Camping is one of the best ways to get outside and connect with nature — whether you’re a solo traveler looking to disconnect, or taking the whole family on a national park trip this summer. But pretty much everyone who’s ever gone camping will agree that sleeping on the bare ground is not ideal. Lucky for us, though, there are plenty of solutions to help you get a better night’s sleep outdoors, including foam and inflatable sleeping pads, air mattresses, and camping cots.
Camping cots have a number of benefits. Some people prefer a cot so they don’t wake up stiff after sleeping on a bed of pinecones. Others prefer an elevated surface to keep them away from pesky insects that might creep inside the tent, or for the extra storage space underneath. And we love cots because they remind us of scout trips in elementary school.
As with all camping gear, modern options have come a long way from Grandpa’s army cot. From large cots with extra support and stash pockets, to smaller, space-conscious alternatives for backpacking tents, almost everyone can agree that a cot is a wise investment for spending a few nights outdoors. Elevate your shut-eye experience in the wilderness by resting and recharging on one of our favorite camping cots.
Therm-a-Rest UltraLite Cot
Looking to sleep off the ground, but running tight on space in your backpack or trunk? The Thermarest UltraLite Cot is the smallest and lightest option on the market (just 2 pounds, 10 ounces for the regular size), making it one of the only backpacker-friendly options around. It sits just a few inches off the ground, so it’s the perfect fit for most smaller tents, and it provides a soft, flat sleeping surface when the only available ground space is rough and rocky. Its fabric even has an insulating layer to help capture body heat that’s traditionally lost when sleeping in cots, too, so you’ll stay warm even above 10,000 feet!
TETON Sports Outfitter XXL Camping Cot
Are you a restless sleeper who tosses and turns, but doesn’t want to fret about falling off your cot in the middle of the night? You’re in luck, because the Teton XXL is actually bigger than a twin mattress. The aluminum frame and S-shaped steel legs can support up to 600 pounds, making this heavy-duty, extra, extra large cot something you can count on, trip after trip. Its size and stability even make it a great option for out-of-town guests if you run out of couch space in the basement.
KingCamp Strong Folding Cot
If you want to get the best night’s sleep when your bed is hundreds of miles away, you’ll need a cot that’s strong, supportive, comfortable, and affordable. This KingCamp is made of high-strength steel, so stability is never a concern. And while it may look complicated, setup takes less than a minute. Measuring 74 by 26 inches, there’s just enough space for a 6-foot-tall adult to stretch their limbs, and it folds up to the size of a large camping chair. We love the upward angle at the head, which eliminates the need for a pillow, and the side pocket that keeps your headlamp, pocket knife, and bear spray within arm’s reach.
ALPS Mountaineering Lightweight Cot
Working with a small tent and budget? This compact cot fits nicely in most tents with a lower ceiling, so you can sleep near the ground without actually being on the ground. The frame is spring-tensioned, so it’s super easy to put together, and the polyester fabric is tough enough to hold up to years of heavy use. It may not look like much, but this compact, wallet-friendly option will support you like a proud mother at graduation.
Coleman ComfortSmart Deluxe Camping Cot
Coleman is a household name in the outdoor world, known for making affordable gear that gets even the stingiest outdoorsman outside. Unlike any other cot on this list, Coleman’s ComfortSmart Deluxe Cot has a spring-coil suspension (yes, a suspension!), which flexes more than your traditional canvas option. The included foam mattress pad spans the entire 6-foot-6-inch length, and the steel frame is made to last and be passed down to your grandkids.