Even those who live for the outdoors will tell you how much easier and more enjoyable the camping experience is when you don’t have to spend the night with a rock or tree root protruding from the ground and digging into your back. If you’re looking for a way to make your outdoor excursions less painful and more enjoyable check out our list of best camping cots.
Best Camping Cot
Our Best Choice is this Oversized Heavy Duty Folding camp bed from KingCamp. It weighs only 15 pounds, breaks down to a very manageable 45 x 9 x 7 inches and yet it will support an impressive 440 pounds. The 1200D Jacquard Oxford fabric is as comfortable as it is tough and the head area is slightly elevated for more comfortable sleep. There’s also an oversized pocket to store your keys, phone and other items and the whole thing sets up in less than 5 minutes. If you love having a good night sleep while camping, check out our guide to the best camping mattresses.
Overall dimensions 82 x 29.5 x 15 inches
1200D Jacquard Oxford fabric.
Generous side pocket.
Angled head area for greater comfort.
Supports up to 440 pounds.
- Weight15 pounds
The Easy Cot camping bed from Byer of Maine sports an innovative design that allows it to fold down to a very manageable size that then tucks into the convenient carry sack for you to sling over your shoulder. It will support up to 330 pounds and yet has no crossbeams to punish your back. The sleeping surface is rugged 600D ripstop polyester and the feet are designed to go easy on the tent floor. Though truth be told you’ll probably want to slip a little something extra under them just to be safe.
Overall dimensions 78 x 31 x 18 inches.
Supports up to 330 pounds.
Convenient carry bag with shoulder strap.
Welded all steel frame.
600D ripstop polyester fabric.
- BrandBYER OF MAINE
- Weight21 pounds
If you want true, home style comfort in a camping cot look no further than the Coleman Queen Airbed Folding Cot. This is one of the largest camping cots on the market and it comes complete with queen size air mattress and a battery operated air pump to blow it up. Obviously you’re not taking this across the mountains with you in pursuit of a 12 point buck but if you’re settling in for 2 weeks at the seashore you might want to take this queen of folding camp beds with you. You can combine it with a double sleeping bag from our list.
Supports up to 600 pounds.
Queen size folding cot with mattress.
Battery operated air pump included.
Leak proof AirTight system.
2 integrated side tables.
- Weight41.9 pounds
The Outfitter XXL Camping Cot from TETON Sports is one of the most comfortable out there. The 600D polyester is pulled tight across the frame providing plenty of support without the need for bothersome crossbars. It takes a bit of setting up but nothing to complain about and when it’s ready it will support an astonishing 600 pounds. The reinforced steel S-Leg structure is the key to the Outfitter’s strength but it also makes it too heavy to carry very far from the car.
Easily supports up to 600 pounds.
Reinforced load bearing steel frame.
Heavy duty 600D polyester fabric.
Rubber bushings to absorb shocks.
Set up takes about 3 minutes
- BrandTETON Sports
- Weight26 pounds
The Osage River fold up cot is arguably one of the easiest to set up of all the different camping cots on the market. It has an accordion-like architecture that pops open in seconds and accommodates up to 300 pounds. It features an elevated head section for greater comfort, rounded low impact feet that won’t damage the tent floor and an ultra-durable ripstop polyester sleep surface. It’s also a little extra wide to accommodate a variety of sleep positions. Be sure to also check out our list of the best sleeping bags for more great items like this.
Ultra-portable cot, sets up in seconds.
Durable reinforced frame.
Rugged polyester fabric.
Extra wide design.
Overall dimensions 75 x 18 x 28 inches.
- BrandOsage River
- Weight12.5 pounds
Coleman is all about making the outdoors comfortable for average folks and they hit the bullseye again in that regard with the ComfortSmart Cot. It will support up to 300 pounds on its reinforced steel frame and it’s plenty long to accommodate tall folks. But the real selling point here is the coil-style “mattress” padding that adds new levels of comfort to the camping experience. You’re not going to fit this in your backpack, but for the state park or any one of the country’s countless roadside campgrounds it can’t be beat.
100% steel reinforced frame.
Supports up to 300 pounds.
Unfolds in seconds.
Accommodates people up to 6’ 6”.
Only 19.3 pounds.
- Weight19.62 pounds
The ALPS Mountaineering Ready Lite Cot is ideal for standard 1 person dome-style camping tents. It will get you up off the cold ground and provide the restful night’s sleep you need after a long day on the trail. It’s too heavy at 4.3 pounds to carry up the mountain but if you need to walk a couple of miles into the woods to find the ideal out of the way place to camp for a few days it’s perfect. The only downside is that it takes some setup. You can put it in your large camping tent and enjoy sleeping comfortably while camping.
Overall dimensions 78 x 28 x 7.5 inches.
Durable ripstop polyester fabric.
Lightweight camping cot w/aluminum frame.
Supports up to 300 pounds.
Comes with handy carrying case.
- BrandALPS Mountaineering
- Weight4.8 pounds
The rap on camping cots is that you can’t take them up the mountain with you. And 99% of the time that’s a legit observation. The one exception to that rule however is the Therm-a-Rest Ultralite Cot. This incredible piece of mountain tech tips the scales at an almost nonexistent 2 pounds, making it far and away the lightest camping cot on the market. Not only that but it breaks down small enough to easily fit in your backpack. The only downside is the assembly, which will take about 10 minutes. Not just the best backpacking cot but pretty much the only one.
Weighs a mere 2 pounds.
The only cot you can take to the mountains.
Sets up in about 10 minutes.
Supports up to 325 pounds.
No tools required for assembly.
- Weight2.6 pounds
The Kamp-Rite Oversize Folding Cot & Tent is a miracle of modern engineering that provides all the protection you expect from a tent and all the comfort you want from a first class camping cot. There’s a heavy duty cot frame fashioned from aluminum, a ripstop nylon tent with no-see-um mesh covering the openings and a waterproof rain fly for when the weather won’t cooperate. It can also be used as a straight up lounger (although you’ll need to cover the tent material with something a bit softer). For overall convenience it’s tough to top. And with the affordable price point it’s our runaway Best Value. Our handy guide to the best camping chairs features more great products like this.
Unfolds in seconds, sets up in minutes.
Durable 210D ripstop nylon.
Overall dimensions 90 x 32 x 36 inches.
Waterproof rain fly included.
No-see-um mesh on all openings.
- Weight 24 pounds
The final item on our list of best camping cots is this very light, easy to set up large camping cot from Coleman. The Pack-Away Camping Cot features a reinforced steel frame, a rugged ripstop polyester platform and a removable side table with cup holder. It unfolds literally in seconds and with just a few clicks and snaps it’s ready to provide you with a really comfortable night’s sleep. Just remember to put something under the feet to protect the tent floor.
Overall dimensions 80 x 44 x 17 inches.
Supports up to 300 pounds.
Rugged steel frame.
Removable side table w/drink holder.
Convenient carrying case.
- Weight23.5 pounds
Camping Cot Buying Guide And FAQ
How Do We Choose Our Selection Of Camping Cots?
As many of us here are outdoor types this product is right in the fat part of our wheelhouse. We look at everything from durability to materials to the weight and how it affects portability. We also test them to see if they fit in a standard trunk and what kind of tents the various camping cots are actually compatible with. Then of course there are brand considerations; with due respect given to those companies with a proven track record of bringing high quality outdoor kit to the market. And price, since we’re always on the lookout for outstanding values. Of course, we also check to see what other reviews are saying, but at the end of the day we make our own calls.
Features To Look For In Camping Cots
Size - Camping cots like these come in all shapes and sizes. From the barely there to the big and brawny like the Coleman Queen Air Bed. The size that’s right for you will depend on your physical size, whether there will be more than one person on the tent cot, how much space you have inside the tent and how much space you have in your trunk to transport it, among other things. If you’re just using it as a backup bed for guests then size considerations are not so pressing.
Weight - Weight isn’t a major consideration with this type of camping gear simply because it’s not intended to be carried up the side of Denali or across the Khumbu Icefall. It’s designed for relaxing times at the state or national park, for weekends at the seashore and maybe to be used as an emergency guest bed. So, if you’re judging this type of product solely on the weight you’re not giving it a fair shake in our estimation.
Comfort - These are camping cots so don’t expect them to provide the same level of comfort as your expensive mattress. That said, the comfort of camping cots (or the lack thereof) mostly comes down to a couple of key factors. 1) Is there a support beam cutting across the middle digging into your back? And 2) is the sleep surface suspended taut within the frame or do you sag halfway to the ground?
Metal Frame - There is no substitute for a sturdy frame when it comes to this type of camping gear. The last thing you want is for it to collapse in the middle of the night. As such, we wouldn’t consider any camping cot that didn’t have a metal frame. And by metal we don’t mean the type of fragile aluminum you sometimes see on beach chairs. We mean either aircraft grade aluminum or, even better, steel.
Cover Material - Ideally the cover material should be ripstop nylon, heavy duty cot canvas or heavyweight polyester. Nylon and polyester will be lighter and more water resistant while canvas is a more traditional material that is not used as much as it used to be and will increase the weight of the cot. Canvas will also typically cost more. Still there are those who swear by canvas as providing superior comfort.
Mattress Pad - Some camping cots will come with a mattress pad or with padding built into the cover. If you really want to ramp up the comfort of your bare camping cot however, you can purchase a mattress pad from a third party and place it on top of the cot. This is a fairly common practice and might be the best route to take, simply because the padding on even the best camping bed will often be of questionable value.
Single or Bunk - If you are camping in a standard 1 or 2 person tent then you should disavow yourself of any ideas of placing a bunk style camping cot inside. However, if you have a large, walk-in tent there’s nothing wrong with using a bunk style cot to save room. It typically won’t be any heavier than 2 single cots and it will provide you room to breathe inside the tent you might never have enjoyed before. The best camping cots for adults however are still the standard 1 person fold up cot.
Weight Limit - Most of today’s best camping cots have fairly robust weight limits. Some in excess of 300 pounds. And that’s really what you want. You don’t want to be flirting with the weight limit of the cot. You want to be able to lay down on your camping cot in complete confidence and enjoy the coyotes howling at the moon on a distant ridge or the water bubbling in the nearby stream. And remember, you’re not going to be carrying your tent cot very far. So if a strong cot weighs a bit more than a more fragile model, so be it.
Portability - If you’re heading to Chamonix to tackle Mont Blanc you’ll need a sleeping bag, power bars, water, crampons and a long ice axe among other things. What you won’t need is a camping cot. You will need a fold up cot like these if you plan to spend 2 weeks camped in Yosemite Valley or Zion or in one of the many outstanding campgrounds along the beautiful South Carolina coast. In all those places your car will be close by so portability isn’t an issue.
Ease of Assembly - Ease of assembly however is potentially a very big deal. The camping cot should be easy to set up. You don’t want one that requires extensive directions because you don’t want it collapsing under you if you missed something.
Inflatable Mattress vs Camping Cot - There are plenty of diehards that won’t entertain anything more substantial for their time in the outdoors than an inflatable mattress. Others however, aren’t fond of sleeping on the ground with the ants, the tree roots and who knows what else. In addition, if you camp in a low-lying area and it rains heavy during the night you may wake up to find your inflatable mattress is now a kind of life raft. Whereas with a camping cot you’ll be high and dry.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Camping Cots
The primary advantage of the camping cot is that it gets you off the ground. Why is that important? Well, it helps you stay dry when the rain is pounding down as we mentioned. It also keeps you above most of the local bug action and, if you are camping in the early spring or late fall it will also keep you warmer: since the cold ground has a way of sucking heat out of your body. A good camping cot can make the difference between someone who is not a natural outdoorsman enjoying themselves and having a miserable time.
As for disadvantages… It’s hard to find any. Since you are not going to be toting this miles into the wilderness portability is not such a big issue. If you think it is necessary to bring a camping cot along with you on your winter trek into Huntington Ravine then it’s probably time to re-evaluate your relationship with mountaineering. Because the “more is better” approach is not one that’s going to pay dividends. The bottom line is that a camping cot is a luxury that will make your nice relaxing outdoor weekend or camping vacation more comfortable. And it’s hard to find something wrong with that.
Tips On Using A Camping Cot
Camping cots aren’t complicated and your motivation for using one shouldn’t extend much beyond wanting to be comfortable. So the best tips we can give are to:
- Make sure the fold up cot is going to fit in the tent you plan on using.
- Make sure it will be able to handle your weight.
- Make sure it will fit in your car or SUV.
- Consider augmenting your tent cot with a high quality inflatable mattress.
- Make sure any third party mattress will fit neatly atop your camping cot.
Camping Cot FAQ
Q: What is a Camping Cot?
A: A camping cot is a portable foldup camp bed that you bring with you to the campsite and place inside your tent to make sleeping in the outdoors as comfortable as possible. Some folks will set up their camping cot outside and put their sleeping bag on it, which is a great way to heighten the outdoor experience without having to deal directly with the cold, lumpy ground.
Q: What's the difference between a Camping Cot and a traditional cot?
A: The differences between a camping cot and traditional cot come down to size and weight. A cot you may keep in a spare room at home likely has something resembling a normal mattress as well as wheels so that it can be moved around with relative ease. Both of those things are heavy and cumbersome. The camping cot needs to be somewhat portable. Even though you are not going to be carrying it up to Everest Base Camp you may have to carry it some fair distance from where you parked to where your campsite is. Because of that it can’t have anything resembling a standard mattress. Nor will it have wheels.
Q: Which frame should I use, Steel or Aluminum?
A: Both materials make for a portable cot for adults of outstanding strength and durability and both will serve most people well. That said, if you are a larger than average person you should probably default to steel. Just because it’s better to be safe than sorry in some cases.
Q: Can Camping Cots damage the tent floor?
A: It’s unlike since virtually every foldable camping bed is designed to be used inside the tent and not outdoors. Still, if you’re worried that your tent floor might suffer harm simply slide a plastic ground cloth or pieces of cardboard under the foldable camping cot supports or feet.
Q: Is it easy to assemble a Camping Cot?
A: Most assemble in just a few minutes while a few require no actual assembly but instead simply unfold. Still others, like our Best Choice the KingCamp Oversized Heavy Duty Folding Bed, will unfold and then require you to install a couple of extra support bars and that’s it.