Love the idea of cruising the coast in a two-story surf motorhome or small camper van but are looking to go lighter and cheaper ... much lighter and cheaper? Australia's Boardswag has just the thing, a surfboard bag that transforms into a one-person tent with a few blasts of air. So whether you're getting a quick jump on dawn patrol or enjoying sunset drinks a little longer than usual, you always have a roof over your head.
About as Australian as it gets, the Boardswag adapts a well-known piece of Australian outdoor gear, the swag, to the particular needs of a popular Australian outdoor sport. The idea was born when company founders James Watkins and Jonah Beard found themselves sleeping near water's edge on a surfing trip, trying to get an early jump on next-day breaks. After tossing and turning violently inside a cramped, uncomfortable car, the two laid out atop their board bags and used them as a form of minimalist bedding.
The next day, fresh and clear-headed off a comfy night of sleep, Watkins and Beard decided there might be something to the experience. They certainly weren't the first to have the idea of sleeping at the beach to get in an early morning session, and they certainly weren't the only ones with a small vehicle unfit for sleep. Maybe other surfers would like the idea of sleeping in a board bag, and maybe they'd like it even more if that board bag actually transformed into a proper swag, a Boardswag.
At its simplest, the Boardswag is a rugged board bag made from 600D polyester and ripstop nylon. It can hold up to three 7-ft (2.1-m) boards, relying on high-density padding to protect them on bumpy jeep rides and intercontinental surf escapades. Internal straps keep the boards in place during the journey.
Most board bag feature lists stop right around there, but the Boardswag's keeps on going to reveal a separate under-compartment with an integrated swag. Simply flip the top surfboard-carrying section of the bag out of the way or detach it completely, and inflate the 7 x 4 x 4-ft (2.1 x 1.2 x 1.2-m) tent into shape with the dual-action hand pump. Boardswag says the tent is sturdy enough to use without staking out but recommends doing so if high winds are in the forecast.
The tent has a mesh/waterproof nylon body for full weather protection and breathability. Welded seams help keep waterproof integrity intact, and a removable inflatable mattress enhances comfort below.
When you deflate it and pack it away, the compressed swag in the board bag creates extra padding on that side of the boards, beefing up protection.
Initially we questioned whether a built-in tent was really an advantage, for much the same reason we question whether jacket-swags or backpack-bivies are really greater than the sum of their parts. With all the small-packing, ultralight backpacking tents on the market, you can fairly easily pack a tent in a board bag or backpack to much the same effect as having one built in. Many of those tents hold two+ people while still weighing in about the same as or less than the 3.3-lb (1.5-kg) Boardswag tent.
But the dual-purpose Boardswag design does keep you prepared, ensuring you have a tent whether you planned to camp or not. For example, if you're traveling out of country and wouldn't otherwise think to pack a tent but end up on the beach wanting to stake a claim to first-light waves, you'll likely be glad to have a swag in the bag.
For those thinking, "I don't need a surfboard bag, but I wouldn't mind a slick, inflatable one-person swag," Boardswag is working on the Boardswag Trek. Designed for a wider range of activities, like backpacking, canoe camping and such, the Trek will be the Boardswag without the "board," a light, easy-carry inflatable swag that weighs 4.4 lb (2 kg) when packed in its carry bag. Again, it won't be the lightest tent in the lightweight shelter category, but it will slide in lighter than large inflatable tents suited only to car camping.
Both the Boardswag and Boardswag Trek will be introduced as part of an April Kickstarter campaign. Boardswag is still finalizing pricing details ahead of the launch.
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