The tent world is the most diverse when it comes to outdoor sleeping quarters, ranging massively in size, quality, price and features. The mainstay in the camping scene for a reason, you can purchase a tent for almost any situation imaginable. Idyllic for families, large tents offer standing height and more space overall to give them a feeling of home away from home. Having this extra space is perfect for longer trips too, with each family member needing their own individual ‘space’ to be left to their own devices after being together on the road all day. Tents are also a preferred option for many because of their adaptability, with awnings, extra annexes and other add-ons available to turn your outback accommodation into a canvas palace.
The hallmarks of a good tent are in how well the basic features are accommodated, which includes set up time (and hence pack up too) and difficulty, durability, ventilation in all weather extremes (hot, cold, wet and dry) and use of space. Find a favourable mix of these factors within your budget and you will be ready to take on the outdoors.
Swags are quintessentially Australian, observed in our country’s poems, stories and outback culture for generations. However the swags of old are now history, replaced by equipment that is advancing every day. Gone is the humble rolled up canvas, replaced by light and strong material blends complete with guy ropes, poles and strategic ventilation panels. This has meant that the differences between tents and swags are narrowing, with the points of contention lying in their purpose. For lone explorers that don’t fancy sharing their sleeping quarters, swags are the perfect tonic. However even if you are looking to get away on a romantic weekend, there are double swags on the market that quite easily accommodate two people in comfort. One of the other benefits of a swag is the presence of a mattress, making for a comfortable sleep on most terrain while offering quick and easy setup.
Swags are best suited to dryer conditions, as a night’s sleep in the wet tropics can become very uncomfortable very quickly if you decide to jump out for a trip to the bathroom and return to damp bedding. Not only that, but keeping out the rain can lead to a very claustrophobic and humid night. However, with new innovations coming along thick and fast as the outdoor recreation industry continues to grow, these issues are becoming less and less prevalent.
Rooftop tents are a specialist breed; anyone you see with one strapped to the roof of their 4x4 takes their outback accommodation seriously. Most rooftop tents attach to car roof racks, though some are designed to latch on to the rain gutter. The most obvious benefit of a rooftop tent is being off the ground, which can be essential in certain circumstances for two main reasons. The most obvious one is the ability to camp on any terrain, as you can avoid uneven ground and obtrusive objects; potentially opening up more locations to camp in compared to those sleeping in swags and ground tents. The other is to put some meaningful distance between your unconscious self and what’s potentially lurking below. Areas of Australia where saltwater crocodiles thrive (the Top End of Australia) are the most relevant destinations for a rooftop tent, though their comfort and functionality mean that they are widespread throughout campsites Australia-wide. Keep in mind that rooftop tents are the least affordable option for outback accommodation beneath buying a camper trailer, caravan or motorhome, with the starting price of a rooftop tent similar to the more expensive ground tents.
Making the choice between a swag, a ground tent or a rooftop tent is depends on where you are headed, how long you’re going and whom you need to accommodate. The right choice is the sustainable one, and one that will enhance your outdoors experience as opposed to detracting from it. Once you’ve made that decision it is important to compare the detailed features of each candidate, because making the best decision in the shop can pay dividends in the bush.