Are Camping Cots Worth It?

Last Updated on 26/03/2022

are camping cots worth it

Are Camping Cots Worth It?

They may be one of the most comfortable sleeping systems on the market, but are camping cots worth it? These raised platforms are comfortable and easy to set up, usually resulting in a better night’s sleep. However, they are also heavy, difficult to carry, and expensive.

There are a lot of options when it comes to choosing your sleeping system. A key choice is what you want underneath you, either a sleeping pad, foam mat, or camping cot. Double camping cots are a good choice for couples and small families but require a larger tent.

Everyone will have their preference when it comes to what they sleep on. This guide is going to look at the benefits and drawbacks of camping cots and to help you decide whether they’re worth it.

What is a Camping Cot?

Sleeping on a foam pad, or an inflatable mattress can still feel like you’re sleeping on the ground. A camping cot is an easy way to get yourself raised off the floor and have a much more comfortable night’s sleep. Here are some other airbed alternatives.

Camping cots are metal framed, with canvas pulled tight over the top section, a little like a historic stretcher design. This creates a bed or cot-style platform to sleep. This all sits on top of legs, which raise the whole platform off the ground.

There are different styles of camping cots, which we will explore next. They all raise you off the ground, though, and all offer much greater airflow than a sleeping mat or pad.

Different Types of Camping Cot

There are different styles of camping cots, each of which has its benefits and drawbacks.


Coleman 765353 Trailhead II Military Style Camping Cot

Foldable camping cots historically consist of multiple x-frames with a fabric top that is quick and easy to put up. Usually, you simply have to pull these from the bag and open them up and you have a comfortable, supportive bed. You can now get different style frames that fold in different ways to be more portable.

Compared to the fabric and pole-style camping cots, which we will look at in a moment, foldable camping cots are bulky and difficult to carry. Their pack size is far larger than other options and you should choose between easy to use and easy to transport.

Fabric and Pole

MARCHWAY Ultralight Folding Tent Camping Cot Bed, Portable Compact for Outdoor Travel, Base Camp, Hiking, Mountaineering, Lightweight Backpacking (Grey)

Compared to folding options, fabric and pole camping cots are small and lightweight. When packed away, the poles come apart into multiple sections and the fabric rolls away.

To put these camping cots together, you have to place the poles through loops on the outside of the fabric, to create the stretcher-like element. The hooped legs for this help to give the cot its rigidity and structure.

Benefits of Camping Cots

So now we know what a camping cot is, why would we want one?


The structure and support of a camping cot make it one of the most comfortable ways to sleep while camping. The best camping cots have enough support that you can sleep almost as comfortably as you would at home in your bed.

For people who struggle to get comfortable camping, cots are usually the best answer.

Better Night Sleep

Quite simply, when you’re more comfortable, you’re going to sleep better. You won’t be feeling any rocks or lumps that are underneath your tent but will always have the same level of comfort no matter where you are.

Newcomers to camping often find sleeping mats put them in uncomfortable positions that can cause backache or other pains. Camping cots have enough support that this won’t be a problem. With a better night’s sleep comes a better camping trip and long days out on the trail.

Off the Ground

Raising yourself off the ground stops you from being affected by rocks and roots underneath your tent. There’s something reassuring to know that you will always have the same level of comfort and with your camping cot.

Being off the ground is also a bonus for those who struggle to lower themselves comfortably. By being raised slightly, it can be easier to get onto and up from a camping cot.

Easy Setup

Camping cots vary in how easy they are to set up. The folding style is the easiest version, but even the pole and fabric design are easy enough to set up.

Camping cots take longer to set up than a foam mat, but are similar to an inflatable mat and often more comfortable.

camping cot benefiits

Problems with Camping Cots

Nothing comes without drawbacks and despite the benefits, there are some issues with camping cots too.


Even the most lightweight camping cots are far heavier than a foam pad or inflatable mat. If you are going to be hiking any distance into camp, you won’t want to be carrying the weight of a camping cot.


Similar to the weight, camping cots are bulky. They don’t pack down anywhere near small enough to pack into a hiking bag and even carrying them in a canoe can be challenging. Camping cots are better suited to car camping or similar.

Cooler than an Insulated Sleeping Pad

Camping cots are just a thin layer of fabric strung between a framework. This offers very little insulation, compared with alternative methods of camping. In camping conditions warmer than 60 degrees, this can be welcome, and the increased airflow can keep you cool.

Camping in 30 Degree weather or cooler, you may want to add a sleeping mat to your setup. Alternatively, some camping cots come with sleeping mats in place.

How Much do Camping Cots Cost?

Most camping cots cost between $50 and $200. There are those, such as the Helinox and Thermarest models, that will set you back up to $500. These models are the sturdiest, lightest models on the market. If you are trying to decide if camping cots are worth it, I like to think about how much a hotel costs per night and then comparethem to justify buying whatever I’m looking at.

How Much do Camping Cots Weigh?

Camping cots vary in weight as much as they do in cost. The weight of a camping cot will depend on the materials it is made from as well as the size of the cot. A folding cot is heavier than a pole and fabric design.

Most camping cots weigh between 10 – 20 lbs. There are a handful of models which weigh under 5 lbs., which are light enough to carry some distance into a camp, though maybe not on a trek. Some sturdier models can weigh up to 45 lbs., far too heavy to carry but designed for longer stays.

Are Camping Cots Comfortable?

Yes. Camping cots are just about the most comfortable way to sleep in a tent. Of course, everyone has their own personal preference, but camping cots are the closest thing to having your own bed inside your tent. You will never feel your hip on the floor if your a side sleeper and you will typically have more space to spread out than on a compact sleeping pad.

Camping Cots Vs Air Mattress

This is a question of convenience against comfort.

Camping cots are superior in comfort but heavy and far too bulky to carry long distances. They also tend to have little to no insulation and need adapting to be suitable for cold weather.

Though most people find camping cots more comfortable, some prefer a sleeping pad. These are lighter and pack down far smaller than a cot, as well as keeping you warmer overnight.

Are Cots Bad for Tents?

Camping cots do not spread your weight around the floor of your tent in the same way as a sleeping mat will. If the feet of your camping bed get any sharp spots, or if your tent is over rocks or rough floor, there is a chance that you may wear through your tent floor. To avoid this, you can put a mat or similar under your cot and use a footprint under your tent.

Low-roofed tents can be difficult to use a camping cot inside without issue. You should also check that your cot fits your tent properly before taking it out for a trip. The corners of your cot might push into the outer wall of your tent and can cause damage over time.

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This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

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