In our opinion, the Tough Outdoors Cot delivered mediocre results overall. It does seem to be fairly sturdy — hence the name — but we felt there was quite a bit to be improved when it comes to comfort and ease of assembly/disassembly. It also isn't particularly easy to carry. All in all, we weren't the most impressed with this cot, though it does retail at a fairly reasonable price, and would generally recommend going with a different product.
Tough Outdoors Cot Review
Cons: Not the most comfortable, accelerated wear and tear
Manufacturer: Tough Outdoors
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Our Analysis and Test Results
While the vast majority of our testers didn't find this cot to be the most comfortable, this was mainly due to the bars at the head and foot of the bed. This might not be an issue if you are on the shorter side, but we found most people were troubled by this feature.
Ease of Setup
Right off the bat, we ranked and scored the difficulty of assembling and breaking down the Tough Outdoors Cot. This is responsible for 40% of the final score for each product, with the Tough Outdoors Cot earning a 5 out of 10 for being about average to put together.
We found it usually takes approximately 10 minutes to put this cot together. You just need to unfold the main frame and then slot the head and foot bars through the fabric and then lock them into position. It isn't too difficult, but we weren't fans of the separate head and foot bars.
We also found that it isn't uncommon to get your fingers pinched or in the position to be pinched when unfolding this cot, and it can be hard to unfold in confined areas. This is definitely a cot to unfold outside of your tent and then bring inside, rather than trying to set it up inside — no matter how inclement the weather is.
There is also a separate side organizer that you can attach for keeping your phone or water bottle close at hand during the night, as well as easy access to anything else you might need.
Breaking down this cot is about the same amount of work, and it generally fits back into its carrying case without much fuss.
Next, we moved on to rating and ranking how difficult it is to carry around each cot, which accounts for 30% of the total score. We awarded points based on the packed size of each product, how much it weighs, and how hard it would be to walk or hike with. The Tough Outdoors Cot delivered another middle-of-the-road performance.
The Tough Outdoors Cot has a packed size of roughly 6"x6"x40" and weighs a bit less than twenty pounds. Obviously, this cot is not meant for backpacking or for hiking any sort of distance at that weight and size.
The carrying case does have handles and wouldn't be too bad to carry for a couple of minutes but we wouldn't want to carry it any further. The Tough Outdoors Cot is definitely a cot for drive-in campgrounds, not for hike-in.
Next, we finally got around to comparing how comfortable it is to lay down on each product, which is responsible for 20% of the final score. We enlisted the help of a panel of judges to score each cot, aggregating their opinions to get our final scores. We also deducted points if we found it easy to knock your head, elbows, or ankles on parts of the frame when you rolled around or adjusted your orientation throughout the night. The Tough Outdoors Cot did a little worse in this metric, meriting it a 4 out of 10 for its less than average result.
The vast majority of our judges found this cot to be on the narrower side — to the point where elbows were hit an undesirable amount when in this cot. It does provide decent amounts of support and feels plenty comfortable when you aren't in contact with the metal frame.
However, most of our testers found they couldn't lay on this cot without resting their head or feet on a bar without additional padding — unless they were on the very short side. You could make it work with a pillow or blanket but there is nothing like jamming your ankle on an aluminum bar in the night to make you dislike a cot, no matter how "tough" it is.
Our last metric dealt with the durability of the Tough Outdoors Cot, which is the only metric where this cot scored above average. While we can't speak beyond our experience with the unit we tested, we did base our scores for durability on how it handled our comprehensive test process, our overall opinion of the design, and if we saw any common complaints in other user reviews about parts of this cot wearing out.
We think this model is reasonably sturdy and well-constructed but it did start to wear and tear a bit too fast for our liking in a few areas. The plastic knobs that the head and foot bars lock onto started to show scrapes and scuffs after only a handful of times of being put together and taken apart.
However, this cot is rated for 300 pounds, and we didn't find too many negative reviews related to it breaking or wearing out over time. The damage to the plastic parts didn't seem to affect the overall integrity of the cot, so it should last you for quite a while.
The Tough Outdoors Cot isn't one of the more expensive products of the group but there are other cots in the same price range that we vastly preferred and might be a better option if you are shopping on a budget.
The Tough Outdoors Cot's main deficiency in our mind are the bars that run across the head and foot. These can be quite an annoyance at best — or painful at the worst, especially when you hit your head or feet on them. You can get a decent night's sleep on this product for sure, but we think there are quite a few products that would serve most people better.
— Marissa Fox