Tag Archives: Swag

The Wye Winter 2008 October Trip Report

Finally, after spending a lot of time putting the site together :) We can start to put some of the trip reports up! This is a few months old now but looking at the pictures ready for this report really brings it all back!

We had fantastic weather for October actually.  I recall it was the last good week of the year, very lucky.  We had T-Shirt weather as you can see in the pics, although the water was cold enough that you really wouldn’t want to be falling in :).

We set off from Hoarwithy on Saturday morning.  The river Wye was pretty high and was running quite fast (although it doesn’t look it in these pics).  We were worried about making good time to find a good camp site, because the sunset came early, but we needn’t have worried as the current really helped!  In fact it was so fast that we nearly tipped the ‘old stable’ Old Town Disco’ when beaching!  We turned into eddy just at the end of a shingle beach, but realised we were going to really struggle to fight the current.  Luckily we didn’t get wet and campsite for the first night became a shingle/pebble beach right on the bow of the river.  The moonlight was stunning, but a good campfire was essential to keep warm once the sun had gone down. 

Sunday was amazing sunshine and even warmer than Saturday – did I mention we had fantastic October weather :).  Eddying out with the full on current became second nature after the first day, and we took advantage several beaches for breaks and lunch.

The campsite for Sunday was a small pebble and sand island just in the valley of Symmonds Yat.  The scenery here is stunning!  We camped on the island to avoid any issues with land-owners.  We fully practice ‘no trace’ camping – (see here for more info) and as you will see from the photo’s we left the island pristine and like we hadn’t been there. 

Camping ‘wild’ like this means we dont carry much gear, and have a zero footprint on the environment.  Generally we will have just a ‘Swag’ and a Tarp or shelter.  We’ll be trialling a few different set-ups and making reports and recommendations on this site!

We had wild deer visit us (only seen by prints in the morning!), and were treated with Owls chorusing through the night – fantastic.  We set off late on Monday morning, around 11am and stopped in Symmonds Yat for a ‘quick drink’. 

At this point, after heading off from Symmonds Yat, we realised that the river way had been closed through the rapids section!  There was a portage sign with around a 1 mile portage!  We pulled over at the get out and checked with a couple of builders stood by.  It was then that we found out there was a very large excavator, mid river on the main through way!!  However, and luckilly for us as we didn’t have a portage trolley, we could go river right around an island and avoiding the digger, this was “If you want to risk it”. !!  Well not wanting a 1 mile carry… we risked it!  And although it was tight and fast with quite a few strainers, we made it through (with a bit of water on board)..

Finally get-out was river right at Monmouth rowing club several miles out of Symmonds Yat at about 3pm. 

A fantastic trip that had perfect weather, amazing nature and wild life, fantastic moonlight and just enough adventure and risk to finish it off 😀  Recommended!

Baker Tent Hunt: Get Out and Stay Out… in your own Backyard

Update: See our latest test of the Green Outdoor full size Campfire Tent.

The Baker Tent/Campfire Tent search continues… Evening Tea under the Tarp… Kelly Kettle fires up – wish I bought the bigger one though as the small 1pt version is fiddly to light and get going; next choice for me is an Eydon Kettle, the 2pt “Popular” model looks good according to reviews on SOTP (www.songofthepaddle.co.uk). But the Brew is good once it’s ready.


After tea the light started to dim, chopped some logs and got the firepit going (this is an old chiminea that fell over and broke during a storm: it’s much improved now!

Saw a Hare dart across the field just before dusk – haven’t seen him all Winter – lovely to see him back: takes the same path every morning and night during the summer – perhaps one of our most beautiful native animals to see in thier natural habitat.

The wind picked up a bit once the sun went down, giving the tarp a bit of a test as we’re up on a hillside facing the prevailing wind. The campfire tent / tarp rig stood up perfectly as expected, securely anchored to the canoe behind. Such a simple set up too: it’s easy to raise or lower the side walls dependent on the weather, using sticks of the right height to prop up the wings.


I’m completely happy with this rig now as the perfect Campfire Tent and simple canoe shelter: it packs up tiny with no poles needed ( I hate threading shock-corded poles in the dark ;-), sets up in under 5 mintes nd provides great cover even in storms with the option of rigging it low over the canoe. And as an open camp-fire style tent for one its fantastic, you really feel your open to the elements and the views and sounds of nature around you. Why go outdoors only to lock yourself in inside a little canvas room! My Baker Tent Hunt is over.

As it got dark the Owls came out – I sat listening to their calls for an hour, back and forth between a male and female. At times they were so close I was sure I would see them – I’m convinced now that they’re invisible! They’re Tawny Owls and that classic Twit-Twoo is surely one of the great experiences of being outdoors at night.

Climbed into the swag at 11am and slept soundly with just the gentle flapping of the tarp against the canoe and more owl noises echoing through the air. Tomorrow we work, but felt I made the most of an average evening at home! If you can’t get to the river, at least “Get Out and Stay Out”, even if it’s in your own back yard!


Swag n Tarp set up…

Australian ‘Razorback’ swag set up under a (British) Wychwood ‘Rogue Shelter’ makes a perfect open fronted campfire shelter like a one man Baker Tent also called the Campfire tent, but without all the poles and heavy canvas.

The shelter will catch the wind a bit in bad weather though, but perfect for normal conditions or even heavy rain without Big Wind… The Swag will shed any amount of rain that gets in, and the advantage of a big fire out in front is a big one: heat bounces around inside the shelter and you have a great feeling of being out on the open air.


Me Ol’ Swaggaroo… the Australian ‘Swag Bag’

[Update: the new Wynnchester Australian-style Bedroll Swags are now available to buy online from www.wynnchester.co.uk – see latest post. Designed and tested by Wynnchester and exclusively made in the UK by a high quality bespoke tent manufacturer.

Australian Swag bags are quite unique to Down Under – a thick canvas ‘bivvi’ with waterproof floor which rolls up as a bedroll to go in the back of the ‘Ute’ (Aussie pick-up truck) or in a canoe for river trips – too heavy for hiking long distance they can also be used horse riding and there’s some lighter versions suitable for bikers.

From Wikipedia: “In Australian historical terms, a swag is a waterproof bedroll … In the 1800’s and first half of the 20th century a swag-man was an itinerant rural worker – usually but not always sheep shearers – who carried their bedroll ‘swag’ with their belongings wrapped in them on their back.

Before motor transport was common, foot travel over long distances was essential to workers who were travelling in the Australian bush and who could not afford a horse. Itinerant workers who travelled from farm to farm sheep shearing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were called “swagmen” because they carried all their possessions in a swag. This image was immortalised in Australian culture by the song Waltzing Matilda.”

See our full post on the “History & Romance of the Australian Swag“.

Some come with various additions like mesh screens to keep out bugs, simple poles or hoops to help shed water, or small porches to keep your boots dry. Some are made to be set up in the back of the Ute itself, or on a trailer or 4×4 roof top.

The beauty of them is the simple roll-and-go nature – stop where you want, unroll it and you’re ready for the night – sleeping bags or blankets can stay rolled up inside during the day: they aren’t small when packed up though, but there’s nothing better for a night under the stars.

Camp set up, fire going and the Swag ready to be unrolled for the night...

Camp set up, fire going and the Swag ready to be unrolled for the night...

Open to Nature... view from the Swag on waking up...

Open to Nature... view from the Swag on waking up...

The Swag rolled up in the canoe – ready to travel:

A modern Australian swag:

The swag rolled up in the back of the Landrover for overland and off-road camping trips:


And then simply unrolled for sleeping directly in the back of the Landrover:


See also Ray Mears’s swag camp in the Australian desert on TV.