Pack the Car and Hit the Adventure Button

One of the great things about having a 4wd and a few camping basics is that when you get a couple of days of free time you can just hit the road and head out on an adventure.  At Crashpad we do this on a very regular basis, either to test our gear in a never ending search for improvements and to put potential products we are working on through their paces. Often these trips are spur of the moment and we just throw the few things we need in a 4wd and head off. We don’t plan on where we are going to camp or what tracks we are going to explore, we simply pick a general area and point the truck in that direction and let spontaneity take over.

Travelling like this allows for ultimate freedom, if you come across a magic camping spot or a fishing hole that looks like it might be rewarding then you can simply hit the brakes and explore it. It might just turn out to be a cracking camp site that draws you back years later. Sure from time to time the track you head down might turn out to be nothing and you might have to do a bit of backtracking but isn’t that all part of the adventure.

We usually like to stop at the pub on the way through the local town close to the area we are headed and have a beer and a chat with the publican. They are often a wealth of knowledge on sneaky little camping spots that only the ‘locals’ know. If nothing else you also help the local economy by throwing a few dollars over the bar for a quiet beer.

A few years ago we were on a trip like this out exploring along the Murray River on the Victorian side downstream from Wentworth on the opposite bank. While stopped for a bite of lunch a couple of old fisherman pulled up in their 4wd with the same idea. We got to chatting and they suggested we follow them down the Old Mail Route and they would guide us into a camping spot that they reckoned was ‘just the bees knees’. Anyway after half an hour or so of driving and numerous twists and turns through the scrub we came out on the most magical sandbar. I’m sure those old fisherman left with a great sense of satisfaction looking at the smiles on our faces. We camped in that spot for a few days fishing and swimming and enjoying what truly was a magical spot.

To this day it remains one of our favourite camping spots. The directions to it you ask? Point the car to the Murray River west of Mildura and start exploring and you might just come across it, but does it really matter if you don’t because you will find your own perfect little camping or fishing spot. Oh and if you see those two old fisherman please thank them again.

fire

Seek Adventure

Tower

Swag Nights and Cod Chasing at Copeton

Copeton dam, is a large body of water on the western slopes of the northern tablelands of New South Wales,  a “Brett Lee stones throw” away from the town of Inverell. Due to it geographical position, Copeton is subject to some bloody cold temps through the winter months, (clearing ice from your fishing rod guides between casts and freezing your butane stove type of cold.) Surprisingly, this is one of the hottest times to head there to tangle with one of the oversize Murray cod that call the granite lined perimeters of the dam home.  I set myself a goal this year, the goal was to pack up the truck, throw the Crashpad in, hitch the tinny on and head to Copeton once a month through Autumn and winter to try and work the joint out. As I pen this, I haven’t missed a monthly trip, being it with mates or with my partner Shannon and our bull Arab pup Winston. To cut a long story short, I’ve just bloody fallen in love with the place. It’s simply like no other place I’ve visited, the appeal for me is knowing I can roll my swag out, have a fire and pull the boat up on the bank and just relax, chase an iconic Aussie fish and escape the normality of the everyday grind.

Camping on the banks of Copeton is a pleasure with plenty of flat ground to set up a temporary home. Shannon and I have been sleeping together in our Crashpad with Winston sleeping at our feet and acting like a 20kg hot water bottle. We haven’t felt the cold at all, with our crashmat and sleepsystem keeping us toasty during the below zero nights. The campfire burns through the whole trip and acts as our camp hub, boiling the Billy for a cuppa frequently.

Oh yeah the Cod!!! Almost forgot ………….Copeton has become synonymous amongst the Murray cod scene. It’s the place you go to throw surface lures and have a very real chance of success. While not unique, Copeton’s surface bite through the winter months has become famous Australia wide, with a few international anglers making the trip downunder to try their luck. Seeing one of these giant, motley, green and gold creatures take a surface lure is something that has to witnessed to be believed. The hit often comes out of nowhere when you are alone with your thoughts and scares the proverbial crap out of you. Every sense is left tingling and the sound is like nothing else.

Ive had great success this year throwing timber lures that I hand carve at home in my shed, these lures imitate a water rat. They swim seductively, just breaking the surface of the water and induce heart stopping surface strikes. The success I’ve had has been all the more sweeter using my own creations. Each trip to this stunning fishery has offered up a different set of conditions that has resulted in a different game plan but there’s a backbone to my tactics that remains the same. Here is a very quick “how, why and when” on targeting your PB Murray cod on TOPWATER.

During the winter months the baitfish that the cod harass (Redfin, carp and Bobby cod) move to the shallower and therefore warmer perimeters of the lake, searching for a comfortable temperature, in turn the cod follow. This is why surface luring these shallow edges is so productive. The cod position themselves in the weed and choose wisely what they expel their energy for. A slowly worked, large profile surface lure is a meal worth moving for.  Both land based and boat based angling can be effective.  Early starts and late finishes are the order of the day, be prepared to cast until you can’t cast anymore and then cast again, these fish require hard bloody yakka.

You’ll need a heavy outfit to cast heavy bloody lures and subdue this large adversary. Another very important thing you’ll need to be is prepared!!! With a very good chance of coming in contact with an xos Murray cod you need to be “big fish” prepared. The care and preservation of these fish is paramount, have your massive knot less landing net, glove, pliers, bragmat and camera all set out ready to go. The time these beautiful fish are out of water needs to be kept to a minimum, keeping the fish in the net during set up time is a great idea, their weight needs to be supported at all times. Being ” big fish ” prepared helps increase the survival rate of these true Aussie icons.

One of the hardest parts of winter Murray cod fishing is dragging your carcass out of the warm swag to maximise the cold bite times, it sometimes borderlines on impossible, but trust me it’s worth it!

I’ve had a ball learning more about these remarkable fish this year. I’ve had hard times to go with the high times of landing quite a few metre plus cod. The hardest time, getting bogged and pulled out by a jeep. I’ve made friendships that I’m sure will last a lifetime. I’ve really enjoyed camping at Copeton, it’s a beautiful place to stay whether you like fishing or not. It’s simply a magical destination to tick off.

The call of the swag and those cod is hard to ignore, but who really wants to ignore it?

Joel Edwards

joel cod blog

Check out out @jjs_plague on Instagram for more information on these magic lures.

Some Tips When Choosing the Perfect Swag

Is there anything as a perfect swag really?

The right camping swag is out there waiting for you to find it. But before you do, there are several things you need to mull over if the swag you want to go for is to fit your needs, and obviously, to be within the realms of your budget.

Worry not though, it’s the reason we are here.

Please sheathe your forks and extinguish your torches, you are about to learn how to go about making a more informed decision when it comes to choosing a nice swag.

Canvas Swags

The best swag has to be made of high quality canvas. When considering the canvas, some things you need to keep an eye out for include:

  • Canvas used per square yard. A decent canvas should be at least 12 oz: the higher the ounce the better the quality, and consequently, the price (weight too).
  • High gauge threaded seams. Poorly threaded seams allow moisture into your swag, so insist on high gauge thread on the seams. This kind of thread expands when it comes into contact with water thereby keeping it out.
  • Rot proof. An important factor to consider if you visualise camping in wet or damp areas, or seasons. This renders the canvas unsusceptible to things like mildew or mould formation.

Type of Swag

A swag normally falls under two kinds – traditional or dome swag, aka the tunnel type – unless it’s custom made.

Traditional swags are essentially bedrolls. You have a mattress covered with a canvas, with one side serving as the base and the other the cover.

A dome/tunnel type swag, on the other hand, employs poles and ropes which may need some installing. This is the modern version of the swag. It’s bigger, bulkier, and cosier as it comes with added features such as a netted mesh for better ventilation/to keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay, plus more.

Mattress Style

Swags come equipped with a mattress which varies depending on the manufacturer.

At Crashpad, our thick egg shell mattress runs 80mm deep. The problem with making it too soft is that you risk feeling the ground beneath (probably even count the pebbles); too hard and it will be uncomfortable to sleep on.

We didn’t wake up one day and decide to make it 80mm. It stems from years of use by different campers on different terrain, thus absolving you of the need to buy on trial-and-error basis.

Base

A swag with a PVC base is best because it can be used all year round, not just during the hot months. It insulates the mattress perfectly against external moisture which in turn keeps you dry throughout the night.

Zipper

As small as it may sound, the zipper is a very essential feature of swags. Not sure what to look out for? How about you start with these:

  • Check to see how the zipper slides back and forth through its whole length a number of times. It should not jam, or bite a part of the canvas.
  • It should be sewn meticulously into the canvas hem (and equally stitched)
  • It shouldn’t open up after it’s closed

Ventilation

A good swag should have air vents. These should be covered in a netted mesh to allow good circulation of air while also keeping insects out.

However, the open areas should also have canvas covers in the event you need to insulate. All you need to do is roll them down.

Poles

A crucial component of dome swags, poles help keep the swag upright, so they need to be sturdy.

They can be made from different materials; some use steel (or alloy steel), some use fibreglass materials (which tend to break over time unless UV treated), while others (like ours) use aluminium: Crashpad poles are durable (11mm) super-flex aluminium poles to be exact.

In plain English, they make the others on the market look like the most unremarkable things ever.

Last Word

A swag’s design and features will be dependent upon the manufacturer. Factors like size do vary widely. At Crashpad, our single swag measurements are as: length 210cm x width 100cm x height 73cm, while the Crashpad double measures 215cm x 150cm x 80cm and can fit two people comfortably.

Other features should include inner pockets to keep your phone and valuables while inside.

Keep these things in mind whenever you’re buying a swag. Always opt for top quality swags as they save you a lot in the end, allowing you to use multiple times for years on end.

Take good care of your swag and handle it well and you’ll share many beautiful memories together, you will become like best mates.

It’s Mid Week and the Swag is Calling

It’s mid week. You’re engrossed in your work and the other ingredients that make up your day to day, week to week, year to year life, your soul is screaming for some R&R in the form of a quick getaway to a handy nearby piece of secluded bliss.

As you sit down and routinely check your social media, you suddenly find the urge to scroll through the weather app. Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s weather looks spot on. Things are starting to point towards a sneaky Friday afternoon early mark. A couple of phone calls to some good mates and IT’S ON!!!

I know I’ve been in this situation more than once, and it’s taken me on quite a journey, so it pays to be prepared for when you get ‘the call of the swag’. I can have the truck packed up and ready to rock and roll in no time at all. We all have our little tricks and tips but here is how I do it.

Chances are you’ve got your swag, sleeping bag and other assorted camping gear in your shed spread all over the place and you inevitably spend valuable time looking for everything. Have a camping corner (close to the door), stack your swag and camping accessories up off the ground and have it ready and waiting conveniently. Leave your sleeping bag and pillow rolled up in your swag so that you know it’s ready to go at a moments notice.

Cull all of the unnecessary! Have a plastic crate or space case with only essentials for cooking, cleaning and general camp duties. How many times have you returned from a quick getaway and you haven’t used half of what you carted away? Have a few long life tins of food, sugar, tea and coffee in air tight sealed and vermin proof containers. This crate lives in your dedicated camping corner just waiting to hit the road.

The fridge or esky is easy. Have a few milk bottles full of water frozen in the freezer ready to whack in the esky. Or if you have a camp fridge, you’re laughing! Cold goods are thrown in and away you go. Each outdoor enthusiast has his/her extra items they must include, whether it be a chainsaw, cheese and crackers or a bottle of your favourite drink, we all have that extra item that is always a priority.

So you know when you get ‘The Call of the Swag’ the camping corner of the shed is prepped and ready to have you rolling out the driveway for a sneaky, quick getaway in no time at all. What your corner contains is entirely up to you but having all the gear stored in readiness is going to put you way ahead of the game.

Hope this helps and gets you out amongst it quicker.

Get out and about. Everyone’s soul needs a cleanse from time to time.

Joel Edwards

https://www.instagram.com/fish_awwn/

 

Gear for a weekend, Away with your mates

I love a weekend away camping with my mates. It is a great way to catch up, share some new experiences, tell a few tall tales and generally recharge the batteries. Over the 20 or so years I have been heading into the outdoors with my mates I have found myself taking less and less gear and my camping setup for these trips has become really quite basic. I do this for a number of reasons. One, usually these trips are only 2 or 3 days so I don’t want to spend time setting up and packing up elaborate camping setups when I could be flicking lures around a few snags. Two I love the simplicity of it, a feeling of really getting back to basics and more in tune with mother nature.

So what does my camping set up consist of for a weekend away with the boys:

  • My swag and groudsheet. It is bloody comfortable. In it I have a pillow and my Crashpad sleep system. This covers me for any weather conditions that I may encounter.
  • My kitchen. I have a slide out drawer in the back of the truck. This is always set up and fully stocked so that I can just go in a moments notice. If something runs out while out bush I replace it on the first trip to the supermarket once back in civilisation.
  • Tucker box. This is also another small space case which is stocked with food for the trip. It usually has a selection of non perishables that live in there permanently.
  • Drinking and washing up water for the trip.
  • A chair. Sometimes this is simply a small fold up stool that takes up no space and can be tucked in anywhere.
  • Chainsaw and relevant bar oil and fuel.
  • A fridge. I use a 40 litre Engel for these trips.
  • A bag with a few clothes in it. This always includes a beanie. I also have a rainproof jacket that lives in the truck somewhere.
  • Recovery box. This is also a space case that contains some spare parts for my truck, tools, spare fluids, recovery gear, drag chain, air compressor, a ground sheet / multi-purpose tarp and a few other bits and pieces. It lives in my truck and is never taken out. I don’t even need to consider this box when I get the call for a weekend away as I know it is always ready to go.

With this setup it only takes me a few minutes once arriving at camp to be organised.

So next time you get the call to head bush have a think about what you don’t need to take that will make your adventure that little bit easier. Also spend an hour or so setting up a kitchen and a recovery box that you can just grab and go at a moments notice. Remember less time spent throwing gear into the back of your truck at home and running around looking for plates and cutlery is more time that you will be able to spend out bush with your mates and we all know how valuable that time is.

Seek adventure.

Tower

Boat based Camping

Of all the camping and adventure trips I do I think boat based camping is the most enjoyable. I’m not entirely sure why but I think it is because to me there is a greater sense of freedom in a boat, there is no road to follow, you can often camp on river banks and lake shores where you simply can’t get to unless you have a boat. I do a lot of boat based camping but every year I really look forward to the trip I do with a couple of good mates and my two uncles. Three boats and four days on the Murray River in a beautiful stretch of river between Wentworth and lock number 9 is simply camping heaven. The river up there is wide, the water clean and usually the fishing very good. We tend to break camp each day and motor along the river until we find a nice sandbar to camp on. We then set about having our own daily fishing competition. Bragging rights last 24 hours until weigh in the following night and then an overall winner has the year to dine out on his win until next years trip.

Camping in a boat requires a slightly different way of packing compared to four wheel drive based touring or camping. Space and weight are at a premium so you have to think smart and small and only take the bare necessities.

Here is a list of the things (excluding the legal requirements for a boat) that I take on a boat based camping trip with two in the boat.

  • Fuel. Know your boats fuel usage and take enough fuel for your trip.
  • Crashpad swags for sleeping.
  • A small stool each. They fold flat, are very light and take up next to no room.
  • A fridge. Admittedly this is a luxury, my boat has two batteries so I can run a fridge. In reality an ice chest is all you need. Use big blocks of ice down the bottom to increase the melt time and keep it in the shade as best as possible.
  • A small kitchen box. This is set up just for two people, two plates, cups, bowls etc.
  • A small fold up shovel.
  • A ‘Crashmat’ multi-use ground sheet. This can be used as a shade awning or protection from the elements in inclement weather.
  • A small chainsaw, once again this is a luxury but it certainly does making getting a nice fire going that little bit easier.
  • Food for the trip.
  • Drinking water.
  • A few tools and spare parts in the event of a breakdown.
  • Fishing gear.

It just proves that you don’t need a lot of gear to have maximum fun. So if you have a boat, grab a mate or two and hit the water for a boat based camping trip. I guarantee you it won’t be your last.

Seek adventure!

Tower

Swag_boat_trip_large

The Crashpad big breakfast

Ok so it’s been a big night and you have an even bigger day ahead of you fishing and four wheel driving, only one thing to kick start your day and that’s the ‘The Crashpad Big Brekky!

Now this brekky is not for the feint hearted this is a bush breakfast for the hard working or hung over so forget any thoughts of latte and designer muesli. It’s guaranteed to see you through to lunch without a single stomach rumble. This breakfast got its origins one morning when the Crashpad team was camped up on the Jamieson River in the Vic High Country.

If cooking for two you will need.

  • 2 x eggs
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 green capsicum
  • 2 x tomato’s
  • 1 large can of mediterranean baked beans (that’s the choice the of the Crashpad crew, but style it up with the beans of your choice)
  • A splash of olive oil.

Now here is how you cook the Crashpad Big Brekky!

Grab a good sized frypan and heat a generous splash of olive oil. Chop the onion and start to brown in the pan. While this is starting to brown chop the tomato and the capsicum and piff it into the pan as well. If you really want to go hard you can also drop in a chopped chilli at this stage but I will leave that call to you (Tower the owner of Crashpad won’t let me play with Chilli as I have a reputation for melting frypans I put that much in). Now once this mix has cooked nicely which will only take five minutes or so you can set it aside on a plate. Next, throw the beans in the pan and heat through. Once the beans are hot drop the mix of onion tomato etc back in the pan and stir through. Now make two mounds of the mix shaped like large doughnuts and crack an egg into the middle of each. Once the eggs are cooked to your liking and you are ready to serve. Add salt or pepper to taste.

I’m sure this will pull up the most hungry of the troops and I bet they line up for the same again the next morning.

Enjoy!

Bear

The Crashpad Sleep System Sleeping Bag

The Crashpad Sleep System is a product that the team at Crashpad are very proud of. It was designed so that you only ever need one sleeping bag. With a  few quick changes to the Sleep System sleeping bag it will suit any conditions you are in. Within my camping gear stored at home I used to have a variety of sleeping bags.  Where I was going camping and the weather conditions determined which sleeping bag I was going to take. This all sounds very well until you realise during an uncomfortable nights sleep that you have grabbed the wrong bag for the conditions. I have been caught out before suffering through a miserable cold nights sleep when an unexpected cold front has hit. So with this in mind we set about designing the Crashpad ‘Sleep System’.

The Sleep System is one sleeping bag that contains seven separate configurations offering incredible versatiliy. The bag is essentially a summer sleeping bag zipped inside the outer sleeping bag, all stored in a compression sack. So lets have a look at the beauty of this design and the seven sleeping options.

  • When you first remove the sleep system from the compression sack you have the two bags zipped in together which gives you an incredibly warm and comfortable single winter sleeping bag rated to -10ºc. Option 1.
  • Unzip the bag and open it up and you now have a winter rated doona. Option 2.
  • Unclip the locating toggle at the top of the doona and you have a double summer sleeping bag. This is option 3.
  • Unzip the inner bag from the outer bag and you now have two summer donna’s. These are options 4 & 5.
  • Zip up each summer donna to form two summer sleeping bags. These are options 6 & 7.

In addition to the seven sleep configurations a left and right hand zipper bag can be zipped together to form a winter double doona while also doubling the sleeping configurations to fourteen.

This design essentially eliminates the need for double and winter bags and also gives you piece of mind when travelling that you will be comfortable in any weather conditions. The outer shell is made from tough rip stop water resistant nylon and the inner winter bag is lined with warm fleece. The bag is styled with Crashpad orange stitching and zips to give a very stylish look.

Seek adventure!

Brett

The Crashpad top 5 spots in Victoria to throw a Swag down

At the risk of giving away some of our favourite spots, we took a bit of a survey amongst the team here to list the top 5 spots in Victoria to throw a swag down. There was plenty of debate and we could have easily listed 5 cracking spots in the Victorian High Country or 5 great spots along the Murray River, however we have gone for diversity in compiling this list.

These aren’t in any particular order, you will have to load your swag and sleeping bag into your four wheel drive to check them out and form your own opinion. We would love to hear your thoughts. Anyway here goes.

 

The Buckland Valley in the Victorian High Country.

It’s a beautiful valley that has amazing history with the Buckland River running through it. There are numerous campsites dotted all along the river. You will follow a bitumen road in and then cross a bridge over the river, from this point the road turns to gravel. From the start of the gravel road there are 1km markers all the way in. We prefer to head in at least 20kms for a couple of sneaky camp sites that are great to throw the swags down beside some nice swimming holes.

 

The Murray River (off the Old Mail Route in North West Victoria)

We constantly find ourselves being pulled back to this section of the Murray River. There are plenty of great spots amongst the river red gums to throw a swag down (remember to check above for any suspect limbs on the trees). It is easy to launch a tinny along there to explore the river. It also has a great feeling of remoteness, there is not a lot of traffic so you will often have the place to yourself, particularly if there mid week. There is something really special about the place on a cold winters night when you have a nice river red gum fire going and can sit back and simply enjoy being there.

swag-at-sunset

 

Poplars camping area in the Victorian High Country

Maybe it’s the remoteness of this campsite, maybe the fact it’s not far downstream from the headwaters of the Murray River, maybe it’s the nice little swimming hole, but this is a favourite of ours. Located at the end of McCarthy’s track just down from the Southern end of the Davies High Plain track or at the northern end of Limestone Creek Track it’s a great place to throw a swag down for the night and relax with the clear high country waters of the Murray River passing close by.

 

Lone Pine Plain – Wyperfeld National Park.

A remote spot in the desert of the Wyperfeld National Park, this is a favourite in the cold winter months as there are no flies and you avoid the heat of the summer. A good map will have you finding this spot. Lone Pine Plain is a big open plain in the North East corner of the desert that offers something a little different to the more traditional camping areas in the area.

 

Lower Glenelg National Park – Glenelg River

While the camping here is very regulated in terms of where you can set up your swag, it is certainly worth it for the river. The Glenelg River is simply stunning. With great boat launching facilities and excellent fishing for those in the know it is a place that has to be seen to be believed. Hook your boat up, load your swag and check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Get out there and check these spots out, we’re confident you won’t be disappointed. If you have some great spots in Victoria that you think we should have had on our list then drop us a line, we would love to hear about them.

Seek adventure!

Tower

Caring for your Swag

For most of us a lot of thought and hard earned cash goes towards purchasing a swag. It can be a significant investment for some, so it pays to look after your swag so that it will do the job it was intended for for many years.

So with that in mind here is some guidance on caring for your swag.

 

Before your first night together 

When you first purchase your swag you will need to precondition the seam stitching. To do this, set it up, remove the mattress and thoroughly soak the exterior canvas, particularly the seams with water, this allows the thread and canvas to swell thus taking up any potential leaks in the stitching. Allow to dry, particularly the seams. It is the drying that seals the seams. Repeat this process twice to completely ensure the seams are waterproof.

 

Cleaning and General Care of your Swag

To keep you swag clean and to ensure that your camp bed lasts the test of time follow this simple guidelines:

  • To clean the canvas and PVC base of your swag use cold water and a soft brush or sponge.
  • Over time the zippers may become stiffer due to dust and dirt ingress. Don’t forece the zippers open if this happens. Clean the zippers on a regular basis by using a soft brush and also wiping with a damp cloth. 
A good quality zipper lubricant can also be used once cleaned if the zips get a little stiff due to dust etc. Ensure that you don’t get any lubricant on the canvas.
  • It may seem like an obvious point but where going to mention it nonetheless. Don’t use or expose the swag to any of the following which may lead to damage of the swag materials; soap or detergents, insect or pesticide aerosol sprays, petrols, oils, solvents or similar such products, incompatible water repellents.
  • Ensure your swag is thoroughly dry before storing, this will prevent mildew forming. Store it in a dry place off the floor and out of direct sunlight. In the event that you must pack your swag while still wet, as soon as you get to your next camp or arrive back home, erect the swag and let it thoroughly dry out before storing it away until your next adventure.

 

Set-up Location

Keep in mind the following points when setting up your swag.

  • Select a suitable clear and flat site for your swag. 
Have a look at the site you have selected to make sure that there are no sharp rocks or sticks that could cut the bottom of your swag.
  • Keep clear of hazards such as falling branches, open flames from campfires, rising water beds 
and water pooling areas.

 

Condensation

On cold nights Minimise the chance of condensation by slightly opening 
the windows at each end of your swag to create some airflow to let the internal heat generated by your body escape the swag.

 

If you have been using swags for years then this is most likely second nature to you, however if you are new to camping with a swag then hopefully there is some handy and helpful hints in here. Happy swagging.

Seek adventure.

Brett