I’m reading the question from your lips: why would anyone use sleeping cots during camping, hunting, or other outdoor treks and expeditions?

Isn’t it enchanting to spend a night under the stars, enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of nature while wiggling in your sleeping bag? So many people find great satisfaction in camping and spending time in nature. I am one of them except for the “wiggling” part. I just can’t sleep well on the ground, in a sleeping bag.

So many great camping trips left me with mixed feelings just because I was so tired all the time. Until I discovered sleeping cots.

Since then, I have become a zealous camper and I use every opportunity to swap city lights for stars.

While not everyone needs a sleeping cot, it will provide a higher level of comfort for just about anyone. So, it’s up to you to make a final decision if you need one or not. But, I will tell you all you need to know about these collapsable and convenient camping beds before you make the call.

What Are Sleeping Cots and Do You Need One?

A sleeping cot, also known as camping cot or portable cot, is a collapsable, portable, and lightweight bed. It has a foldable metal frame usually of aluminum or steel. The frame holds the cover made of canvas or synthetic materials. Basically, it is a minimalistic, compact bed, easy to fold, and transport. At the same time, it should provide almost the same sleeping experience as a regular bed.

As I have already said, a sleeping cot is not a necessary part of outdoor equipment. After all, it won’t fit into your backpack and you can’t take it with you to the mountain top. But, it provides many benefits for camping, hunting, and fishing trips. Here are the most important ones:

  • Comfort. It is the main reason to think about camping cots. While you probably love to spend time in nature, sleeping is often an issue on camping trips. All of us like to think that we’re tough as tigers. But we still need to admit that some people just need a relatively cozy bed to fall asleep.
  • Avoid stiffness. Outdoor expeditions are often amazing. However, sleeping in a tent is not always as romantic or manly as you may think. When you combine sleeping pads, hard ground, and coldness, the outcome can easily be stiff neck or back. Switching to a sleeping cot will provide a feel of luxury in comparison.
  • Avoid creepy-crawlies. There are many reasons to choose an elevated position instead of sleeping on the ground. It is not only a matter of comfort but also avoiding ants, crawling insects, and their bites. Sleeping on the ground also requires some serious insulation.
  • Add-on bed. Sleeping cots aren’t restricted to outdoor use. You can use them to provide an extra bed for extra guests. Even hospitals have these beds for cases of overcrowding in disaster scenarios or disease outbreaks.

best sleeping cots 

What to Look for in a Sleeping Cot?

Making a choice – any choice – is the most common problem of our time. Technology has allowed vast improvements and specialized products to fit every possible need. It’s not the lack of choice that gives us a headache, but exactly the opposite – we have too many options. So, let’s narrow them down.

Size

Before asking any other questions check out the size. It depends on your stature, the way you sleep (rolling over or sleeping like a baby), and on the size of your tent as well. You will probably use a pillow, so make sure that your cot is long enough to accommodate you.

Weight Limit

Sleeping cots are designed to withstand one person easily. However, you may use a sleeping bag or additional padding, blanket, and they all add up. So, check out the weight limit and use lighter fabrics such as mylar blankets or ultra-light sleeping bags.

Comfort

This is the most important feature of sleeping cots, and the primary reason they were invented in the first place. There’s a variety of options though. A typical model has only a piece of fabric stretched across the frame. It is a little bit rigid but comfortable for most people, especially if you sleep on your back. For side sleepers and others seeking superior comfort, there are models with additional padding and even air mattresses.

Also, check out the position of frame crossbars. These can cause discomfort if you can feel them through the cover.

Quality Materials

Cot frames are usually made of aluminum or steel. Aluminum is lightweight and durable while steel is a bit heavier but stronger and sturdier.

As for the cover, avoid canvas as it is heavy and difficult to clean even though it might be more durable. Different kinds of nylon and polyester are lightweight and sturdy while providing more comfort and insulation.

Portability

All camping cots are collapsable but differences in design make some of them bulkier than the others. A perfect sleeping cot should be lightweight, easy to pack, and easy to assemble. Beware though, there’s usually a trade-off between lightweight and strength and durability.

Best Sleeping Cots – Our Top 5 Picks

1. TETON Sports Outfitter XXL Camping Cot – One of the Best Sleeping Cots

best camping cots

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Is this the best sleeping cot out there? It depends on your needs and priorities. But, it really offers great value for money.

Measuring 85.75″ x 44.75″ x 19.25″, it provides enough space for comfy sleeping even if you’re an NBA player. Aluminum frame and S-shaped steel legs provide excellent stability, support, and durability. The fabric of the cot is 600D polyester. It is a heavy-duty, sturdy material. This sleeping cot can easily support 600 pounds. I would’ve expected it to be heavier, due to its size, steel legs, and heavy-duty fabric, but it only weighs 26 pounds. 

Pros

  • It is really large.
  • Supports 600 lbs
  • Sturdy and durable
  • Easy to set up
  • Convenient pivot arms

Cons

  • It is really large. While this is great for comfort, it takes a lot of space in your tent.

2. BYER OF MAINE Easy Cot

sleeping cots for camping

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This is one of my favorite models. It has a couple of extra inches in both length and width compared to regular sleeping cot size. And it really makes a difference. Basically, it looks like any other regular sleeping cot, but it’s just a little bit better in almost every segment. It supports 330 pounds, thanks to a sturdy, steel frame and 600D polyester fabric.

Pros

  • A little bit larger than regular camping beds
  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Easy and fast setup
  • Tent-friendly rubber feet

Cons

  • None observed

3. Alpcour Folding Camping Cot

best camping cots reviewed

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With so many products out there, it is difficult to stand out from the crowd. Alpcour tries to do so by paying attention to small details to improve your experience.

Ergonomic design and a couple of additional accessories give this model a head start. A storage bag is very convenient and it is easy to put the cot back into it which is pretty rare. An extra pocket on the side, pillow, and gentle incline provide just a little bit more comfort. On top of that, it is one of the lightest models out there (14 lbs).

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Ergonomic design
  • Supports up to 300 lbs
  • Sturdy steel frame
  • Rubber feet

Cons

  • Pillow could be better

4. Coleman ComfortSmart Cot

sleeping cot

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If you’re looking for an affordable, yet functional and decent sleeping cot, this model is a great choice. It comes with a thick foam sleeping pad to provide maximum comfort. Pay attention to dimensions, though. The deluxe version is long enough, while the regular one is for shorter people. A steel frame provides strength and durability, so this beauty can support up to 300 lbs.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Steel frame
  • Thick mattress

Cons

  • The mattress isn’t fixed
  • Mat cover is cheap, it tears easily

5. Magshion Portable Military Fold Up Camping Bed Cot

sleeping cot

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High-end camping cots can be a little bit bulky and take a lot of space. It’s not a big deal if you need just one, but if you need a couple of them for family trips, you’ll be in trouble.

If you need several sleeping cots and you don’t want to break the bank, this is a great model for you. It is ridiculously lightweight (10 pounds), portable, and affordable. Also, it comes with a storage bag. It supports up to 200 lbs and can accommodate people up to 6ft tall. So, it comes with several outstanding perks and a couple of limitations as well.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Very lightweight and portable
  • Rubber feet cover to avoid sliding or damaging a tent
  • All-steel frame and legs
  • Easy to fold and unfold

Cons

  • Only for people up to 6” tall
  • Not very durable

Final Word

Small things can make a world of difference. While all sleeping or camping cots look more or less similar, there are considerable differences when it comes to quality. Just a few inches of width and length or the tightness of cover can make a difference between sound sleep and a sleepless night.

Hopefully, our tips and recommendations will help you to enjoy your outdoor experience even more and for years to come.