A unique backpack that converts into a bed may be the key to easing just a few of the indignities faced by homeless people living on the street. Water- and windproof, the fire-retardant, mildew-resistant Backpack Bed looks like a backpack, but easily transforms into crisis bedding, complete with a bag and lock to secure personal items. The nonprofit creator, Swags for Homeless (in their native Australia, “swag” means a one-man portable tent), uses a social enterprise model to fund production, and partners with 300+ welfare agencies in five countries–Australia, New Zealand, Germany, the United Kingdom, and now the United States–to distribute the beds to the chronic homeless and people who have been turned away from shelters for lack of space.
The product itself is actually five tools in one. It is a lightweight, ergonomic backpack and a windowed one-man tent. It has a built-in camp mat (which has an insulated lining to mitigate the dangerous effects of sleeping on cold surfaces), functions as a wind and sun shelter, and it even has a mosquito net pouch that can be pulled over the entire mat in lieu of the tent on hot nights.
To get one, the recipient must work with a caseworker at one of the 300+ partner agencies, which makes it a useful tool for signing up people for permanent housing programs.