It’ gets cold out there, but with starry skies and great sunrises, an overnight camp can be gorgeous whatever the season! Not such a great adventure when you’re homeless, of course, but we’ve found a company that’s got something for people who love sleeping outdoors and that also helps those who have no choice.
We’ve featured equipment before that either started life as humanitarian kit or that works for both charitable aims and for campers – the electricity-free slow cooker called the Wonderbag for instance, and rocket stoves such as the EcoZoom and Horizon. Now meet the Backpack Bed®.
Tony and Lisa Clark invented the Backpack Bed to save the lives of homeless people turned away from shelters. Imagine for a minute that disaster strikes in your life and you’re made homeless. You need shelter and something to carry your belongings. It’s getting dark and cold, so you try to find a bed, but there’s no room in the hostels. This is the harsh reality that the Backpack Bed was designed for. It rolls out into an all-weather bed and creates a comfortable place to sleep.
Swags for Homeless is based in Australia, but works with charities and organisations all over the world, including in the UK. Every penny of the profit from selling the bivouac beds goes back into the charity.
And the bags are great. In fact, they’ve won lots of awards and come with a rather awe-inspiring spec! They’re light, rugged, very waterproof, free of nasty chemicals and are fireproof – so you can sleep close to that campfire without worry.
They’re also quick-drying, mildew-resistant, windproof and even include mosquito netting. The backpack they fold into is comfortable and the built-in camping mat is insulated. They’re fast and easy to set up, using (included) ropes to tie to poles or trees. The original bed weighs 2.9kg and the ‘Vast’ option, which has tent poles and pegs, a better equipped backpack and more mosquito protection, weighs 3.8kg.
Lisa says the bed makes a fabulous bivouac and can also be used as an ‘open’ shelter from wind or sun by tying the ropes higher up.
We’ve yet to try one, but the chance to sleep outside in comfort, and help the homeless at the same time, sounds great.
The bags cost AUS$220 and AUS$320 (about £120 and £175), which doesn’t sound bad. Sadly, they have to be shipped from Australia and that adds upwards of £60 to the cost.
Have a look at Swags for Homeless for details of how to buy a Backpack Bed for yourself (or as a gift), or how to donate one to a homeless person.
And watch this three-minute film for an insight into how tragically easy it is to end up without a home.