People who enjoy camping and spending time outdoors often wish comfort was a little bit better to make their experience even more enjoyable. Having the best camping cot allows you to wake up fully rested, and have enough energy to fully enjoy the daily activities that lie ahead.
By elevating you off the ground, a sleeping cot gives you proper support, allows better air circulation for regulating body temperature, and fewer bugs crawling around you while you sleep. The best camping cots vary in terms of comfort, size, and portability.
Finding the best cot for camping depends on what you’re after, luckily we have presented some great cots for you to choose from as well as a buying guide to make your decision easier.
How To Choose A Camping Cot – Buying Guide
An indispensable part of camping gear, camping cots are specially designed to give you the much needed quality sleep after a long day outdoors. Cots differ when it comes to frame design, material, fabric, or additional paddings and it is very normal that you can get confused about how to choose one. In summary, the best camp cot gives you a balance between comfort, best value for money, and portability.
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, as well because you need to place other camping gear in the tent too. Most cots will come in a standard size, which is about 25 inches wide and 75 inches long. This is a size that will accommodate most adults comfortably. 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. These can be 40 or more inches wide. An additional plus of a wider cot is that it can accommodate two people. Another factor is cot height. While it’s not directly related to comfort, it’s certainly useful to have a higher one because it makes sitting down and getting up much easier. Also, the space underneath the cot can be used as extra storage.
Finally, smaller cots are also available made specifically for children. They have all the same characteristics as regular ones do but smaller in size 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 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 or break apart after several uses. 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.
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 the 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. Extra-light cots exist and they are great for backpackers. Many backpackers will gladly pay the price because these cots can weigh as little as 3lbs. However, in order to be lightweight these cots will often sacrifice durability.
When packed, the cot should take as little space as possible. You should be able to disassemble and fold it down to a small size. Cots for backpacking will fold down very small, while you will be able to pack other regular cots but not to that size. Most folding camp cots will come with a carry bag, which has a shoulder strap to make it easier for you to take it where you need to. 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.
Overall comfort depends on the sleeping surface, suspension system, and the frame. The sleeping surface is usually a canvas, a foam mattress, or an air mattress on the most comfortable cot. It goes without saying that the most comfortable cots have foam mattresses with spring coils. However, this has its downsides in terms of weight and portability.
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 that 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.
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 best camping cots will have a fabric with 600D or over, which is a sign of quality. In addition to this, some materials have a 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. A thin layer of fabric is an excellent choice for the summer. It will allow air to circulate and keep you cool. In colder periods of the year, it will remove your body heat and leave you shivering.
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.
They are generally made from aluminum or steel, or a combination of these two. The aluminum frame is lighter, meaning it will be easier for you to take it out of your vehicle and carry it 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 of transport. These are made to be more durable, and they are probably a better choice if you need a cot that you will be using on a regular basis.
Many products offer a combination – the upper part is made from aluminum, while the legs are made from steel. No matter which type you choose, always check the weight limit. Also, it’s a big plus if the frame is corrosion-resistant because it will increase the durability.
The 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 they have rubber capping on top. The reason for this is to prevent tears and scratches on the tent and house floor.
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 sleeping cots for camping 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.
A side table is a very useful feature that 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 for tent camping 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. 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?
If you choose a cot that has canvas as a sleeping surface, don’t expect it to be very warm. You won’t be overheating during summer, but it also won’t create a warm cozy feeling if the temperature is low, because of the 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?
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 take it on any of the numerous outdoor activities when you plan on staying at a particular location for a longer time period, like a base camp.
Q: What Are The Benefits Of A Camping Cot?
A folding 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 the ground can quickly take away your heat no matter how many blankets you put on. The elevated position feels more natural since this is what we are used to at home.
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. It can also be great for relaxing in your back yard or getting a suntan.
Q: Do I Need A Camping Cot?
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 the ground.
Q: Will I Have Room For A Cot In My Tent?
A: 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 standard size because longer or wider cots wouldn’t fit inside.
Q: Can I Use The Cot In My House?
Yes, you certainly can. 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.
Q: Can A Camping Cot Damage The Floor Of The Tent?
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 you want to prevent damage.
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.
Globo Surf Overview
Buying a folding camping cot is an excellent investment, especially if you go camping more than just a couple of times a year. There isn’t a universal choice for this though, as the best lightweight camping cot 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. Hopefully, one of the products we have chosen is the one for you.
More Camping Reviews:
- Pocket Knife
- Camping Chair
- Camping Grill
- Portable Grill
- Portable Generator
- Night Vision Binoculars
- Emergency Radio
- Camping Mattress
- Pop Up Canopy
Have you tried a sleeping 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.