Sure, it’s still a bold move to sleep on a bedroll like a cowboy riding the range, and it certainly will earn you plenty of machismo points, but when you’re spending your camping trip hunched over with a slipped disc, you’ll see how bad that idea is. For more comfort during your outdoor excursions, you should invest in a good camping cot or camping bed for a more comfortable night’s sleep that is higher and drier than you can get with just a sleeping pad. Even air mattresses can’t compare to the comfort of a good old cot.
Picking out a quality cot for camping is about finding one that is sturdy yet flexible enough to fold up, otherwise you might as well just tote your memory foam mattress around with you. Usually you want frames that are made of long-lasting materials, typically high-grade aluminum, steel, or titanium (if you don’t mind emptying out your savings). Get one with a durable cover that can be washed and will stand up to abuse and is long and wide enough for your body type. Or you could just trust our research and get one of the 7 best camping cots out there.
Pro: Very stable sleeping surface
Con: Will not retain shape for long
Dimensions: 75″ x 26″ x 16″
Budget Basic: While cots aren’t expensive by their very design, those at the lower end of the price spectrum tend to be more troublesome, often sowing more strife than restfulness. The Deluxe doesn’t jive with this pattern and uses stainless steel legs along with an aluminum frame for a camping cot that is easy to get into and out of, holds up to 250 lbs. and has a 600 denier polyester cover that resists wetness. The Deluxe even comes with its own carrying case that can be used as a bag for simpler storage.
Coleman ComfortSmart Deluxe
Pro: Easy unfolding setup
Con: Tends to be noisy
Dimensions: 80″ x 30″ x 15″
Pumped Padding: Padded camp cots are typically a mess. They break down easily, they’re bulky, and since a cot doesn’t usually have springs, they tend to lack longevity. REI used to make a very nice padded cot with a hammock build, but since it has abdicated the throne, the ComfortSmart has taken over. Able to hold up to 300 lbs. this includes foam mattress and has a lightweight spring coil base that stands up admirably over time. This is going to require more storage space, since it is more of a camping bed, but it will go in the trunk of most compacts without a fight.
Slumberjack Big Cot
Pro: Storage pouches included underneath
Con: Not made of ripstop material
Dimensions: 82″ x 32″ x 19″
Silence is Golden: One of the problems that come along with cots is the noise. They squeak, squeal, and rattle every time you shift, making them troublesome for the light sleeper and difficult for anyone forced to share a camping tent with it. The Slumberjack is not only larger than most, it also manages to use steel end bars in conjunction with an aluminum frame to keep noise way down. The cover itself is 600 x 300 denier polyester that breathes easily for summer comfort and can take 325 lbs. worth of weight. You can even get the lux model which comes with its own inflatable pad for more poof where needed.
Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Cot
Pro: Works with small mattresses and bedrolls
Con: End bars do not lock and can come loose
Dimensions: 85″ x 40″ x 19″
Most for the Money: This will literally give you the most bed for your buck, as it can handle sleepers nearly 7 feet tall and up to 600 lbs. You can easily pack a pair of welterweights onto this without a hitch, though getting frisky would still be ill-advised. The cover is true canvas which is harder to damage, difficult to rip, and easy to clean. It also won’t lose it’s tight figure after a few nights of rest. The support is handled by channeled aluminum bars atop strong steel legs that are light and adjust simply for fast setup.
Pro: Weighs 2 lbs. 12 oz.
Con: Support clips chip and snap, especially in the cold
Dimensions: 72″ x 24″ x 4.5″
Backpacker’s Bed: All right, you’re probably not going to actually want to try to cram this in alongside your backpacking tent, but we can attest that it can be done. It uses a bow frame design instead of legs so you aren’t dealing with crossbars, but rather a strange set of springy loops that put you scant inches off the ground. This makes the LuxuryLite ideal for rocky grounds since you’re up just far enough to avoid getting a pebble in your lumbar region but don’t need a tent with high clearance. Aluminum and nylon comprise the base and can take 325 lbs. The cover is a nylon laminate that is not true ripstop, but strongly rip resistant.
Pro: Lots of storage space
Con: Rain fly is not entirely waterproof
Dimensions: 90″ x 32″ x 40″
Total Package: Forget outfitting your vehicle with a rooftop camping tent. Car campers can get all the comfort and easy travel they need from this offering from Kamp-Rite. This is part tent, part cot, and part deck chair. 210 denier nylon makes up the tent and rain fly portion while the base is made of anti-vibration aluminum that stays reasonably steady even if you flop like a fish during the night. It sits very high off the ground, making it equally usable as a sitting surface as one for sleeping. Will keep all manner of animals from joining you while giving you plenty of space to store your gear. Max weight of 300 lbs.
Pro: Offers numerous accessories
Con: Sleeping decks are polyester
Dimensions: 79″ x 34.5″ x 32″
Twofer: We doubted this double bunk could actually be used the way it is intended without putting at least one sleeper in mortal peril, but it shocked and amazed us by being capable of doing just that. Each of the tiered cots can hold up to 500 lbs. so this isn’t just for your kids but any time you must conserve floor space and stack up bodies. The dual side organizers have plenty of space for your standard gear and manage to avoid getting in the way even when you’re on the bottom. Steel rails the whole way around make this feel sturdy and strong, while adding a sense of durability. It’s shockingly good and if you happen to be in the market for portable bunks, don’t hesitate.