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Updated March 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best camping cots

Comfortable sleep is usually one of the biggest challenges when camping. Lying on the ground inside a tent or sleeping bag doesn’t provide much support, so waking up with aches and pains is unfortunately somewhat typical. But if you invest in a camping cot, you can get a good night’s sleep no matter where or how long you’re camping, and your aches and pains may be minimized.

A camping cot lifts you off the ground so you’re not sleeping on hard, rocky terrain. The height of the cot makes getting on and off your sleeping surface easier—a significant benefit for many. A cot also allows for better body temperature regulation, shielding you from the extremes of hot or cold in the middle of the night.

Durability and design are important factors to consider in a camping cot. With the right support and cushioning, you can get the best sleep possible, even in the great outdoors.

camping cot
A camping cot can come in handy inside your home if you find yourself with unexpected overnight guests.

How to buy the best camping cot

Are camping cots comfortable?

Have you ever set up a tent on what looked like flat ground only to toss and turn all night courtesy of a rock or hard clump of dirt you didn’t see? A camping cot elevates you over the ground, rescuing your sleep from these lumps and clumps.

A camping cot also provides more support than sleeping on the ground, especially if you choose a cushioned model.

Temperature regulation is another benefit. A good camping cot can keep you cool in warm weather and warm in cold weather. This is achieved through elevation from the cold ground as well as unobstructed airflow beneath your body.

A camping cot won’t be as comfortable as your bed at home, but it can certainly improve the sleeping conditions at your campsite.

Frame material and design

The quality of a camping cot frame affects its durability, sturdiness, and comfort.

Most camping cot frames are made of aluminum, a lightweight, sturdy, rust-resistant material. Some high-end cots have a steel frame. These cots are even stronger, so they typically have higher weight limits. On the downside, a steel-framed camping cot is heavier to carry.

Some camping cots have a bi-fold or tri-fold design. They usually have hollow legs in a U-shape that fold in halves or thirds for packing. Other cots have a military-style frame with tubular legs that form an X at each end and fold for packing. You can also find some camping cots with short, vertical legs.

If you plan to use your cot inside a tent, look for legs with rubber caps on the ends to minimize the chance of tearing or puncturing your tent floor.

Cot material

The material of a camping cot sleeping surface affects its comfort, durability, and ease of maintenance.

Most cot sleeping surfaces are made of polyester or nylon, materials that provide plenty of support, resist staining, and are easy to clean. You can also find camping cots with mesh fabric surfaces. Mesh promotes air circulation to keep you cool in hot weather.

Camping cots with cotton or canvas sleeping surfaces are notably heavier to carry, and the material is more likely to stain than polyester or nylon.

While there aren’t many to choose from, you can find a few bunk-style camping cots that sleep two people and maximize space.

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What features should a camping cot have?

Light weight

A camping cot’s weight is a vital feature to consider. Weight affects packability and how easy (or difficult) the cot is to carry.

Camping cots with aluminum frames may weigh as little as 3 pounds. Heavy-duty steel cots can weigh more than 30 pounds, though most weigh between 15 and 20 pounds. So, if you plan to backpack or hike a long distance to your campsite, you might prefer a cot with an aluminum frame.

Portability

A camping cot should be easy to take along on a camping trip. The cot’s weight plays a role in its portability since lightweight cots are easier to pack and carry.

You may also find it helpful to choose a cot with a carrying case or bag. A cot is much easier to transport when contained in an easy-to-pack case.

Size and weight limit

Most camping cots measure approximately 25 inches wide and 75 inches long to fit an adult of average size. However, you can find some cots designed for taller campers as well as extra-wide cots to accommodate larger adults.

Weight limit is a crucial consideration. Manufacturers usually provide a weight guideline, and the majority of cots support at least 300 pounds. Some are rated to support up to 500 pounds. That said, there are some cots that support less than 300 pounds, so be sure to check the weight limit before buying a camping cot.

Cushioning

Many camping cots aren’t cushioned. The sleeping area is a piece of fabric stretched across a frame. But some campers won’t find this comfortable enough. Fortunately, you can find a few camping cots with built-in cushioning to make sleep even more comfortable. Some cots feature a built-in pillow as well.

Ease of assembly

After a long hike, you probably don’t feel like spending an hour setting up your tent or cot. Fortunately, many camping cots feature an easy-to-assemble frame.

Models with U-shaped legs are the easiest to set up: you simply fold down the legs and snap them in place. Camping cots with X-shaped legs take more time to set up, but they generally don’t require as much time to set up as a tent.

We recommend reading the assembly instructions before your camping trip so you feel confident and prepared when setting up camp.

camping cot
DID YOU KNOW?
If your cot squeaks when you move around on it, consider treating its joints with a lubricant spray.
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How do you accessorize a camping cot?

Camping blanket

While a camping cot can be a comfortable sleeping surface, it may not keep you as warm as you would like. Pairing your cot with a camping blanket can provide extra insulation to keep you cozy and comfortable when the nights get chilly.

Sleeping bag

Some campers prefer to place a sleeping bag on their camping cot rather than a blanket. You don’t have to worry about your cover falling off during the night, and the insulation afforded by a bag is superior to that of a blanket.

Camping sleeping pad

If your camping cot doesn’t provide enough cushioning or support, you could pair it with a camping sleeping pad to make it more comfortable. Many sleeping pads are filled with air, making them lightweight and easy to carry.

How much do camping cots cost?

Inexpensive

The most affordable camping cots are usually basic military-style cots with aluminum frames. They typically aren’t heavy and have a weight limit of 300 pounds or less. These cots generally cost between $35 and $65.

Mid-range

Mid-range camping cots are usually military-style cots with steel frames or cots with U-shaped legs. They aren’t particularly lightweight, but they often have a weight limit of over 300 pounds. These costs generally cost between $65 and $150.

Expensive

The most expensive camping cots usually have extremely durable steel frames and weight limits of 500 pounds or more. Some in this price range are double cots, allowing them to hold two people comfortably. You can also find some attached storage options. These cots generally cost between $150 and $380.

To avoid getting your camping cot dirty, remove your shoes before lying down.

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Tips

  • Choose a stable surface to set up your camping cot. This makes it less likely to move around or jostle while you’re sleeping, so you can get a good night’s sleep.
  • Use mosquito netting to protect yourself from bugs. If you’re camping in an area prone to pests, hang netting over the cot before you go to sleep to keep them from disturbing you.
  • Use a sleeping pad to provide extra cushioning for your cot. A pad can make your cot much more comfortable and plush, and it can help keep you warm in cold weather.
  • Place a pad beneath your camping cot to prevent damage to your tent. This is especially important if the cot legs don’t have rubberized caps on the ends.
camping cot
If you usually hike to your campsite, consider a cot as lightweight as possible that can still support your weight.

FAQ

Q. What’s the best way to clean a camping cot?

A. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the correct cleaning method for your particular cot. To clean cot material, you can typically use mild dish soap and warm water for spot cleaning. The frame usually only requires wiping down with a damp cloth to keep it clean. Dry the frame well to prevent rusting.

Q. Should I use a camping pad with a camping cot?

A. This is a matter of personal preference. If you prefer to sleep on a softer mattress, you’ll likely appreciate having a camping pad beneath you for cushioning. If you prefer a firmer mattress, however, you may not need a pad.

Q. What’s the best way to stay warm on a camping cot?

A. For most campers, a sleeping bag or camping blanket provides plenty of insulation. If you’re still feeling cold, adding a sleeping pad to the cot could also help.

 

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