HEADING in to a week-long trip of road testing for 4x4 Of The Year, a few of us were in need of new swags. Wanting to get top quality Australian-made products we turned straight to Mr Swagman.
You could say there is nothing more Australian than a canvas swag, but itís amazing how few swags are made here.
Even those sold by most of the big Australian companies are imported.
Mr Swagman swags are made on home soil right here in Victoria using 15-ounce, rip-stop cotton canvas. Thatís heavy duty stuff, and you feel it in the size and weight of these swags and how stiff they are when new. The canvas is resistant to rot and mildew, and itís UV-stabilised and waterproof.
Like any genuine canvas product these swags have to be Ďseasonedí before use to get the maximum waterproofness.
This means stripping everything out of it and soaking it with water, letting it dry out, then repeating the process a few more times. This allows the cotton fibres to expand and fill in any pinholes in the weave.
The zippers are all heavy-duty items designed to last for years, and the sewn-in insect mesh is fine enough to keep the tiniest of pesky midgies out while still allowing breeze through on hot summer nights.
Inside thereís a 70mm foam mattress that is antibacterial-treated and has proven to be comfortable on rough ground. Mr Swagman swags also feature a PVC base designed to keep out moisture when camping on wet, damp or even frozen ground. Like the canvas, it is made using rip-stop material.
Mr Swagman makes a range of different swags for different uses and in different sizes, ranging from minimalist swags for horse riders and motorcyclists to the Ultimate and Deluxe swags. We chose a Deluxe single and an Ultimate king single.
AS I already have a well-used kingsingle swag I was looking for something smaller this time, so I chose the Deluxe single. This is a traditional dome-style swag using pre-bent aluminium poles that loop through each end to keep the canvas and fly screen up and off you. It only requires a peg at each end to pull the set-up swag taught lengthways.
Handy features of the Deluxe swag include meshed windows at both the foot and head of the swag that can he opened to allow more flow-through ventilation on hot nights. You can drop the canvas covers on these from within the swag if it starts to rain or get cooler during the night. The PVC flaps at the side and head of the swag make getting your boots off and sliding into the swag easier at night, and they also provide an easy cover to keep the rain or dew out of your boots.
Internal pockets to stow your wallet, keys and watch also come in handy. Just donít forget to retrieve them before you roll your swag up and stow it in the 4x4 Ė itís always very embarrassing when you go to pay for fuel and then realise you canít find your wallet.
Iím a big bloke at 185cm tall, but the Deluxe single swag offers plenty of internal space for me. It provided comfortable, cool and dry sleeping quarters for the 4X4OTY test and subsequent holiday travel.
I also optioned the Mr Swagman PVC
cover and groundsheet. This full cover is made from the same rip-stop PVC as the base of the swags and encloses the swag to keep it dry and dust-free if itís in the tray of a ute or on the roof of your 4x4. Iíve always had to keep swags inside the car to keep them dry in the rain, but with this I donít have to worry about it anymore. When unfurled, the cover makes a full-length groundsheet to provide an extra layer of insulation between you and Mother Earth.
The Mr Swagman Deluxe single is available in a choice of desert sand or bush green colours and retails for $500 (plus postage).
The PVC swag cover is an extra $89.
4X4 AUSTRALIA photographer Ellen Dewar is about half my size but went for the bigger Ultimate king single to replace her no-longer-serviceable imported swag. At 210cm x 100cm x 80cm (LxWxH) Ellen could have had a party in the Ultimate. The Ultimate features the same quality 15-ounce canvas, PVC base and fine mozzie mesh as the other Mr Swagman swags, but itís completely freestanding, requiring no ropes or pegs to keep it up.
It uses an aluminium pole that runs the length of the swag to tension the hoops at the end. This pole also extends to prop open the flaps at either end that cover the meshed ventilation windows. The Ultimate can be opened on either side with the canvas rolled up for maximum ventilation. Or, with a couple of optional tent poles and ropes, the canvas can be extended to create a small balcony, perfect to keep the dew off your boots.
Being free-standing, the Mr Swagman Ultimate can easily be lifted and moved without needing to remove any pegs or securing devices. It is available in tan or green and retails for $550 (plus postage).
You wonít find these quality Australian-made Mr Swagman products in stores or warehouses. They are only available direct from the manufacturer at www.mrswagman.com.au, where youíll find the full range of swags, accessories and rooftop tents.
Mr Swagman always has products in stock and posts them out promptly.
Support a 4x4er that makes quality products in Australia the next time you need to buy a new swag!