single Swag 190-230cm 90-115cm
Double Swag 190-230cm 110-130cm



Your swag needs to be long enough for you to sleep lying straight and be wide enough to comfortably fit yourself and anything else you want with you in the swag overnight.


How To Choose Swag For Camping - Single Swag

2. Materials

The materials a swag is made from determine how sturdy, weatherproof and long-lasting the swag will be.

Fabric — used for the swag’s walls, top and floor:

  • Canvas/cotton
    • Waterproof (needs to be seasoned before first use then every few years)
    • Breathable so is cool in hot, dry summer weather and warm in winter
    • Heavy (especially when wet)
    • More prone to tear, shrink and wrinkle than polyester and polycotton, unless it's a Ripstop® fabric
    • Putting a tarp underneath prevents rain seeping in and gives you an outside mat
  • PVC and Polyester (used for the floor in some swags)
    • More waterproof than cotton
    • Dries faster than cotton but doesn't breathe well so can cause condensation in very cold or hot weather
    • More durable than cotton
  • Polycotton
    • A blend of polyester and cotton fibres
    • Combines the benefits of both fabrics
    • Lighter than cotton while still strong
    • More breathable than polyester
    • More tear and wrinkle resistant than cotton
    • Dries faster than a pure cotton swag

Also think about the fabric's:

  • Durability
    • Ripstop® fabric helps prevent rips so your swag lasts longer
    • Rot-proof fabric prevents mould and mildew forming
  • Sun protection
    • UV treatment — so you're protected from the sun's harsh UV rays
    • Ability to block out sunlight — unless you want to rise with the sun!
    • Thread count — like sheets, the higher the thread count, the more breathable the fabric is. It's not relevant to how waterproof a swag is, only how heavy and breathable.
  • Weight
    • The fabric's thickness is measured in gsm (grams per square metre)
    • A higher gsm swag is more waterproof and able to handle stronger winds
    • A low gsm fabric is lighter and less durable than a higher gsm fabric


Floor Fabric Cotton/Canvas Polycotton PVC
Most waterproof   X
Fastest drying   X
Most breathable & least condensation X  
Coolest in the sun & warmest at night X  
Mould & mildew maintenance required X  
Cheapest   X
Longest lasting   X



Some swags have rope that attaches the swag to the ground with pegs to:

  • Keep the swag stable and secure in rough weather
  • Helps rainwater run off your swag

Ventilation mesh

Some swags have mesh door and/or window ventilation panels that:

  • Let air flow through the swag to keep you cool on hot nights and keep the mozzies, flies and bugs out, so you sleep well (though it’s still a good idea to take insect protection with you)
  • Help prevent moist air from being trapped inside the swag, which can cause condensation that makes the inside of your swag damp
  • Are positioned under a fabric panel that zips down over the mesh when it's raining or cold to keep you warm and dry


Choosing a swag that has tough, non-rusting zips is essential if you want:

  • To keep out creepy crawlies
  • A swag you can use for many years

When comparing zips, look for:

  • Numbers (#10 zips) — the higher the number the tougher they'll be, and longer they'll last
  • Ease of use — try opening and closing zips to see if it's smooth or sticks/catches the fabric
  • Stitching quality — make sure zips are all sewn into the swag fabric securely and evenly


Some swags have poles, while others don't. Better quality poles won't snap in high winds so will last longer. Poles can be made from a range of materials.

  • Alloy — extremely strong, can handle pressure and bend a bit
  • Steel — stronger than aluminium, fibreglass and carbon fibre but not as strong as alloy
  • Aluminium — stronger and lighter than fibreglass, lasts longer than carbon fibre
  • Carbon fibre — extremely light and strong, but not as long-lasting as aluminium
  • Fibreglass — won't last as long as aluminium, alloy, steel and carbon fibre poles


A covered storage space that extends out from the front or side of the swag:

  • Gives you more space to store your gear and protect it from the elements
  • Perfect for drying wet gear outside overnight so it's clean and dry inside the swag
  • A swag with two vestibules (over two doors) gives you even more storage space


Some swags have:

  • Pockets so it's easy to stay organised and find your phone, torchand toilet paper
  • A hook on the ceiling so you can hang up a camping light or torch


Swags have a built-in mattress:

  • Thickness is measured in mm, and most swags have a mattress thickness of 35mm-70mm
  • Mattress quality and comfort level differs between different swags
  • The mattress also acts as insulation from the cold ground
  • It's often a trade-off between weight and comfort:
    • Thick, high-density mattresses are more comfortable and keep you warmer
    • Thin, low-density foam is lighter but less comfortable and can collapse over time
  • Self-inflating mattresses and pillows are comfortable, compact and great for hiking
  • Some mattresses have a removable, washable cover so they're easy to keep clean
  • You can always upgrade your mattress for a more comfortable sleep
How To Choose Swag For Camping - Double Swag

3. Types

Swags come in different shapes, and the choice comes down to personal preference:

  • A simple envelope shape with canvas over your face
  • With poles — one vertical apex pole at the end, or dome-shaped poles
  • With entrances into the swag from one or both sides, or via the top

Apex Swags

These swags are:

  • Light, compact and easy to carry
  • Set up fast — just roll and insert the pole

Dome Swags

Dome swags are also known as tunnel swags and are:

  • Shaped like a dome thanks to flexible poles that bend
  • More spacious inside, so better if you sleep on your side
  • Shaped to direct rain off the swag and can withstand bad weather
  • Usually ventilated with mesh panels
  • Designed to keep creepy crawlies out
  • Higher inside for sitting up/getting dressed
  • Made in small and large sizes


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How To Choose Swag For Camping - Dome Swag

4. Quality

When you're trying to work out which swag to buy, weigh up the quality against the cost:

  • Single swags are cheaper than double swags, but double swags can sleep two
  • Swags with more head height are more comfortable but they cost more
  • Swags made with polycotton fabric are cheaper than 100% cotton swags
  • The thicker and more comfortable the mattress is, the more the swag generally costs

If you look after a swag, it can give you decades of comfortable camping, so it's worth spending a bit more on a good-quality swag if you can. Swags also come in handy if you're staying at someone's house and want a comfortable night's sleep

How much are swags?

Anaconda swags range from $150 to $750, and the majority of Anaconda's swags are $150 to $400.

When you go to the swag section on the Anaconda website, you'll see tick box filters all down the left-hand side. Using these filters makes it easier and faster to work out which swag to buy, because you can choose to filter the swags you see by brand, price those on sale.


Getting the most out of your swag

Once you've got your swag, you'll need to know how to look after it, so it lasts for as long as possible. You’ll also want to deck it out with all the right camping gear and accessories, so it’s just right for you.

How to waterproof a swag

Waterproofing a swag is also called 'seasoning'. Seasoning swells the canvas and stitching thread, before shrinking it and sealing all the tiny needle holes created when the swag was made.

You’ll need to season your swag:

  • Before you use it — otherwise you'll get wet if it rains when you're camping
  • Every few years — so it always keeps the rain out and you're a happy camper

Season your swag in four simple steps:

  • Set up the swag
    • Outside at home for a few days
    • Close the swag windows and doors
  • Hose the swag
    • Forcefully for 5-10 minutes
    • Saturate the whole swag
    • Focus on the seams
    • Give areas with lots of needle holes an extra soak
  • Let the swag dry
    • Leave it outside in the sun
    • Make sure it is completely dry
  • Repeat steps 2 and 3 twice
    • Thoroughly hose the swag
    • Let it dry completely
    • Repeat both steps again
  • Check the swag is waterproof
    • Climb inside the swag
    • Get someone to hose it
    • Check the inside for leaks
    • Hose any leaky areas again
    • Let the swag dry completely
    • Test and hose again if needed


How to maintain your swag

  • Clean dirt and debris off with warm water after every camping trip
  • Don't ever use aerosol sprays in or anywhere near your swag
  • Dry the swag before packing it up (or dry it as soon as you get home)

Swag accessories

Swags are a great all-in-one package when it comes to camping but there are still few accessories that can really take your camping experience up a notch or two.

  • Sleeping bag: A good sleeping bag is essential when you’re out in the elements. The best sleeping bag for you will depend on what kind of temperatures you’ll be using it in. For an in-depth look at how to choose a sleeping bag check out our Sleeping Bag Buying Guide.
  • Stretcher: A stretcher can literally elevate your camping experience by lifting you up off the ground. This will increase airflow, minimising condensation and help you stay dry in even the wettest conditions.
  • Mattress: Most swag mattresses are more than adequate for a comfortable sleep while camping. However, upgrading to a premium sleeping mat will provide added padding and insulation making you even more comfortable when it’s time for some shut-eye.


Complete your swag camping setup

Once you’ve got your swag sorted, you’ll / to make sure you’re decked out with a full camping setup so you can relax in comfort. Here are a few things to consider when working out the best setup for you. 

  • Camping chair: Unless you fancy sitting on a log (and there’s nothing wrong with that!) you’re going to / a camping chair for your setup. Anaconda has a huge range of camping chairs to suit any budget.
  • Camp kitchen: Whether you plan on cooking on the fire, on a gas camp stove or a bit of both, it’s essential you work out your camp cooking setup before you head off. For an in depth look at camp cooking, check out our Camp Stoves and BBQ Buying Guide.
  • Cooler: Once you’ve worked out how you’ll cook your food, you’ll need a way to keep it (and any drinks and bait you may / to bring) cold. The traditional Aussie cooler will be more than adequate for most short camping trips, while a powered camping fridge will ensure even the most intrepid adventurer can reach for a cold one at the end of a long day of adventuring.
  • Gazebos and awnings: It’s a good idea to bring along some extra shelter so you don’t have to lie in your swag every time it rains. Setting up an awning or gazebo will ensure you stay comfortable and dry, even if the weather turns bad. Check out our Awnings Buying Guide to find the ideal solution for you.
  • Health and safety: Accidents can happen and the best thing you can do is make sure you’re prepared for them if they do. Make sure you have your health and safety covered to ensure your trip is memorable for all the right reasons.

Other Camping & Hiking Essentials

Anaconda has a massive range of camping and camping & hiking products to suit any adventure. If you’d like some more help working out what you need for your ideal swag camping setup, take a look at our store finder and drop into an Anaconda store near you — our friendly team members will be happy to help.



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