Updated Aug 16, 2022 12:43 PM It’s safe to say that most campers have slept on the ground during one of t
Updated Aug 16, 2022 12:43 PM
It’s safe to say that most campers have slept on the ground during one of their adventures. Some may even say that crawling into your bag and rolling around on a padded mat to get comfortable is a camping rite of passage. But when it comes to getting a goodnights rest, a reliable cot is hard to beat.
Twisting and turning all night on the cold hard ground is a great way to become fatigued, uncomfortable, and frustrated. The right cot can make all the difference in comfort and convenience. They vary in size, design, and purpose—from extra-large comfort cots to ultralight and portable backpacking cots.
I took a look at some of the best camping cots on the market. The models I chose to review cover all different camping situations, from backpacking to staying in a wall tent and everything in between. Here are some of the best camping cots out there and what you need to consider before making a purchase.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Camping Cot
Purchasing a cot is much more of a personal decision than you might think. You have to take into account where you might use it, who will use it, and how you plan to bring it with you. A lightweight backpacking cot is perfect for campers hiking far away from civilization while others might want a larger and more supportive cot for casual trips. Understanding what features and performance you need on your adventures is the first step in finding the best camping cot.
When buying a cot you should think about where you’ll be putting it. If you own a low-profile tent you will want to avoid large comfort cots because they sit higher off the ground and won’t fit in the low ceiling. For some, a cot that can be used for camping and for a guest around the house is more ideal. These larger comfort cots are perfect for keeping you higher off the floor and comfortable. Don’t forget to look at the size of the actual sleeping area. Not all cots are created equally and some will give you plenty of space to move around whereas others leave you staring at the roof of the tent all night long.
Durability and Components
Look for a cot with sturdy components, this means a rigid frame that can support your weight. Frames are typically made of aluminum or steel. While the steel frames can be stronger, they are much heavier and usually found on most comfort cots. Lightweight backpacking cots feature aluminum frames that save weight and are detachable for easy storage in a pack. When it comes to the actual sleeping area, strong nylon or canvas material is a go-to. The right cot covering should be tight to provide a firm and supportive sleeping area while also withstanding years of abuse without ripping.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked but critical factors of selecting a camping cot is the amount of time it takes to setup. The difference between a few minutes and a half hour might not seem too bad, but when you are deep in the woods and ready for bed, easy setup is a must. A cot should be self-explanatory so you don’t need to drag an instruction booklet all over the place. Look for simple setups. My ultralight cots typically feature two collapsible side bars and cross bars that snap into place. It’s easy enough that by just looking at the pieces you can figure out where they should go. This saves time and gets you ready for the next day’s adventures.
Best Camping Cot
Alps Mountaineering Ready Lite Cot ALPS Mountaineering
Why it Made the Cut
This is the best camping cot overall because it’s lightweight, easily portable, and a great all-around cot for camping.
- Weight: 5 pounds
- Dimensions: 78″ L x 28″ W x 6″ H
- Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
- Folds up small
- Great weight capacity for its size
- Setup takes several minutes
If you never know what adventure is next, a good generalist cot is your best bet. They should be lightweight, portable, and sturdy enough to last years to come. The Alps Mountaineering Ready Lite Cot fits the bill. Alps Mountaineering has always been about building lightweight and durable products for mountaineers around the world. While climbing a mountain might not be on your camping to-do list, this cot is lightweight and comfortable for a long night’s sleep. I’ve taken this cot just about anywhere including several backcountry fishing trips deep into the Everglades. At less than five pounds, this cot folds down small enough that I can easily store it in my boat without taking up extra space. Setup takes a few minutes and I am ready to go for an early morning of fishing.
Why it Made the Cut
Packable and inflatable for a soft and comfortable sleep.
- Weight: 7 pounds, 3 ounces
- Dimensions: 78″ L x 26″ W x 6.5″ H
- Weight Capacity: Unavailable
- Double Decker
- Equalizing Air Chambers
- Can be used as a double wide
If your camping style calls for a cot that’s adaptable and packable the best inflatable cot, the Big Agnes Goosenest Double Decker Inflatable Cot is a do it all solution for any outdoorsman. Big Agnes makes several inflatable cots but the Goosenest Double Decker offers multiple configurations to maximize its usefulness in camp. It comes with two inflatable cots with a built-in buckle system on each. This allows you to secure them as a double stacked cot for maximum comfort. If you find yourself camping with multiple people you can attach the buckles side by side for a double wide cot. I find myself turning to this cot on long trips when I need a good night’s sleep. At just over 3lbs a piece, on a solo trip, I can bring one and easily fit it in my pack and inflate it with the upcycle inflation pack for a well cushioned sleep. The inflation pack solves the problem of bringing a heavy pump in your pack and makes the setup faster. Once inflated, the different air chambers disperse air evenly so rocks and any uneven ground won’t affect your comfort.
Why it Made the Cut
A rugged and reliable extra large cot for maximum comfort.
- Weight: 20 pounds, 8 ounces
- Dimensions: 85″ L x 40″ W x 21” H
- Weight Capacity: 450 pounds
- Strong and stable
- Large sleeping space
- High off the ground
- Too heavy for backpacking trips
Recharging with the family and spending a weekend in the woods is a favorite pastime of many. A good cot can make the difference between a restless night and an enjoyable getaway. If you find yourself booking campsites and loading up the car then a large and sturdy camp cot is ideal for your trips. As the best king-size cot, the Titan XL Cot from Browning is a great option for family camping trips. With over 7 feet of sleeping length and a 450 lb weight capacity, anyone can sleep on it. It’s easy to set up and rugged enough to handle a pile of gear during the day and be ready for a night in camp. I find myself putting clothes, gear, or whatever I might have lying around on the cot and off the ground. This keeps my gear clean and dry during the day when people are running around camp. The large side pockets also come in handy to keep your phone and any tools accessible when you need them.
Why it Made the Cut
The perfect backcountry cot for long hikes and restful nights.
- Weight: 2 lbs 10 oz
- Dimensions: 72.5” L x 23.5” W x 5” H
- Weight Capacity: 265 pounds
- Incredibly lightweight
- Highly portable
- Sleeps well
When the elk are bugling deep in the backcountry and all that separates you from the herd bull is the weight of your pack, having the best lightweight camping cot is a vital. The Helinox Lite Cot weighs in at just under three pounds and folds down in a compact size to easily pack around. It is a great option for backcountry hunters and hikers alike especially when a good night’s sleep is crucial for the day ahead. When I know I’ll be hiking miles through rough terrain I reach for a cot before a sleeping pad. Hunting and hiking require you to be alert and aware which can be hard to do if you don’t sleep. A good night’s rest makes all the difference for the next day and cots keep you off the ground and comfortable. The Lite Cot is supported with a lightweight aluminum frame that provides a firm level of support. Pair it with a nice sleeping bag and you truly have a luxury camping experience no matter where your adventure takes you.
Best Easy-to-Assemble Camping Cot
Byer of Maine Easy Cot BYER OF MAINE
Why it Made the Cut
This cot is the best easy-to-assemble camping cot because it’s great for when you are ready to hit the bed but haven’t set up camp.
- Weight: 21 pounds
- Dimensions: 78″ L x 31″ W x 18” H
- Weight Capacity: 330 pounds
- Super easy setup
- 600-denier fabric
- Good for home or camp use
- The heaviest cot I tested
There’s nothing worst than being tired only to realize you never set up your cot. Most cots have too many moving parts to quickly set up, especially in the dark. The Byer of Maine Easy Cot is simple to use and requires no assembly. It works off of a trifold setup, remove it from the package and fold each side out, flip it over and you are ready to go. I find myself reaching for this cot when I need an extra bed for a friend staying the night and any camping trip where I know the car will be nearby. At 21 pounds it’s a little heavy for any sort of hiking trip. But the Easy Cot makes up for it with 600-denier fabric, making it the most comfortable and durable cot I tested and ensuring it will get its fair share of use.
Why it Made the Cut
The perfect cot to keep your furry friend high and dry.
- Weight: 3 pounds, 2 ounces
- Dimensions: 35.5″ L x 23.5″ W x 8.5″ H
- Weight Capacity: 132 pounds
- Easy setup
- Sturdy fabric that’s hard for dogs to scratch
- Helps to acclimate your dog to it
If you bring your dog on all your adventures you want them to be just as comfortable as you are in the tent. Dog beds are too large to bring on long hikes and the tent floor can get very cold. As the best dog cot, the Helinox Elevated Dog Cot keeps your dog off the ground while still being small enough that you can pack it on long hikes. Just like the human version, the dog cot features a rigid aluminum frame and a monofilament mesh that holds up well against dog nails and teeth. It weighs around 3 lbs which is light enough that you can bring your cot and the dog cot without adding a lot of weight to your pack. Unlike a traditional dog bed, this cot keeps your dog elevated like a regular cot would, keeping your dog warm and dry. However, I recommend setting it up around the house first to acclimate them to a raised bed. It’s a great option to bring wherever you bring your dog, I find myself using it on my boat, in a tent, or even in the back of the car if we stop somewhere to relax for a bit.
As an outdoorsman and hunter, I find myself in all sorts of tents and structures throughout the year. I’ve camped in extreme heat, extreme cold, and yes, I’ve slept on rocks as well. So, when it was time to find the best cots available, I knew what to look for. I took the time to find the best cots for nearly any camping situation to spare you from the restless nights I’ve been through. I based my selections on the following criteria:
- Durability: What type of fabric is it made of and how will it withstand use?
- Size: How big is it, and how tall does it sit off the ground?
- Packability: How small does it fold down for long trips?
- Weight: Is it light enough for a remote backpacking trip or is it better for campgrounds?
- Setup: How long does it take to set up?
- Weight Capacity: Must have a good weight capacity to size ratio.
Q: Do you need a pad for a camping cot?
Modern camping cots are designed to be comfortable and supportive. The new fabrics and support systems make them enjoyable to sleep in and keep the extra supplies you need to bring down to a minimum. Nevertheless, a sleeping pad laid on top can be used on any cot for a softer sleep that is similar to most beds. It all comes down to personal preference but if you have the extra space and want a luxurious camping experience a sleeping pad is a great addition to any cot.
Q: Is sleeping on a cot warmer than sleeping on the ground?
Sleeping on a cot is much warmer than sleeping on the ground. The ground absorbs heat especially during cold nights and while the sleeping bag may be rated for below zero temperatures, the ground can still leave you shivering. Cots are elevated off the ground leaving a layer of space between you and the ground which can insulate you from the gold ground and keep you warm even on the coldest nights when paired with the right sleeping bag.
Q: What is the most comfortable cot for camping?
The most comfortable cot for camping we tested is the Byer of Maine Easy Cot. Its supportive frame and thick fabric made for the best night’s sleep. In general, large style cots with high legs and beefy frames like the Easy Cot are the most comfortable. So, if you’re looking solely to enjoy your camping experience and wake up well rested, look for bigger cots that have a large sleeping area.
Final Thoughts on the Best Camping Cots
Choosing the right cot is a crucial piece of enjoying your time camping. A comfortable and easy to-set-up cot are good places to start, but the most important factor is how you plan to use the cot. Finding the right cot for your camping style should be the deciding factor. My top picks cover a wide variety of camping situations and should help steer you in the right direction. But always do the research and tailor your selections to yourself and your adventures to find the best camping cots for your next trip.