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The Great Central Rd Guide
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There are no silver bullets when picking a shelter for camping. No matter what you pick, at some stage it will leave you wanting. Jess and I are fortunate enough to be able to own a complete suite of camping options. If you’re unsure of how to start out or where to go to next, there maybe be some gold here for you.
In general we use either the swag or Tvan and this is why.
The Tvan is super. From led lights to the dual fridges we run, to the to the queen innerspring mattress, why would we not take this beauty away? It is so easy to set up and if we are just using a fly screen set up is less than three minutes. We have everything we need, coffee perculators, the works. Everything is there. The downfall to the Tvan is mostly fuel economy. Towing the Tvan will use an additional 3-5L of fuel per 100km. We also don’t like leaving it unsecured as it is worth so much money, so if we're flying home or travelling for work we don’t take the Tvan.
The swag is our number two option. The swag is great at simplifying camping. If we're taking off for just one night or travelling for work or to the airport, with our car set up (LED work lights the Engel fridge, 50L water tank and a Foxwing) we simply throw the swag in, grab some freeze-dried food and head off. It's so easy and so simple. The way camping should be. The downfall to the swag is there is no room to get dressed or chill out. We also have to sleep with Layla and anyone who has shared a bed with a kid knows it aint fun! I must say though, she LOVES it.
As I mentioned above we do have a complete suite of options available to us so I have put down our methodology and why we use what.
When: Tough to get to places. Meaning that you can’t tow the trailer and space is tight. We don’t use our tent very often. It usual use is loaning to friends or family.
Major Competitor: The swag for us is its main competitor. The tent will win in situations where we are staying for a long time (4+ days) in one spot as it is has a lot more room. The tent beats the swag in situations where spaces is tight.
When: When we are ducking off for a night, or we are going somewhere where we cannot take the camper. We often use the swag when going to the airport as we can just unroll it anywhere and save some dollars.
Major Competitor: Tvan. I would say it is almost a 50-50 between the Tvan and the swag. The swag beats the Tvan if we want something quick and we can store easily.
When: If we are hiking obviously. Also if we are catching a plane and planning on doing some camping at the other end.
Major Competitors. Lets face it no one ever really wants to use a hiking tent so we don’t wherever possible. The hiking tent has no major competitors and has a very specific use that nothing else can really compete with.
When: On longer holidays (2+ days). Anytime we can!
Major competitors. The swag is very simple and quick it also gives us much better fuel economy.
As there are horses for courses and no one silver bullet, before upgrading your current setup or buying your first tent, it is really about how much use you plan on getting out of it. Use some simple maths. If you're going to spend $20,000 on a camper and only use it for one week a year after 12 years its like paying $238 a night and that does not include insurance, registration and maintence.
For your first purchase I would recommend starting with your humble tent. You don’t have to spend a fortune and you can figure out if you actually like camping before making a big investment. Look for something of good quality and easy to set up. If you get both those things in a tent you will get use out of it for years! I really recommend checking out the Jet Tent. I don’t have one but I want one.
If you’re thinking of upgrading, you probably already have a tent and are looking at a camper trailer. My honest opinion... if you are not looking to spend over 15k, the camper upgrade wont do a lot for your enjoyment of camping. Yes you will have more storage and a perhaps a kitchen, however campers complicate camping. You have an extra set of wheels virtually another vechial to maintain. Campers have annexes and they take a long time to set up and pull down. You will be paying more for fuel and another thing to think about whilst your driving. Unless your camper can make your camping experience simpler don’t buy it!