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.


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.


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


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.


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.

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