Best Camping Cots: Because Sleeping On The Ground Sucks

By Jason K. | Last Updated: April 12, 2023

A Camping Cot Is A Massive Upgrade To The Cold Hard Ground

camping cot

FACT: Camping is way more fun when it’s comfortable.

So if you’re like me, sleeping on the ground in your camping tent is becoming less and less appealing.

No matter how nice your sleeping pad is, getting up and down off the floor is becoming a real pain in the…

But you don’t need an expensive RV to eliminate this hassle; you need a camping cot.

A cot you can fold down, pack, take with you, and set up in minutes.

A low-hassle upgrade to your camping sleeping arrangements.

So today, I’m going to share everything I have learned about camping cots, specifically:

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Best Camping Cots On The Market Today

The “best” camping cot depends on how you plan to use it.

The best cots are solid wood or metal frames and durable canvas fabric.

This durable construction makes them sturdy, comfortable, and reliable.

But that same construction makes these cots unsuitable for some situations.

Like when you need to break camp and move daily. Or where storage size and weight are a concern, like on a boat.

In these cases, a lightweight aluminum and nylon cot is best. Allowing you to pack it down to a small size and weigh only a couple of pounds.

BYER OF MAINE, Maine Heritage Cot, Extra Large

Byer of Maine has an updated version of the traditional wood and canvas folding cot used for decades.

The hardwood frame lasts decades, and the durable polyester provides an even, taut sleeping surface.

It’s so tight that some people have difficulty putting it together the first time!

But be patient and follow the directions.

The tight assembly is part of the design and will keep you from sagging at night.

Look no further than this classic cot if you’re looking for traditional styling and attention to detail.

Byer has an excellent reputation and stands behind their warranty if you have any issues.

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↓ Byer Of Maine, Maine Heritage Cot ↓

Tent Cot Double Kwik-Cot

The Kamp-Rite Double Kwik cot is the perfect solution for those looking for a cot big enough for two.

It’s over 7ft long and 4.5ft wide and capable of supporting 550 lbs!

Yes, that’s the exact dimensions of a queen-size bed!

It’s even a full 18” off the ground, which makes getting out of bed easy. Of course, that large a cot doesn’t fold up super small (43” by 11”x11”), and it weighs in at over 35 lbs.

While it might be ideal for cabins and car camping, I wouldn’t want to carry it far from the road!

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↓ Kamp-Rite Double Kwik-Cot ↓

Coleman Trailhead II Military Style Camping Cot

Chances are, you’ve seen a cot similar to the Coleman Trailhead.

It’s a clone of a longtime military design that’s given our troops a place to sleep for decades.

Coleman has versions with and without organization pockets. But both are the same construction and can easily hold up to 300 lbs.

The durable steel frame and polyester fabric are built to last.

Some users note that the fabric is very tight. But the design relies on a snug fit to keep the surface taut and comfortable at night.

When packing camp, fold the Trailhead cot and put it in your rig!

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↓ How To Use Coleman Military Style Trailhead Cot Review ↓

ALPS Mountaineering Ready Lite Camping Cot

Most camping cots have a reputation for being heavy. You certainly don’t see many of them outside of roadside campgrounds.

ALPS Mountaineering decided to see if they could lighten the bulk.

First, they swapped the heavy canvas or packcloth decks with ripstop nylon.

This helped to drop the cot's weight without sacrificing durability.

Next, they replaced the steel rails and braces with 7000 series aluminum. These design elements bring the whole package down to under 5 lbs!

The system rolls into a compact 7”x17” case when disassembled.

While this would still be a heavy item in a backpack (and still too heavy for minimalist camping), it’s far more portable than a traditional heavy cot.

I’d love to have a couple on my next river trip, where they’d fit nicely in my canoe!

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↓ ALPS Mountaineering Camp Cot ↓

Disc-O-Bed Large 79 x 28 Inch Portable Camping Cot

When camping, your stuff can take up an extraordinary amount of space.

Inside a tent, this is magnified since everything can be a little cramped to start.

You can reclaim some of your space at bedtime with this innovative bunk bed camping cot.

The Disc-O-Bed is versatile as well!

You can use it as a stacked bunk bed, a bench with a comfortable back, or a pair of single cots.

With a sturdy polyester fabric deck and no center brace, it’s comfortable even without a mattress!

The modular frame breaks into two durable bags for transport and storage.

It’s durable powder-coated steel and can support up to 200 lbs PER bunk!

Plus, they can be assembled in minutes without any tools.

This is a great feature when arriving at camp late, and you’re just trying to set things up so everyone can get to bed!

But the best parts are the organization pockets along each bunk.

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↓ Off-Grid Cabin Furniture! Disc-O-Bed XL Review ↓

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emegency cots in shelter

What Is A Cot Anyway?

The armed forces and emergency agencies have long used cots as mobile single-person beds.

We’ve all seen images of cots lined up in rows with military precision.

Well, a camping cot is similar – just designed to be a super portable and lightweight bed for camping.

They are made for situations when a full-size bed is too large or inconvenient.

Most cots are made of wood or metal frames, supporting a fabric sleeping surface made of linen, canvas, or nylon.

The fabric is stretched over the frame, allowing the best cots to support hundreds of pounds.

camping cot sitting outside a tent

Reasons You Should Get A Camping Cot

The main reasons to get a camping cot are pretty straightforward – portability and comfort.

The folding design allows them to break down into manageable travel sizes. Making a camping cot a storable bed for your vehicle, boat, or cabin.

Compared to a full-size bed, they’re easy to move around. Giving you flexibility and allowing your space to adapt to multiple uses.

Cots provide overflow sleeping arrangements when you have unexpected guests—making them helpful in an emergency when you need to shelter more people than planned.

Beyond these benefits, cots can often provide comfort that’s hard to beat vs. sleeping on the ground.

The taut fabric sleeping surface keeps you up off uneven stones and roots and above any water and mud.

Warm climates also allow air to circulate underneath, cooling you while you sleep.

Add a portable tent air conditioner, and you can camp in even unbearably HOT temps.

As I get older, I appreciate one other aspect of sleeping on a cot in camp; getting up in the morning is much easier than sleeping on the ground.

In a cot, you can swing your feet off the edge and sit up while you put your boots on and get dressed.

We all know how important it is to get a good night’s sleep.

In an emergency, sleep can be hard to find and short. So make the best of it and get the best sleep you can when you can.

Imagine how much easier it is to get through the day with a full night’s sleep!

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Taking Your Camping Cot To Another Level Of Comfort

While sleeping in a cot can be much better than sleeping on the ground, some things make it even easier.

Sleeping Pad

Yes, a cot looks a lot like a bed. But tight assembly means sleeping on the fabric can leave you with sore pressure points.

Use your sleeping pad with the cot for a great night’s sleep.

The Klymit Sleeping Pad is comfortable and even adds insulation on cold nights.

Travel Pillow

Just like in a sleeping bag, you will want a pillow.

Take a stuff sack with a soft liner, and fill it with your spare clothes – an instant pillow!

This one from Thermarest is a great option!

Cot Organizer

If your cot doesn’t come with an organizer, you should look into getting one.

In the middle of the night, it’s much easier to find those crucial items under the bed when you have a place to store them.

Teton Sports makes an aftermarket cot organizer that fits most full-size cots with side rails.

It’s even got a drink holder!

Final Thoughts

If the idea of a camping cot appeals to you, check out some of these other cool camping gear options too!

With so many camping cot options on the market, there’s a camping cot for nearly every situation.

And while I can’t categorize it as a camping essential, the portability and comfort of these camp cot beds are a game-changer!

Jason K.

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Photo Credit – Cots Lined Up

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