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Army Cot | Military Cot


An army cot is the most popular cot style used for camping. It offers an elevated sleeping surface and still packs away into a compact space for easy transport.

Army-style cots are available in the greatest number of sizes and are among cots with the highest weight capacity. Most heavy-duty cots are army-style cots.

Campers looking for a king cot will find them in this style.

These cots are also advertised as military cots or army-surplus cots.

Campers who are unfamiliar with cots can have a look at the Campetent camping cot page.


A military cot has three pairs of legs that cross like an 'x' underneath the cot and support the frame.

The frames on these cots consist of two side rails, which support a fabric sling, and of detachable end rails, also called end braces or end bars, which brace the side rails apart to hold the fabric taut.

A military cot is also a folding cot in that, after the end rails are removed, the side rails collapse together and fold in halves or thirds, and the legs fold against the side rails.

Setting up the cot

To set up an army style cot, campers will need to:

  1. Unfold the legs and side rails (the legs should all attach to side rail of the cot)
  2. Separate the side rails until the sling fabric is taut
  3. Insert the separate end rails into the fabric sleeves
  4. Attach the end rails to the side rails
  5. Open the legs and attach them to the opposite side rail

Packing away the cot

To pack away the cot:

  1. Pull the end rails off of the side rails
  2. Slide the end rails out of the fabric sleeves
  3. Collapse the side rails together
  4. Fold the side rails and legs
  5. The outer legs often fold over to the other side of the side rails and lock the folded cot in a closed position
  6. Roll up the kit in the sling fabric and pack it into its duffle-type carrying case for transport

Weight issues with military cots

Because the legs of a military cot are at a 45-degree angle to the ground, they are under a fairly strong bending load or force, when a camper is lying on the cot.

The aluminum cot frame is resistant to corrosion, but not as strong as steel.

Unless the cot has been rated conservatively for weight capacity, the lower legs may bend over time, if a camper weighs more than 2/3 of the weight capacity of the cot—see weight chart on the camp cot page.

In order to address this issue, some cot manufacturers offer reinforced legs with one of the following features:

  • heavy duty, heavy-gauge aluminum tubing
  • aircraft, hardened, or tempered aluminum tubing
  • steel-reinforced aluminum tubing
  • aluminum tubing with steel inserts
  • steel tubing

An easier solution is a cot with a substantially higher weight rating.


Carry weight for army cots runs from approxmately 7 to 25 lb or about 3 to 20 kg, with lighter weight cots being aluminum and heavier cots steel.

A military cot style offers a large, uniform, and elevated sleeping surface, which can be packed away in a carrying case for easy transport.

Campetent strongly recommends that, before camping with an army cot, you read the military-cot tips page for ideas on assembling the cot.