Outback Tours Australia

swag in an Outback tour

Outback Tours Australia - What is a Swag?

In the outback of Australia, the most common way of camping is under the stars in a swag.

A swag is a canvas bedroll normally with zips down either side.  It is mostly waterproof, has a 2inch high density foam matress (depending on the model you have), a pillow and a canvas flap that goes over your head.

People refer to swagging it which means a bundle of belongings rolled up.  This is an Australian and New Zealand term.

Some swags are more like a tent (the luxury versions are like a little tent with hoops holding the canvas up and fly nets etc) - but most swags are just the basic version as described above.


For many years, I spent around 6 months a year under the stars in a swag on tour or travelling.  I believe that 2 hours in a bed is worth 1 hour in a swag.  The sleep you get being so close to the earch, in nature and under a blanket of stars is absolutely amazing.

Unlike a tent, you get to gaze at the stars while in bed and it makes the outback "camping" experience all the better.

Our Outback tours in Australia generally provide you with a swag to sleep under the stars!

Top tips when using a swag

  • A swag when rolled is the perfect seat to sit around the campfire on
  • It is a good idea to get away from the fire at night time for 2 reasons.  1 you get a better view of the night sky and the stars without light next to you and 2 because if the wind comes up at night time and a spark blows fro the fire onto your swag, it can catch alight.  I have heard nasty stories of swags melting on to people in the night.
  • When not in your swag roll it up.  On the camel expeditions I used to woek on there was an instance when someone left their swag unrolled when they were not in it during the day, and a snake throught it was a good place to have a rest.  Can you imagine the surprise of both the snake and the person when they found each other in bed?  I have also personally seen a scorpion on someones pillow as they left their swag unrolled after getting up and the pillow must have been a warm and comfortable place for the scorpion to have a rest.  Frightening.
  • When I travel personally I like to take a small tarp with me so if it does rain I can keep my swag dry by putting it over the top of me, my swag and my bag.
  • I have in the past sometimes taken a mosquito net with me to put over my swag at night especially in the tropics
  • 2 people can fit in a swag - but it is a little squishy and uncomfortable - BUT double swags are available and are much more comfortable for couples!

Apparently there is another meaning for SWAG and this is "Secretly We Are Gay" and this was a term referring to homosexuals in Hollywood in the 1960's.  Obviously we are referring to a different type of swag here!

There are famous Australian songs that refer to the Swagman, who was an outback traveller / worker that slept in a swag at night time.

Tents have their place especially when it is raining - but in my opinion nothing compares to a swag.

You will not be disappointed sleeping under the stars, it is one of the amazing experiences when you are having your Outback adventure tour.