Let's take a look at what makes a good camping cot.
A camping cot is different from a sleeping pad, an air mattress, or even a sleeping bag in that they generally have legs, sit up off of the ground, and are foldable. Sure, this may be obvious to everyone, but help initiate all into the wonderful world of camping, it stands to reason that a simple explanation is due.
A good camping cot makes for a great way to place multiple resting areas in a tent while giving each camper some space to breathe, so to speak. In fact, it gives the camper the opportunity to use their own bags, pillows, or blankets as they deem the most comfortable.
Camping cots are easy to set up, maintain, and have the portability to take anywhere, even the backyard. Let's look at the features that are most desired, some of the top brand names, and those that make the grade for folks like you and me.
For the money, Coleman almost never disappoints. The ComfortSmart cot is easy on the wallet at $75, is highly rated, and is quite comfortable. Long and tall sleepers can relax in this cot, even if they are well over 200 pounds.
It is easy to pack and set up, but it should be said that it is better suited for the car camping crowd, based on folded size. It would be tough to fit this one on a backpacking trip.
TETON Sports Outfitter XXL
It sets up easily and provides a ton of sleeping space,. It is quite large to pack and takes up a lot of room in a smaller tent.
Called the Kid-O-Bunk, this unique offering comes as a set of two full-size cots that can be configured in multiple ways and can include storage pockets as accessories for kids with lots of stuff.
You're going to need a dome style tent or something with a little more height, but when you're looking for a way to create some serious camping fun and excitement in the family kiddos, this is one of the best ways to do so with a smaller footprint.
Chinook Heavy Duty Padded Cot
The Chinook features a heavy-duty welded frame and a 600 denier faded nylon fabric for durability over years of use. It folds up neatly for storage or transport and even has adjustable backrest settings for those who like to sit up and read.
The padded sleeping surface has a built-in pillow which provides both comfort and warmth.
Camping Cot vs. Air Mattress
A good quality air mattress can be good for camping, but not everything's peachy. The trouble is, they are bulky and usually require some kind of power source to inflate efficiently.
Camping cots are no longer less comfortable than an air mattress but are more durable, just as easy to transport, and faster to set up. A top-quality camping cot with included cushioning can even surpass the comfort of an air mattress, and it will never leak!
Sleeping pads are meant for hiking and backpacking and while that's great for ease of use, it still means you're essentially sleeping on the ground. However, a camping cot paired with a foam sleeping pad provides the best of both worlds.
Folks who camp in areas that require a short hike from the car may have additional considerations such as how much they can carry on a single trip, or how much overall gear to actually bring. It could be as simple as choosing a cot that is more lightweight.
For most purposes, look for a cot that can be stored in a bag or one that comes with handles or a shoulder strap.
The Bottom Line
Campers should look for cots that have an easy setup, promote comfort, and provide an ample sleep area for your overnight needs. Larger model camping cots have plenty of space and padding which provides more comfortable sleeping, but they are more difficult to pack at times and take up lots of room in your tent.
Some of these included cots don't have their own cushioning, so some must be bought as an accessory or provided by the camper. Since some cots need a lot of stretch to fully set up, they may be uncomfortable to sleep on without an extra pad.
Most portable folding cots come with plenty of instructions, even for new campers. Tent cots, airbeds, and sleeping pads are not all created equal, so the buyer should be aware. A collapsible, folding camping cot needs to have durability, have an easy setup, and provide a good night's sleep at the very least.
Those with a steel frame, cup holders, or even side tables that don't need two people to set up and provide the most sleeping area while folding down to a decent packed size are probably the best choices, but everyone has different considerations to think of.
Trying to list the "best camping cots" is always a subjective thing since it is the experience of the user that needs to be taken into consideration, and not everyone's experience is the same.
Whether or not you use a mattress pad for your portable cot bed or a deluxe sleeping pad, you need to be comfortable when the lights go down and the campsite gets quiet. A camping cot is one of the best ways to do it.