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The Best Camping Cots of 2023

A camping cot can keep you warm, elevated, and comfortable outdoors. Here are the best camping cots currently on the market.

Best Camping Cots ReviewA camping cot offers both a comfortable place to sleep and hang out; (photo/Matt Granger)
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For many people, a good night’s sleep in the outdoors is an elusive goal. Sleeping on the ground, even with the help of inflatable or foam sleeping pads, is still sleeping on the ground. For folks seeking a comfortable and elevated sleeping experience while camping, a cot is a great choice.

When car camping, cots can easily be stowed away with the rest of your gear and set up anywhere. Whether you prefer sleeping in a tent or under the stars, cots are a portable luxury that can fit into just about any vehicle.

Though the majority of camping cots are far too heavy for backpacking, certain models are impressively lightweight and relatively portable. On this list, the Helinox Lite Cot weighs just 2 pounds, 12 ounces. 

You’ll need to ask yourself if you are looking for the maximum in comfort, or if portability weighs heavier on your decision-making. Our detailed buyer’s guide and comparison chart are chock full of information to guide your choice, and our frequently asked questions section will help to mop up any lingering queries. Wondering how we got our camping cot chops? Check out why you should trust us.

If you’re looking for a versatile way to sleep comfortably outdoors, read on. You can scroll through to see all of our recommended buys, or jump to the camping cot you’re looking for:

The Best Camping Cots of 2023


Best Overall Camping Cot

REI Co-op Kingdom Cot 3

Specs

  • Weight 20 lbs.
  • Weight limit 300 lbs.
  • Unfolded dimensions 82 in. x 31.5 in. x 14 in. (L x W x H)
  • Packed dimensions 33 in. x 32 in. x 8.5 in.
  • Best use Car camping or as an extra bed for guests
The Best Camping Cots of 2023

Pros

  • Very comfortable
  • Spacious
  • Adjustable firmness
  • Easy to assemble (as easy as it gets, really)

Cons

  • Large packing size
  • Heavy
Best Budget Camping Cot

Coleman Trailhead II Cot

Specs

  • Weight 21 lbs.
  • Weight limit 300 lbs.
  • Unfolded dimensions 73 in. x 35 in. x 17 in. (L x W x H)
  • Packed dimensions 40 in. x 8 in. x 5 in. (approx.)
  • Best use Car camping
The Best Camping Cots of 2023

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Roomy
  • Side pockets

Cons

  • Large packing size
  • Heavy
  • Assembly requires some muscle
Best King-Size Cot

Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Camp Cot

Specs

  • Weight 26 lbs.
  • Weight limit 600 lbs.
  • Unfolded dimensions 85.7 in. x 41 in. x 19.2 in. (L x W x H)
  • Packed dimensions 42 in. x 12 in. x 7 in.
  • Best Use Accommodating two sleepers
The Best Camping Cots of 2023

Pros

  • Huge sleep space
  • Easy assembly
  • Pairs with Outfitter XXL Camp Pad

Cons

  • Large packing size
  • Heavy
  • Doesn’t fit in smaller tents
Best Lightweight Camping Cot

Helinox Lite Cot

Specs

  • Weight 2 lbs., 12 oz.
  • Weight limit 265 lbs.
  • Unfolded dimensions 72.5 in. x 23.5 in. x 5 in. (L x W x H)
  • Packed dimensions 20.5 in. x 5 in. x 5 in.
  • Best use Backpacking
The Best Camping Cots of 2023

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Packable
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Price
  • Lots of pieces (6 poles and cot)
  • Muscles necessary for setup/breakdown
  • Can not use leg extensions on this model
Best Bunk Bed Cot

Disc-O-Bed

Specs

  • Weight 72 lbs. (36 lbs. per bed)
  • Weight limit 1,000 lbs. (500 lbs. per cot)
  • Unfolded dimensions (per cot) 79 in. x 28 in. (L x W)
  • Total height 36 in.
  • Packed dimensions 34 in. x 16 in. x 11 in.
  • Best use Dome-style tent camping
The Best Camping Cots of 2023

Pros

  • Huge
  • Comfortable and sturdy
  • Bunk style saves floor space

Cons

  • Heaviest cot on this list
  • Only works in larger dome-style tents
Best Cot for Taller Campers

Klymit Cedar Mesa Cot

Specs

  • Weight 16 lbs. for L/18 lbs. for XL
  • Weight limit 400 lbs.
  • Unfolded dimensions 80 in. x 31 in. x 16 in. for L; 85.5 in. x 37 in. x 16 in. for XL (L x W x H)
  • Packed dimensions 19 x 13 x 7.5 in.
  • Best use Car camping for taller users
The Best Camping Cots of 2023

Pros

  • Packing case and size is convenient
  • Comfortable
  • Simple assembly
  • Capacity and length ideal for plus-size users

Cons

  • Long size may not fit in smaller tents or cars
  • Tough to fully insert sidebars into cot corners
Best Cot for Vehicle Sleeping

REI Co-op Trailgate Vehicle Sleeping Platform

Specs

  • Weight 31 lbs. (25"), 45 lbs. (40")
  • Weight limit 250 lbs. (25"), 400 lbs. (40")
  • Unfolded dimensions 72" x 25" x 10.7-30.5" (25"), 72" x 40" x 10.7-30.5" (40")
  • Packed dimensions 31.5" x 19" x 13" (25"), 40" x 18.5" x 14" (40")
  • Best use Converting your daily driver into a comfortable nest for the night
The Best Camping Cots of 2023

Pros

  • Simple assembly for on-the-fly setup
  • Good adjustability to accommodate different seat and foot-well heights
  • Foam cushion is comfy and easy to clean
  • Available in both 25" and 40" widths

Cons

  • Won't adapt to every vehicle seamlessly
  • Not too much storage underneath
Best of the Rest

Coleman Airbed Twin Cot

Specs

  • Weight 14 lbs.
  • Weight limit 300 lbs.
  • Unfolded dimensions 74 in. x 40 in. x 23.5 in. (L x W x H)
  • Packed dimensions 38 in. x 11 in. x 9 in.
  • Best use Long-term car camping
The Best Camping Cots of 2023

Pros

  • Sturdy frame
  • Very comfortable
  • Not prone to leaks

Cons

  • Bulky
  • Difficult to wash

FLATED Air-Deck

Specs

  • Total weight 17 lbs.
  • Weight limit 500 lbs.
  • Unfolded dimensions 72 in. x 53 in. x 4 in.
  • Packed dimensions 32 x 18 in.
  • Best use Truck bed camping
The Best Camping Cots of 2023

Pros

  • Very lightweight solution to truck bed camping
  • Impressive rigidity over a broad expanse
  • Inflation is a simple affair
  • Rugged deck material is silly tough

Cons

  • Non-adjustable height means you get the headroom you get
  • Side pockets too snug to get much into/out of

ALPS Mountaineering ReadyLite Cot

Specs

  • Total weight 5 lbs.
  • Weight limit 300 lbs.
  • Unfolded dimensions 78 in. x 28 in. x 6 in.
  • Packed dimensions 18 in. x 3 in. x 8 in.
  • Best use Limited-space camping and travel
The Best Camping Cots of 2023

Pros

  • Very packable cot
  • Ability to add an inflatable or foam mattress
  • Impressive weight capacity

Cons

  • Tough to seat crossbars
  • Not very high off the ground

Cabela’s Big Outdoorsman Cot

Specs

  • Total weight 31 lbs., 4.8 oz.
  • Weight limit 600 lbs.
  • Unfolded dimensions 85 in. x 40 in. x 20 in.
  • Packed dimensions 44.7 in. x 6.7 in. x 7.9 in.
  • Best use Cabin or yurt camping
The Best Camping Cots of 2023

Pros

  • Huge footprint
  • Lever system helps with set up
  • Thick durable fabric

Cons

  • Heaviest single-person cot on the list
  • Three pieces (2 extra poles)
  • It rocks back and forth a bit

King Camp Folding Cot

Specs

  • Total weight 12 lbs., 6 oz.
  • Weight limit 265 lbs.
  • Unfolded dimensions 74.8 in. x 26.8 in. x 18.9 in.
  • Packed dimensions 41.3 in. x 9.1 in. x 6.7 in.
  • Best use Car camping
The Best Camping Cots of 2023

Pros

  • Simple set up
  • Hanging pocket with three compartments
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Can not be adjusted flat (head always tilted up)
  • Water bottle pocket can only fit small bottles

Coleman Camping Cot With Side Table

Specs

  • Total weight 20 lbs.
  • Weight limit 300 lbs.
  • Unfolded dimensions 80 in. x 44 in. x 32 in. (L x W x H)
  • Packed dimensions 41 in. x 6.3 in. x 6.3 in.
  • Best use Hike-in campsite camping
The Best Camping Cots of 2023

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Small pack size
  • Attached table and cupholder

Cons

  • Too firm for some users
  • Legs don’t lock into position

Coleman ComfortSmart Cot

Specs

  • Weight 20 lbs.
  • Weight limit 275 lbs.
  • Unfolded dimensions 80 in. x 30 in. x 15 in. (L x W x H)
  • Packed dimensions ‎33.6 in. x 25.2 in. x 5.5 in.
  • Best use Car camping
The Best Camping Cots of 2023

Pros

  • Soft mattress
  • Easy to set up

Cons

  • Bulky
  • Heavy

Kamp-Rite Kwik Cot

Specs

  • Total weight 19 lbs.
  • Weight limit 300 lbs.
  • Unfolded dimensions 79 in. x 29 in. x 19 in. (L x W x H)
  • Packed dimensions 39 in. x 8 in. x 7 in.
  • Best use Car camping
The Best Camping Cots of 2023

Pros

  • Sturdy
  • Does not creak or squeak
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Stiff fabric

Camping Cot Comparison Chart

Camping CotTotal WeightWeight LimitUnfolded Dimensions
(L x W x H)
Packed Dimensions
REI Co-op Kingdom
Cot 3
20 lbs.300 lbs.82 in. x 31.5 in. x 14 in.33 in. x 32 in. x 8.5 in.
Coleman Trailhead II Cot21 lbs.300 lbs.73 in. x 35 in. x 17 in.40 in. x 8 in. x 5 in.
Teton Sports Outfitter
XXL Camp Cot
26 lbs.600 lbs.85.7 in. x 41 in. x 19.2 in.42 in. x 12 in. x 7 in.
Helinox Lite Cot2 lbs., 12 oz.265 lbs.72.5 in. x 23.5 in. x 5 in.20.5 in. x 5 in. x 5 in.
Disc-O-Bed36 lbs. per bed500 lbs. per cot79 in. x 28 in. (L x W)34 in. x 16 in. x 11 in.
Klymit Cedar Mesa Cot16 lbs. for L400 lbs.80 in. x 31 in. x 16 in. 19 in. x 13 in. x 7.5 in.
REI Co-op Trailgate Vehicle Sleeping Platform31 – 45 lbs. 250 – 400 lbs. 72 in. x 25 in. x 10.7-30.5 in.31.5 in. x 19 in. x 13 in.
ALPS Mountaineering ReadyLite Cot5 lbs.300 lbs.78 in. x 28 in. x 6 in.18 in. x 3 in. 8 in.
FLATED Air-Deck
25 lbs.500 lbs.72 in. x 53 in. x 4 in.32 x 18 in.
Cabela’s Big Outdoorsman Cot31 lbs., 4.8 oz.600 lbs.85 in. x 40 in. x 20 in.44.7 in. x 6.7 in. x 7.9 in.
King Camp Folding Cot12 lbs., 6 oz.265 lbs.74.8 in. x 26.8 in. x 18.9 in.41.3 in. x 9.1 in. x 6.7 in.
Coleman Camping
Cot with Side Table
20 lbs.300 lbs.80 in. x 44 in. x 32 in.41 in. x 6.3 in. x 6.3 in.
Coleman ComfortSmart
Cot
20 lbs.275 lbs.80 in. x 30 in. x 15 in.33.6 in. x 25.2 in. x 5.5 in.
Kamp-Rite Kwik Cot19 lbs.300 lbs.79 in. x 29 in. x 19 in.15.1 in. x 40 in. x 22.6 in.
Camping Cot and Tent Set Up
When you’ve got the space, camping cots are one of the easiest ways to boost the comfort of your camping trip; (photo/Josh Boulton)

Why You Should Trust Us

The GearJunkie team includes a broad spectrum of outdoor enthusiasts. From hunters and anglers to overlanders and rock climbers, there is one characteristic that we all have in common: a multitude of nights spent sleeping outside. Over many years, we’ve tried just about every sleep system for camping, and cots remain a tried-and-true favorite.

Tester Meghan LaHatte is no stranger to the camping scene as she has lived in rural Colorado for the past 6 years. As an avid climber, hiker, and biker, Meghan knows the importance of a good night’s rest under the stars before those action-packed days. She assisted in updating this guide by testing cots during a camping trip on Kebler Pass this past summer.

This list of recommendations is the result of thorough testing and careful comparison. When we test camping cots, we consider numerous factors, including durability, weight, value, and most of all — comfort. It’s impossible to gauge the quality of a cot without actually sleeping on it. We did our due diligence and caught some Zs on numerous cots until we identified the best.

Camper Laying On Top of the Helinox Lite Cot Inside Tent
Testing camping cots is hard work, but someone has got to do it; (photo/Justin La Vigne)

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Camping Cot

The question of camping cots versus sleeping pads depends on how you plan to travel. Consider how you plan to use your sleeping system and look at the options below.

Camping Cots vs. Sleeping Pads

Camping Cots

Camping cots elevate you off the ground, providing a softer night’s sleep. They also help to prevent the cold ground from chilling you as you sleep.

They also provide a much larger sleeping space. This makes it less likely that you’ll roll off of it in the middle of the night. However, cots tend to be heavy, and they’re much bulkier than sleeping pads. This makes the majority of them less than ideal for portable use.

For people who only sleep a short distance from their cars, camping cots are a great choice. Since they won’t be hauling their cots far, the added weight and bulk aren’t as much of an issue.

In this case, comfort and ease of setup are generally the biggest concerns. Because camping cots are generally a closer approximation to the average bed, they are usually more comfortable than sleeping pads.

Alps Mountaineering ReadyLite Cot
While sleeping pads boast built in cushioning, they’ll always only be a few inches off the ground, while cots provide a more elevated experience; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

Sleeping Pads

Sleeping pads are much lighter and more compressible than cots. They are also generally softer than cots that don’t have integrated cushioning.

However, they do require you to sleep on the ground. This exposes you to the ground’s hardness and can let cold transfer from the ground into your sleeping bag.

Because backpackers have to carry all of their gear with them while they hike, weight and packed size are huge considerations. Many backpackers are willing to sacrifice the added comfort of a camping cot for lighter and more packable sleeping pads.

Many pads are also designed to add some of the amenities that cots provide. Insulated pads are built for cold-weather camping. The insulation within the pad absorbs some of the cold coming from the ground, preventing it from sapping heat from your sleeping bag.

Inflatable sleeping pads keep you off the ground and allow you to sleep on a cushion. These are softer than non-cushioned camping cots but are usually louder, as the lightweight material can make a crunching sound when you move on it. The most common description is that it’s like sleeping on a bag of chips.

Intrigued by sleeping pads? Check out GearJunkie’s full gear guide to learn more.

FLATED Air-Deck with Inflatable Mattresses on top in Back of Toyota Tacoma
Many cots won’t be quite as comfortable as we’d all like, and adding a foam or inflatable sleeping pad goes a long way to adding cushion; (photo/Erika Courtney)

Camping Cots & Sleeping Pads

If luxury is the goal and weight isn’t an option, a camping cot plus a sleeping pad is the way to go. A camping cot paired with a foam sleeping pad provides the best of both worlds.

The cot will elevate you off the ground and give you a bigger space to sleep on, while the pad adds a good amount of softness. It’s similar to the function of the box springs and mattress of your bed at home.

If you want to combine a cot and a pad, check to see if the cot you’re looking at has an add-on pad. Some companies offer pads designed specifically to work with certain cots. This ensures that your pad will fit perfectly with your cot. Some also have securing systems to attach the pad to the cot, which prevents it from moving around or sliding off while you sleep. For a cozy, all-in-one pad and cot option, check out the REI Kingdom Cot 3.

Ease of Setup

Any piece of gear is useless if you can’t set it up. The bed of a cot is generally composed of a material that is stretched tight over a frame that supports your body.

Pulling the material tight enough to support your weight requires a good amount of tension. Many people find it challenging to pull the last section of material over the frame, often requiring help from another person to pull with enough strength.

In our experience testing these cots, we’ve found that the smaller a cot packs down, the more complicated it is to set up. Generally, there are more pieces to put together, and there are more parts that have to be secured to create and maintain tension. Also, there are often snap-together or folding sections that can pinch your fingers if you’re not careful.

Setting up Camping Cot
Putting together the Klymit Cedar Mesa Cot goes easy with the snap-down crossbars; (photo/Josh Boulton)

We’ve even had a tester make the mistake of trying to assemble a backpacking cot with his down sleeping bag lying on top of it. In the process, he snapped two pieces together over the sleeping bag material, causing a small tear in the bag.

The result was clouds of fine down puffing out and filling the air in the tent every time the bag moved, which led to a late-night search for duct tape (and a lot of swearing).

As is often the case when it comes to gear, there is always a tradeoff when it comes to how easy a camping cot is to set up. In general, the bigger and bulkier a cot is, the easier it is to set up. Smaller cots require more pieces to be broken down, but they weigh less and pack smaller. Larger cots are harder to carry around, but they usually require one or two steps to set up.

Some cots are engineered with state-of-the-art technologies that make them easier to assemble, especially for people needing more accessible designs and applications. These technologies include easy-lock mechanisms, adjustable springs, and pop-out assemblies.

Decide whether you prefer convenience or mobility, and choose the best cot for your needs. On this list, both the King Camp Folding Cot and the Coleman ComfortSmart Cot stand out for their quick and easy setup.

Camping Cot Assembly
Some assembly is required with camping cots, but they are all the sweeter to sleep on; (photo/Josh Boulton)

Comfort

Again, there’s a tradeoff here. Larger camp cots with plenty of space and padding are universally more comfortable. However, they’re all but impossible to pack with you on a long hike or backpacking trip. Although smaller camp cots are a lot more mobile, they lack the frills and creature comforts of a larger cot. Below are a few ways you can consider your first or next camping cot in terms of comfort.

Some cots require you to pair your sleeping pad with them for optimal use, while others even have integrated pads attached to the cot itself. Adding a sleeping pad to your camping cot setup can help increase the warmth and comfort of your setup — especially if you are used to sleeping on your pad alone anyway. 

Cots that don’t necessarily require an added sleeping pad tend to have the feel of laying in a hammock. The fabric should be stretchy enough that your body is comfortably supported, but not totally lacking in structure that you feel like you’re sinking in. We felt that the Disc-O-Bed performed well in this instance. 

REI Co-op Kingdom Cot 3
With a simple flip, the REI Kingdom Cot 3 is ready for a night under the stars; (photo/Andrew Potter)

When considering the comfort of a camping cot, it’s also wise to think about its overall size. If you tend to toss and turn or sprawl out when sleeping, snagging a wider or double-size cot would probably be the best choice for you. King-size cots like the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Camp Cot are crucial if you are planning on sharing your cot too. 

Finally, it is easy to forget about height from the ground when shopping around for a camping cot. Because you’re elevated off the ground, you won’t feel any protruding rocks, sticks or lumps as you normally would sleeping on the tent floor.

The airflow under your cot even helps regulate body temperature by keeping you cool when it’s warm and protecting you from the frosty ground during the winter. When considering height off the ground, keep in mind that a shorter cot would be better suited for camping in a car, whereas a taller one can work best inside of a taller dome-style tent.

If you’re going backpacking, comfort is secondary to ease of transport. Ideally, you’re going to want to go with a cot that is lightweight and packs down to a manageable size. If you’re camping next to your car, comfort is a priority, so consider the additional details below.

From this list, we’d consider the Coleman Airbed Twin Cot among the most comfortable camp cots on the market due to its extra cushiony application.

Woman Reading on the King Camp Folding Cot Inside Cabin
Camping cots vary in comfort, and the length and intensity of your trip will determine what type of cot you can afford to carry with you; (photo/Justin La Vigne)

Warmth

It’s worth noting that sleeping on a camping cot is much like sleeping in a camping hammock. Without the insulation of the ground underneath, you’re more likely to become cold. It’s important to either bring an under quilt or pair your cot with an insulated sleeping pad.

Camping cots with integrated sleeping pads will typically be warmer than those without as the extra cushioning helps you insulate body temp. These thicker pads like the one found on the  REI Co-op Kingdom Cot 3 paired with a warm sleeping pad would keep you plenty cozy during some winter camping action, but the thinner pad on the Coleman ComfortSmart Cot would be best for summer camping if you don’t need the extra insulation. 

Camping cots without attached sleeping pads are great for fully customizing your sleeping setup so you don’t get too frigid or toasty while trying to catch those Z’s. What we love about the ALPS Mountaineering ReadyLite Cot is the option to insert a sleeping pad into the platform, making for a secure fit that will keep your body plenty insulated without slipping out from under you. 

Whatever you decide when considering warmth in a camping cot, it’s always wise to bring extra sleeping bags, blankets and insulation, especially if you’re winter car camping. You can always shed a few layers, but there’s not much you can do if you haven’t brought the correct provisions to stay cozy.

Sleep Area

Before buying a cot, you’ll want to first ensure that the cot is big enough for you to sleep on without resting on the frame. Most cots are long enough to fit people as tall as 6 feet and run just over 2 feet wide.

If you’re on the taller or wider side, many cots such as the Klymit Cedar Mesa Cot offer XL or XXL versions. These cots are generally longer and wider to accommodate larger people.

On this list, the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Camp Cot offers a whopping 81 inches from head to toe. If you’re not sure whether a cot will fit you, look for the specifications online. The specs page will show the cot’s dimensions, so you’ll be able to see whether it’s a good fit for you.

Teton Sports Camp Cots offer a large sleep area for a significant boost in comfort; (photo/Teton Sports)

Cushioning

Most cots don’t have cushioning — the sleeping area is a piece of material like polyester fabric stretched tight to provide support. Many campers find these cots to be too firm, so they’ll add a sleeping pad of some kind to provide cushioning.

If you’d prefer to sleep on something that feels like your bed at home or want an extra bed for visiting folks, look for a cot that comes with cushioning attached, such as the Coleman Airbed Twin Cot, or the REI Kingdom Cot 3.

Weight & Packed Size

Most of the camping cots on the market are designed for car camping, where pack size and weight are less of an issue. Camping cots tend to be on the larger side, weighing anywhere from 12 pounds on the lower end to around 30 pounds on the higher end.

Many elements such as material, fabric, and design factor into the weight of a camping cot. Camping cot frames made with heavier metals like steel will be heavier than those made of aluminum. Cot fabrics like canvas and polyester tend to add on weight compared to lighter nylon and mesh. Consider where you’ll be using your camping cot and how the overall design may affect your ability to carry into your campsite or backpack with it across the wilderness. 

Speaking of packing, some of these cots are better suited to just be tossed in a car rather than packed in a backpack or duffel. While we absolutely loved the Coleman ComfortSmart Cot, we found that its 20-pound packed size was quite cumbersome and really only ideal to throw in the trunk if there was room. 

On the other end of the spectrum, some camping cots can pack as small as a camp chair or sleeping bag, making it worth it to throw in your backpack for a longer mileage excursion. The ultralight Helinox Lite Cot really soared on this front as it only weighs in at 2 pounds, 12 ounces and fit superbly in our backpacks without taking up too much real estate.

The ultralight Helinox Lite Cot is gossamer enough to take on certain hike-in trips; (photo/Justin La Vigne)

Car Camping

If you plan on camping next to your car, the main thing to consider is how much space you have available in your mode of transportation, and whether you’ll have enough room for your cots and the rest of your gear. If you have ample space, comfort often becomes the first priority.

Choose the biggest, cushiest cot you can find, and don’t worry about the weight. Just make sure you have enough room in your car for it.

Our go-to choice for cushy car camping? The ultra-adaptable REI Co-op Trailgate Vehicle Sleeping Platform. And if you’re looking to shack up in the truck bed? Go for the set-and-forget ease of the FLATED Air-Deck.

REI Co-op Trailgate Vehicle Cot Side View
The adjustable legs of the REI Co-op Trailgate Cot are made to adapt to a variety of different vehicle backseats; (photo/Katie Griffith)

Hike-In Camping

People who camp in spots that require a short hike from the car have additional considerations. If you have to hike to your campsite, make sure that your camping cot is light enough to carry to the site. Also, ensure that the cot isn’t too bulky to carry alongside the other necessary gear.

Look for a camping cot that is stowed in a bag, preferably one with handles or a shoulder strap. You’ll be thankful for details like this when it’s time to hike your gear from your car to the campsite.

The Klymit Cedar Mesa Cot is a superb choice if you’re looking for a camping cot that’s light enough to carry without getting winded. The included handled carrying case made setting up camp super easy and convenient without too many trips hauling gear from the car.

Klymit Cedar Mesa Camping Cot in Tent
The Cedar Mesa Cot balances overall comfort with a compact carrying size; (photo/Josh Boulton)

Backpacking

In general, camping cots are not very compatible with backpacking. Cots are heavy and bulky — two words that backpackers avoid at all costs.

If backpacking is your primary style of camping, and you absolutely must sleep on a cot, consider one of the lightweight cots we profile above. The Helinox Lite Cot or ALPS Mountaineering ReadyLite cots are light enough to take into the backcountry, but are still comfortable enough to sleep on if you occasionally go car camping.

Durability

Durability varies widely with camping cots. We’ve found that there’s a proportional relationship between weight and durability with this type of gear. Generally, the heavier a cot is, the tougher it is.

Heavy car camping cots are made up of sturdy frames composed of steel or steel alloys. These heavier metals give the cot an exceptionally durable build. This makes them more resistant to drops, exhausted campers flopping down on them, roughhousing kids, and whatever other vigorous activities a bed might face.

Lighter cots have frames that are built with aluminum or some other lightweight material. The lighter weight is great for trekking it into the woods, but they’re often much more fragile.

Lightweight cot frames are sturdy enough to support campers’ weight while they sleep but must be treated with more respect. In our testing, we’ve found that these lighter-weight cots are best eased into when it’s time for bed.

If you’re camping next to your car and weight is no issue, you can opt for a heavier cot and rough it up a bit. On this list, the Coleman Trailhead II Cot is supremely durable, but it weighs a hefty 21 pounds. If a lighter, more packable cot like the King Camp Folding Cot better suits you, make sure that you’re more careful with it than you’d be with a 30-pound behemoth.

FLATED Air-Deck Camping Cot in Back of Toyota Tacoma
When it comes to durability, it’s hard to beat the extra tough exterior material of the FLATED Air-Deck; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

Accessories 

If you want to elevate your camping experience and maximize the functionality of your cot, consider the accessories that come included or as add-ons for an extra price. These accessories can include side tables, storage compartments, pockets, sleeping pads and other functional elements. 

We were impressed by the included side table and cup holder included with the Coleman’s Camping Cot with Side Table. Being able to have your water bottle, book and headlamp at arm’s length is a major plus. 

Really want to go all out with the accessories? Consider the customizable bunk bed style Disc-O-Bed. You can order this puppy with extra fabric cabinets, organizers and sleeping pads that heighten camping to an extra level of luxury. 

Price

The camping cots that we profile here represent an accurate sampling of the prices you’ll see when shopping for a cot. They vary in price from $45 to $80 for simple, no-frills models, but cots can reach $300 and above at the higher end. When shopping for a camping cot, weigh the options you need against how much money you have to spend.

If you want a simple cot to keep you off the ground when you sleep next to your car, start with the lowest-end cot and think about what you’d like to add to it. A simple car camping cot consists of a folding frame with material stretched over it and should cost somewhere south of $100. On this list, the Coleman Trailhead II is our Best Budget pick at just $55.

Want added cushioning or organization options? Be prepared to spend a little bit more on an upgraded option, somewhere in the range of $150-250.

Looking for a cot that is light and easy to carry into a walk-in campsite? These options will cost a little bit more because of the lightweight materials and design that go into the construction. These generally cost around $200-250 and can reach $300 and above with add-ons like rain flies or integrated tents.

Klymit Cot Loading into Tent
At $250 the Cedar Mesa is at the top of the price range, but provides a durable sleeping surface and sturdy legs for the price; (photo/Josh Boulton)

FAQ

What is the most comfortable camping cot?

Comfortable is a subjective term. It can depend on many things, such as how firm or soft you prefer your sleeping space, as well as whether you sleep on your back or side.

The most common complaint about camping outside is how firm sleeping systems are, so a cot with some cushioning is ideal. Our choice for the most comfortable is the Coleman Airbed Twin Cot for its soft cushioning, contouring, and adjustable incline settings.

Are cots good for camping?

Because they closely mimic the feel of sleeping in your bed at home, cots are an extremely comfortable option for car camping. Once assembled, most camping cots can easily be thrown in your tent, car, or under the stars. However, as we’ve stated above, traditional camping cots are too heavy and bulky for backpacking.

There are a few ultralight “backpacking cots,” but many backpackers choose sleeping pads because they are lighter and more packable.

Is a cot more comfortable than an air mattress?

A good full-size air mattress is the closest you can get to sleeping on your bed at home. However, they are bulky, and they usually require an external power source to fully inflate. They are also difficult to clean after a camping trip.

Camping cots are often less comfortable than an air mattress but are more durable, easier to transport, and easier to set up. A high-quality cushioned camping cot can come close to, or even surpass, the comfort of an air mattress, plus they take much less time to set up.

How wide is a camping cot?

Many of the camping cots that we have tested are generally around 25 inches in width. This is wide enough for most campers. If you need a wider cot, many cots offer larger versions for bigger sleepers. These can range from 30 inches to over 40 inches in width. The 40-inch Cabela’s Big Outdoorsman Cot is a perfect example.

How do I wash my camping cot?

If your camping trip had some unexpected moisture or your mud-covered pup hopped up on your camping cot for some snuggles, you’ll probably want to take careful measures to give it a good cleanup once home. 

Before attempting to wash your camping cot, be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions first as there could be some guidelines or restrictions pertaining to your cot’s materials. If you’ve only got some small stains or dirt on your cot, we recommend spot cleaning prior to doing a full-on wash down. This can be accomplished by putting some mild dish soap on a cloth and lightly dabbing the material before applying some water. 

If spot cleaning won’t quite do the job, check to see if your cot’s fabric materials are machine or hand washable. Be sure to avoid using any harsh detergents, bleach, or high heat. When drying be sure to hang dry your cot out of any direct sunlight that could potentially cause the fabric to fade or damage the finishes. 

For cleaning the metal legs and hinges, we recommend wiping them down with a damp cloth and promptly drying them with a towel to avoid any rusting or long-term damage to the mechanisms. 

Keeping your camping cot clean and stored in a dry place will ensure its longevity for many camping trips to come.

The Best Camping Tents of 2023
Tents

The Best Camping Tents of 2023

Make the most of your home away from home by choosing the best camping tent for your adventure. We found the top car camping and family camping tents for every budget and use.

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