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 widely used to refer to a portable shelter used for camping or outdoor sleeping that acts as tent, sleeping bag and mattress combined in a single item.Originally designed to be man carried by bush travellers on foot, the modern swag has grown in both size and weight and is intended for campers travelling with a vehicle.

The modern swag is a waterproof canvas sleeping compartment that is sometimes insect-proof. Swags include a mattress (usually foam and between 50 or 75mm thick). 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. [2]

swag /swæg/ (say swag) noun

1. a bundle or roll carried across the shoulders or otherwise, and containing the bedding and personal belongings of a traveller through the bush, a miner, etc.; shiralee; bluey; drum: *I got my rug and rolled it up into a swag, putting the remains of the bread and butter inside. –A.B. FACEY, 1981.

2. a form of portable bedding consisting of a waterproof bag with a tent-like frame, the whole able to be dismantled and rolled up. [3]

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. ^ http://www.bcf.com.au/camping/tents/swags-and-cots. Missing or empty |title= (help) Saturday, November 6, 2021
  3. ^ http://www.macquariedictionary.com.au/features/word/search/?search_word_type=Dictionary&word=Swag. Missing or empty |title= (help) Saturday, November 6, 2021