The perfect camping swag is just out there and we will help you pick the right one for you. There are several things to consider before buying the right swag that will fit your needs and just within your budget. You will have to consider brands, materials used, type, size etc. Here is a complete guide that to help you find the right swag for you.

Canvas Swags

The best swag uses a highs quality canvas. The canvas covers the whole swag and separates you from outside elements while camping. Here are a few points to consider when choosing the right canvas.

  • A decent canvas is 12 oz or higher. Ounces is the measure of canvas used per square yard. The higher the once the better the quality just like 14 oz. to 16 oz. canvas. As the oz per yard increases, price also increases, and so as weight. This is something to keep in mind if you are a light backpacker.
  • Tear Resistance. A tear resistance canvas uses ripstop weaves on top of plain weaves. These are called tear check. This special weaving makes your canvas sturdy compared to ordinary canvas with plain weaving it also lasts longer without easily tearing.
  • Rot Proof. This is a very important if you will be camping in wet or damp areas. A rot proof canvas fights against formation of molds and mildew.
  • High gauge threaded seams. Moisture can easily drip into your swag through poorly threaded seams. Be sure that your canvas uses high gauge threads on seams. These threads expands when in contact with moisture to block water from getting in.

Swag Sizes

Following the common standard swag sizes, we have single size, king size, and double size.

  • Single Size Swag. The smallest among three sizes approximately 60 to 90 cm in wide and 180 to 230 cm in length. Perfect for people who are too big.
  • King Size Swag. Same length like the single swag only wider approximately 90 to 115 cm wide.
  • Double Size Swag. Need something that can fit two people in? Double size swag is the best for you. This approximately measures 110 to 130 cm wide and length of 190 to 230 cm.

Types of Swags

Unless it’s a custom made swag it should generally fall under two kinds; the traditional style swag and the dome swag otherwise known as a tunnel type.

  • Traditional Swag. Traditional swags are popular camping companions for bikers and hikers because they are easy to assemble and very light to carry. Here you have a mattress covered with a canvas, one side serves as the swag base and the other as the cover. Essentially it’s a bedroll.
  • Dome or Tunnel Type Swag. From what the name suggest this is a swag that has a dome or tunnel. This uses poles and ropes thus it needs some installing. This type of swags are bulkier and bigger. Once set up it provides a space between you and the overhead cover. It has netted mesh to let air flows freely and keep annoying bugs and mosquitoes out. Most 4WD enthusiasts and motorcycle touring individuals prefer this type of swag since they don’t have to carry them on their backpacks.


Poles are essential parts of dome or tunnel swags. They help the swag stand upright serving as base framing unlike traditional swags which doesn’t need poles at all. Generally you want your poles to be sturdy and keep your swags. Remember that you will be dealing with these poles every time you assemble and disassemble your swag.

Most swag manufacturers uses steel or alloy steel in making swag poles. There are also some who uses fiberglass materials in making poles. The problem with pure fiberglass poles is they tend to break over time. It’s because fiberglass unless UV treated, are not bendable materials. Steel and alloy poles on the other hand would slightly bend and lasts longer.

Making sure your poles are sturdy and strong enough can save you a lot of frustration while on camp. You don’t like your swag to collapse on you while camping don’t you?

Swag Mattress Styles

Swags comes with a pre-installed mattress. For comfort you should pick a mattress that are not too hard and not too soft. You can feel the ground with very soft mattress and too hard will make it very uncomfortable to sleep on.

The mattress that comes with your swag can vary depending on your manufacturer’s decisions. Ideally a swag mattress should be between 35mm and 70mm deep. You may also choose to put or use an additional mattress of your choice.


Zipper is another important point to consider when buying your swag. Try these tests to make sure you have quality zipper on your swag.

  • The zipper should not easily jam or eat up a piece of canvas. To test slide the zipper back and forth through its whole length a couple of times.
  • Zipper should not open up after it’s closed.
  • Zipper should be properly sewn into the canvas hem. They should be equally stitched into the canvas hem.


Some swags has widows or air vents. These are covered with netted mesh to allow air to freely flow inside your swag, and keep insects out. A properly ventilated swag has fresh air inside, thus cooler compared to close swags.

Make sure that the windows has canvas covers in case you need insulation. Most of these window covers are rolled up when not in use.


Another point of consideration in choosing the perfect swag is the base. This is the part that gets in contact with the ground just underneath the mattress.

If camping in wet or dump campgrounds it’s best to use a swag that has PVC base. This serves a great insulation to prevent the base of your mattress from getting wet from outside moisture. This in turn will keep you dry through the night. When in hot or dry campgrounds a swag with PVC base can be a problem. The moisture generated from your body may cause your mattress to get dump and develop molds. Ideally you will need a breathable base when in hot or dry campgrounds. Something that is made from canvas will do nicely.

There are also specially made swags designed to keep the base off the ground. These are elevated swags which uses poles that serves as swag stand.

Final Thoughts on Camping Swags

Each swag will have different features and designs depending on the manufacturer. Dome or tunnel swags usually has inner pockets intended to keep your mobile phones and other small stuff while you’re inside. Keeping your flash light in these compartments makes it easy to find when it’s dark outside.

Swags will also have different packaging. Most comes with a bag. The bags should be durable enough to withstand tearing. It should be easy to carry too.

Remember the points mentioned in this guide when buying a swag. Go for quality swags which you can use several times and for a long time. High quality swags may be a bit expensive but overtime it will be worth it. Each swag needs proper caring and handling to keep in good and usable condition. If you are looking for the perfect camping swag, you can pick one up in store.