Three Things to Consider Before Buying a Camping Cot

Get off the ground and onto a makeshift bed for better rest when you’re overnighting outdoors.

Man lying on a cot on the grass
Camp cots are strong, easy to assemble, and make any night in the outdoors more comfortable.Coleman

Car camping is the new craze, and one of the big pluses of hitting the road in a car or truck is the ability to pack larger and heavier items. Tops on your list should be a sturdy, comfortable camping cot. A great camping cot is a serious upgrade over a foam or inflatable sleeping pad, and with more and more options available, there’s no excuse for sleeping on the ground again. Today’s cots are available in wide and tall size options, with new technologies that make them easier to store, transport, and put together when it’s time to hit the sack. When you’re ready to elevate your sleeping experience, here are three things to think about when choosing a camp cot.

Coleman ComfortSmart Cot


This product comes with a separate camping mattress for all-night comfort.Coleman

With more folks camping than ever before, cot manufacturers are offering larger and larger models to accommodate a wider range of body sizes and afford greater comfort. Even if you’re not an XL camper, longer and wider cots let you toss and turn, and larger cots keep the hard, uncomfortable cot frames farther away from knees and elbows.

Coleman Trailhead II Cot
This design of this model doesn’t have hard, metal bars that can dig into your sides.Coleman

Camping cots vary widely in how much weight they will safely hold. Think about how you’ll use the cot over the long haul. If you want to pile a bunch of gear on the cot for sorting and packing or think you might convert it occasionally to a camp seat or sofa for a couple of people, make sure it’s rated to hold the excess poundage.

TETON Sports Outfitter XXL Camping Cot
A pivoting arm on this model snaps into place for a super-easy setup.TETON Sports

One of the big benefits of a camping cot over a sleeping pad on the ground is that the raised sleeping surface gives you storage room under the cot. Some cots are only a few inches above the ground, while others are high enough that you’ll be able to slide large duffel bags and luggage cases underneath, opening up valuable floor or tent space. Check the height of a cot before you buy to make sure there’s enough room for you to stash whatever you need under your bunk.