Editor's Note: Products featured on Wide Open Spaces are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
A large part of camping is stepping outside of your comfort zone and embracing the fact that you're about to spend some time in the wilderness, usually with little to no cell phone service, rapidly changing weather conditions, and a decidedly ramshackle sleeping set up. And sure, sleeping on the ground for a night or two can be pretty fun, but you're still sleeping on the ground. To alleviate this, a lot of car camping enthusiasts have turned to employing a tried and true, no frills sleep system: the camping cot.
Let's talk about the benefits. Most new cots are pretty simple to set up and pack down, making them easy to pack in your vehicle with the rest of your gear. You'll also have what is essentially a portable bed, one that's off the ground, away from roots, rocks, and dew that could seep in overnight. Plus, unlike an air mattress, you won't have to worry about popping it on the terrain.
We're showcasing six portable cots that are easy to transport, easy to set up, and even easier to relax on. So if you're looking to add a bit of opulence to your camping experience, or just sleep a bit sounder in the great outdoors, look no further.
1. The Most Comfortable Car Camping Cot
This cot from Coleman is absolutely the closest thing you'll find to an actual bed on this list. With this, you're getting a cot/air mattress combo that comes with a pump and side tables. Coleman has a lot of their trademarked ingenuity woven into this setup as well, from their AirTight system which keeps the mattress inflated throughout the night, to the ComfortStrong coil system engineered into the cot's base. The queen-sized model can accommodate those up to six feet tall, and can hold up to 600 pounds. The twin-sized version runs 74-inches and can hold up to 300 pounds.
2. Best Simple Yet Effective Cot
A new cot with an iconic, utilitarian design, the Coleman Trailhead II is your standard military cot. This no frills cot employs a steel cross bar frame for support that can handle weary campers up to six feet tall, and up to 300 pounds in weight. The cot itself weighs 20 pounds and is compact enough to fit in even the smallest of trunks. For extra comfort, throw a sleeping pad on top of it and call it a night.
3. Best Cot for Minimalists
The most portable option you'll see on this list, the Jasper Compact Cot Bed is one of the only cots you could potentially backpack with. When it's packed in, the unit is 15-inches long by 5.5-inches high and weighs just over four pounds. Small enough to fit in a backpack, and rugged enough to stand up to the elements. The cot is constructed 420D water resistant oxford polyester fabric that's attached to a high-grade 7075 aluminum base. The cot is just over six feet long, and about 2.5-feet wide.
4. Best Cot for Those With A Lot of Space
The Outfitter XXL cot is a sturdy and comfortable cot that's, for lack of a better phrase, really big. It's just over seven feet long and almost four feet wide, and the cot will support up to 600 pounds - so having two people cozy up on it is hardly an issue. It's a bit on the bulkier side with a weight of 26 pounds, but chances are you're taking it from the car to the tent, so it shouldn't be too big a burden. One thing you'll absolutely want to do is measure your tent before investing in this cot, as most modern 4-person tents probably won't cut it.
5. Best Cot/Tent Combo
If you're in the market for a tent, cot, air mattress, inflatable pillow, and sleeping bag combo pack, we have some good news. This 4-in-1 setup from Tangkula isn't the most spacious sleeping arrangement you'll find, but what it lacks in space, it makes up for in utility. The cot sits 16-inches off the ground and the actual tent is made from a high density polyester fabric that's meant to withstand inclement weather. It's just over six feet long and can handle up to 660 pounds. When it's all packed away, the entire kit weighs 30 pounds, but a handy wheelie bag ensures moving it to your spot won't be an issue.
6. Best Cot for the Kiddos
Camping with kids can be challenging at times, especially if they don't get their rest. Enter the Kid-O-Bunk. Designed by a father and son, this crafty cot can be bunked, made into a sitting bench, or used as two small cots individually. Each cot is designed to hold up to 200 pounds thanks to an anti-rust steel frame, and support kids up to 34-inches tall (just under three feet). It's also recommended for kids 7-12. And if you're worried about stacking the cots, don't be. The kit comes with four stack adaptors and two durable locking straps. And when it's time to pack it up, each cot comes with a canvas carrying case for seamless transportation and storing.
Enjoy the outdoors?
Sign up for daily stories delivered straight to your inbox.