15 BEST Camping Cots for a More Comfortable Sleep [2024]

Two camping cots topped with white mattresses sitting side-by-side on a wooden platform inside a canvas glamping tent.

Published on: October 6, 2023

Short on time? Our pick for the best camping cot is the REI Co-op Kingdom Cot 3.

This article is your guide to finding the best camping cot for sleeping comfortably while camping!

For most of us, sleeping on the ground isn’t an option after we get to a certain age. Even with a high-end sleeping pad, the ground can be rocky, uneven, and cold. 

Not to mention the torture that is a mummy sleeping bag. I know they’re supposed to be “thermally efficient” or whatever, but sleeping with my feet pinned together is miserable.

Enter the camping cot. Not only do cots keep you off the ground and give you an even, rectangular sleeping area, but they can be super helpful for older folks or those with mobility issues.

When picturing a camping cot, you may think of an old, military-style one. And while some simple cots retain the basic features of a spartan military cot, there are many more options on the market now. 

Below I’ve rounded up the best camping cots of 2024 that will help you sleep comfortably while camping. 

Plus, I’ve explained the difference between a sleeping pad and a cot, answered the most frequently asked questions about cots, and given you some practical tips on staying warm while camping.

Note: this article contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free recommendations.

An example of one of the best camping cots, a beige canvas cot, sits on a grassy bank of a greenish lake, with trees and an overcast sky in  the background.

Here’s a quick look at our recommendations

#1 KingCamp Folding Camping Cot

Best for Couples

Product image for the KingCamp Folding Camping Cot.

Our Rating: 4.8/5
Dimensions: 82.6’’ x 55’’ x 18.9’’
Weight: 35.3 lbs
Weight Capacity: 550 lbs
Best Use: Car Camping

The best camping cot not for sleeping (*wink*) is the KingCamp Folding Camping Cot. This large camping cot is for couples, and it has many handy features. 

The KingCamp has an extra wide sleeping area with elastic bands to secure your sleeping pads and non-slip plastic feet to prevent too much movement. 

The triangular steel frame design holds up to 550 pounds, and while this isn’t the lightest camping cot ever, the carrying case has wheels to help you transport it. 

The material on the cot is durable 1200D Oxford fabric to prevent tears. 

Note that this is a simply-designed cot with no extra padding, and there is a metal bar right down the middle of the bed, making snuggling somewhat uncomfortable without a thick pad.

Looking for more two-person cot options? Check out our list of the best double camping cots.

PROS

  • Elastic bands to keep sleeping pads in place
  • Non-slip feet
  • Steel frame construction
  • Durable 1200 D Oxford fabric
  • The carrying bag has wheels

CONS

  • It has a railing down the middle
  • Not padded

#2 Coleman Trailhead II Cot

Best Budget Camping Cot

Product image for the Coleman Trailhead II Cot.

Our Rating: 4.7/5
Dimensions: 73’’ x 35’’ x 17’’
Weight: 20 lbs
Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
Best Use: Car camping

Isn’t it a bummer when it’s expensive to get into a new hobby? Thankfully, you can try out cot camping with the Coleman Trailhead II Cot, and it won’t break the bank. 

The Coleman Trailhead II Cot is the best camping cot on a budget. It features a simple, no-frills military design. As such, don’t expect any extra padding; the rugged polyester fabric is as tight as a drum. Look forward to a sturdy frame and non-slip feet at the bottom. 

The Trailhead II comes with a carrying case and fits most people up to 6’2″ tall, up to 300 pounds. 

At 20 pounds, this cot is moderately heavy, so its best use won’t be backpacking. 

The main downside to the Trailhead II is that the assembly can be challenging, and many folks had trouble getting the final crossbar into position. 

Note: You’ll run across other lists that recommend other budget cots, such as the Mountain Summit Gear Horizon Cot, the Osage River Cot, and the Maine Easy Cot.

I chose the Coleman Trailhead because the Coleman is better-rated and more sturdy. I felt the Osage River Cot, the Mountain Summit Gear Horizon Cot, and the Maine Easy Cot were all a bit too flimsy to recommend in good conscience.

PROS

  • Budget-friendly
  • Carrying case included
  • It fits people up to 6’2″
  • Non-slip feet

CONS

  • No padding
  • Assembly is challenging

#3 REI Co-op Kingdom Cot 3

Best Luxury Camping Cot

Product image for the REI Co-op Kingdom Cot 3.

Our Rating: 5/5
Dimensions: 82’’ x 31.5’’ x 14’’
Weight: 20 lbs
Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
Best Use: Car camping

Are you looking to camp glamorously, aka glamp? 

The REI Co-op Kingdom Cot 3 is one of my favorite luxury camping cots for adults. It weighs 20 pounds and accommodates up to 300 pounds.

The standout feature of the REI Co-op Kingdom camping cot is the quilted top with quick-drying polyester. You may still need a sleeping pad on top of it, but extra padding is luxurious.

The reclining head is the other feature of the Kingdom cot. You can adjust it like a pool lounger, perfect for reading or watching the kids around the fire. 

The extra large feet help with stabilization, and the frame is powder-coated to resist corrosion for years to come. The main downside to this camping cot is that it’s bulky when folded up (33″ x 32″ x 8.5″).

PROS

  • Quilted top with quick-drying polyester
  • Reclining head
  • Adjustable and sturdy legs
  • Powder-coated frame resists corrosion

CONS

  • Bulky when folded (33’’ x 32’’ x 8.5’’)

#4 Helinox Lite Cot

Best Lightweight Backpacking Cot

Product image for the Helinox Lite Cot.

Our Rating: 5/5
Dimensions: 73’’ x 23.5’’ 6’’
Weight: 2 lbs 12 oz
Weight Capacity: 265 lbs
Best Use: Backpacking

If you like going on camping trips far into the backcountry but hate sleeping on the ground, you need a super lightweight camping cot for hiking. 

Behold the Helinox Lite Cot, the best lightweight camping cot. 

The Helinox Lite Cot is even lighter than the regular Helinox Cot, which is bigger and heavier and, therefore, suitable for bigger backpackers. 

The Helinox Lite Cot weighs just 2 pounds and 12 ounces, putting it miles below other camping cots. This little cot folds to just 21″ x 5″ and keeps you five inches off the ground.

The Helinox Lite Cot uses 600-weave rip-stop polyester to prevent tears in the backcountry, and the weight capacity is 265 pounds.

As is common with backpacking gear, this cot is a little narrow. For reference, I’m 17″ from shoulder to shoulder and would fit this cot comfortably, but my boyfriend would be uncomfortable with the Helinox Lite.

PROS

  • 21’’ x 5’’ packed size
  • Lightweight camping cot
  • Optional Helinox regular cot for bigger folks
  • Aluminum alloy legs and frame
  • Rip-stop polyester fabric

CONS

  • Pricey
  • Low max weight capacity

#5 Coleman Queen Airbed Cot

Best for Bad Backs

Product image for the Coleman Queen Airbed Cot.

Our Rating: 4.9/5
Dimensions: 78’’ x 59’’ x 22’’ 
Weight: 42.6 lbs
Weight Capacity: 600 lbs
Best Use: Car camping

As a thirty-something, I strongly prefer not to sleep on the ground, but I know if I wanted either of my parents to camp with me, we would have to get the Coleman Queen Airbed Cot because of their backs and mobility issues. 

This queen camping cot has it all. First, the Coleman Queen Airbed has a giant squashy airbed with its “ComfortStrong” coil system to provide extra support while sleeping. 

Their “AirTight” system guarantees against air leaks during the night, and there’s a sewn-in cover to keep the air mattress in one place. Oh, and did I mention it comes with an air pump? Love that. 

Coleman put two small “side tables” (organization pouches) for nighttime storage space. I love this little pouch for eyeglasses or a flashlight, and it also has two cup holders.

As one of the best camping cots for bad backs, I’m pleased that the Coleman cot has a weight capacity of 600 pounds, but I am dismayed that the whole thing is so darn heavy (i.e., not a good thing for bad backs) and that the carry bag doesn’t have wheels.

PROS

  • It comes with battery operated pump
  • “Side table” organizers included
  • Extra cushy queen-sized mattress
  • Advanced coil system for support
  • A sewn-in cover keeps the mattress from moving

CONS

  • Heavy
  • Suitable for people 6′ tall and under
  • The carry bag doesn’t have wheels

#6 Decathalon Quechua Camp Bed

Best for Side Sleeper

Product image for the Decathalon Quechua Camp Bed.

Our Rating: 4.7/5
Dimensions: 78.7’’ x 27.6’’ x 9.8’’
Weight: 8.4 lbs
Weight Capacity: Not listed
Best Use: Car Camping

I am a side sleeper, so I bring an extra inflatable pillow on camping trips to keep my knees from clanging together, but it’s not a perfect system! 

If you’re like me and want a side-sleeper-friendly cot, you’ve got to check out the Decathalon Quechua Camp Bed

The Quechua has the most innovative design for a camp cot I’ve ever seen. First, this lightweight cot weighs just 8.4 pounds and is fully inflatable. On the downside, you must buy the pump separately (boo!). 

The sleeping platform has only thin slats connected to an inflated rectangular ring. If you sleep on your side, your hip can easily depress past the slats. I love this system for side sleepers. 

I like that Decathlon puts elastic bands on the corners to hold your sleeping pad in place, and I like that you can join separate cots together with the clipping buckles to make a double bed. 

However, because of this slatted design, the Quechua requires a pretty rigid sleeping pad to go over the top. You couldn’t use one of the thin egg-crate style pads on the Quechua because you would probably feel the slats underneath.

PROS

  • Lightweight cot
  • Fully inflatable
  • Super comfortable
  • Elastics keep sleeping pad in place
  • Can be hooked to a second Quechua Camp Bed for couples

CONS

  • Low to the ground (especially for older folks)
  • Air pump not included
  • Must pair with rigid sleeping pads or air mattresses

#7 Alps Mountaineering Ready Lite Cot

Best for Easy Setup

Product image for the Alps Mountaineering Ready Lite Cot.

Our Rating: 5/5
Dimensions: 78’’ x 28’’ x 6’’
Weight: 5 lbs
Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
Best Use: Backpacking

The Alps Mountaineering Ready Lite Cot was voted the best overall camping cot by Field and Stream Magazine in 2022, if that tells you anything, and it’s my choice for the best lightweight camping cot for easy setup. 

The Alps Mountaineering Ready Lite Cot has shock-corded poles that snap together in minutes. The 420D polyester rip-stop fabric will prevent tearing, and I like that it has a double layer of material on the sleeping platform for you to put your pad inside (brilliant!). 

This design is an alternative to elastic bands to keep the pad in place. The Ready Lite Cot is also super lightweight and packs down to a tiny size. These size and weight factors make it an excellent choice for backpacking or bikepacking. 

If I had to be picky and find fault with this cot, it’s a little pricey but still within reason for high-end camping gear.

PROS

  • Sleeve for the sleeping pad
  • Packed size is 18’’ x 3’’ x 8’’
  • Lightweight
  • Shock-corded poles for easy setup
  • Rip-stop polyester fabric

CONS

  • Pricey

#8 Big Agnes Double Decker Inflatable Cot

Most Comfortable Cot

Product image for the Big Agnes Double Decker Inflatable Cot.

Our Rating: 5/5
Dimensions:78’’ x 26’’ x 13’’
Weight: 7 lbs 3 oz
Weight Capacity: Not listed
Best Use: Car camping

Big Agnes has a longstanding reputation for its super comfortable sleeping pads, and the Double Decker Inflatable Cot is the last word in comfort and camp luxury. 

First, the Double Decker Inflatable Cot is two separate cots stacked on each other, with an accessory cover to keep the beds together. 

You can flip from “Double Decker Mode” to “Double Wide Mode” if you sleep with a partner. 

Stomach sleepers and uneven ground are no match to the cozy comfort of a double air mattress. 

The bottom bed accommodates for any uneven ground, and the slightly raised edges keep you cradled in the center. 

A common problem with air mattresses (especially if you blow them up with your mouth) is that bacteria and mold can grow inside your pad (gross). Still, the Double Decker has antimicrobial treatments to keep the nasties at bay.

PROS

  • High-volume port valve for easy inflation and deflation
  • Convertible to “Double Wide Mode”
  • Durable rip-stop nylon
  • Antimicrobial treatment on the interior

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Air pump not included

#9 Mophoto Adult Folding Camping Cot

Best Cot with a Mattress

Product image for the Mophoto Adult Folding Camping Cot.

Our Rating: 4.5/5
Dimensions: 75’’ x 28 ‘’ 14’’
Weight: 16.8 lbs
Weight Capacity: 880 lbs
Best Use: Car camping

If you’re looking for a camping cot for a heavier person with a mattress attached, check out the Mophoto Adult Folding Camping Cot. 

Although this isn’t the heaviest cot (it weighs just 16.8 pounds), it has an enormous weight capacity of 880 lbs and comes with a mattress attached. 

This military-style cot has a double layer of 1200D Oxford material for extra strength and durability, plus it is water-resistant and easy to clean. 

The Mophoto Adult Folding Camping Cot has a steel frame that folds to a 41.3″ x 9.8″ rectangle in just a few minutes. No assembly is needed for this affordable cot; it even comes with a little storage pocket on the side. 

Given what a budget buy this cot is, I’m not surprised to learn that the mattress is relatively thin. You’ll likely need extra padding to sleep well on this cot.

PROS

  • Enormous weight capacity
  • Double layer of 1200D Oxford fabric
  • Sturdy steel frame
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable

CONS

  • Mattress is thin

#10 Cabela’s Big Outdoorsman Cot with Lever Arm

Best for Big and Tall People

Product image for the Cabela's Big Outdoorsman Cot with Lever Arm.

Our Rating: 4.8/5
Dimensions: 85’’ x 40’’ x 20’’
Weight: 31.3 lbs
Weight Capacity: 600 lbs
Best Use: Car camping

So far, most of the cots on my list have been about 78″ long, which is 6.5 feet long. While that may be plenty long for most of us, you may need some extra oomph if you’re a big n’ tall person.

Cabela’s Big Outdoorsman Cot with Lever Arm is the best camping cot for a tall person. Cabela’s made this cot just for big and tall folks with an oversized 85” L x 40’’W x 20’’H steel frame. 

The weight capacity of the Big Outdoorsman is 600 pounds, and it has water-resistant polyester. The steel frame is powder-coated to resist rusting, and the lever arm makes set up quick and easy. 

The one complaint about the Big Outdoorsman is that it is heavy at just over 30 pounds.

PROS

  • Oversized cot
  • Water-resistant polyester
  • Powder-coated steel frame
  • Lever arm makes set up a breeze

CONS

  • Heavy

#11 Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Camping Cot

Best Heavy-Duty Camping Cot [That Can Hold More Weight]

Product image for the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Camping Cot.

Our Rating: 4.7/5
Dimensions: 85’’ x 45’’ x 19.5’’
Weight: 26 lbs
Weight Capacity: 600 lbs
Best Use: Car camping

The Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Camping Cot is worth your time if you’re looking for a simple, burly, well-made cot with a high weight capacity. 

This highly reviewed cot is Teton Sports’ largest model at 85″ x 45″ x 19.5″ with a 600-pound weight capacity. 

This car camping cot has an aluminum frame with an arched leg design to support lots of weight while remaining relatively lightweight. 

The fabric on the cot is a durable 600D Oxford canvas, and the pivot arm lever makes it a breeze to set this bad boy up. 

One complaint about the Outfitter has to do with some minor detail defects. For example, the end caps on the poles may pop off easily. Not a deal breaker, but you hate to see missed details like that on a heavy-duty cot.

PROS

  • Folds up to 42.5″ x 12″
  • Durable 600D Oxford canvas
  • Relatively lightweight aluminum frame
  • The pivot arm lever makes set up easy

CONS

  • Shoddy construction

#12 Therm-a-Rest Mesh Cot

Best Compact Camping Cot

Product image for the Therm-a-Rest Mesh Cot.

Our Rating: 4.7/5
Dimensions: 72’’ x 24’’ x 4.5’’
Weight: 3 lbs 9 oz
Weight Capacity: 325 lb
Best Use: Backpacking

If you’re looking for a lightweight cot for kayak camping or backpacking, you’ll need something that packs down small. The Therm-a-Rest Mesh Cot is the most compact camping cot on my list, with a packed size of only 18″ x 6″. 

This lightweight cot weighs just 3 pounds 9 ounces and fits into panniers, backpacks, and portage bags just perfectly. 

One downside of the Therm-a-Rest is that it’s not the best camping cot for those over six feet tall, as the total length is just six feet long. 

But this warm-weather, breathable mesh cot has BowFrame Technology, so you won’t have to deal with a crossbar in your back all night, and the shock-corded poles make assembly a breeze.

PROS

  • It comes in regular, long, and extra-long sizes
  • Packed size is 18’’ x 6’’ with carrying case
  • BowFrame design for comfort
  • Shock-corded poles for fast setup

CONS

  • The cot length is just 6 feet long
  • Not suitable for winter camping

#13 Camping Cot Sierra 440

Best for Cold Weather

Product image for the Camping Cot Sierra 440.

Our Rating: 4.8/5
Dimensions: 82’’ x 34’’ x 18’’
Weight: 38 lbs
Weight Capacity: 440 lbs
Best Use: Car camping

Camping in winter is always challenging, but camping in winter with a cot is another beast. 

No, you’re not on the cold ground, but you have cold air constantly underneath you, which can be just as problematic. 

For winter cot camping, I recommend a cot with extra padding; that’s why the Camping Cot Sierra 440 is the best camping bed for winter. The legs on the Sierra 440 are adjustable to account for any uneven ground, and the frame is durable steel. 

I’m bummed this cot doesn’t have a carrying case. Further, it is heavy at almost 40 pounds, and I must mention that some people find the cradled sleeping platform uncomfortable, preferring a flat pad. 

However, this oversized travel cot has additional padding built-in, perfect for keeping you cozy.

PROS

  • Extra padding on bed frame for warmth
  • Adjustable steel legs
  • Sturdy steel frame
  • Oversized bed size

CONS

  • No carrying case
  • Heavy
  • The cradled pad makes some feel cramped

#14 Coleman ComfortSmart Cot

Best for Seniors

Product image for the Coleman ComfortSmart Cot.

Our Rating: 4.7/5
Dimensions: 69’’ x 25’’ x 15’’
Weight: 21.5 lbs
Weight Capacity: 275 lbs
Best Use: Car camping

When it comes to seniors’ camping, I want them to have a lightweight, comfortable, and easy-to-assemble cot, and the Coleman ComfortSmart Cot hits all those qualities pretty well.

First, this affordable cot has a straightforward design that anyone can set up. Although the legs aren’t adjustable, I like that the legs’ simple bar design means that nothing will break on them. 

The frame is steel, so it’s durable and has a weight capacity of 275 pounds. 

Everyone agrees that the pad on this Coleman camping cot is very comfortable but that the canvas is prone to tearing. 

I also like that you can fold the pad up with the frame. However, I must point out that this Colmenan cot has a very short length and is only suitable for those 5’7″ and under.

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Easy setup
  • Durable steel frame
  • You can fold up the pad with the frame

CONS

  • Short length only fits those up to 5′ 7″
  • The canvas is delicate

#15 Disco-O-Bed Large Cam-O-Bunk

Best for Kids

Product image for the Disco-O-Bed Large Cam-O-Bunk.

Our Rating:4.9/5
Dimensions: 79’’ x 36’’ x 28’’
Weight: 60 lbs
Weight Capacity: 500 lbs
Best Use: Car camping

Are you looking for a sleeping solution for your kids? How about a sleeping solution that makes them psyched for your camping trips? 

The Disc-O-Bed Cam-O-Bunk is a set of two single cots you can configure into a bunk bed or a bench!

Is there anything more fun than a bunk bed when camping? I think not. 

The Disc-O-Bed beds are big enough for teenagers, too, so your little angels won’t soon grow out of these beds, either. 

There’s no assembly needed for this bunk bed, and they come with two canvas carrying bags. Two storage pockets on the side give your kids a place to put their treasures. 

The main downside to this bunk bed setup is the weight. At 60 pounds, you might need a cart to get these to your campsite.

PROS

  • It can be bunk beds, two single cots, or a bench seat
  • Side organizers
  • No assembly needed
  • Stored in two bags

CONS

  • Heavy

Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Sleeping Cot for Camping

A view from behind of a woman lounging in a recliner, overlooking a river with sunlight glinting off the water, and pine trees on the opposite shore.

What to Look for in Camping Cots

Packed Size

The best camping cots need to fit comfortably in your vehicle (or backpack for backpacking cots). 

Even if you’re car camping, make sure your portable bed will fit in with the rest of your gear before you buy.

Sleeping Size

If you have a pad or air mattress, ensure your camp cot fits the mattress dimensions. Likewise, ensure you have enough space on the camping tent floor and, if you plan to use a double cot, that there is a sufficient sleeping surface for you and your partner. 

Weight

As a 30-something female, I can lift about 20 pounds comfortably, but beyond that, I need help if I’m carrying something any distance. Look for a lightweight camping cot of about 20 pounds or less for easy carrying. 

Weight Capacity

Not all cots need a massive weight capacity, but the best camping cots for large adults will. If you’re a burly person, buy a burly cot! If you’re shopping for kids, lighter cots will do. 

Organizer Pockets

The best camping cots have organizer pockets that hang off the frame. I like having a place to put my glasses and phone where they won’t get stepped on. 

Mattress Included

If you don’t already have a comfortable sleeping pad, look for a camping cot with a foam pad or air mattress included. 

Elastic Bands

One complaint about most sleeping pads is that they are plastic, so they shimmy off a camping cot remarkably easily. 

For this reason, I love when camping cots have elastic bands on the frame to keep your sleeping pad in one place. 

Adjustable Legs

Sleeping on bumpy, rocky ground impedes a good night’s rest, so look for camping cots with legs that are adjustable. In addition to movable legs, many camping cots have oversized, flexible feet to adapt to uneven terrain. 

Reclining Head

Some luxury camping cots have an adjustable head that can raise like a pool lounger. 

While this certainly isn’t a requirement for a suitable cot, imagine how comfy it would be to watch the kids play by the river or toast marshmallows from the comfort of your recliner. 

Carrying Bag

Keep all your sleeping pieces together by buying a quality cot with a carrying bag. Many camping cots are heavy, so their carry bags ideally have wheels and sturdy carry straps.

Types of Camping Cots

A man sits at a wooden table at dusk at the entrance to a canvas glamping tent working on an iPad, while a woman lounges on a camping cot in the background, read a book.

Car Camping Cots

Most cots are car camping cots because most outdoor enthusiasts don’t want to bother hauling a cot on a backpacking trip. 

Car camping cots are bigger and heavier than backpacking cots, and they may come with more frills like foam sleeping pads and pocket organizers.

Backpacking Cots

If you want a camping cot for backpacking, look for ultralight cots. A lightweight, packable cot should compress to a small size and weigh less than five pounds. 

Children’s Cots

Most cots are for adults, but there are also juvenile or kids camping cots. These camping cot frames are smaller and lower to the ground or, in some cases, are stacked bunk beds for maximum kid fun.

Note that there is no such thing as a “camping cot for babies.” If you’re camping with an infant, you need a portable crib with proper sides so the tiny tot doesn’t roll off.

Double Cots

A double camping cot could be the best camping cot for couples if you sleep comfortably next to your SO.

Personally, I can barely sleep next to my partner in our giant king bed, so I would opt for two separate cots. But if you’re less like the Princess and the Pea than I am– or want to starfish out on your own– look for a king-size camping cot. 

Military Cots

Military-style cots are the OG-style cot. These simple, metal-framed cots stretch fabric between metal poles to form a sleeping surface. Typically, the fabric is tight as a drum and offers little cushioning or comfort. 

The upside to simple cots is that you can customize your sleep setup, and the cots are inexpensive. 

Inflatable Cots

The newest style of cot is the inflatable cot. Imagine a giant air mattress or, in some cases, two colossal air mattresses stacked on one another. The benefit of an inflatable cot is that they’re usually lighter than a metal cot. 

The downside is that you must purchase a high-quality one to ensure you don’t get air leaks and need an air pump on your camping trip. 

Tips for Staying Warm on a Camp Cot

Sleeping on a cot can be a lifesaver, but many folks don’t realize that cot sleeping can be colder than sleeping on the ground because you constantly have air beneath you circulating and pulling your heat off you. 

I am one of those people who is always cold, so that’s a big no-thanks for me.

Plan for multiple insulating layers between you and the cot to stay warm on chilly camping trips. These layers can take the form of a sleeping pad, an air mattress, a blanket, a rug, a carpet, or any combination of these items. 

If you use an air mattress or inflatable sleeping pads, use a piece of P-cord to tie the mattress to the cot. That way, you don’t slip off the cot when the two slick surfaces rub against one another. 

Always bring your sleeping bag. 

If you sleep cold like me, I always bring a cotton or silk sleeping bag liner, and sometimes I have a blanket on top of that too.

Check out this video for an example of a warm setup (and how to tie your pad down). 

FAQs About Camping Cots

A young dark-haired woman wrapped in a brightly-colored blanket smiles as she sits on a camping cot in a field, with a tent and people playing sports in the background.

Is a camping cot worth it?

I camp a lot and have my sleeping setup honed to a T, but even I don’t sleep well while camping. 

If a good night’s sleep is essential, bringing a camping cot on your camping trip is worth it. It can also be worth it to lug a camping cot around if you have a bad back, are elderly, or have other mobility issues that make it hard to get up from the ground.

However, if you sleep well on the cold ground, the weight, space, and time it takes to set up camping cots might not be worth it. 

Are cots good for camping?

Yes, cots are good for camping because they are specifically for camping. Camping cots are like simple bed frames; they are lightweight, keep you off the ground, and provide a small amount of cushion. 

The best camping cots can turn a horrible, cold, hard night outside into a peaceful and restful sleep. 

Remember, however, that even the best camping cot is another piece of gear you must set up and tear down at the end of the trip. For some people, this isn’t worth the hassle. 

Are camping cots comfortable to sleep on?

The most comfortable sleeping cot for camping depends on your personal preferences.

Traditional camping cots have a taught canvas sleeping surface stretched between metal poles, and while this keeps you off the ground, you may not find this exceptionally comfortable.

However, newer folding sleeping cots for adults may come with sleeping pads or air mattresses that make them highly comfortable. 

What’s the difference between a sleeping pad and a camp cot?

A sleeping pad is a foam or inflatable cushion meant for placing on the ground while camping. 

A camping cot is an elevated platform for sleeping while camping. Traditionally, camping cots don’t have much padding. 

As a result, many people who use camping cots place a sleeping pad or inflatable mattress on the cot for maximum comfort. 

How much do camping cots cost?

Camping in comfort doesn’t have to break the bank, although some deluxe camping cots can cost a pretty penny. 

The best camping cot brands offer cots for around $300. You can get budget camping cots for about $50. 

Does a camping cot need a mattress? Can you just use a pad?

You do not need to use an air mattress on a camping cot. You can use sleeping pads instead or sleep directly on the cot. 

Your choice of padding should reflect your personal preference, sleep needs, and whether you have the space to pack all this extra gear. 

How do you stay warm while sleeping on a cot?

Camping cots can add an element of luxury to your camping trip, but surprisingly, for many folks, you can get chilly sleeping on a cot because of the airflow beneath the sleeping surface. 

The best way to stay warm using a travel cot is to insulate yourself from the sleeping surface with a sleeping pad and sleeping bag.

You can also opt for camping cots with padding for extra insulation. 

What size is a standard camp cot?

A standard camp cot is approximately 78″ x 24″ x 18″, but you can purchase extra large or juvenile-sized cots. 

Conclusion: Our Pick for the Best Camping Cot

A beige canvas camping cot set up on a gravelly forest floor, with leafy vegetation surrounding.

Having a comfortable cot on your next camping trip can be a game-changer, so pick the right one. 

A good camping cot elevates you off the ground, gives you a place to sit, store camping gear under, and, most importantly, a comfortable place to sleep. 

After weighing the pros and cons of all the best camping cots, I’ve chosen the REI Co-op Kingdom Cot 3 as the best camping cot overall. 

The REI Kingdom Cot has a quilted top with quick-drying polyester, a reclining head, adjustable legs, and a powder-coated finish to resist corrosion. 

Plus, as with all REI products, you can always return it within a year if you don’t like it, even if you’ve used it multiple times.

The REI Co-op Kingdom Cot 3 is among the highest-rated camping cots. It weighs about 20 pounds but has a 300-pound weight limit. The only downside to the Kingdom Cot is that it is bulky when folded.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author bio - Meredith Dennis

Meredith Dennis

Meredith is a biologist and writer based in California’s Sierra Nevada. She has lived in 6 states as a biologist, so her intel on hiking and camping is chef’s kiss next level. One of her earliest camping memories was being too scared to find a bathroom at night on a family camping trip. Thankfully, she’s come a long way since then and she can help you get there too!


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A beige canvas cot sits on a grassy bank of a greenish lake, with trees and an overcast sky in  the background, with the text overlay, "Best Camping Cot."

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Hi, I'm Mimi! I'm an outdoorsy Californian who has spent over 28 years immersed in the incredible natural beauty that California has to offer. My goal is to inspire others to get out and find their next adventure in California. Whether it’s escaping to an alpine lake in the Sierras, finding peace among the giant redwoods, or road tripping down the PCH, there’s always more to explore in this beautiful state.

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