We purchase every product we review with our own funds—we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Cots are used for a variety of short-term purposes, from camping trips to overnight guests. Just because a cost is a short-term solution, however, doesn’t mean it can’t be comfortable. The best cots are comfortable and fairly portable. Depending on your needs, you may want a cot that’s lightweight and easy to transport. Or, you may want a cot that’s rugged and extra-durable for heavier sleepers.
If you’re shopping for a new cot or two, you’ve come to the right place. At BestReviews, we try to help make your purchasing decisions easier. Why should you spend hours poring over different product choices and customer reviews for an item you’ll only use occasionally? You don’t have to, because we’ve done the cot research for you.
Above, please find information about five of our favorite cots on today’s market. For more information about cots and how to choose one, please continue reading this shopping guide.
Cots, sometimes called camp beds, are thought to have first been used in times of war. Soldiers certainly weren’t going to outfit an entire barracks with single beds, and they never knew when they might have to pick up and move their location. Cots were the perfect solution.
Most cots are small, lightweight, and portable with an aluminum frame that folds easily. The actual bed part of the cot may be an all-wire frame, or it may be a panel of fabric or mesh stretched across the frame.
Interestingly, the word “cot” has different meanings in different regions of the world. While a cot is a portable bed in the U.S., it’s an infant crib in parts of Europe. For the purposes of this article, we’re assuming you’re looking for a portable bed.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
TETON Sports Outfitter XXL Cot (85"x 40")
The TETON Sports Outfitter XXL Cot has an aluminum frame with bars at the top, bottom, and sides that help it maintain a flat sleeping space and resist sagging. The patented steel legs work in a scissors-like fashion; they fold easily but give lots of rigidity when open.
As mentioned above, there are several different use cases for a cot.
Most people prefer not to sleep on the bare floor of a tent if the ground is uneven, damp, and/or cold. Being able to sleep a foot or two above the ground is often appreciated.
The portability helps, as you can easily tote the cot along with the rest of your camp gear.
Other than the obvious reasons of making you more comfortable, another benefit to a cot is that you can store items beneath it in a cabin or while you are camping in a tent.
If you’re staying in a cabin with limited sleeping space, a cot can provide comfort where it’s needed.
From time to time, there are emergency situations such as a tornado, earthquake, or hurricane that displace residents from their homes. Shelters can keep many cots in storage and can haul them out as needed.
If you’re putting cots inside a tent, place rags or something else soft beneath the legs to be sure they don’t rip the tent floor.
It’s not always an ideal situation to give up your couch to a friend who decides to spend the night, and not everyone has a guest bedroom.
Cots provide an ideal solution: you can store them away in a closet, basement, or garage until you need them.
Similarly, if you’re a guest in someone else’s home and want a guaranteed place to sleep, you might prefer to bring your own cot along.
Avoid jumping or sliding onto a cot for safety reasons. When you’re ready to rest, sit down on the cot and ease your way into position. Also, do not sit on the side poles of the cot. Instead, sit on the fabric or mesh top.
There are several factors to consider when selecting a cot. Before you buy one, we urge you to find out all you can about the comfort level, assembly, size/weight, and construction materials of the cot in question.
Everyone knows the value of sleeping in a comfortable bed. While cots don’t typically make for lavish sleeping quarters, you don’t want to feel like you’re going to break your neck or back sleeping on one.
To support your weight, a cot will either use a spring system or fabric tension. Sometimes, the tension can be adjusted to suit your desired comfort level. Make sure the cot bars are placed in such a way that they won’t be hitting you on your back while you sleep.
Some cots come with extra padding. Keep in mind, however, that the more padding you add to a cot, the bulkier and heavier it will be. If portability is a goal, you must somehow strike a balance between that and comfort.
While it can defeat the purpose of being portable, folding mattresses meant for cots are available. You may wish to consider this if comfort is highly important to you.
If you want a cot for “just-in-case” purposes, or if you’re planning to store it in a cabin, portability might not be a big issue for you. But if you plan to use your cot for regular camping, you will likely want one that’s easy to carry.
Sometimes, the more portable cots will be marked as such. For example, a highly portable cot may be marketed as a backpacker’s cot. This type of cot may come in a convenient carrying bag with straps.
Most cots simply unfold and snap into place, but there are some that take considerably more work to put together. If ease of assembly matters to you, check product reviews to see what others have to say about the issue.
If your chosen cot doesn’t come with any extras, such as a mattress, storage, or tables, you may still be able to purchase those items separately.
An average cot is approximately 25 inches wide and 75 inches long. However, you’ll find some cots that are wider or longer than average. Extra-wide cots often stretch 40 inches across.
The size of a cot when it’s closed matters, as does weight. Cots tend to weigh somewhere between 15 and 20 pounds, though you’ll find some backpacker cots that weigh as little as two or three pounds.
Cots aren’t all “single” beds. Double- and queen-size cots are also available.
Though some cots are made of solid aluminum, most include supportive fabric as well.
We advise potential buyers to look for cots that incorporate polyester or nylon, as these materials are likely to be supportive yet easy to clean.
Mesh is a nice fabric, too, and it will keep you cool while sleeping.
Cotton canvas adds weight to the cot and is generally more difficult to keep clean.
For daycare situations, stackable cots are sold in bright primary colors that can easily be put away and brought back out daily.
Some cots come with “extras” that aren’t necessary for sleeping but are still nice to have. For example, a cot might come with its own carrying/storage bag or pillow.
It may include storage compartments on the sides or even a side table.
Some cots even have a tent built on top to create a one-person, all-in-one sleeping unit.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Mountain Trails Base Camp Cot
Durable and Affordable
The Mountain Trails Base Camp Cot boasts a durable, powder-coated steel frame and stainless steel legs that will not rust. The fabric is a light, hard-wearing, easy-to-clean polyester. In terms of size, the Mountain Trails cot is not small. Its sleeping area (74 x 30 inches) and weight rating (225 pounds) will support the majority of adults.
Most cots range in price from $30 to $150, with more basic cots sitting on the lower end and upgraded cots with plenty of extras sitting at the higher end.
For a mid-range price of between $50 and $100, you can get an adequate cot that either has a mattress or one of the “extras” mentioned above.
Q. Is there bedding that is made specifically for cots?
A. Yes, there is. You can buy a cot bedding set that includes fitted and flat sheets as well as a pillowcase.
Q. Do all cots fold up for easy storage/portability?
A. Most cots fold into something smaller, but there are cots that defy this expectation. For example, there are stackable cots designed for daycare or preschool naptimes. These cots stack to save space, but they don’t necessarily fold down.
Q. How much weight will a cot support?
A. That depends on the cot. You’ll find cots for children that are designed to hold 100 to 135 pounds, cots for adults that can hold 150 to 180 pounds, and cots for larger adults that can hold 200 to 275 pounds. An oversized cot might hold up to 500 pounds. We suggest getting a cot that’s rated for a weight a little higher than that of the intended sleeper, just to be safe.
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At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.