Review: Crashpad Swag
Earlier this year I decide I wanted to spend some time on the road, maybe taking a few weeks out west. I knew I wanted to live out of my truck but I wasn't sure which way I wanted to go for shelter. For various reasons, I knew that sleeping in the truck wasn't going to be an option and I didn't want to use a RTT either. I thought about a tent but didn't really want the hassle of that everyday. Dealing with a rainfly, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, stakes and lines....it just didn't sound like fun.
I remembered seeing all-in-one "swags" in the ARB catalog and thought that may be the answer. Swags are Australian portable sleeping systems. They are generally made with heavy canvas and have a foam mattress. Swags are made to be rolled up WITH the mattress and your bedding inside. The heavy canvas is also waterproof so there's no need for a rainfly.
After a bit of research, I decided to go with a swag. My first instinct was to go with ARB but they were sold out. On the recommendation of one of my cruiser buddies, I decided to go with Crashpad. Crashpad is a well-known maker of swags and other "overland" products in Australia. Crashpad is relatively new in the US market but all of the reviews I read were good.
I placed an order for a single swag and a few weeks later it arrived at my home in South Georgia. After unboxing, the first thing that hit me was how big it was. The swag is stored in a bag made from the same heavy canvas as the swag itself. The bag is like a duffel bag, but a lot larger. The size of the bag means you are probably not going to be putting it in the cabin of the vehicle if you are packed for more than a night or two.
Once I got over the size of the packed swag, I started noticing the quality. I was very impressed by the thickness of the canvas. I also noted how nice and tight the stitching was and the heaviness of the zippers. The swag also comes with a heavy duty PVC bag for the 3 poles that are used to support it. The PVC bag also has a small pocket for stakes as well.
Setup is a super simple process. I like to use a ground cover under the swag to keep it from getting wet and dirty but that's totally optional The first step is unzipping the bag and removing the swag. Once out of the bag, you just unbuckle the two heavy straps that keep the swag rolled up. When that's done, the swag pretty much unrolls itself. Next thing on the list is to insert the 3 swag poles that give the swag its support and shape. There is a pole on each end, then a pole that runs the length of the swag. After that, you can stake out the small flaps at each end of the swag. These flaps allow you to open the end vents for airflow while keeping rain or snow out. Setup is fast and can be done in 2-3 minutes.
The swag itself is of the 4-season variety. In cold weather and snow the heavy canvas insulates and holds body heat in very well. When you're in hot weather, the canvas sides can be rolled up and the ends unzipped leaving only no-see-um mesh between you and the outside. This allows the breeze to pass through easily. In-between temps call for zipping up the sides and leaving either one or both ends open. The swag is very customizable and works well in all climates.
Inside, the foam mattress is incased in a removable, washable cover and fits snuggly in the bottom section of the swag. Although most of the swag is heavy canvas, the very bottom is made of a heavy PVC material. This PVC material forms a "tub" that will keep any water out of the swag during a heavy rain. I've found the foam mattress to be fairly comfortable and have never had a bad night's sleep due to it. There are also 2 mesh pockets at one end of the swag for items and the loops for securing the rolled up sides can be used to also hang a light at anytime.
Taking down and stowing the swag is basically the reverse of setting it up. First, unstake the ends (if you have them staked) and remove the 3 poles. I place the poles and stakes in the PVC bag and then lay the bag crossways on top of the swag to be rolled up with it. That way you never forget them on a trip, its all together and ready to go. Before I start rolling, I make sure that my pillow is at the end that I'm rolling from and the sides are nice and neatly tucked in as close as possible. I also will leave a section of the canvas side unzipped so that air isn't trapped when rolling. I start tightly rolling from the end that doesn't have buckles and then buckle the straps when I reach the other end. The straps should be directly below you and are easy to bring over and buckle. I've found that the straps don't have to be super tight. This is something that I learned over the course of use. Once the swag is rolled up, I spread the storage bag and place the swag inside tucking it in as I go. The bag is plenty big but zipping it up can be a chore if you don't keep the zippers clean. I noticed if zipping gets tough, it's time to take a moist rag or wipe and rub the zippers down. This makes all the difference in the world. Once the swag is all zipped up you can pick it up by the carry handle and stow it wherever works best for you.
Since acquiring the swag in July 2020, I've spent close to 100 nights in it. I've used it on long trips of four weeks at a time and I've also used it on one- and two-night adventures. I've camped in extremes like Moab, where nights were 100 degrees, all the way to West Virginia with temps in the teens. I've used it in high winds in Oklahoma and pouring rain in Tennessee. It has never leaked and I've always been very comfortable. I've stowed it on my roof rack in the past and now I mostly strap it to the ladder on my rear bumper. I've wheeled Imogene in Colorado with it and Poison Spider in Moab. I've done the Georgia Traverse with it strapped to my Cruiser. Its always been dry and dust free when I set it up. It's been a lot of fun and I highly recommend the Crashpad swag to anyone needing a robust sleeping and shelter solution for adventure travel.