THE ULTIMATE CAMP FIRE DEBATE!

There’s no doubt about it: we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to camping options these days. Multiple styles of swags, a huge range of rooftop tents and loads of camper trailers becoming more affordable means that it can be somewhat of a daunting task to select the best setup for your particular needs. Not only that, but everyone has their opinions about the best way to camp, and most of the time they’re not shy about expressing their opinion – let’s face it, there’s nothing like a good campfire debate!

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”We put the most popular methods of camping head to head to reveal the best style of camping for you!”[/blockquote]

In this article, we’ve taken a close look at the three most popular types of camping – swags, rooftop tents and camper trailers. Every one of them has their pros and cons, and we’re putting them down in simple black and white terms that’ll make it easier for you to decide what you’ll take on your next trip away. So sit back and grab a cold one, because we’re going to settle this debate once and for all!

SWAGS

As we’ve already mentioned, swags are one of simplest forms of camping. Being super simple also means that they lack in those little luxuries, which is mainly what turns non-swag lovers off in the first place. This has led to a few design changes over recent years, with more emphasis on improving the swags level of comfort.

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]Easy and comfortable, the trusty swag has a lot to offer[/blockquote]

Larger sizes, more head room and built-in features such as key pockets and egg shell foam mattresses are just some of the features of a modern day swag. However, these design features are a compromise. For example, larger sizes usually take up more storage space, and to get more head height there’s usually larger poles that are slightly harder to set-up.

Price-wise, swags can easily be the cheapest camping option. And the best part is, that these days you can get a quality swag, whether it’s a single or a double for a really affordable price.

If advances in swag design have done anything, they’ve given us more choice as to what’s on the market, so we’re able to choose a swag that suits you down to the ground.

MOST COMMON TYPES

SINGLE

Single swags come in a variety of styles, from your traditional string-up canvas type to triple hoop setups that give you a bit more space. Still, they’re only made to sleep a single person, so you need to be comfortable sleeping in a somewhat confined space.

DOUBLE

Double swags are a more recent offering, and provide a heap more space than a single. That being said, they’ll take up even more storage space in the 4WD, and they won’t keep your body warmth in quite as well. They do offer comfortable sleeping though.

WHY I LOVE MY SWAG – SHAUNO

“I probably spend over 150 nights a year under the canvas of my swag, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love the fact that my swag carries all of my bedding and is so quick and easy to put up. There are so many different types of swags on the market and I think it’s important to get one that is spacious inside and also waterproof.

On a recent trip away it rained for the whole week and my swag was one of the only ones that was completely dry inside and I think that has a lot to do with the PVC base. I’ve pimped my swag out a little and actually have replace the standard mattress for a self-inflating – it’s a game changer! I find it’s more comfortable and it also folds away smaller.”

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”Larger sizes and more head room are just some of the features of a modern day swag”[/blockquote]

ROOFTOP TENTS

As a whole, rooftop tents have a number of advantages over ground-based alternatives. The most obvious is the additional space you have inside your 4WD, as you don’t need to store a swag, tent mattress or sleeping bag in there.

Rooftop tents are excellent if your style of travelling means you don’t stay in the one spot for very long, or tend to pull up camp wherever you are when it gets dark. With no need for pegs or guy ropes, they are also suitable for any type of terrain.

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”Offering a quick setup and a heap of comfort, it’s no wonder rooftop tents are becoming more popular”[/blockquote]

One negative can be their size. Being bolted to your 4WD’s roof means that they have a restriction as to how much size they can really have, however there are more options out there these days that come with zip-on annexes and other additions.

This can mean that camping with a family can be a bit of a challenge space-wise, as even with an annex there’s not a heap of space for more than two people.
You also need to consider mounting when looking at rooftops. In addition to what is already a relatively high purchase price when compared to swags and tents, you need to add the cost of a suitable roof rack to mount it to. This means that out of all the options, rooftop tents can be by far the most expensive option.

MOST COMMON TYPES

CANVAS FOLD OUT

Sleeping up off the ground has obvious advantages if you’re touring in regions where the wildlife could be a concern. This style of roof topper is generally very comfortable, and quick to setup, however can be a bit more difficult to pack down. The ability of some models to add an annex means that you can have a considerable amount of additional space.

HARD-SHELL POP-UP

These tend to be the far more expensive of the two types, and don’t usually come with the ability to add an annex or additional coverage. They generally do, however, offer the easiest set-up and pack-down out of any of the camping accommodation types we’ve mentioned, however considering this type costs anywhere up to $5,000 or more, it can cost a pretty penny.

WHY I LOVE MY ROOFTOP TENT – GRAHAM

“High and dry; that’s my motto when it comes to rooftop tents. Quick to put up, always comfortable regardless of the ground conditions and in hot conditions open ‘em up and catch the breeze. Also, who can argue with the views a rooftop tent provides? In the past I’ve set mine up with USB charging points, LED lights and even a small chair plus table for article writing on the road. Of course there are some negatives such as loosing roof rack space and added weight up high but for me, this is a small price to pay for the comfort and ease a rooftop tent gives when touring. I love my swag but if I had the choice of both being set up and all I had to do was crawl into one…I’d be up that ladder quicker than a rat up a drain pipe.”

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”Rooftop tents are excellent if your style of travelling means you don’t stay in one spot very long”[/blockquote]

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]Comfortable, spacious and luxurious – are camper trailers the best way to camp?[/blockquote]
CAMPER TRAILERS

Swags and rooftop tents are fine if you’re a single person or a couple, but what about when you’re heading bush with the entire clan? Anyone who’s ever travelled with kids know just how much stuff you have to take bush with you, as well as how much living space you require, and a camper trailer is the perfect solution.

But camper trailers aren’t relegated to family touring – if you’re a couple looking at doing a big lap, or any big trip that will see you out in the scrub for weeks on end, then the luxury and comfort that a camper trailer offers is second to none.

The two things that seem to hold people back from committing to buying a camper trailer are the price, and the conception that towing a camper trailer reduces your off-road capability. These days, while there’s certainly some truth to these conceptions, we’re seeing cheaper and tougher trailers than ever before. Not only can you get a quality off-road camper trailer brand new for around the $6,000 mark, but they’re being built with off-road travel in mind, so it more the case than ever that wherever your 4WD can go, so can your camper trailer.

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”The luxury and comfort that a camper trailer offers is second to none”[/blockquote]

MOST COMMON TYPES

SOFT FLOOR

Soft floor camper trailers offer a number of benefits. Not only are they generally the most affordable option out there, but they also provide loads of living space. The only downside is that they can take quite a while to setup and pack down the tent and annex, and if you’ve got add-on rooms, then it could realistically take you as much as an hour to setup camp.

HARD FLOOR

Hard floor trailers, whether you’re looking at a forward folding or rear folding trailer offer the absolute lap of luxury when camping. Additionally, they’ll also offer a quicker setup and pack down time than a soft floor camper. The downside is that they usually don’t have as much living space as a soft floor trailer, and they cost a fair bit more. That being said, we’re starting to see some quality hard floor camper trailers in the $10,000 ballpark.

WHY I LOVE MY CAMPER TRAILER – BRENNO

“To be completely honest, I never thought I would own a camper trailer. To me, they were the kind of thing perfect for that annual two weeks at the caravan park at Christmas, but I’m more of a ‘new campsite every day’ sorta camper. Then someone slapped me around the head, told me not all of ‘em take two hours to put up and from then on I was hooked.

I love camping out of the camper simply for the experience it gives you. Mine has this insane kitchen – better than the one at home – plus heaps of storage. It has let me spread my gear out so my 4WD is nowhere near as packed anymore. And call me soft, but as much as I froth over a night in the swag, the trailer’s bed is so comfy it’s ridiculous.

I deadset love my swag, I’ve rooftop tented for years and that’s hard to beat too, but a camper trailer takes your camping to the next level!”

DESTINATION PLAYS A BIG PART!

It’s something you may not consider right from the get go, but the destination you’re travelling to and the plans you have along the way play a big part in the type of camping accommodation you choose. For instance, if you’re travelling to the Top End or the Cape, and you’re changing campsites every day, then a rooftop tent with a quick setup is an ideal choice. Plus, they keep you off the ground and well away from those snapping leather handbags.

If you’re looking at travelling to a destination that requires setting up a base camp and hanging around for a week or more, then a camper trailer is perfectly suited. It gives you heaps of covered space, and because you only need to setup and pack up once, the longer times to do this aren’t quite as problematic.

Swags tend to be suitable for all of the above. They’re quick to setup and pack away, but they don’t give you much shelter. One area where they excel in particular is cold weather regions, such as the High Country in winter. This is largely because they help keep your body warmth within the canvas, which makes it easier to stay warm.

WHAT SUITS YOU BEST…

The perfect set-up is just one of those things that constantly changes. This is because our requirements change too. Have a think about it. Our financial position, age of children if any, the amount of time we have to go camping and a million other things all play a part as to what set-up is the best for us at any given time. With this train of thought, it makes sense to keep an open mind. You could find that one set-up that you just couldn’t see the up side to makes a whole lot of sense a few years down the track.

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