Darche Superdome Review

Last year I purchased a Darche swag after a careful consideration of the features I wanted, like a conservative size and green-ish colour to blend in with the environment as well as room for my camping backpack inside while sleeping. I would be using it for regular camping trips as well as a bugging out if the need arises.

Darche Superdome
Fig1. – The set up Darche Superdome on a camping trip.
Darche Superdome
Fig2. – The packaged swag.

Setting Up
Upon receiving the swag I immediately set it up outside which only took 15 minutes for the first time. The poles felt like they would snap given how much tension they are under when bent, but overall they seem to have been designed for it and they are going strong. I then had a good inspection of it for any faults before dousing it with water to prime the canvas material. Soaking it binds the fibres together more tightly to decrease the chance of rain getting between them and should always be done before using canvas swags. I soaked it two times thoroughly on all sides before hopping in to check for any leaks but thankfully there weren’t any drops in the inside. After letting it dry completely I then pulled the vacuum packed mattress out of the bag and let it expand to 5 times its size.

Darche Superdome
Fig3. – The swag set up to test for leaks.
Darche Superdome
Fig4. – Priming the swag.

The Swag
I love every part of the design of this swag, someone obviously spent a good deal of time working out what should go where and improving the previous versions. Some notable features are the mosquito nets on both entrances, the incredibly easy to move zippers and the little clip at the top to hold a torch or lantern.

The Max-Treme ripstop canvas thickness is very heavy duty coming in at 16oz and 600gsm for the PVC floor. The mesh is 125gsm and compliments the heavy duty nature of the rest of the swag. I would say it feels slightly more flexible then fly-screen mesh. I don’t see anything happening to damage this swag when out on the field from animals trying to get in to branches falling on the top, you’ll surely be safe and snug inside. The downside for all this strength is the weight which is a hefty 13.9 Kg. Not something you should bug out with, especially with the mattress. I will exchange the mattress for an inflatable one when bugging out as it takes up so much space in a car or especially a bike. Valuing the methodical construction of the swag and it’s durability I see it as a valuable investment to my prepping supplies as it will likely last a lifetime.

Darche Superdome
Fig5. – View from the inside of the swag.

I would have preferred canvas loops for the poles instead of the black clips to improve the strength and rigidity of the structure, but then it may be a little harder to set up. Another reason why I prefer it is to conceal the outline of the swag further as currently there are obvious black loops going around the outside which may make it easier to spot when wild camping.

There’s a decent amount of space inside even with the mattress. I’m quite thin myself so I slept with my bag beside my torso and still had enough space to roll during the night. I felt headroom was lacking a little and it would be nearly impossible to turn around or get dressed inside when you’re all zipped up. It’s definitely only a 1 person swag, although if pressed and faced with certain death, you could fit two people in if you leave your gear outside the swag.

Darche Superdome
Fig6. – The other side of the swag also showing the front.
Darche Superdome
Fig7. – The base of the swag.

Colour
The colour scheme is very similar to what I was looking for, something to blend the swag into the environment to help stay hidden when bugging out or when simply stealth camping. There is however a large “Darche” logo on the front of the swag in a med-bright orange which is actually the opposite colour to the main green of the swag thus making it very obvious to people. I will attempt to paint over it in a green paint to at least lessen the colour to a degree because it’s vital to remain hidden from the sight of others when surviving in a foreign location. The guy ropes are also the same bright orange but these can easily be replaced with green ones if you require.

Darche Superdome
Fig8. – The fabric and stitching.
Darche Superdome
Fig9. – The front of the Superdome wit the flaps open.

The Mattress
The mattress feels very nice, it’s a luxury size and gives plenty of room for movement inside the swag even though it reduces head space by 5cm as you sink into the mattress about 2cm. It fits perfectly inside the swag except for the end where there’s about 7cm of free space remaining. This could be beneficial however as it gives you more storage space for items inside. The foam inside the mattress cover had a half-tennis ball sized concave indent the whole width of one end, but that’s no biggie as you can just flip it over or use it at the feet end.

Softness wise, it’s a bit harder than a regular mattress – depending on what you’re used to. It does provide a nice amount of rigidity for your back and I would say it’s definitely better then lying on an inflatable mattress. I felt the mattress lacked a certain softness overall, like it needed a convoluted eggshell layer on the top to feel like a regular mattress – even with a sleeping bag under me. Knowing that this isn’t supposed to feel exactly like a real mattress it did a great job simulating it. If the mattress was half as rigid I believe it would be a nice mix of softness and rigidity as well as being more portable. Which brings me to one negative point – the size. It comes very well vacuum packed in a reasonable size about 35cm diameter and 90cm long. However when expanded it becomes a large 90x210x7cm. I loved how it didn’t make any squeaking or typical “air mattress” sounds when trying to sleep like my inflatable mattresses did on the PVC bucket floor.

Preparedness Categories
Fig10. – Inside of the superdome when closed up.
Darche Superdome
Fig11. – The attached small paqlite to the hook inside the swag.

Other Features
One important feature I like is the ability of having two entrances, one in the top and one in the front. The one in the front can be used as a prone position where you can lay with your gun or crossbow and hunt animals… or people. The front entry takes as little longer to get in and out of but may let less insects in if you can master it. You do have to hop in feet first though. The top entrance is the one I prefer because you just need to lift over the canvas flap and unzip the netting and then just in fast. There was a time when I had to get out of the swag fast during one night because I thought my car was being broken into, so I whipped it open and bolted towards the car turning my 2000lm light to max to find the perpetrator… who was only my camping friends, and it wan’t even my car… But it shows how fast you can get out of it. The only problem, I didn’t have time to put my boots on because the zip makes an obvious and semi loud noise when unzipping it quickly and that would have given them time to run had it been criminals.

Darche Superdome
Fig12. – A low shot of the swag to show how it blends with the surroundings.

Conclusion
The price is reasonable coming in at A$490 including delivery. I however bought it on a special for 15% more off so keep an eye out for those if you’re interested in buying one. I love mine and would buy another if for some reason it was destroyed.

Wild Camping Protection

Tent protection is an important consideration when choosing one to bug-out with, assuming you don’t have a BOL. It has to stand up against incline weather, prying eyes, and animals as well as provide protection from those pesky critters that come out after dark – mosquito’s I’m looking at you.

Recently I’ve gone through the tough task of choosing a bug-out tent factoring in every possible risk in my area. The categories below are my most important to the least important features I’m looking for in a tent. You can’t have a “Perfect” tent so you need to prioritize the features you need the most first above others that are nice to have. I ended up buying a Darche Superdome swag after going through what criteria I wanted in a Bug Out tent. Even though it’s not a classic “tent” it still qualifies as a suitable shelter from threats and a comfy bed. Although I should mention that during Bug-out I won’t take the mattress with me due to the sheer size and weight of it. Instead I will be using my inflatable Klymit Static V Recon mattress.


Tent Protection Features

Waterproof
Probably my most vital feature is waterproofing as you absolutely don’t want wet clothes in the winter months. Make sure it doesn’t leak when you get it and have a contingency plan if you happen to poke holes in it such as tent patches. Waterproofing doesn’t only include protection from rain but from the water run-off that you may encounter if you incorrectly selected your camping site. My tent has a bucket base up to 3 inches high to provide a very high level of protection from ground water.

Insect Proof
Flies, mosquitoes and other nuisance insects are extremely prevalent in Australia which is why I opted for a netting on sections where there’s no walls. Zip it up at night and they won’t be able to get in, but you’ll also be able to see out to observe the environment for threats.

Size
If you’re camping in the woods you want to be hidden from view which makes a lower profile tent very useful in this regard. Generally the bigger the tent the more likely that something happens to it such as falling branches. Anything below 70cm is perfect for stealth camping. Tents between 70-100cm are going to be much more obvious unless you’re surrounded by high grass. Over 100cm is definitely not recommended as it’s likely to be easily spotted from a human’s height perspective.

Colour
Even though colour doesn’t directly affect the protection the tent provides, the less it’s seen, the less likely that humans or animals will intentionally damage it. My primary concern was being spotted by other humans so I wanted a green, brown or camo colour theme to blend in with the surroundings. It doesn’t snow here in Australia so I didn’t factor in a white cover sheet or anything to put over it in winter months. There is a portion of orange writing on the sides which is almost the exact spectrum opposite colour to green so I will be painting over that to diffuse it a bit.

Material
The second most important consideration for me as there’s many wild animals which can easily tear through the thin polyester of regular tents. Not to mention there could be debris falling from trees such as branches which can not only tear holes but injure you as well. Also it’s generally unwise to pitch under a tree. I went with a canvas tent and although it’s much heavier the durability will last almost forever and provide a lot more protection from anything that wants to get inside the tent. There’s also a degree of feeling safe and secure in a tent that will assist in giving you a good nights sleep.

Profile
Different profiles have different strengths and can withstand various weather events such as strong wind. There’s many different types of shelters from tents to bivvy bags and swags. Choosing one should be based on your ideal space for movement and how concealed you want to be. Even tents have multiple different profiles from dome to teepee. I went with a swag as a medium between a tent and bivvy. I needed something I could fit my backpack into as well to prevent it getting wet.

Breathable
Breathability is lower in my list of requirements as, again, Australia doesn’t get too cold and thus it won’t gather much condensation overnight. To combat heat I will pitch in shade and keep the top and side flaps open when necessary.

Features
I like the ability of having two entrances to my swag, one in the top and one in the front for multiple ways to get in and out in case something prevents me getting out one of the sides. The top way would be the fastest as you just have to unzip the fly screen and then pull off the canvas. The front entrance could also be used for proning and looking out with a gun or crossbow with while maintaining comfort and stealth. It also allows you to relatively sneakily get out of the tent if there’s an obstacle such as long grass just outside the entry.

Weight / Size
A weighty tent provides a nice solid foundation and assists it keeping it put if water or wind tries to push it away. I love the level of comfort and security that comes from a thick and weighty tent, knowing there’s a sturdy wall between me and the outside world – most of which wants to harm me. Weight is also the least of my concerns as I’ll have a bug out bike or car to transport it. If for some reason I MUST bug out on foot I’ll probably have a Snugpak Stratosphere/Ionosphere for a lightweight alternative even though it will sacrifice my security heavily.

Price
I lied, price was actually my lowest consideration. I didn’t care how much I spent as long as I had the features I wanted. Coincidentally one reason I bought a Darche swag is that it was on special around the time I was working out what type of shelter I wanted, as well as having all the features I wanted.


While deciding what sort of shelter you want, take a look at this list of plausible risks that could affect it or you in the wild. I’ve detailed what I can think of below to get your mind on the right track.

Tent Damage Risks
Falling Branches – These can tear holes in lightweight tents such as polyester with ease, especially dangerous in windy conditions.
Ground Rocks / Sticks – Can puncture your floor (and your mattress) if the floor isn’t thick enough to withstand these hazards.
Water / Flooding – Water can rot a canvas tent and seep through any cracks in the roof or floor and provide an uncomfortable nights sleep.
Strong Wind – Can blow your tent over if not properly secured to the ground. Some shapes shed it easier then others.
Animals – They sure like to sniff around your campsite when you’ve gone to bed and try to eat any remaining scraps. Some of them have sharp claws and could slice through the walls if they try to climb on top.
Insects – Mosquito and fly protection is important to keep your sanity during the nights. You don’t want to be slapping your face every 10 seconds because one got into your tent and you can hear it somewhere.
Sharp Objects – You are just as likely to damage the tent yourself if the walls aren’t thick enough by forgetting you have keys, knives or pins in your pocket.
Time – Just as strong as any other force of nature, and due to the fact that everything degrades over time it leaves it more open to becoming damaged.

So that’s it. Overall this post was a merge between tent protection and choosing a tent but it seemed like it worked anyway. If you’re looking at a Bug Out shelter jot down your requirements and what you need most. Also write down the critical features you need and don’t settle for one without them. My criticals were Green/Camo colour, mosquito mesh and Canvas material. Everything else I could live without in some way or another.

If you would like to see my review of the Darche Superdome, check it out. Darche Superdome Review