Where you choose to sleep is one of the biggest considerations when you're heading on a big trip. Depending on the degree to which you're willing to rough it, your decision will be guided by other factors, such as price, storage space and weight. It's a good idea to try some of the simpler, cheaper options before going out and spending thousands of dollars on something that may turn out to be excessive or burdensome. It's also good to ask for recommendations from family and friends, who may be so kind as to let you borrow their gear for a test run.
What's more Australian than rolling out a swag and laying down with a view of the stars? The swag is a quick, easy way to pitch camp for the night and is easy to roll up, and it comes with the added bonus of an inbuilt foam mattress. Designs vary from brand to brand, but they tend to be light enough to strap onto the roof and durable enough (generally made from heavy canvas) to take a bit of a beating. The downside is the lack of space. In rainy weather, a swag can be a miserable, constrictive place, and when zipped up to keep out the elements, they can generate an uncomfortable amount of condensation and possible seepage on their single-walled constriction.
Touring tents can be likened to gigantic swags, in that they're easy to pack up and down and tend to be made from heavy-duty canvas. But with inner space comes outer bulk, and many touring tents can be awkward items to transport. They are, however, a great option for families with young kids, since they can fit the whole hoard and don't require too much fiddling around.
Pop-up tents are a more recent arrival on the scene, and tend to be more prevalent at music festivals than bush-camps. For the occasional camper, they can be a good option, since they're quick and easy, and can often be purchased rather cheaply.
Hiking tents are made to be light-weight and packable, and can sometimes take a bit more effort to set-up. If you also plan on getting out there with a pack on your back, or you're seriously lacking in storage space, then a hiking tent will be a versatile addition to your arsenal. It's worth noting, however, that their lightweight construction often means they're less durable than their canvas counterparts, while the high-tech fabrics and construction techniques that tend to go into them can result in high price-tags. Your choice of foam or air mattress will also affect the experience you have in a hiking tent, so it's good to do a little research into those as well.
Rooftop tents are becoming increasingly popular with four-wheel drive tourers, particularly those heading north. Why? Because you can set up right next to a river and not have to worry about a croc crawling up to your tent in the night. Most are easy to set up and pack down, come with comfortable inbuilt mattresses and allow you to camp wherever you're parked, even if it's lumpy, uncomfortable ground. The main drawbacks include the fact that they take up lots of roof-rack realestate, can contribute considerably to raising your vehicle's centre of gravity and they tend to be one of the more expensive options.
Camper Trailers and Caravans
If you really want to crank up the comfort, then a camper trailer or caravan may be the thing for you. There are plenty of options if you want an off-road camper or caravan, however you'll never be able to drive the most demanding terrain with something on the hitch, no matter how nimble it may be. However, there's always the option of setting up base camp, un-hitching and exploring further afield in your 4WD. There's a wide array of price-points that span from basic trailers to luxury caravans, but regardless of where you end up on that scale, you'll be spending a considerable amount more than you would on a swag.