You’re probably thinking, I need this advice like a fish needs a bicycle. But I actually get a lot of correspondence about how hard swags can be to get back in the bags they came out of, and I wanted to share what me and my mates have worked out over the years.
Here’s a step by step guide to rolling your swag the right way, faster. I’m using my Darche Dusk to Dawn single here, which has been my go-to for almost the last decade.
1. First things first, make sure your swag is dry inside and out. Condensation usually builds up inside overnight, even in the tropics, and over time this can lead to mold growing in your swag. That’s bad.
2. You can leave your pillow inside the swag with your sleeping bag and sheets, but I like to take mine out to make rolling the swag a bit easier, and to give my camera gear a bit of extra cushion in the 4WD. Next, roll the sides down so everything can pack down flat.
3. I like to store all the poles inside the rolled up swag, so I tuck them under the end on the side that has the buckles. They’ll end up rolled up in the last half a metre of swag, plenty of padding to protect them from being thrown off the roof.
4. This part is critical: if the start of your roll is loose, your swag is going to be like a giant marshmallow at the end. You need to get it as tight as possible from the first instant. You can fold it over, no thicker than your thumb, to start with, and hold that down with one knee while you do the middle and the other side.
5. I use my knee to keep pressure on the roll once it’s started. This way it’s never slack enough to unroll inside itself before I get to the end, and I’m using my body weight to roll the swag, instead of my arms. No use in sweating so much doing this that you’re both soaked by the end.
6. I hate those double-back army buckles when they’ve been super tight for ages and you have to dig them free from themselves just to roll your swag out. So I tie mine different. I just pull them through, nice and tight, and tie them together using a slipped reef knot.
7. If you’re fastidious on the above points, your swag, including a big canvas sleeping bag, sheets (and yes, even your pillow) should easily go back into the swag bag without wrestling around too much. I think it took me around 3-4 minutes to pack this swag with almost enough room for two in the bag.
8. Bonus tip: now you can pack a waterproof tarp in the bag with your swag to keep the bottom dry in any weather or location. I find canvas is the nicest to use, but with plastic tarp you never have to worry about drying it out.
Now you can look like a legend around the campfire on the last morning and be packed and cruising while everyone else looks like they’re wrestling crocodiles trying to get their swags rolled up.