» Camping Cot

Camping Cots and Camping Beds

A camping cot provides an elevated sleeping surface, which allows a tent camper to easily get in and out of bed.

Since it has legs, a cot also provides a storage area underneath, and thus performs two functions in the same floorspace.

When camping, a cot has another advantage over an air mattress, in that it cannot spring a leak and deflate.

Camping cots are also known as camp cots, folding cots, fold-up cots, foldable cots, camper cots, or camping beds.

Like self-inflating pads, cots come in a wide variety of lengths and widths.

For those shopping for a cot, Campetent has put together a chart of various cot sizes.

Anatomy of a folding cot

Cots are composed mainly of three parts:

Cot part Function
the legs support the frame
the frame side rails and ends tension the fabric cover
the fabric cover, sling or deck support the camper

Features and accessories

Most cots offer a 600D x 300D polyester fabric deck with a vinyl coating. This is a sturdy fabric that will resist moisture, dirt, and stains.

Some cots offer an organizer, also called a nightstand, apron, pouch, or pocket. This is a piece of fabric that hangs from the side of the cot and contains one or more pockets to provide storage and easy access to flashlights, wallets, eyeglasses, keys, toiletries, tools, etc.

Cot styles

Cots set up and pack away in various ways, depending on style. There are four main cot styles:

Bi-fold or tri-fold folding cot
These camping cots are similar to beach chairs, which fold in half or thirds to pack away. They also use the same hollow, u-shaped, tubular legs...

Military folding cot or army cot
This is the most popular style of cot used for tent camping. It offers an elevated sleeping surface and still packs away into a compact space for easy transport...

Compact folding cot
Compact, low-profile, collapsible cots are designed to elevate the sleeping camper a few inches off of the ground, and to disassemble and pack with minimal bulk and weight...

Accordion folding cot
Accordion cots have short, vertical leg posts that are interconnected by cross braces. The base expands outward in length and width to use and collapses together for transport. These are also called "instant-set" cots, because they deploy and pack away in a snap...

Tent cots
Tri-fold cots are also manufactured as tent cots, which have an integrated tent canopy over the frame. These are complete tents on a cot. The "tent" is the length and width of the cot and rises a few feet above the frame. The camper crawls through a small door at the foot of the tent cot to enter.

Considerations in purchasing a camping cot

Some considerations in selecting a camping cot include:

  • How long and wide is the cot?
  • Does it provide any/enough cushion?
  • How much weight can it support without failing (bending legs or frame, broken connectors, etc)?
  • How does it assemble and pack away?
  • Will the cot legs damage the floor of the tent?
  • What are the construction materials (aluminum or steel)?

Couples and cots

For campers who are considering a double-wide cot for two people, the only current option is to get a double tent cot (see above) and not hang the upper tent fabric.

A double tent cot can also serve as a separate pup tent for a guest or children who want or need separate sleeping quarters.

Couples who prefer to sleep together on a cot in a standard tent can instead lash or strap two cots together to form a common bed. However, there will be a rail down the middle. 

An air-mattress frame with a queen mattress is also an option for couples and provides a bedroom-chamber experience to tent camping.

In conclusion

Camping cots offer an elevated sleeping platform for campers. They are available in several styles and many sizes. Campetent has devoted several pages to the various styles, sizes and features in order to guide campers to a suitable cot for camping. Readers may be interested in reading our cot size page next.

For further information about cots, have a look through the articles at the bottom of this page.

Folding cot brands include: Alps Mountaineering, Blantex, Browning, Byer of Maine, Cabelas, Chinook, Coleman, Eureka, Gander Mountain Gigatent, Innovative Earth Products, Ledge, Ledmark, L.L. Bean, Nebo, Northwest Territory, Ozark Trail (Walmart), Pacific Outdoors, Premier, REI, Rio, Slumberjack, Stansport, Swiss gear (Wenger), Texport, Wenzel.

Camping cot articles

Camp cot capacities
A folding camp cot adds comfort and some bulk to the tent camping experience. The most suitable cot is a compromise between size, transport bulk, ...

Military cot | Army cot setup
Many campers get frustrated trying to assemble the frame of a military (army) cot, but this style of cot is easy to set up, once campers are aware of the technique...

Aluminum cots
An aluminum cot is the most widely available of cot frames. These cots are lightweight and resistant to corrosion, which makes them easy to transport and ideal for outdoor use...

Heavy-duty cots
Many large campers seek a heavy-duty cot that they feel confident will support them and give good performance for many years...

King cots
A king cot is a heavy-duty, xx-large cot. It will most likely be used in a very large, family tent or an outfitter tent. These cots are popular with sportsmen for their size and added features...

Deluxe padded folding cots
Deluxe folding cots offer extra features for more comfort. Most campers looking for more comfortable cot are interested in padded cots...

Sleeping cot usage and repair
Unlike camping mattresses and pads, sleeping cots have legs. This means that the entire weight of the camper can be focused on a few small spots on the tent floor...

Air mattress frames
Air mattress frames and mattresses give a tent the feel of a bedroom chamber. Couples can sleep in a tent as they do at home...

Cots and camping pads
Many campers are looking for cot mattresses to make cot camping more comfortable...

Folding camp cot buyer's guide
Folding camp cots add comfort and some bulk to the tent camping experience. The most suitable cot is a compromise between size, transport bulk, and tent space...