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Military and Army Cot Tips

Many tent campers get frustrated trying to assemble the frame of a military or army cot, but this style of cot is easy to set up, once you are aware the technique:

How an army cot works

The fabric of a cot is cut to tightly fit across the rails, which allows it to firmly support the sleeping camper.

However, this cot style has a frame that disassembles for transport and assembles for use. The tight fit of the fabric on the frame can make it difficult to assemble the cot frame until the cot has been used a few times and the fabric stretches.

An army cot frame has separate end rails that slide through sleeves on both ends of the fabric sling and then attach to the ends of the side rails.

The end rails or end bars of this cot style usually have holes in them which accept a knob-like end fitting on the end of the side rail.

Getting started assembling the frame

Slide the rails through the sleeves of the fabric sling.

The first end rail should then snap easily onto the side rails on one end. You may also be able to snap on one side of the second end rail. The fourth end fitting, however, is the tough one.

By the time you have attached the second end rail over one of the end fittings, the fabric will be quite taut, and the end bar may not want to travel far enough to snap onto the final end knob.

A tip for attaching the second end rail

Many military cot owners have reported success by using a short bar to lever the second end rail onto the last end fitting:

  1. insert the levering bar down through the top of the unattached frame corner where the end bar meets the side rail (the fabric will be notched so you can pass the levering bar through).
  2. slide the levering bar down to where the leg meets the side rail.
  3. gently lever with the bar until you draw the end rail over the end fitting on the side rail and snap the end rail securely onto the side rail.

A hammer handle may be able to do the job as a levering bar.

Since most cot frames are aluminum, which is a relatively soft metal, use care how and where you apply force, in order not to bend the frame or a connector.

Campetent also recommends that army-cot owners find or make their own levering tool and keep it in the cot carrying sack.

Another tip for attaching the end rails

If you do not have anything to lever with, there is another method that works to attach the end bars on a military-style cot.

You may need to use this method outside the tent and then bring the fully-assembled cot into the tent:

  1. attach the first end bar onto both of the side rails
  2. attach the second end bar onto one of the side rails
  3. stand the cot (on end) on the end rail that is not completely attached
  4. stand at the unattached corner of the cot frame
  5. put your foot on the end rail, near the edge
  6. gently tip (lever) the top of the cot back and guide the unattached side rail up and onto the end rail

A second pair of hands may be useful to guide the end fitting of the side rail into the hole of the end rail.

Stretching the fabric

Some manufacturers recommend sitting on the fabric sling after you first set up the cot in order to stretch the fabric slightly and make it easier the next time to insert the side rails into the end braces.

If you were able to easily lever the last corner into place, then you shouldn't need to stretch the fabric.

In conclusion

These tips for assembling a military-cot frame should allow any leisure tent camper to feel confident about purchasing and using an army cot.