Swag (bedroll)

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One of the many ways to set up some brands of commercial, modern swags
Rolled modern commercial swags

In Australia, a swag is a portable sleeping unit.[1] It is normally a bundle of belongings rolled in a traditional fashion to be carried by a foot traveller in the bush. Before motor transport was common, foot travel over long distances was essential to agriculture in the Australian bush. It is sometimes referred to as a "backpack bed". Swags have been carried by shearers, miners, the unemployed, and many others, some of whom would have been happy to have been called swagmen and some not.[1]

Modern use[edit]

In Australia, the term swag is still widely used to refer to a tent or other portable shelter used for camping or outdoor sleeping.[2][3]

A modern swag is a waterproof canvas sleeping compartment that is sometimes insect-proof. All swags come with a foam mattress, and can comfortably be slept in with the addition of a pillow and sleeping bag.[2] When rolled up the swag is relatively lightweight and compact, making it ideal for storage and transport. It is typically easy to erect, and roll up can be done quickly. Swags are still heavily used in Australia, by overlanders. There are still a large number of manufacturers actively making both standard and custom-design swags. The modern swag is designed for robustness and is marketed towards those travelling by vehicle – they are too heavy and bulky to be transported long distances on foot. Bushwalkers and hikers would use conventional lightweight tents and sleeping bags. More recently, several camping supply firms have produced readymade bedrolls along the pattern of the original swag, and refer to these as "swags".[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Swags for Homeless Backpack Bed fire retardant for homeless Donate tax deductible". Swags.org.au. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Hoekstra, Dave; Sall, Jon; Daniels, Jeff (June 1, 2018). Camper Book: A Celebration of a Moveable American Dream. Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Review Press. p. 93. ISBN 9781613738238.
  3. ^ "Tents To Buy Guide". Wednesday, October 21, 2020