I've never exactly hid the fact that I'm a bit of a primadona when it comes to camping. I like to be comfortable, and I'm talking really comfortable. Maybe that's why I'm incredibly excited about the new ARB SkyDome Ground Swag—which might just be the biggest, heaviest one person ground tent in the world—but it also might be the most comfortable.
Quite simply, I don't really get a joy from knowing that my tent is a few grams or ounces lighter than someone else's—there's no way I'm going to use a mattress pad a quarter-inch thick to save some weight. Nor am I ever going to use a tent that requires a structural engineer to assemble just in the hopes of saving a little bit of space. There's plenty of room in my truck, even when you factor in the copious amounts of beer and food I've been known to bring with while camping.
Admittedly, the ARB SkyDome Ground Swag is actually pretty huge, for reference, after loading up a Land Rover Discovery II with the essentials (an Engel fridge, camping stove, ludicrously expensive chairs, various pelican cases, and recovery gear) it ended up taking up the rest of the rear storage. You're probably like..."Whoa, how big is this thing!?" (The short answer is 44"L x 14" W x 14" T.) Before you start thinking too much, you should probably know that the SkyDome Ground Swag is more than just a tent—it's also your mattress and the design allows you keep your sleeping bag and pillow inside the tent when you stow it, much similar to a root top tent. It makes camp set-up a no-brainer and ARB reckons can be done in less than 3 minutes. I found that to be a fairly accurate number, if not a bit conservative.
ARB is also soon to release a cargo bag for your swag, which will allow you to carry it on your spare tire or roof rack in inclement weather saving your cabin space for more sensitive items.
Here's how you set up the SkyDome Ground Swag:
As your friends begin to set up their complicated paper-thin space age tents, sit back for a few moments while politely declining their request for assistance.
Walk to your vehicle, grab the built-in carrying handle on the SkyDome, throw it on the ground and unbuckle the two compression straps.
As your friends continue to assemble their tents, use your foot (or hand if you desire to bend over) to push and unroll the SkyDome.
Insert three short poles into their clearly marked receptacles. Begin to fasten the external clips.
Insert two short poles in-between the three rounded poles you just assembled.
Since you've just casually set up your tent, mattress pad, sleeping bag, pillow, and even had extra time to set up your camp chair, it's time to take a seat. Now what do you do? Laugh at your friends who are either still assembling their tents, or by now blowing on the germ-laden, cow-dung and dirt filled air valves from their mattress pads. Why? Because yours is made of a high-quality foam that doesn't require inflating and can't be punctured meaning you won't be relegated to sleeping on sharp pointy rocks randomly at two in the morning.
The SkyDome swag is constructed from durable water and rot proof canvas that according to ARB "[is] heavy enough that you won't have to worry about snags or tears or damage from rolling around the back of your 4x4." While the ride inside of our Land Rover TReK Discovery admittedly wasn't the harshest environment to transport the swag, after spending a few nights inside the tent it's quite apparent that you're getting a quality product. The heavy waterproof base layer showed no signs of wear despite spending a few nights in campsites with sharp and jagged rocks. The tent did nothing but laugh at the quick rainstorm we encountered outside of Flagstaff, as zero precipitation made it inside the tent. The swag will stay seriously sealed up if need be, and the canvas doesn't have the best breathability, so in an effort to avoid waking up inside of a raining greenhouse, we suggest keeping a vent open—luckily head and foot awnings are standard. Much of this is probably attributed to the thickness (and durabilty) of the material—which still breathes better than nylon.
At just over $400, the ARB SkyDome Ground Swag isn't cheap, and it does only sleep one person—but it does that well and provides a comfortable sleeping environment. If you're looking for something a little bit larger, ARB also offers the swag in a double model with a retail just under $600.
It's becoming my main tent—even if it's massive.
(Excellent title and lead image by Ray Hyland.)
YKK zippers throughout the swag design.
The durable pole and stake bag rolls into the swag.
Brass eyelets are used throughout the construction.
The thick built-in eggshell foam mattress doesn't require air and can't be punctured.
Awnings are included at both ends.
Three poles hold up the freestanding tent, and two support pieces keep everything spaced properly.
The swag features pockets, key and flash light clips and a wide brim hat holder.
The inside of the tent has plenty of places to hang keys and flashlights—a great place to hide a spare key.
Even at 6'3" I had plenty of room to sleep inside the tent.
You enter the swag from the side, a mesh screen is also included.