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Desert Walker Cot Review

The Desert Walker is a bargain option for a backpacking cot but didn’t impress us all that much
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Price:  $90 List | $89.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Small packed size, doesn’t weigh much
Cons:  Difficult to assemble, not our favorite when it comes to comfort
Manufacturer:   Desert Walker
By Marissa Fox ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 6, 2020
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54
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 8
  • Ease of Setup - 40% 4
  • Portability - 30% 9
  • Comfort - 20% 4
  • Durability - 10% 3

Our Verdict

The Desert Walker Ultra Lightweight Cot is basically an exact clone of another cot in this review made by a well-known gear manufacturer. It retails for quite a bit less and claims to have a higher weight limit — something we found to be quite suspicious — but it just doesn't seem to be as well built as it could be. It can take some time and effort to put together and isn't amazingly comfortable, but it is one of the only cots that you could even consider taking on a backpacking trip in its price range.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

We aren't huge fans of cots for backcountry camping in the first place, with the Desert Walker Ultra Lightweight Cot causing us some concern. This cot is essentially rendered useless if a single piece breaks, and we don't think it's as durable as some of its other ultralight cot competitors.

Performance Comparison


The Desert Walker is a budget backpacking cot but gave us a few causes for concern.
The Desert Walker is a budget backpacking cot but gave us a few causes for concern.

Ease of Setup


Our first round of tests focused on how difficult it is to get the Desert Walker Ultra Lightweight Cot ready to go, looking at the time and effort it takes to set up and break down, how hard it is to get back into its carrying case, and the number of pieces it's made out of to determine scores. Overall the Desert Walker had a lackluster showing.

This product can be one of the harder ones to put together.
This product can be one of the harder ones to put together.

This product has two side rails, four legs, and the mat that you lay on, so it can take a few minutes just to get all the frame pieces sorted and unfolded. You slide both side rails through the fabric part and then snap the legs into position. This isn't the easiest task by any means, usually taking 10-15 minutes to get this cot fully assembled.

It can take some effort to clip the legs on the side rail.
It can take some effort to clip the legs on the side rail.

It can be equally difficult to disassemble this cot, since you need to exert considerable force on each leg to bend them enough to unclip them from the side rails. You need to fold up the frame pieces in a very specific way to get this cot to fit back into its carrying case. All in all, we weren't particularly thrilled whenever it came time to set up or break down this product.

Most of the backpacking cots won't fit back into their case unless carefully packed.
Most of the backpacking cots won't fit back into their case unless carefully packed.

Portability


While the Desert Walker Ultra Lightweight Cot has plenty of flaws when it came to setting it up or breaking down, it does redeem itself a bit when it comes to portability. This metric is responsible for 30% of each cot's total score, with the Desert Walker Ultra Lightweight Cot earning a 9 out of 10.

This camping cot is one of the lightest models we have tested so far, hence the Ultra Lightweight moniker, weighing just a bit less than three pounds. When packed correctly, it only measures around 5"x19".

The Desert Walker is one of the lighter and more compact cots we have tested.
The Desert Walker is one of the lighter and more compact cots we have tested.

You could easily attach it to the outside of a backpacking pack or even fit it inside. This obviously is a bit heavier than a traditional backpacking sleeping setup but not by much, so you could conceivably carry it on a longer hike, though you might get shunned by any ultralight backpackers that pass you.

This cot is decently comfortable to sleep on  elevating you off the ground by a few inches.
This cot is decently comfortable to sleep on, elevating you off the ground by a few inches.

Comfort


The performance of the Desert Walker Ultra Lightweight Cot dropped again in this metric, with this cot earning a 4 out of 10. We came up with this by polling a panel of judges and averaging their scores and opinions, paying particular attention if anyone commented about the fabric failing to provide support or if they found it easy to accidentally clip their elbow or knee on the frame when moving around on the cot.

Right off the bat, the Desert Walker Ultra Lightweight Cot can be a little uncomfortable and awkward to get on. It's only a few inches off the ground and most people will bottom out the fabric when sitting on it, so it can definitely take some getting used to.

The Desert Walker isn't the longest cot we have tested by any means.
The Desert Walker isn't the longest cot we have tested by any means.

There aren't bars at the head or foot of the Desert Walker Ultra Lightweight Cot but this can leave your feet and head feeling a little unsupported. However, this does mean that it's much harder to accidentally hit your head or feet on the frame. This cot is a little on the narrow side, so it can feel somewhat claustrophobic and the side rails are just the right distance to clip your knees if you curl your legs during the night.

We just didn't think this product felt as sturdy as comparable cots.
We just didn't think this product felt as sturdy as comparable cots.

Durability


For our final series of Desert Walker Ultra Lightweight Cot evaluations, we looked at its durability. This accounts for the final 10% of the score for each cot and is based on our opinions of the construction and design of each product, their rated weight, and if they sustained any damage during our testing. The Desert Walker Ultra Lightweight Cot left quite a bit to be desired, earning a 3 out of 10.

This cot has a rated weight limit of 440 pounds — which we found to be highly suspect, especially given that it has an almost identical design to another cot that is rated for only 265 pounds. The Desert Walker Ultra Lightweight Cot didn't sustain any major damage during our testing but we could see the fabric tearing over time. It's easy to accidentally catch the leg clips on the fabric instead of the side rails when assembling or disassembling the cot.

The Desert Walker is generally much less expensive than other ultralight cots.
The Desert Walker is generally much less expensive than other ultralight cots.

Value


This ultralight cot does cost significantly less than similar models, so it might be a good value if you are shopping for a backpacking cot on a budget. However, we would be a little concerned with the longevity of this product.

Conclusion


The Desert Walker Ultra Lightweight Cot is a relatively inexpensive backpacking cot. It's difficult to assemble and isn't the most comfortable but it's small and lightweight. It's not really our favorite cot but if you are on a tight budget and need a backpacking ultralight cot, the Desert Walker Ultra Lightweight Cot is worth checking out.


Marissa Fox