Photo courtesy of ARB
Overlanding is vehicle-based adventure where the journey is the focus; not the destination. Originating in Australia, people head out for days on end in their off-road vehicles and drive to remote destinations on unpaved, but generally established trails.
Camping is almost always involved in overlanding, but more on nomadic terms – where practitioners stop for a single night to rest and plan out the next leg of their adventure before moving on. Over the past year, the outdoor industry has begun to focus their efforts on new products for the overlanding crowd to the point where it’s safe to say that for 2017, overlanding is going mainstream in the Americas.
For the most part, if you decide to take on the art of overlanding, you’ll be able to use the gear you take with you backpacking and car camping, but there are some overlanding specific articles that are a staple in Australia — designed to provide you with shelter from almost any storm.
The first of these products are rooftop tents, and though they aren’t new to our market – we’ve begun to see an uptick in their popularity and in the variety available to us. Companies like ARB and Tepui have expanded their existing lines while outsiders like Yakima are entering the segment with two new tents in Spring, 2017
Photo courtesy Kodiak Canvas
Another export from Australia, designed to be your personal, durable shelter, are swag tents. “Swags,” as they’re known to the rest of the world, are compact, waterproof, robust alternatives to backpacking tents that are made from waterproof canvas and feature a heavy-duty tarpaulin style floor.
Available in one- or two-person variants swags come complete with an integrated mattress and some are even designed to integrate on top of a cot; all with the intent of keeping you safe and sound in the most extreme conditions. But this hearty build can put a swag at 20 pounds or more and cost upwards of $400, which begs the question: does the market really need another type of tent?
We’re a culture of people who like a lot of room, and in a market where you can buy a decent lightweight, two-person tent for a fraction of the cost of a one-person swag, people have already taken to blog sites and have dedicated product reviews in voicing their disdain. In fact, some folks have gone as far as saying that if the going gets tough, weather-wise, they would rather just sleep in their vehicles. In my mind, those folks are missing the point, as that’s not what overlanding is all about. If you plan on subscribing to the practice of overlanding, plan on toughing it out in the outdoors. Afterall, overlanding is about exploration and adventure – a little flooding never hurt anyone.
Photo courtesy Outback Swags
Currently swags are available here in the United States from a handful of companies. U.S.-based ARB and Kodiak Canvas are on the swag train, and Australian-based Outback Swags started selling its quality options here over the summer.
As the swag segment grows, I expect we’ll see more imports coming in from Australia, as well as more mainstream tent companies coming on board to get a foothold while the getting is good.