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Camping is a great escape, a way to reconnect with the outdoors. But just because you want to be close to nature doesn’t mean you want to be close to the ground. Camping cots provide an excellent option for those who want to spend the weekend in the mountains or woods but don’t want to give up all the comforts of home.
There are a variety of camping cots on the market, and there’s a lot to consider when choosing the one that’s right for your family. Everything from material and design to weight and durability can play into your decision.
In this guide, we’ll outline our top picks for the best camping cots and provide a buying guide with factors you’ll want to consider when choosing a camping cot. Soon, you’ll be on your way to a camping trip that’s actually restorative.
The EasyCot by Byer of Maine is an all-around well-built camping cot that lives up to its name. It folds to fit in a carrying bag and assembles in seconds just by unfolding the legs. There’s no threading of poles or clicking parts together. With its sturdy steel frame and welded hinges, the cot has a relatively high weight limit of 330 pounds. That combined with its 78” length and 31” width means it can accommodate adults of various sizes.
The cot’s cover is made from 600 denier polyester and has reinforced panels. The EasyCot is heavier than some others on our list, but it’s worth it when you consider its quality construction and durability.
For larger individuals or those looking to stretch out, the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL is the perfect option. Measuring 85” long and 40” wide, the Outfitter XXL is larger than a standard twin bed. It can also support up to 600 pounds, one of the highest weight limits on the market. You can choose to pair it with the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Camp Pad for added comfort.
The aluminum frame means the cot is relatively lightweight for its size. Steel, s-shaped legs provide durability, and they’re also equipped with rubber bushings to act as shock absorbers. Assembly is also fairly simple. Just remove the cot from its storage bag, unfold it and snap the end rails in place.
If you were to bring a camping cot on your next backpacking trip, you’d want to pack the KingCamp Compact Cot. At only 4.4 pounds, the cot is significantly lighter than most. It folds into a compact storage bag that’s only 14” by 5” by 5”. At 75” long and with a weight limit of 265 pounds, the cot can fit a wider variety of body sizes than most compact cots, though larger individuals might want to find another option.
The cot’s frame and legs are made from aluminum alloy, and its 420D polyester cover is rip-proof and durable. Because the cot folds up to be so compact, it does require some assembly, including threading poles through the cover, unfolding legs and snapping them to the frame.
Comfort is key for many campers, and the Coleman ComfortSmart Cot offers a plush sleep surface without sacrificing ease of use. Its sturdy spring coil suspension supports a relatively thick foam mattress pad. Many padded cots are bulky and wear out quickly, but the ComfortSmart folds up to fit in most trunks and is built to last.
The cot will accommodate individuals up to 300 pounds and 6’6”, so it can fit most campers. It’s also easy to assemble. All you have to do is unfold the legs and lock them into place. The cot won’t fold up to be as compact as other cots, but if comfort is on the top of your list, that’s an easy trade-off.
If you’ve chosen a camping cot to get a more comfortable night’s sleep, then you don’t want that sleep ruined by a squeaky cot that makes noise every time you move. The Slumberjack Cot is constructed with no-squeak aluminum and steel end bars designed to be noiseless. This construction is also very durable and holds up well to repeated use.
The Slumberjack is also larger than many cots. It comes in three sizes, the smallest of which is 32” wide and 82” long, and has a weight limit of 325 pounds. The 600 by 300 denier polyester is breathable and durable. Assembly is fairly simple. Remove the cot from its carrying bag, unfold the legs, insert the end bars into the cover and lock them to the side bars.
Especially if you’ve never owned a camping cot, choosing a quality one may seem like a daunting prospect. In the following guide, we’ll outline how a cot differs from other camping sleep surfaces, like air mattresses and camping mats. We’ll also look into the top considerations to make when choosing a cot, including materials, design and warranty terms.
Cot vs. Sleeping Mat/Air Mattress
When most people picture a camping trip, they typically think of sleeping in a sleeping bag either on the ground, on a camping mat or on an air mattress. Camping cots provide another option, and they come with several benefits:
Comfort– If you have a day of hiking and exploring ahead of you, the last thing you want to do is wake up in your tent exhausted and sore. Sleeping directly on the ground is uncomfortable, and even camping mats offer little protection from rocks and sticks. A camping cot provides a comfortable sleep surface no matter where you pitch your tent.
Sleeping off the ground – An air mattress may be plush, but it still leaves you close to the ground. Camping cots lift you off the cold ground, keeping you away from critters that may find their way into your tent. Camping cots also provide better air circulation and temperature regulation than other options.
Maneuverability– Because they’re raised, camping cots are easier to get into and out of than other camping sleep surfaces. This may be especially helpful for those with limited mobility or injuries.
Camping cots work best in recreational camping settings where you can drive to your campsite. Though there are lightweight options, the bulk of a camping cot isn’t a good fit for backpacking trips or any instance where equipment would have to be carried long distances. They do offer an ideal solution for family camping trips. Bunk styles are fun for kids and a great way to save precious tent space.
What to Know When Buying a Camping Cot
Material and Durability
Especially if you’re an avid camper, your camping cot may take a beating from the elements and repeated use. You’ll want to choose one that’s durable and well-made, which is highly dependant on the materials used to make the cot. Common materials include:
Metal frame – Almost all camping cots are made with metal frames, usually constructed from aluminum or steel. While both are good options, they each have pros and cons. Aluminum is lighter than steel, but steel is more durable and can withstand higher weights.
Cover – A fabric cover stretched over the frame forms the sleep surface, and is usually made from polyester, nylon or cotton. While cotton can resist rips and damage, it’s also hard to clean, so we would recommend polyester or nylon. Also look for a cover that’s rip resistant and waterproof or water resistant.
Mattress pad – Many camping cots just have a frame and cover, but others include a mattress pad for added comfort. Foam mattress pads atop coil suspension tends to be the most durable option and holds up better than a cover that simply includes extra padding.
Design can make all the difference when it comes to how well your camping cot fits with your camping style. Top design considerations include:
Single or bunk – Camping cots come in a variety of sizes and constructions. While a single cot works for more campers, a bunk is a great option for kids or those with smaller tents who want to save space. You may want to consider a wider camping cot if you prefer sharing your sleep surface with a partner or child. Pay attention to length as well. Some camping cots are so compact that they’ll leave taller individuals with their feet hanging off the end.
Ease of assembly – Just like tents, some camping cots are easier to put together than others. While some simply need to be unfolded, others require threading poles through the cover and/or locking frame pieces in place.
Storage – Camping equipment can take up a lot of room, so you’ll likely want a camping cot that can fold up into a compact size for storage. Lighter, more minimal cots tend to fold up smaller, while those with more padding tend to take up more space.
Weight – Weight may not be a big concern if you can pull your car right up to your campsite, but with everything you have to haul for a camping trip, you may still want a lightweight cot. Cots with aluminum frames tend to weigh less than those with steel frames. If you’re not very tall, you can probably also get away with a cot that’s shorter and therefore lighter.
Portability – Even if you wouldn’t take a camping cot backpacking, you still have to carry it to and from your car and campsite. Some camping cots are designed with portability in mind. Many fold up into a compact size that fits into a storage bag for easy transport.
Weight accommodation – All camping cots are designed to hold individuals up to a certain weight. Many have a max weight of around 300 pounds, though some will hold up to 600 pounds. Wider cots designed for two individuals have higher weight limits, as do cots with steel frames.
Warranty and Return Policy
Camping cots are an investment. Most will run you several hundred dollars, and you expect them to last for years. For those reasons, you’ll want to choose a camping cot with a good warranty and return policy.
Most camping cots come with a one-year limited warranty, meaning it covers manufacturing defects but not wear and tear from normal use. Some companies offer lifetime warranties, but the longer period probably won’t matter if the terms are still limited to defects.
A thirty-day return window is fairly standard for most camping cots, though some companies offer longer trial periods. Consider trying your cot at home soon
Additional Tuck Resources
Check out these other great camping-related Tuck resources.