If you love camping, but aren’t crazy about sleeping on the cold, hard ground, a camping cot is just what the doctor ordered. They offer added comfort, and come in all styles and sizes.
The Quick Answer
After hours of research and side by side comparison, we’ve concluded that the all-around best camping cot for most people is the Coleman ComfortSmart Deluxe Camping Cot.
It offers a comfortable foam mattress, coil suspension, and can support up to 300 pounds. And even better, it can be purchased on Amazon for right around $60.
Camping Cot Comparison
Just to make your life easy, here’s a quick glance at the important features of the best camping cots, and how they stack up against each other.
To see even more detailed reviews and our buying guide, keep reading below the comparison.
Camping Cot Reviews
You can’t be all things to all people. The same is true of camping cots. We understand this, which is why we put together this guide.
For 90 percent of the people reading this, our overall top pick will be fantastic. However, if you are looking for a cot with something specific in mind, the reviews below will give you a brief look at the best camping cot in each category. Each one is highlighted with a specific use case in mind (best for backpacking, kids, budget pick, etc).
Overall Pick: Coleman ComfortSmart Deluxe Cot
As mentioned above, the Coleman ComfortSmart Deluxe Cot offers some solid upside at an affordable price point. It combines both a padded mattress and coil springs to bring new meaning to the phrase “a good night’s rest.”
The steel frame folds easily for a hassle free setup and takedown, and it transports easily in the trunks of most cars. With dimensions of 80″ L x 30″ W x 15″ H, it can accommodate campers up to 6’6″ tall, and an ample weight limit of 300 pounds
On the negative side, the construction is somewhat bulky and heavy, and definitely doesn’t lend itself to backpacking or ultralight camping.
- Size: 80 x 30 x 15 inches
- Product Weight: 16.5 pounds
- Frame: Steel
- Additional Support: Coil suspension and mattress pad
- Weight Limit: 300 lbs.
- Pros: Budget sensitive price point and comfy suspension
- Cons: Weight and bulky transport
- Who It’s best for: Average sized adults looking for an entry level car camping cot
*If you’re looking for a cot for a child or more petite adult, you should check out the original Coleman ComfortSmart Cot. It was built to accommodate campers up to 5’7″ tall.
Best Backpacking Cot: Thermarest Luxurylite Cot
If you’re looking for a backpacking cot, look no further than the Thermarest Luxurylite Cot. One of the first things that you will love about this cot, is the extremely pack friendly product weight–just over 3 pounds (even less if you opt for the smaller size)! And it’s not just weight either–the Luxurylite also breaks down into an extremely compact carrying case to maximize efficiency.
Apart from it’s backpacker friendly stature, the other thing you’ll immediately notice is the absence of crossbars digging into your sides and back when you lay on the cot. This is because Thermarest uses a bow frame technology to support weight without touching the surface of the cot.
One gripe some backpackers have with this cot is the effort needed to snap the frame together during setup. It’s understandable that this could be frustrating (Hey, the last thing anybody wants to do after 12 miles on the trail is mess with their cot!). However, what we’ve found is that is doesn’t have to be overly difficult.
Check out this brief setup video, and you’ll see what we mean (try not to be distracted by the level 10 beard):
Despite a slightly more complicated setup then folding cots, the savings in weight and bulk is completely worth it to us. In this life there are always trade-offs, and this is one we like.
- Size: 26 x 77 x 4.5 inches
- Product Weight: 3.125 lbs.
- Frame: Aluminum & Nylon
- Fabric: Mesh
- Additional Support: None
- Weight Limit: 325 lbs.
- Pros: Lightweight and compact
- Cons: Slightly more complicated setup
- Who It’s best for: The backpacking crew that wants something more than a sleep pad
Best Queen Size Cot: Coleman Queen Airbed
If you have the audacity to want to go camping with a queen size cot…. good for you! Why shouldn’t you be able to camp the way you want to camp? While elsewhere on the interwebs people taunt and make fun of the regal queen size, we support it!
In this category, The Coleman Queen Airbed Cot is the clear winner. Because it is a bit of a specialty item, there are actually very few manufacturers even producing a queen sized cot. One of the greatest things about this system is that you are purchasing both the cot AND the air mattress, so if you ever need to, you could actually separate the two for even more sleeping space.
Its sturdy steel frame can generously support up to 600 pounds, and the airbed also includes the pump to inflate and deflate the mattress. Finally, it’s AirTight mattress technology is guaranteed not to leak, and it even comes with a 1 year warranty.
Though an obvious one, the main drawback is it’s lack of portability. Both frame and mattress take up a fair amount of space. Due to its size, the Coleman Queen is best suited to car camping, or as a temporary bed to setup for indoor situations. This could be a house guest, or perhaps a short term rental that doesn’t include furnishings. So if you are looking for a cot that can travel with you, this isn’t it.
- Size: 22 x 59 x 78 inches
- Product Weight: 43.3 pounds (shipping weight)
- Frame: Steel
- Fabric: Unspecified
- Additional Support: Includes ComfortStrong coil air mattress
- Weight Limit: 600 lbs.
- Pros: Accommodations for 2 with easy setup
- Cons: Lack of portability
- Who It’s best for: Car campers, and people wanting a short term or guest bed for indoors.
Double Camping Cot: Kamp Rite Double Tent Cot
The Kamp Rite Double Tent Cot is quite literally a double cot. Unlike cots set up with special frames in the bunkbed style the Kamp Rite just looks like you took 2 cots and smashed them together (if you’re specifically looking for stackable cots, check out our review on them here).
But hey, good on em! It doesn’t need to be fancy to get the job done, and in this case, the simplicity actually won our vote. With its compact storage size, no-hassle setup, and ample 85 x 55 inch surface area, this cot is an excellent choice for campers that need space for two.
It should be noted that there is a rail running down the center, that divides the 2 sections. Some folks are simply looking for a bigger cot to use for 1 person–this isn’t a good option for you. You would be better served by getting a queen sized cot, instead of a double like this.
- Size: 85 x 55 inch (surface area)
- Product Weight: 35 lbs.
- Frame: Metal (unspecified) with plastic joints
- Fabric: Unspecified
- Additional Support: None
- Weight Limit: 550 lbs.
- Pros: Solid construction and easy setup
- Cons: Rail down the center prevents solo campers from taking advantage of the additional space
- Who It’s best for: Pairs of campers who prefer a minimal, modestly priced cot
(p.s if you’re looking specifically for camping cots for 2 people, see our recommendations here.)
Best Kid Camping Cot: Regalo My Cot
Maybe you’ll be camping with kids who would like (or need!) a camping cot. The Regalo My Cot has you covered. With over 5,000 reviews on Amazon, and a lifetime 4.4/5 stars, the Regalo is everything you hope your kid’s camping cot would be. It’s constructed of durable steel and canvas, it sets up in seconds, and even has a machine washable fitted sheet.
This cot also sits just 9 inches off the ground, making it perfect for those kiddos that may roll off mid-sleep (or Superman!). Comes with a carrying case and supports up to 75 pounds. What’s not to love?
In addition to camping, this cot makes a great little utility bed for day care, sleepovers, or trips to grandma’s house.
- Size: 54 x 28 x 12 inches
- Product Weight: 6.25 lbs.
- Frame: Steel
- Fabric: Canvas
- Additional Support: None
- Weight Limit: 75 lbs.
- Pros: Compact, inexpensive, and durable
- Cons: None that we could find
- Who It’s best for: Younger children (roughly 2-5)
Best Lightweight Camping Cot: Helinox Cot Lite
This sucker is extremely light (that’s what you wanted right?)! At just 2.6 pounds, the Helinox Cot Lite is our pick for the best lightweight cot. With the Helinox, you get a comfortable denier construction, at a fraction of the weight. Pack it up, pack it in, and hit the trail!
If you’re an ultralight backpacker who’s looking for more support than a sleeping pad, but can’t afford to add much to your backpack in the way of weight or volume, the Helinox is perfect for you. Its tension lock handles, and durable frame poles keep it extremely light, yet sturdy enough to support up to 265 pounds.
One consideration to keep in mind is that the cot only sits 5 inches off the ground. So if the terrain is rocky, bumpy, or covered in tufts of grass, your body could actually be touching these while you lay on the cot. If you’ll be camping in the open air, and are concerned about putting space between you and possible bugs or critters, this cot doesn’t win the blue ribbon in that department.
- Size: 5 x 73 x 24 inches
- Product Weight: 2.6 lbs.
- Frame: Aluminum
- Fabric: Polyester Denier
- Additional Support: None
- Weight Limit: 265 lbs.
- Pros: Extremely lightweight and portable
- Cons: Close proximity to the ground when sleeping, and a moderate weight limit
- Who It’s best for: Ultralight backpackers who tally every ounce
Best Tent Cot: Kamp Rite Oversize Tent Cot
Maybe you were hoping you could find a combination of a tent and a cot. Well… you can. The Kamp Rite Oversize Tent Cot is just the thing for you. This sturdy cot features a tent covering, affixed directly to the cot. So wherever your cot is, your tent is also. A tent cot is a great way to keep yourself covered from the possibility of rain, and elevated above bugs, snakes, and other critters.
The beauty of this cot is the time savings. In just a minute or two, you can completely set up your entire “camp.” frame on this sucker can actually be affixed in different positions, so it can be used as a chair, a lounge, or laid flat as a cot.
Don’t want a tent for one night? Collapse the tent completely and lay on top of it like you would a normal cot. The tent also has screened “No See Um” doors, to keep it 100% insect-proof, while still maintaining 360 degree airflow (critical for summer camping in many parts of the world!).
- Size: 90 x 32 x 36 inches
- Product Weight: 25 lbs.
- Frame: Aluminum
- Fabric: Cordura (cot surface)
- Additional Support: Foam pad
- Weight Limit: 350 lbs.
- Pros: Easy setup quickly kills 2 birds with 1 stone
- Cons: Even with screening, retains heat in warm conditions.
- Who It’s best for: No fuss car campers that want easy comfort.
Best of The Cheap Camping Cots: Mountain Trails Basecamp Cot
If price is the absolute most important consideration, we recommend the Mountain Trails Base Camp Cot. Flying low at right around $40, this cot offers lightweight construction, durability and comfort, at an extremely modest price point.
As opposed to a lot of bulky folding cots, the Basecamp also keeps things tidy by utilizing a streamlined frame system, which can be easily assembled and disassembled. As mentioned above, the price is definitely right, and for the Amazoners in the house, it also has free Prime shipping.
One potential chink in the armor comes in the form of a slightly lower weight limit. A maximum weight rating of 225 pounds may not be quite enough for some campers (although it’s hardly stingy if you consider its lightweight construction).
- Size: 75 x 30 x 7.5 inches
- Product Weight: 9.8 lbs
- Frame: Steel
- Fabric: Polyester
- Additional Support: None
- Weight Limit: 225 lbs.
- Pros: Budget wise and space friendly
- Cons: Slightly lower weight limit
- Who It’s best for: Camping generalists looking for a budget friendly option
[Bonus] The Best Camping Cot Mattress: Teton Sports Camp Pad
Want to indulge even further in a little camping luxury? How about snagging yourself a camping cot mattress to use with your cot? This just screams “a good night’s rest.”
If this is you, than the Teton Sports Camp Pad is your new best friend. This comfy bedroll is constructed of open-cell polyurethane, so it offers great support and retains shape (think memory foam). It also has a convenient velcro pocket for stashing your phone, keys, flashlight, and other pocketables.
If all that wasn’t enough, it also has an affixed “roll assist” and compression buckles on the outside (rolling it up is always the worst part right?).
If you’re going to purchase a camping cot mattress, one thing to keep in mind is the size of your actual cot. The Teton can come in several different sizes–make sure you get one that most appropriately fits your cot.See It on Amazon
Buying Guide: What To Look For in Your Camping Cot
Like most things in this world, all cots are not created equal. And that’s a good thing. You wouldn’t want to have to use the same cot you take on your comfy car camping trips when you’re ultralight backpacking in the Sierras. Similarly, you obviously wouldn’t give your 6’4″, 220-pound friend the kid’s cot that your son uses for grandma’s house.
Accordingly then, because a cot isn’t “just a cot”, we put together this brief guide to help you in your decision. Each section touches on one of the main things to consider with your next cot.
The first and biggest thing to think about is–how will you be using your cot? What will the weather, temperature, and climate conditions be like?
If you’ll be camping in the heat of summer, why not opt for a mesh fabric? If you’ll be using the cot for somebody that already doesn’t like camping and needs a positive experience, why not get them the most comfortable cot money can buy? If you have a week long trip coming up, but you know you’re really not somebody that camps a lot, don’t let the sales guy at REI talk you into something high end. If you’ll be using it on a backpacking trip, it needs to be smaller and lighter.
Some of this is common sense, but spend a few minutes being realistic with yourself about you will and (perhaps more importantly) won’t be doing.
Your cot doesn’t just need to fit you. It needs to fit your other equipment. This is one of the biggest things that people overlook. If you want to use your cot inside a tent, you should really set up your tent and then bust out a tape measure. Spend a minute making sure that you’ll have enough clearance with the ceiling and sides. If you need to get 2, 3, or 4 people in total, will it all still work?
To a lesser degree, you also need to think about this with your sleeping bag (and possibly sleeping pad). Most people will see the specifications of a cot, and say, “Great, I’m under 6 feet. This should work!” What they’re not thinking about is that they have an oversized sleeping bag that will now be hanging off the feet and sides. Not a deal-breaker for everybody, but hey, if you have the opportunity, why not get everything to fit as best as possible.
Packed Size and Weight
Going hand in hand with sizing your cot to your gear, you should also make sure you know exactly how small it breaks down. Does your cot fold up like a child’s pack ‘n play? Does it disassemble into small aluminum poles that can be sleekly tucked away in your pack?
The weight also, is an important consideration for a fair majority of readers. Most folks don’t want a cot that is overly heavy, and especially backpackers.
For campers that will be carrying their gear for any amount of time, portability is a big piece of the overall equation. It does you know good to score a terrific deal on a cot with high ratings if it is too big. Make sure this box is ticked early on, before you fall in love with a cot that won’t work for you.
For the most part, the frames on camping cots essentially fall into 3 categories: steel, aluminum, and a nylon plastic. Most entry level cot frames are made of steel. Steel is extremely sturdy, easy to work with, and is the perfect choice when weight is not a concern.
Because of its light weight, aluminum frames are typically seen on cots designed for backpacking or ultralight camping. Often these cots come at a higher price point. Aluminum still has incredible tensile strength, and is a great choice.
Nylon plastic (or other polymers) is an extremely cheap material, and can be easily manufactured en masse, but slightly inferior for a cot frame. It usually lends itself to bulkier cot frames that aren’t as portable. Exceptions to this are cases like the Thermarest, where nylon is used in conjunction with other frame pieces.
The fabric on cots can be made of several different materials–canvas, nylon, denier (polyester), mesh polymer, and more. There are even cots that don’t actually have a fabric sleeve per se. The Coleman ComfortSmart deluxe (our top pick) is one of these. Instead of a traditional sleeping surface of nylon or poly, the ComfortSmart makes use of a mattress pad that sits on top of a layer of coil springs.
As far as the hierarchy of fabrics go, deniers and nylons are considered the most “trick.” These fabrics are extremely lightweight, and everlastingly strong. In general, these are the fabrics that you should be targeting. Canvas or other cotton blends will retain dirt and stains more easily. Because cotton is hydrophilic and retains water, it also lends itself more towards mildew and microbial concerns in extremely humid climates.
Support: Padding, Springs, Straps and Bars
One of the most common complaints you will hear from cot campers is that their cot has uncomfortable support bars that their bodies rest unnaturally on during sleep. It is one of the things we look for and should be something you do to.
In order to get around this, manufacturers have engineered systems with straps or bow-like crossbars, to create separation between the campers body and the frame structure.
Additionally, many cots come with a foam sleeping pad, for added comfort and insulation. These are an awesome touch. Some manufacturers even go as far as to include air mattress type padding or even coil spring support.
Ease of Assembly
The general rule of thumb with assembly is that the more portable you want your cot to be, the harder it will be to assemble. It’s not rocket science, think about it: If you want a cot to break down into a bunch of small pieces for easier transport, those pieces are going to have to be reassembled when it comes time to set it up and sleep.
On the other hand, cots made for car camping or indoor use typically have folding or collapsible frames that are extremely easy to be set up. A good old fashioned trade off (industry term).
Money don’t grow on trees you know? Of course you know, or you’d just buy every cot and not bother reading this. Although lots of review websites shy away from mentioning price, and pretend like it doesn’t matter, it does.
The bulk of cots fall within the $30-$150 range, with a few outliers on either side. If you are a casual to moderate camper, there is absolutely no reason that you have to spend north of $60 to get a pretty solid cot. There are lots of basic models that come in less, that are sturdy and comfortable.
If you spend a pretty fair amount of time on the trail though, don’t feel bad about investing a little more in a really nice cot . A good nights rest is high on the camper’s hierarchy of needs (along with pampering your feet). Backpacking cots can range in the $100-$300 price markers, without breaking a sweat. This is because the fabrics, materials, and quality needed to keep things small and lightweight simply cost more.
Most folks won’t have too much trouble with this. Weight limits are not standard, but most fall around the 250 to 350-pound range. If weight is a consideration, don’t worry. Several manufacturers offer multiple sizes of the same model cot. In addition, many double cots or queen size cots are available on the market that have a significantly higher weight rating.
Camping Cots FAQ
Here is just a small cross section of some of the most frequently asked questions that we come across:
Do I really want (or need) a cot? What about an air mattress, camp pad, or hammock?
This is a good question, that we ultimately can’t decide for you. We can tell you though, that hammocks are for people that want the most structural support. Sleeping pads, hammocks, and even air mattresses are better for other reasons, but do not offer the same support.
Sleeping pads are a great option for their portability, and ease of setting up. The can be relatively comfortable, as well as cost friendly. Air mattresses are great for folks that want a little more space, a low price point, and a really soft sleeping surface. Hammocks are awesome for people that like to sleep in that position, and have been deemed by several as the “most comfortable” option, but they usually require a little bit more setup (i.e. trees, poles, or some kind of structure that can support your weight).
Are camping cots actually comfortable?
Yes, extremely. Sure there are bad apples in every bunch, but to anybody who’s spent a few nights sleeping flat on mother earth, cots are a dream. There’s a reason why people love them and continue to buy them en masse year after year. It would take a pretty bad cot to be worse than sleeping on the ground.
Are they difficult to set up?
Depends. Some (like the Thermarest above) do require a little more time and effort to put poles together and snap pieces into place, but they are completely doable. As with anything, setting up your cot once or twice before you do it in the wild is never a bad idea.
How do I stop my cot from poking holes in my tent?
This is a question that only affects some cot users. Many people opt to sleep under the stars on their cot, and even if you are wanting to bring your cot in the tent, it still depends on what kind of tent you have, what kind of feet your cot has, and what the ground is like underneath your cot.
Lightweighters worried about this problem can fold up shirts, pants, or other clothes to protect the tent floor from puncturing. You will hear of other folks that are worried about this that actually carry small squares of carpet, or even tennis balls to put on the feet (yes, just like people do with walkers).
How Do I Clean My Camping Cot?
Opinions range all over on this one. Some folks have mild disinfectants that they apply, others will hose down their cots on a sunny day, and then just let it air dry. Many cot coverings can be machine washed (check the instruction manual if you want to be sure). If your cot cannot be cleaned by machine washing, it’s possible that you can also bring the cot covering to a dry cleaners.
Our advice–it’s a frickin’ camping cot! Unless somebody died or gave birth on it, give it a quick wipe down and sleep on!
Want more camping gear? Check out our other reviews on: