In a bid to achieve maximum comfort, we are forever searching for the newest and latest camping gear that can further make life easier on the trail.
A legitimate piece of equipment that offers a safe and stable platform which is perfect when camping on rough terrain, is the camping cot.
Camping cots are essentially a foldable camping bed which can be collapsed down to a compact size and weighs generally between 15 and 30 lbs., depending on the brand and material used.
Generally, the width of a narrow, single mattress, however, there are some larger models on the market which could fit a regular size or up to 2 people.
There are additional benefits to using a camping cot to sleep on that may not be so clear at first sight, scroll to our FAQ to discover more on this.
Let’s check out the best cots for camping and military style cots on the current market.
Best Lightweight Camping Cot Reviews
1. Coleman ComfortSmart Camping Cot
Weight Capacity: 300lbs
Dimensions: 80 x 31 x 15
This folding cot is a decent choice from Coleman and one of the bestselling models on the market today. With a fair price and the new deluxe design, it provides comfort and stability with a slightly wider than average bed.
The integrated coils also make the cot bed feel like a proper mattress as opposed to a springy fabric. A foam mattress pad comes free with this cot which fits perfectly on top of the folding steel frame beneath.
As it’s steel it provides up to a 300lb weight limit which should suffice for even the largest of campers, no matter how many chicken wings were dug into that night.
The height limit tops at around 6.6 foot which is more than enough for me at 6.1, for taller folk I would suggest scrolling more to find a larger model.
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2. Alps Mountaineering ReadyLite Cot
Weight Capacity: 300lbs
Dimensions: 78 x 28 x 7.5
The lightest camping cot in our list today, a quality cot from Alps Mountaineering, the ReadyLite is a perfect choice for all ultralight camping enthusiasts.
Light as a feather at just under 5lbs, it can be equipped to your pack and carried into more remote areas for trail camping and hiking trips. A shoulder carry bag comes with free with the purchase, so it is possible to carry over your shoulder as well.
The RipStop fabric further reduces the total weight and the full aluminum frame keeps the structure light and easy to carry, while still retaining a fair amount of strength with a 300lb weight limit.
Fitted with a 420D Honeycomb Polyester design, the fabric is strong and will loosen up after its first few uses, providing a more comfortable rest. Not the highest cot off the ground in our list, at just 7.5, however, it’s a decent enough clearance to stay off some fairly rough terrain and away from ground game and critters.
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3. Coleman Pack-Away Camping Cot
Weight Capacity: 300lbs
Dimensions: 80 x 44 x 17
The 2nd entry from Coleman is the Pack-Away model which has a much more authentic camping aesthetic, given the more streamline design and addition of drinks holders.
This particular cot is very versatile as it can fold into various shapes and sizes, not only offering a bed but also a deck chair style seat if necessary. The side table which features a drinks holder is also removable and store some bits and bobs to boot.
With similar length to the ComfortSmart model, it’s also suitable for campers of up to 6.6 feet and has a 300lb weight limit with a similar steel frame with slightly wider dimensions.
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4. Alpcour Folding Camping Cot
Weight Capacity: 300lbs
Dimensions: 75 x 26 x 15
The shining feature in this folding camping cot from Alpcour is the lightweight frame that vastly reduces its carry size to almost half that of the Coleman and Teton models.
At just 13lbs it’s a breeze to carry and can be taken into more remote areas as part of your trail gear. Even more so due to the nylon carry bag that comes free with this bundle, making life even easier when camping with a cot.
The fabric is good quality, utilizing a 600D polyester fabric that has 2 layers in total, providing a decent amount of water resistance and it’s clean-friendly, meaning you can wipe it down before packing away without any issues.
A few accessories are included, a padded pillow comes free with this purchase and a side pocket is evident from the picture. So, we have somewhere to store our phones and cameras off the tent floor.
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5. Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Camp Cot
Weight Capacity: 600lbs
Dimensions: 85 x 40 x 19
Although it has one of the heaviest weights in our category, it isn’t fully steel. It actually has an aluminum frame with steel legs. I think if this was solid steel it would be 40 pounds plus, luckily, they managed to reduce the carry weight to a reasonable amount while maintaining its huge weight capacity of 600lbs.
An awesome feature on this is the pivot arm which is like an assembly assist, that makes setting up the cot on those final corners a hell of a lot easier.
At 19 inches off the ground, it has good clearance and will keep you safely away from any rough terrain and pesky floor-bound critters. Additionally, the s-leg style design provides a slightly more stable position than the standard designs.
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6. Byer of Maine Easycot
Weight Capacity: 330lbs
Dimensions: 78 x 31 x 18
Even though Byer of Maine does excel in producing quality lightweight camping cots, we were impressed with their Easycot model yet the weight, at 21lbs, is pretty standard.
They have other models such as the Tri-Lite and newer TLC 7000 which all dip under 8lbs, however, due to the somewhat difficult setup, we won’t recommend it to the average camper. For lightweight camping gurus, I’d definitely take a look first.
All framework is pre-attached and slots nicely into its free carrying bag. Aptly named Easy Cot due to the simplicity of the setup and won’t be an issue for even the newbies out there.
We appreciate the reinforced panels that surround the bed area, this helps to support more weight, up to 330lbs. It also makes a smoother surface with no cross-stitching or beams digging into your back while laying down.
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7. Kingcamp Camping Cot Bed
Weight Capacity: 265lbs
Dimensions: 74.8 x 26.8 x 18.9
At up to 5-10lbs lighter than the market standard yet still holding a 265lb weight limit, this low-profile cot from Kingcamp is a worthy choice.
Full steel frame with 600D oxford fabric that has been manufactured with a double layer for extra strength and protection. Another smart design here is the angling of the head area, allowing you to sit upright if you wish, without the need for support pillows.
With a huge array of choice, 3 colors across 6 different designs, we prefer the traditional blue Kingcamp color along with its advanced side pocket attachment. You can save money by buying one without the storage pocket, but we think it’s worth it for a camping cot, storage is always needed. If it’s just for home use or the garden perhaps it’s not necessary.
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8. Tough Outdoors Military Camp Bed
Weight Capacity: 300lbs
Dimensions: 83 x 32 x 16
A civilian adapted version of the original army camping cot, this camp bed from Tough Outdoors is as authentic looking as they come. We also get an additional benefit of having a slightly wider bed than the original with a 300lb weight limit.
With traditional army color choices, it’s worth noting this is by no means an easy setup. It will require a bit of strength and patience, after first pitch the company recommended you to leave it set up for 24-48 hours. This allows the fabric to stretch out, making future pitches far easier.
The side pock organizer is evident straight away and contains numerous small zippered and meshed pockets to store your bits and pieces. All come with a 1-year warranty and apparently a ‘no questions asked’ policy, so you shouldn’t have any issues getting refunds or replacements if any issues pop up.
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9. Coleman Folding Camp Cot with Air Bed
Weight Capacity: 600lbs
Dimensions: 78 x 59 x 2
We wanted to include a robust cot in our list that could also sleep 2 autos easily. A good option would be either Kingcamp’s double cot or this Folding cot from Coleman. We particularly like this one as it’s wider than the other double cots on the market and additionally comes with an Air Bed, albeit not free, but at an incredibly reduced price.
This queen size camping cot air bed comes with a 4D battery-powered pump for free, allowing you to inflate the bed fast and it deflates just as easily. It will be a preference whether or not you prefer an air bed or camping pad, but we will discuss the pros and cons of this further below.
They offer a 1-year warranty on this air cot and an Airtight System which they guarantee will not leak air during use. Not sure how long that will last as generally air beams and inflatables do tend to fluctuate in temperatures regardless of the quality of the stitching. However, if they are talking about outside of that, then it’s a good sign.
As standard, a strong 600lbs weight limit for a double is expected, given the strong steel frame and can sleep campers up to 6.2 feet high roughly. It’s not the longest model in our list but definitely the widest we’ve seen yet.
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10. Earth Products Military Camping Cot
Weight Capacity: 450lbs
Dimensions: 77 x 25 x 17
A rugged army cot here from Earth Products that really has an authentic camping tone. Robust steel tubing makes up the majority of the framework giving it a significant weight limit over similar sized cots.
The fabric is easy to manage, as long as you set up the cot and leave it set up for around 2 days, allowing the fabric to ‘set in’ and relax, improving its malleability.
Additionally, the 600 Denier Poly cover is easy to keep clean and has been manufactured with mold and mildew resistant properties. In addition to the standard waterproofing also.
The superior amounts of storage are apparent straight away from the picture and provide the most storage compartments in our list, to top it off it comes with a 5-year warranty.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How to use a Camping Cot?
A pretty simple task, they fold and unfold much like a camping table and can be stored away simply in the boot, roof-rack or garage. When it’s time for use, just unfold outwards and the legs extend into place. Some have locks while others use a downward force to keep secure. Cots vary between fully assembled or semi pre-assembled, most you will have to attach the cot sheet fabric yourself, while some other more elasticated options will be pre-fitted.
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How to Choose a Camping Cot?
You want to consider the main features first and decide if it’s for solo camping or 2. Sizes vary between 1 and 2 people.
Secondly, do you need storage beneath, in which case aim for a high model with a good ground clearance.
The last 2 criteria should be its weight limit, giving yourself more than enough scope here for a good night’s sleep.
Lastly, the weight of the cot, for lightweight campers aim for under 10 lbs. so it’s not too much of a burden on the trail.
For family camping on the campsite, it shouldn’t matter too much as you’re only going from the car to the site, which shouldn’t be too far generally speaking.
Things like accessories and storage are an obvious benefit, but not necessary if you already have your storage spaces covered.
How to Level a Camping Cot?
If you have a cot with adjustable legs then this issue is already eradicated before it arises. However, you may notice the majority indeed do not, as a fixed leg is far more stable.
So, if you do happen to be camping on a slope then you need to take some precautions to enjoy better sleep. The best practice to try to balance this out is to place the head area of the cot at the highest point of the slope, this will counteract the imbalance and prevent you from ‘sloping’ as much as possible during the night.
How Wide is a Camping Cot?
Generally, in the mid-’20s ranging right up to the high forties, roughly between 22-44 is the medium-range we have seen between single cots up to twin cots. Heights also vary, with the lightweight cots tending to sit closer to the ground, providing a bit less clearance and thus, less storage space beneath.
How to unfold a camping cot?
A simple task generally speaking; however, some campers bear the scars of disconnecting a cheap cot and having the bars spring out and scrape you. Precautions must be made and always try to seek out the manufactures video on the product page, they usually show a tutorial set up and fold. Additionally, you can google the name of the product with ‘set up’ or ‘unfold’ to discover a YouTube video, etc. For those with a bit of knowhow already, it closely resembles the setup of a camping table or deck chair.
What is an Army cot?
Essentially one of the first portable beds, utilized by soldiers that can be dated as far back as the Roman army. Used in cases where permanent beds just weren’t possible, for example when legions used to march for weeks on end. Fast forward a few thousand years and we now still use the same principle, however with a far more lightweight and compact design.
Tips for Cot Camping:
Probably our most vital tip would be that open receiving your cot, set it up initially and leave assembled for between 24-48 hours. This is an important practice and helps to set the fabric in, which provides an easier assembly thereafter and a more comfortable bed.
Some smaller tips would be to remember when unfolding, be careful with hand placements as some stiff set ups can backfire when the bars are released suddenly. Use your feet or 2 people if necessary, to avoid any accidents.
Lastly, always check the ground surface before pithing and try to find the most level position as possible. We always move in our sleep and to avoid any mishaps, a level ground will prevent any slips or falls, etc.
What Accessories are Good for a Camping Cot?
Storage compartments, side tables, and organizer pockets are a great addition to any camping cot and usually come with the purchase of any real camping model. Other considerations would be things like a camping pad, sleeping pad, sleeping bag or pump up air bed or mattress. That depends on whether or not you prefer a hard or soft bed.
Camping Cots vs Air Beds vs Camping Pads
Firstly, an air bed and pad can both be used in conjunction with a camping cot. The reason for using a cot as opposed to sleeping on the ground is a separate affair, initially.
For this, you will need to consider your terrain, if on rough terrain a cot would be better. If you need some extra storage space beneath the cot, then this would also benefit you.
Lastly, having a clearance off the ground can provide a bit more air circulation beneath you and also keep you up and away from pesky ground critters and small ground game.
The downside is having to lug one around, an extra piece of gear to set up and the smaller sizes than the huge queen beds that can sit on the ground.
Air beds generally come in much larger sizes than pads, as pads are generally thought of like the solo camper’s bed.
Pads tend to be a bit thinner and more firm, so better for people with bad backs who need a firm sleeping surface like myself.
Air beds more often than not are in twin to queen sizes as standard and are designed to be used for twin cots and upwards. Providing also better compact carry, due to being able to deflate and roll it up when needed and store away.
All are good choices but your preference will be the deciding factor in all of these.
Camping cots are a great idea and if you would like to have your whole tent up on a cot, then consider checking out a tent cot for something a bit more unique and perhaps better suited to you.
Like when we talk about rooftop tent camping, being off the ground isn’t a bad thing, as long as it is stable and waterproof and includes all the criteria we desire when camping outside. Why not give it a try?