Best Camping Cots of 2020
Best Overall Cot
Coleman Pack-Away Cot
If you are searching for an excellent all-around cot, it's hard to beat the Coleman Pack-Away Cot. This camping cot is a cinch to set up or take down, taking only a few minutes with its mostly unibody construction. It offers tons of support for both back and side sleepers and doesn't have any bars across your head or feet to hit during the night. It folds up into a relatively compact form, isn't too heavy, and seems to be built very sturdily, though it definitely isn't made for backpacking.
Our main issue with this cot is that it doesn't lock into the unfolded position. This was never an issue once it was set up; however, we found the legs tended to buckle if we were dragging it around the campsite. This meant it always warranted a little extra caution to make sure the legs were in the correct position before sitting down as well. If the ground was uneven, it could also be a bit temperamental. Regardless, it's one of our all-time favorite sleeping solutions when camping, and we would highly recommend it to anyone who wants a top-tier cot.
Read Full Review: Coleman Pack-Away Cot
Best Bang For The Buck
KingCamp Folding Deluxe
If you are shopping for a new cot on a bargain and aren't looking to use it for backpacking, then the KingCamp Folding Deluxe is a wonderful option. In terms of folding or unfolding, this product is easily our favorite, usually only taking a minute or two to get the bed fully assembled. This lightweight cot is essentially the same form factor as a chair in a bag with a similar folding mechanism. It has an integrated headrest, excellent for a nap on the beach, or a great addition to a car camping set up.
While we did think the KingCamp Folding Deluxe cot is plenty comfortable, it doesn't support you quite as uniformly as other models and is a bit narrow. The folding mechanism also doesn't seem as heavy-duty as other products, and given our experience with folding chairs in a bag, we wouldn't be surprised if this isn't the most durable of the cots we have tested. Nevertheless, when it comes to unpacking, it is by far the most convenient and retails at a great price, making it the perfect option for anyone shopping for a new cot with limited funds.
Read Full Review: KingCamp Folding Deluxe
Best for Backpacking
If you looked at the Coleman Pack-Away or Kingcamp Folding Deluxe cots and thought that they were enormous, then the Helinox Lite is the cot for you. Tipping the scales at just under three pounds, this model is actually designed for backpacking. It could easily be strapped to a pack and is the perfect option for anyone who has struggled to find a camping pad that worked for them or has to sleep on their side in the backcountry.
Unfortunately, we found the Helinox Lite to be one of the more difficult cots to assemble. It takes a fair bit of force to bend each leg to lock into position when putting it together and has lots of pieces. We also noticed that depending on your height, the support for your head could be lacking. It's our top recommendation if you are looking for a cot to take into the backcountry. However, its high price and finicky assembly compared to even the top-tier sleeping pads make us wonder if cots are really meant to go backpacking in the first place.
Read Full Review: Helinox Lite
Best Cot for Comfort
If you care about having the comfiest night possible while camping above all else, then it's time to consider the Coleman ComfortSmart. Even without the included mattress, this tank of a cot is incredibly comfortable and is by far the most comfortable we have tested with the mattress. You have plenty of room to toss and turn; the ComfortSmart offers even support across its entirety — no pressure points or drooping points.
Regrettably, for its exceptional comfort, the Coleman ComfortSmart does trade a considerable amount of portability. We wouldn't want to carry this cot for any amount of distance, plus the amount of space it takes up can be cumbersome while car camping. While the Coleman ComfortSmart may be a pain to move, it's anything but to sleep in, and provided someone else got it there for us, we would gladly use it for any camping trip.
Read Full Review: Coleman ComfortSmart
Why You Should Trust Us?
Marissa Fox spearheaded our camping cot review. Due to a back injury and resulting surgery from professional snowboarding, Marissa has struggled to find a sleeping pad that worked. However, camping cots did, making her somewhat of an aficionado and brings her extensive cot expertise to this review. She also enlisted a panel of outdoor adventurers, avid car campers, and other cot enthusiasts to get more general opinions of how comfortable each cot is to people of different body types.
Along the way, we spent multiple nights in these cots in varied conditions, even going so far as to put houseguests on them over the holidays. We folded and unfolded each product dozens and dozens of times, as well as packing them in different cars and cargo carriers to assess portability. We also evaluated the overall construction and design of each product to get a sense of how durable they are, as well as noting any damage or wear and tear sustained throughout the course of testing.
Related: How We Tested Camping Cots
Analysis and Test Results
We conducted over a dozen distinct tests for each cot, dividing them into four weighted rating metrics: comfort, portability, ease of setup, and durability. Each metric was weighted proportional to its significance to the overall performance of each cot.
Related: Buying Advice for Camping Cots
If you are searching for a reliable camping cot on a budget, then it's hard to go wrong with the Kingcamp Folding Deluxe cot. This product is honestly one of our all-time favorite cots, and it retails at a very affordable price. However, our top pick, the Coleman Pack-Away Cot, doesn't cost all that much more than the Kingcamp Folding Deluxe, so it's worth considering if you can afford it. Unfortunately, most of the cots designed for backpacking, like the Helinox Lite, are on the more expensive side, so if you are on a budget, you are going to struggle to find a suitable ultralight cot.
Ease of Setup
First and foremost, we rated and compared how much work it took to set up and break down each camping cot. Points were awarded based on how long it took to assemble/disassemble each cot if there were any particularly problematic pinch points, and how many pieces each cot was made of, as well as how easy it was to fit the cot back into its carrying bag.
Taking the top spot in this metric, the Kingcamp Folding Deluxe is one of the quickest and easiest camping cots to set up or break down that we have seen to date. This single-piece cot unfolds just like a tailgating camp chair in a bag, usually taking less than a minute or two to get it completely set up and ready for someone to lie down on it. Your fingers are usually well away from the folding mechanism, so there is a low likelihood of them getting pinched, and it's very easy to get this cot back in the pack once folded back up. Folding it up is just about as easy as unfolding, with only a slight tug required to release the locking mechanism and minimal effort to collapse it together.
The Coleman Pack-Away Cot closely followed when it came to getting set up. This camping cot is almost as easy and fast to unfold as the Kingcamp Folding Deluxe, but the legs are a little more cumbersome to unfold and have a slightly higher potential to pinch some fingers. The main body of the Coleman Pack-Away Cot is a single piece, with an optional bedside table and a cup holder. However, you do need to take a few moments to make sure the legs are correctly angled before getting in it, as there isn't a defined locking mechanism with this cot. Overall it's quick and easy to get the Coleman Pack-Away Cot ready to go when it's time to go to sleep.
Another Coleman cot came next, the Coleman ComfortSmart. The only slight struggle we had with this cot is its sheer size, but its unibody design can usually be ready to lie down on in less than 2-3 minutes. You unfold the main part, then pop out the legs, and you are all set. This cot includes a mattress, which conveniently stows inside the legs and is easy to pull out and put on top once set up. However, it can be a little tricky to feed it back in for storage but doesn't add too much time to breaking down the Coleman ComfortSmart.
The Tough Outdoors Cot and the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL both followed for their fairly basic setup and breakdown process. Both of these cots require a bar across the head and foot that can take a bit of extra time and effort to put together. You need to slide the bar into the sleeve of the fabric and then lock it in place with some keyhole slots and pegs. This also tensions the fabric, so it can take a bit of force to lock each bar into position.
We did like that the version of the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL has a swing arm pivot that aligns the peg and slot when you go to lock it into place that makes it a little easier to set up than the Tough Outdoors Cot - but not by much.
The three ultralight cots all followed, being considerably more complicated than the other models. The Desert Walker Ultra Lightweight Cot and the Helinox Lite both earned a 4 out of 10. These have an identical design essentially, with two collapsible poles that run the length of the cot on either side and then four folding legs that get attached to these rails. It usually took at least 10 minutes to get these setup, as well as considerable strength to attach or detach the legs.
Finally, the Therm-a-Rest Luxury Lite Mesh cot rounded out the back of the group, earning a 3 out of 10. We weren't fans of this cot and dreaded whenever it came time to put it together. It uses a similar design as the other ultralight cots, with two side rail and a series of collapsible legs that attach. However, to provide extra strength and rigidity, the double-pole legs have to be twisted 180 degrees during assembly, making it challenging to assemble.
It takes considerable strength to bend the legs and lock them into place — enough that we were always concerned about accidentally breaking it — and every one of our judges found this cot to be a gigantic hassle to assemble or disassemble.
Next, we rated and scored how easy it is to move. For this set of tests, we looked at how much each cot weighed, the packed size of each one, and how easy they are to carry.
Tying for the top spot overall, the Helinox Lite and the Desert Walker Ultra Lightweight Cot both merited a 9 out of 10. The lightest models by far, these cots both tip the scales at less than three pounds.
Packing into an approximately 5-inch by 20-inch cylinder, this pair of cots can be easily strapped to a backpack or fit on a bike rack or pannier. Their small size also makes it extremely easy to toss them into a car or roof carrier, even when hauling a ton of gear.
Scoring just behind the Helinox Lite and the Desert Walker with an 8 out of 10, is the Therm-a-Rest LuxuryLite Mesh. It packs up almost as small but weighs just a bit more, measuring in at closer to 4.5 pounds.
The remainder of the cots are all significantly less portable. They are bulky and heavy enough that we can't see them being used for any sort of backpacking but are great for car camping or anything else where you won't need to carry them for more than 10-15 minutes. In terms of portability, the Coleman Pack-Away Cot, the KingCamp Folding Deluxe, and the Tough Outdoors Cot all were next, each receiving a 5 out of 10. The KingCamp Folding Deluxe is the lightest of these three, weighing just shy of 16 pounds. The Tough Outdoors Cot is a little heavier, weighing just over 18 pounds, followed by the Coleman Pack-Away Cot tipping the scales at around 23 pounds.
These three all fold up to be approximately 6"x6"x40" — about the size of a chair in a bag — and aren't too bad to carry for short distances if you aren't carrying much else. However, you really would struggle to strap these to a backpack or carry them for any significant distance.
Bringing up the rear of the group, the Coleman ComfortSmart and the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL each earned a 3 out of 10. The Teton Sports Outfitter XXL weighs over 25 pounds, making it the heftiest of the cots we have tested. The ComfortSmart isn't too far behind, weighing 21.5 pounds. These cots are both giant when packed, with the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL folding up into a large bag that is hard to pack other gear around in a car.
It's hard enough to carry that we wouldn't want to have to move it more than 20-30 yards. The ComfortSmart folds up to be roughly 40"x30"x6" but can be a little easier to pack other gear around than the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL.
Our next round of tests focused on how comfortable each cot is to sleep or lie down on and how it feels to sit on each like a bench. Specifically, we had different judges try out each one and give their overall impressions, as well as note if they hit their elbows on the sides or their heads or feet on the ends of each cot.
Claiming the top spot, we found the Coleman ComfortSmart to be the most comfortable of all the cots we have tested so far. This cot includes a padded mattress, but we still found it to be one of the most comfortable models even if you omitted it. It has ample room for most people to avoid hitting their elbows or their head/feet on the frame. This product feels very comfortable to lie on, offering ample support across your whole body.
The Teton Sports Outfitter XXL came next. This cot is absolutely giant — it's even wide enough that you could almost get two people on it if they didn't mind being very cozy. The mat has more than enough support to get a good night's sleep, and you could easily use this product as a bench as well.
Next in the rankings, Coleman Pack-Away Cot merited a 7 out of 10 from our comfort judges. This cot is quite a bit narrower than the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL or the Coleman ComfortSmart, making it much more likely you will hit your elbows in the side rail. However, the lack of head and foot rails give this cot a hammock-like feel, all while providing more than enough support. The lack of these rails also means you can never hit your head or foot on them, which was much appreciated.
Though the KingCamp Folding Deluxe doesn't have side rails, it does have some pressure points that can be quite painful if you clip your elbow or knee on them. The integrated headrest is nice, and there is enough support to be reasonably comfortable, but we could see adding some extra padding if we were going to use this for an extended trip.
The remainder of the cots — the Helinox Lite, the Desert Walker Ultra Lightweight Cot, the Therm-a-Rest LuxuryLite, and the Tough Outdoors Cot — all were a little on the uncomfortable side. The three ultralight cots all are only a few inches on the ground, making them much more work to get on or off of. Additionally, the construction of these cots makes it so you only seem well supported when you are lying perfectly flat on your back. However, if you are a side sleeper, it still is more comfortable to sleep on any of these cots than a typical sleeping pad.
The Tough Outdoors Cot is plagued by a completely different set of issues. While it has almost the same design as the Teton Sport Outfitter XXL, it's much smaller. We found that most people are very prone to not only smacking their heads or feet on the top and bottom rails but also hitting their elbows on the side rails.
While we did only test a single unit of each model over a few months and can't speak beyond that, we did notice some stark differences between how these different cots held up to our testing process. We based assessments on our overall impressions of the design and construction, as well as any damage or wear and tear sustained during use.
Overall, we think the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL seems to be the most durable of the cots we have tested to date. This cot has a rated weight limit significantly more than most of the other models at a whopping 600 pounds. The bed is 600D canvas, and the folding mechanism and frame a heavy-duty metal construction and a folding mechanism that showed no signs of damage after all our testing.
Next, the Coleman ComfortSmart is rated for 275 pounds and has a durable frame and didn't sustain any damage in our tests. Still, we could see the included mattress or the springs being a little more susceptible to damage than the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL.
The Coleman Pack-Away Cot and the Tough Outdoors Cot followed. These are both rated for up to 300 pounds and seem to have solid construction. The Pack-Away Cot didn't sustain any damage throughout our test. However, we did notice the plastic ends of the Tough Outdoors Cot where you slot in the head and foot bars started to show some scuffs and scratches after repeated use. This doesn't seem to affect the overall structural integrity of the cot, but is worth keeping an eye on.
The KingCamp Folding Deluxe has a rated weight of 265 pounds and didn't suffer anything beyond minor wear and tear in our tests, but we are a little hesitant about its folding mechanism. It seems to be much less sturdy than the top cots and borrow heavily from folding chairs in a bag, which aren't the most durable in our experience.
Next up, two of the ultralight cots — the Desert Walker Ultra Lightweight and the Helinox Lite. The Desert Walker claims to be rated for up to 400 pounds but shares an almost identical — if not slightly inferior construction in our minds — with the Helinox Lite, which is only rated to 265 pounds, so we are a little skeptical of this.
Though both cots held up fine to the rigors of our side-by-side testing process, the amount of force it takes when assembling or disassembling these products did give us some cause for concern, as we could easily see it leading to a pole snapping or tearing the fabric.
We ended up stretching out the fabric in a few places when trying to snap the legs in, as well as permanently bending one of the poles.
Hopefully, this has been a helpful analysis in your quest for a new camping cot, regardless if you are looking for a top tier or bargain model, a heavy-duty option for extended use, or an ultralight edition to take on your next backpacking trip.
— Marissa Fox