With so many types of shelter for camping in the market, it’s impossible not to go through the swag vs tent dilemma. After all, we want the best portable home away from home and get the most out of our choices.
It should be easier to pick between the two if we know what makes one different from the other. So, I’ve rounded up some factors highlighting their pros and cons. Hopefully, this comparison helps you decide whether to pack a swag or tent for your next outdoor adventure.
Ease of Setup
One way to settle the swag vs tent matter is to compare their assembly requirements. Camping swags are generally more compact than tents, making them quick and easy to assemble and roll up.
Some swag models do come with tent pegs. However, using them is often optional as swags are stable enough to hold their weight. Without the need for pitching, assembly time becomes even shorter. You can also tie your camping swag to a car or tree if needed.
On the other hand, tents for camping take a longer set-up time because of their more complex structure. Depending on the type of tent you are using, you will need time to figure out how to put its poles together, too.
It’s also the reason why avid campers suggest practising how to assemble your tent in your backyard to avoid wasting precious camping time.
So, if you’re a beginner or a no-fuss type of camper, a swag will suit your taste, not to mention save you time and energy.
Comfort and Space
Swags come with a built-in foam mattress, so you do not have to buy or bring an inflatable one. The comfort level, of course, varies depending on the bedding mattress quality and thickness. You can learn more about this in my swag reviews and buying guide.
As they are smaller in size, swags are naturally easier to pack and carry, too. So, if you like backpacking or solo hiking, camping swags will make your outdoor adventure hassle-free.
Some campers, however, may find the compact swag too confining. Inside, there’s little space between you and its top cover. And while it has a smaller footprint, you also have less room for your camping gear.
If you do not mind carrying bulky gear, then you are better off with a tent. Aside from having a vestibule for your camping gear, tents have a spacious interior ideal for moving around, changing sleeping positions or sleeping with a group.
You can also use an air mattress or pack a sleeping bag with the right fill type to make your tent more comfortable.
Insulation and Ventilation
Another consideration to solve our swag vs tent dilemma is to assess our camping season preference. Hiking tents, for example, have seasonal ratings to ensure your protection from mild to harsh weather elements.
However, the extra space inside the tent can affect air circulation, making it less adaptable to certain conditions. Also, using an air mattress with a tent is not always effective in retaining body heat.
On the other hand, quality swag excels in ensuring proper insulation and ventilation no matter the season. That’s mainly because of its thicker canvas material.
Its built-in mattress and matching PVC vinyl floor are also more capable of trapping heat inside and blocking the coldness of the ground. And you can lift the upper layer to open its ventilation windows and let air come inside during hot summer nights.
The versatility of swags not only makes outdoor stays convenient. It also makes year-round camping comfortable for an avid camper.
Compared with an average tent, a swag has thicker ripstop canvas, PVC flooring and heavy-duty zippers. Considering that you can set it up without tent pegs, it only means it’s sturdy enough to withstand most conditions.
Aussie campers also prefer camping in swags because it suits the rugged Australian camping terrain. Moreover, it does not require careful handling. You can keep it in the attic or toss it at the back of your ute and not worry about it.
High-quality tents are also durable, though. But if you’re the type of camper who thinks highly of value for money, then a long-lasting swag is best for you. It is also a better choice if you camp a lot.
Both swag and tent are safe for as long as their features match your camping environment. For example, your tent needs to have the appropriate season rating and water resistance if you plan to be in a cold or rainy camping region.
You also need to pitch your tent in a safe spot, especially if you’re out on a windy day. As for swags, snakes and creepy crawlies may be a problem.
So, as a precaution, you might want to bring your shoes and camping gear inside. Better yet, get a compatible stand or stretcher for additional protection. It will keep the base of your swag off the ground (and your camping adventure bug-free).
A swag or bivvy often fits one person only, so options are more likely to cost less than a tent. However, there are also expensive swags available, depending on their extra features, size and construction.
The same thing applies to tents. Brands also seem to be a significant price indicator. But while branded tents are more expensive, they also tend to have better warranty coverage and after-sales support.
No matter your budget, make sure to assess your camping requirements to avoid paying for features or add-ons that you do not need.
Swag vs Tent: The Verdict
So, what will it be, swag or tent? After comparing the two, it is clear that both are distinct to meet campers’ individual needs. Camping swags, for instance, are best for those who like their overnight trips simple and light.
Others will appreciate tents more, especially if they love car camping or nature tripping with a big group. Ultimately, your choice is up to these preferences and other relevant factors like durability, versatility and budget.
Whichever portable shelter you end up getting, make sure to bring the most important thing of all: camping food! And I’ve got a few handy tips on how you can plan and pack them like a pro.