The Helikon-Tex Swagman Roll is a very interesting piece of equipment which was not initially on my radar. Only after conversations with some of my friends and different users in online communities, I actually wanted to take a more closer look at it. With it being offered in PenCott Wildwood as well, I finally decided to get one and write about it.
So let’s take that look.
The Swagman Roll was designed in cooperation with Survivaltech.pl and can be used as poncho liner, an emergency jacket, as a light sleeping bag or sleeping bag liner for colder seasons; as a blanket, and/or hammock liner (quilt) etc. It features a hood, several buckles, toggles and a ykk zipper to adjust it in different ways. It is self-packing and a small lightweight packing size for BOB concepts.
- Weight: 745g
- Dimensions: 145 x 200 cm
- Materials: Nylon, Climashield Apex (67g/m2), ykk zippers, Woo Jin buckles
The Swagman Roll
The Swagman Roll Poncho is a cooperation project between Survivaltech.pl and Helikon-Tex and is offered through the Bushcraft line. The end-product results in a versatile piece of equipment, which can be used as a poncho on its own or a poncho liner in combination with a standard USGI poncho. Other intended uses are as a blanket, a light sleeping bag or for colder temperatures, as an additional liner for your sleeping bag system. If you prefer hammocks, you can obviously use the blanket also as an insulation layer for that.
To achieve this level of insulation, Climashield Apex was chosen as filling, with a density of 67g per square meter.
In order to be so versatile, you can find several subtle, but important features.
Since the Swagman Roll is intended to be used as a poncho or poncho liner, you will find a decent hood, which can be tightened by shock cord. The latter is laced through grommets and held in place by a cord lock.
On your chest you will find a zippered compartment, which is also used as the pocket in which you pack the Swagman Roll when needed. For this purpose the zipper features a glide which can be used both on the inside and outside.
Inside this compartment you will also find a simple loop to either hang something in it, or (when turned inside out) to hang the compressed and self packed Swagman Roll somewhere to store. If you turn this compartment inside out and pack the Swagman Roll, you will find plenty of useful information on the outside.
Right above this zippered compartment is a small sleeve, which is closed by a velcro tab. This serves to put away the hood, when using the Swagman Roll as a liner, or sleeping bag. To keep the hood in you will find a velcro tab on the backside of the hood, which can be used for the sleeve.
In order to use it as a poncho liner in combination with a USGI poncho, the Swagman Roll features four toggles at the corners, to fix the poncho with the liner. Right next to them, you will also find Cordlocks with shock cord. These can be used to tighten down the Swagman Roll further.
With all these adjustment details in mind, I want to mention one of the last and probably most important ones: Attached with Cordura squares and sewn on with bartack stitching, you will find elastic webbing attached to two buckles.
These features enable you to mount the Swagman Roll very close to the body. Basically you can wrap yourself up in it, fix it on the back, then fold the rest to the front and fix it there as well. Ease of movement is provided, when bringing the buckles to chest height.
Last but not least… a two way zipper runs all along the Swagman Roll, giving you the option to use it as a sleeping bag.
The quality of manufacture is what you would expect from Helikon-Tex. The use of high quality materials is combined with a decent level of workmanship. There are a few loose threads here and there and maybe not all seams are perfectly straight, but the overall quality of the product is undeniable.
The stress areas are reinforced with Cordura and bartack seams and the materials range from Climashield Apex insulation, ykk zippers, Woo Jin buckles and other decent hardware. It is fair to say that you get your money’s worth.
So far I used the Swagman Roll mainly as a poncho when being outdoors during my Camouflage tests, or when on longer marches. The ability to wrap it up tightly around your body is highly appreciated in that context.
So it served me actually quite well during breaks when I needed to keep my body temperature up. It was also quite practical, when I did said winter camouflage tests. Since I had to change uniforms in between pictures, while at the same time being stationary, the Swagman Roll did a magnificent job to prevent my balls from literally freezing off – sorry for being explizit.
The poncho liner also acts as a very good insulation to the ground, when sitting or lying down. I did not dare to use the Swagman Roll directly on the ground however – be it stone or forest. This is just me being careful with my gear and equipment. The Nylon feels very light and I have yet to find out how durable it actually is. Needles to say I had ne issues until now.
Using it in a hammock gives you a comfortable protection against loss of warmth by wind and resulting thermal bridges.
Coming to some critical observations. The opening of the hood could be a bit bigger, and the pouch to store it when using the Swagman Roll as a blanket could use 1-2 more velcro tabs to keep the hood in place. The current state is more of a compromise.
Before using it, I also had to wipe it down a bit, because the Swagman Roll felt smeary from the DWR treatment. This treatment however provided decent protection from light rain. Even though every DWR treatment has its limits – so be aware of that.
Other than that I have nothing to complain. The Swagman Roll actually made me realize why woobies are so beloved by members of the armed forces. The feel of the liner is so nice, that I am actually using it as a blanket on my sofa as well. So it is actually safe to say that from all my gear, the Swagman Roll is actually one of the items which is permanently in use.
I did not use the Swagman Roll as a sleeping bag or liner for a sleeping bag. Therefore I cannot give you any observations on that. I read that it could be a bit wider, but for me it is big enough, being on the slimmer side of guys.
Coming to an end I want to say that I did not expect the Swagman Roll to be in use on such a daily basis as it is. Being comfortable and practical at the same time it accompanies me quite often.
The quality of manufacture and the design concept make the Swagman Roll an ideal companion when being outdoors. Be it on casual marches or longer periods in the field, it is safe to say that you will find some use for it one way or the other. With the addition of several colours and even camouflage prints, the area of use gets even bigger.
With that being said I want to thank you for reading. I do hope I was able to give you a detailed look at the Swagman Roll. Many thanks to Helikon-Tex for making this review possible!