Backpack Bed by Swags for Homeless

  • 2015

  • Social Impact

Designed By:

  • Tony Clark
  • Lisa Clark

Commissioned By:

Backpack Bed by Swags for Homeless

Designed In:


Founded in Melbourne (est. 2007) is an Australian & now US (July 2014) charity. The patented Backpack Bed designed (by Tony & wife Lisa) to give dignity to homeless & disaster victims without shelter. With 7 Design Awards the 3.1kg 4 season Backpack Bed is 5 products in 1: an ergonomic backpack, three windowed tent, a 190cm bed, a sun & wind shelter, with full body mosquito protection. The fastest shelter in the world with roll-out roll-in construction. 15000+ Backpack Beds distributed to homeless and disaster victims via partnerships with almost 400 welfare agencies across Australia, USA, UK, NZ, Germany, Canada & Spain. Disaster inc the 2013 Oklahoma tornados. Evolved into a Social Enterprise

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  • Design meets ethos. Global question answered. What to do when homeless have no shelter? Designed with the strict ethos - how would I like to be treated, the Backpack Bed & charity began. Design inspirations are seen via emersion, watching, hearing, reading and suffering homeless realities. To sleep on the street 2 critical items are needed - a Backpack and a Bed. It must survive fire, rain, snow, wind, insects & police. Thus our ethos continues - a sleeping bag that is fire retardant and machine washable will be released April 2015. Homeless feedback is provided by clever surveys distributed with each Backpack Bed - to show their need & response to the design. Program designed to get homeless back into housing.

  • Welfare agencies distribute Backpack Beds with a vision to connect homeless with permanent housing - via crisis accommodation, street Dr's & nurses, outreach workers & homeless services. Homeless are easier to work with - healthier, improved self esteem and alive. Donors can engage by funding Backpack Beds for their local homeless agency. Mildew resistant the ergonomic Backpack Bed is capable of carrying 23kg, mesh windows (no human can tear), secret lockable pocket and in torrential rain, 2 windows can be opened for ventilation. Tape sealed seems. Sleep under the top sheet or use built-in ropes to setup an A-frame tent structure - or fully unzip and use the ropes to create a sun shelter with extendable floor.

  • Grown men weep & testify to the Backpack Bed saving their life & sanity. A user can sleep in all weather conditions from snow to tropics. The roll-out roll-in construction allows users with mental / physical impairment to understand the natural use of the Backpack Bed. No poles - mean police do not confiscate them. Homeless ditch shopping trolleys, black garbage bags - to now appear “normal” by wearing the Backpack Bed. Critically a new way of thinking is happening - homeless are like you and I, they need quality tech while in their own personal disaster without shelter. Smash the myth - homeless people don't just need blankets. Blankets when wet are hypothermic killers while people sleep. Experience = ethos.

  • Testament to ethos & quality - components in the Backpack Bed can be separated to retail individually inc. Litetrex® fabric, the ASI Camp Mat & Mosquito mesh. Profit margin/sq ft estimates in a retail store are comparable to luxury goods (top10 US retailers). In 2015 we have revolving self-funding to release a suite of Social Enterprise products + new products resulting from our R&D eg. Litetrex® Breathe fabric which includes the holy grail feature of breathability. Our game changing special forces fabric now available to everyone. Corporate pro bono supporters have joined to see our self sustaining vision come alive - globally. Now registered for disaster procurement with UNHCR, UNDP, UNOPS, WFP expand its use

    If a homeless person is lucky, they may get a 1 night hotel voucher. Ironically, it's the same price as a Backpack Bed - which are slept in from 1 night to 48+ months (while waiting for permanent shelter). More impact yet same cost. Our growing global project evolves by creating what homeless need eg. feedback showed that a machine washable fire retardant sleeping bag was needed - this will be released April 2015. While the Backpack Bed was initially designed for homeless, the same needs exist for disaster victims & retail consumers inc. single person campers, hunters, cyclists, survivalists, motorcycle riders & scouts . Testament to project success - now expanded to 7 countries.

    Unique. Previously charities have been forced to distribute products that are unsafe and undignified. Now they have the patented Backpack Bed roll-out roll-in system - where each core component created a safety and chemical revolution. Both our Litetrex® fabric & our Advanced Silver Insulation (ASI) Camp Mat used in the Backpack Bed are both resistant to fire, water, mildew + achieve the benchmark chemical safety standard REACH. 49 safety & quality standards are met. In snow - tests showed a 21C degree interior vs outdoor temp difference. 7 product design awards + 4 museums acquired the Backpack Bed (Australia, Germany, France, Italy). US Fast Company magazine - highlighted it was good enough for Christ himself

    The biggest advocates are homeless - who around the world ask their local agency if they can have a Backpack Bed. The study proven Backpack Bed has been used in 7 countries via almost 400 agencies to improve the health, dignity and comfort of those sleeping on our streets. Both the public & homeless agency staff are realising that quality & tech are critical to keeping homeless alive long enough to reach permanent shelter. A reduction of homeless desperation crime in the community and their hypothermic deaths / suicides mean positive change. Local humanitarian care for one another is increasing. No homeless ever thought they would be homeless. Economic program sustainability increases with our social enterprise