Three Things to Consider Before Buying A Cot

Make your overnights in the outdoors more comfortable with a camping cot.

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

If you’re backpacking, what you take with you is limited by what you can carry. But if you’re setting up a semi-permanent spike camp or car camping you can afford to pack along a few luxuries, and perhaps no single item adds more luxury to a backcountry experience than a cot, adding comfort by getting you up off the ground. The best of these give you a night’s rest that rivals your bed at home. Here are three things to look for when purchasing a backcountry bed.

REDCAMP Folding Camping Cots for Adults


Think of how you’ll transport your cot before settling on dimensions and pack weight.REDCAMP

Cots are typically pretty sizeable even when packed, but some are larger than others. Think of how you’ll be transporting your cot and examine the packed size. If you’re throwing it in the back of your pickup this is likely of little concern, but if you are strapping it to packhorse or tossing it into a canoe it becomes a bigger concern. Some cots pack down to nearly nothing but getting such a compact package can require the folding skills of an origami master. Consider both the collapsed size and ease of use.

Coleman ComfortSmart Cot


Cots alone are often comfortable, but a cot with an inflatable mattress or sleeping pad is even more so.Coleman

Pretty much any cot will be more enjoyable than a night on the ground, but some are more comfortable than others. Look at the suspension system to get an idea of how comfortable it will be. Cots typically utilize fabric tension, springs, or some combination of the two to keep you aloft, resulting in varying degrees of firmness. If you’re a picky sleeper, look for models with adjustable crossbars that let you choose how much support you get. If you prefer a plusher sleeping environment, chose a padded model.

TETON Sports Outfitter XXL Camping Cot


Make sure whatever cot you’re interested in is built strong enough to support whoever will likely be sleeping on it.TETON Sports

The average cot is about 25 inches wide and 75 inches long when assembled. If you plan on spending the night alone, you can pretty buy any old one and hit the trail. But if you’re heading out with your significant other, look for a cot that can fit both of you. But keep in mind that two-person cots are usually smaller than two-person beds, so thoroughly examine your sleeping habits before deciding to go this route—you may be better off with two individual cots if either of you is an active sleeper, and look for a plus-sized model if 25 inches seems too narrow for you.