We enjoy camping and spending time outdoors, but often wish the comfort was a little bit better to make the experience more enjoyable. This is especially true for sleeping – it’s nice if our sleeping arrangement is a bit similar to home. This way you can get a good night’s rest, instead of feeling uncomfortable and frustrated.
A camping cot is an excellent solution to this problem. It will allow you to wake up fully rested, and have enough energy to fully enjoy the daily activities that lie ahead – fishing, trekking or kayaking. It certainly beats sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag or on a pad. Bumpy ground can be easily felt if you’re laying on it, no matter how comfortable your bag is. You won’t wake up feeling stiff and sore, which is the most important thing.
A sleeping cot will elevate you off the ground and give you proper support. This also allows better air circulation for regulating body temperature, and less bugs crawling around you while you sleep. Camping cots are portable and easy to set up. They are practical for any type of camping, especially car campers.
Different types of cots exist, because not everyone needs and wants the same thing. Some are very lightweight and better for backpackers which need to carry them longer distances before setting them up. Others are heavier and bulkier, but offer more comfort and resemble your bed at home.
Finding the best camping cot depends on what you’re after, and whether you prefer comfort over portability or the other way around. We have presented some great cots for you to choose from, but be sure to check our buying guide too. It will help you learn more about features, and certain ups and downs that come with every cot type. You will then be able to make the right choice which will greatly improve your camping nights.
How To Choose The Best Camping Cot – Buying Guide
Camping cots should be part of your camping gear, because you need quality sleep. Otherwise the whole day may become miserable. Cots can be different when it comes to frame design, frame material, fabric material, additional paddings and features and so on. The best camping cot bed will give you a balance between comfort and portability. Always look at the build quality and added features too, in order to find best value for money. Only that way will you get the full benefit of owning a cot.
Lighter cots are usually less comfortable, because they need to eliminate all the unnecessary features that weigh you down. On the other hand more comfort means more to carry. It’s also a big plus if you can set it up and take it down quickly, to save time. When assembled, it needs to have stability – this is for your own safety. Folding camp cots should have a bag in which you can pack it when disassembled – this makes transfer much easier. The size plays a role too, because it needs to fit everywhere you take it – your tent, your car trunk or a storage closet at home.
Of course, all of this comes in different price ranges. This can often be a sign of durability, so if you’re going to be using the cot often don’t grab the cheapest product available. A weak cot can crumble under your weight in the middle of the night, and you may find yourself suddenly laying on the ground. A solid sturdy cot will be reliable when camping, and it will also allow you to use it as a guest bed at home from time to time, which is an added bonus.
This is significant to consider for several reasons. It’s very important whether your new camp cot will fit in the space where you want to put it. You need to make sure you have enough space on the tent floor when the cot is fully assembled. It’s always a good idea to leave some extra space for flexibility, because you need to place other camping gear in the tent too. The best thing you could do is measure first so you don’t regret it later.
Most cots will come in a standard size, which is about 25 inches wide and 75 inches long. This is a size which will accommodate most adults comfortably. However, this won’t fit some people. For this reason, you can buy extra long or extra wide camp cots. It’s not good if your feet are hanging over the edge, it can become unsettling. Extra long cots can be up to 90 inches long, which will easily fit even the tallest campers.
Wider cots are intended for larger and heavier people. For them, regular cots are just too narrow and uncomfortable to sleep on because their back and shoulders are positioned on the side bars. These can be 40 or more inches wide. An additional plus of a wider cot is that it can accommodate two people, so it’s not a bad idea to get this one if you want to share your bed with your significant other.
Another factor here is cot height. While it’s not directly related to comfort, it’s certainly useful to have a higher cot because it makes sitting down and getting up much easier. People who have joint or back problems will certainly appreciate this. Also, the space underneath the cot can be used as extra storage, which allows you to move some stuff out of the way, and leave more space on tent floor.
Finally, smaller cots than standard are also available. These are made for children, and have all the same characteristics as regular ones do, so your little one can enjoy great rest too. They are very practical because the size allows you to save space in the tent or when carrying and packing.
Every cot you buy will come with a weight limit, whether the manufacturer specified it or not. We mentioned above that it’s recommended that heavier people get wider cots. They will also have a higher weight capacity compared to regular ones. Materials used need to be good and strong – both the frame and the fabric. It shouldn’t feel flimsy when you lay down on it. If you’re looking for something affordable, always consider this too. You don’t want it breaking apart after several uses.
On the other hand, if you’re going to be using the cot often, it’s better to invest in a higher end product so you’ll be sure it will be reliable when you need it. This will also save you money in the long run, because it will last for many years and camping trips to come.
Cot weight is closely related to size, which makes sense – a larger cot will weigh more than a kid sized one. Of course, this influences portability too, but it will be more word about that later on. Usually cots weigh somewhere between 15 and 20lbs, if they have an aluminum frame, compared to frames made only from steel.
Aluminum is lighter than steel, so an aluminum cot will be easier for you to carry. The sleeping surface can also contribute to overall weight. While a fabric will weigh next to nothing, if your cot comes with a foam mattress with spring coils inside it can add a little bit to the overall sum. Additional features on the cot also add to the weight.
Extra-light cots exist and they are great for backpackers, but they can cost more because of the design. Many backpackers will gladly pay the price, because these cots can weigh as little as 3lbs. This allows you to easily attach it to your backpack and carry it while trekking.
However, in order to be lightweight these cots will often sacrifice durability. It all comes down to what you need from a product. If you’re going to be in one place for a longer period, then weight is not an issue, so you should concentrate more on comfort.
When packed, the cot should take as little space as possible. This is for practical reasons, because it allows you to be more efficient when traveling. You should be able to disassemble and fold it down to a small size. It’s one of the the determining factors, because you won’t get too far with a bulky cot no matter how light it is. Easy transport may not be something you will think about when choosing the cot, but it will come into mind later if you choose an inadequate product.
Cots for backpacking will fold down very small, while you will be also able to pack other regular cots but not to that size. Most sleeping cots for camping will come with a carry bag, which has a shoulder strap to make it easier for you to take it where you need to. As with weight, this is not such a big issue if the campsite is close to the location where your car or RV is parked.
Your cot needs to be stored somewhere at home too. You need a suitable space in your closet, basement or attic. If it’s too large it will constantly be in your way when you don’t need it. It’s not a bad idea to measure the space where you’ll be keeping it at home, to avoid unpleasant surprises when you return from your camping trip.
The whole point of taking a cot on your camping trip is to have a certain level of comfort while sleeping. It certainly outperforms a sleeping pad or a sleeping bag. If you decided to get a cot, you expect to get something from it because you don’t want to sleep on the ground. It’s an investment in something that will leave you well rested. But as we suggested earlier, not all products are the same when it comes to this.
Overall comfort depends on your sleeping surface, suspension system and the frame. Sleeping surface is usually a canvas, a foam mattress or an air mattress. It goes without saying that the most comfortable cots have foam mattresses with spring coils. This is also a great choice for people with back problems as it gives additional support and relieves the pain. However, this has its downsides in terms of weight and portability which we pointed out above.
Cots with canvas are also fairly comfortable, as long as the cot doesn’t have bars going under your back. Fabric may feel firm in the beginning, but they will become softer after some sitting or laying on them. Some cots will have tension systems which are adjustable. This allows you to choose whether you want the surface to be firmer or softer, according to your liking. Spring systems on some foam mattresses can be adjustable too, but all this raises the cost a bit.
If you feel that having only fabric on top is too uncomfortable, you can always put something on top – a camping pad or a sleeping bag for example. This will also help keep you warm, because you won’t be losing heat from underneath.
The durability of your cot, weight and comfort depend on the materials that were used when making it. As we mentioned earlier, the surface you’ll be sleeping on can be a foam or air mattress, or a canvas (fabric). Canvas cots are usually made from either nylon or polyester, which have exceptional strength while being lightweight, in addition to other qualities.
Nylon and polyester are great choices for this purpose, because they are very supportive and resemble a camping hammock when stretched out across the frame. They are also very easy to clean, which is a plus. If the fabric gets wet, it will dry off quickly. The fabric is rated with D (Denier), where a higher number represents a stronger fabric. The best camping cots will have fabric with 600D or over, which is a sign of quality. In addition to this, some materials have special ripstop design, which resists tears and increases the durability of your cot.
On the other hand, a foam mattress usually has a spring coil system, and often a removable and washable cotton layer on top. While cotton may feel comfy against your skin, it’s more difficult to clean compared to nylon or polyester. Also, this type of mattress takes longer to dry off, which may be a problem if you accidentally spill something on it, and need to sleep on it again soon.
In addition to things mentioned, you need to think about the weather. A thin layer of fabric is an excellent choice for the summer. It will allow air to circulate and keep you cool on those warm summer nights. In colder periods of the year, this will have an opposite effect. It will remove your body heat and leave you shivering. You can add a blanket, a sleeping pad or any other solution you think of, as long as it keeps you warm.
Foam mattresses will keep you much warmer during colder nights, increasing the comfort level. However, they aren’t very good at wicking away moisture so you may end up sweating more during summer, and you’ll be sleeping on a moist surface. In any case, think about conditions and insulation when choosing, you might appreciate it later.
The frame also needs to be made from strong, durable material. The structure needs to support you properly. They are generally made from aluminum or steel, or a combination of these two. Both are a good choice, but there are some ups and downs. Aluminum frame is lighter, meaning it will be easier for you to take it out of your vehicle and carry to the location. It’s a good choice of material, because it’s still strong enough to handle your weight.
Some cots have steel frames, but these weigh more and are not the best choice for transport. These are made to be more durable, and they are probably a better choice if you need a cot which you will be using on a regular basis without much moving around.
As you saw above, many products offer a combination – the upper part is made from aluminum, while the legs are made from steel. This way you get the most out of both, and it’s a good solution. No matter which type you choose, always check the weight limit because some products may not live up to your expectations. Also, it’s a big plus if the frame is corrosion resistant, because it will increase the durability.
Leg design is also something that can be different when comparing cots. It can have standard vertical legs, X shaped legs, or U (C) shaped legs. All designs are ok, as long as you keep one thing in mind – they need to have rubber capping on top. The reason for this is that they create a large pressure on tent floor and it can even create tears. It can also scratch your floor at home if you use it, and this can be annoying. Invest your money in a good frame, there are really many upsides to it.
The process of assembling your cot should be pretty straightforward. The best option is if you don’t require any tools and can do it with just your hands. The easiest ones are those which are simply folded in half, but they aren’t always the best choice when it comes to moving them around with you. Most cots will have snaps along the joints which will allow you to quickly connect all the necessary parts with little effort. Some of the higher end products will require a bit more to assemble, but the whole process shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
Always save the instructions paper you got when you bought the cot. You will see how many pieces it should have and how they connect together, so you won’t have to guess. It’s simple if you follow instructions, otherwise you may be left with a small part that you can’t find a place for, which can be really frustrating. It’s smart to test it when you assemble it – it can be a nuisance if you need to fix it in the middle of the night.
Since many of us like to camp away from crowd and noises, your camping gear and your cot need to be mobile. In addition to easy assembly, the process needs to be quick. This allows you to change the location quicker and remain mobile, if you want to explore several places while you’re on your trip. You don’t need to waste unnecessary time assembling the cot and taking it apart.
Cots can have some additional features added to make it more convenient, in addition to being just a camping bed. A side table is a very useful feature which allows you to lay down the things you need at your hands reach without leaving the bed. The table can have an opening where you can put your water bottle. We already mentioned the carry bag, and it’s really more than useful for taking the cot with you.
Some cots have storage pockets located on the sides. These are also very handy for keeping your things, because you won’t be losing track of them if it becomes messy in the tent. They can also hold your book for example. Finally, some cots will even come with a tent over the cot, like the Kamp-Rite Oversize Tent Cot we featured in the reviews. This allows you to place it outside instead of in a larger tent.
Q: How Warm Are Camping Cots?
A: This mainly depends on the type of cot you get, as we briefly mentioned earlier. Some cots are warmer than others. If you choose a cot which has canvas as a sleeping surface, don’t expect it to be very warm. This can be both a positive and a negative. You won’t be overheating during summer, but it also won’t create a warm cozy feeling if temperature is low, because of air circulating under and through it. You can compromise and add a blanket to make it more versatile.
On the other hand, foam mattresses are better at keeping you warm. The foam layer is thicker and much better at preserving your body heat. They don’t allow air circulation and the subsequent cooling. This is especially useful in cold weather, because you don’t need to add extra layers under you.
Q: When And Where Should The Camping Cots Be Used?
A: Cots should be used whenever you feel like you could add more comfort to your camping adventures. If you don’t like sleeping on the hard uneven ground, and the thought of bugs crawling around and over your creates discomfort, you should get yourself a cot. You can use it both inside and outside your tent, and it will resemble a normal bed you’re used to at home.
You can take it on any of the numerous outdoor activities which require spending the night in nature. They are also a great solution if you plan on staying at a particular location for a longer time period, like a base camp for example. In this case sleeping in a bag wouldn’t be a very good solution, so you should think about getting a sturdy comfy cot.
Q: What Are The Benefits Of A Camping Cot?
A: A camping cot allows you to properly rest and restore your energy after a long day outside. This is especially important if the terrain where you put your tent isn’t very flat, meaning you would feel every rock if you slept in a bag on the ground.
Your body temperature has better regulation on a cot compared to sleeping on the ground, because ground can quickly take away your heat no matter how many blankets you put on. Elevated position feels more natural, since this is what we are used to at home. As we mentioned, this is a big plus for people who have trouble getting off the ground.
You can use them outside the tent for sitting too, if you’re having guests and need to accommodate more people when cooking for example. Not just this, you can use it outside if you like sleeping under the stars. It can also be great for relaxing in your back yard or getting a sun tan. While it’s certainly bulkier and heavier than a sleeping bag, the positives greatly outweigh the negatives.
Q: Do I Need A Camping Cot?
A: While it isn’t necessary, it’s more than useful to have. It’s an excellent solution if you want to join your friends on a camping adventure, but you have trouble when sleeping on the ground. If you appreciate comfort or you’re going to be sleeping outdoors for a while, you should definitely consider a cot, any kind is much better than ground.
Q: Will I Have Room For A Cot In My Tent?
A: This depends both on the size of your tent and the size of your cot. If you own a large tent for several people you will certainly have enough space inside to place a cot. However, if you have a small ultralight tent for one or two people, you should consider this more carefully. You need to measure the tent surface and see if you can fit your cot inside, or several cots if you’re going with your family or friend and you’re going to share a tent.
It would be smart to choose one based on the other and do your measuring at home, because you may need a larger tent. Sometimes you need to limit yourself to a cot of a standard size, because longer or wider cots wouldn’t fit inside. Otherwise you’re in for an unpleasant surprise when you come to the camp side.
Q: Can I Use The Cot In My House?
A: Yes, you certainly can. Furthermore, it can be very handy in many situations. It allows you to accommodate a few extra guests at your home – it certainly beats sleeping on the floor. It’s also great for when your kids have friends over for a sleepover.
However, most cots are not designed for daily use. Cheaper products will fall apart much quicker if they get a lot of daily wear and tear. If you intend to use it like this, consider investing in a higher end cot, which will be durable for much longer.
Q: Can A Camping Cot Damage The Floor Of The Tent?
A: Yes it can. It rubs on the floor and creates pressure, which can leave weak spots in the floor and even puncture it. This of course depends on the legs you have on the cot. Rubber capping is a must if your tent floor can be easily damaged.
Legs shaped like the letter U are the best choice because they spread the pressure more equally on a larger surface, instead of just four or six points. If you worry about this, you can always put a blanket, pad or tarp under the cot, to make sure no damage will be done.
Globo Surf Overview
Buying a camping cot is an excellent investment, especially if you go camping more than just a couple of times a year. It will make your camping experience much more pleasant, and allow you to sleep well instead of waking up beat up and feeling tired. Like we discussed in detail, different types are available.
There isn’t a universal choice for this, because the best camping cot bed for you may not suit another person if they expect something different. This is why you should read through all the features we presented, and find out what works best for you. When you make your choice, we are certain you will be enjoying spending time outdoors more than ever before.
Have you tried a camping cot that made it onto our list? Which type did you get? Is it comfortable enough for you? Is it sturdy and durable? Please share your experience with us in the comment section below.
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