Mom Goes Camping

9 Best Camping Cots, As Recommended by Real Campers

best cots for car camping and backpacking

A camping cot can make all of the difference for getting a good night’s sleep in a tent. This is especially true if you have back problems or are a side sleeper. Camping cots also have other benefits, like giving you extra storage space, a place to sit, and helping with temperature regulation.

But it important that you get the right cot for your style of camping. Here’s what you need to know about choosing camping cots, plus the best camping cots for car camping as well as some lightweight cots for backpacking.


Quick Picks:


Cot Comparison Table:

CotHeightLxWWeight LimitCot WeightPacked SizeCost
Therm-a-Rest UL Regular4.5"72x24"325lbs1.8lbs/2.6lbs16x4"$$
Therm-a-Rest UL Large4.5"77x26"325lbs2.2lbs/2.9lbs16x4"$$
Helinox Lite5"73x23.5”265lbs2.8lbs21x5"$$$
Helinox One Convertible6"/15"74.8x26.8” 320lbs6.1lbs21x7"$$$$
OneTigris Extendable6.3"/14.5"74.8×27.5”330lbs8.5lbs17.7×9×7.5”$$
REI Kingdom Cot 314"82x31.5" 300lbs20lbs33x32x8.5”$$
Coleman Pack-Away Cot17"80x44"300lbs23lbs37x6x6"$
Teton Outfitter XXL Cot 19.5"86x45"600lbs26lbs42x12x7"$$
Disc-O Kid-O Bunk Bed9.5"/28"65x32.5"200lbs23lbs34x16x9"$$$$
Disc-O Bunk Bed Large11"/32"82x32.5"500lbs30lbs33x15x5"$$$$
Coleman Queen Cot14"78x59″600lbs42.6lbs37x10.5x7"$$


Best Camping Cots Reviewed

1. REI Kingdom Cot 3

Best for: Comfort

REI Kingdom 3 camping cot


  • Height: 14”
  • Dimensions: 5”
  • Packed Size: 33×32 x8.5”
  • Cot Weight: 20lbs
  • Cot Material: polyester, fully padded
  • Frame material: Aluminum/steel
  • Weight limit: 300lbs
  • Available At: REI


  • Comfortable: The Kingdom Cot 3 by REI is very popular with car campers because it is so comfortable.  There are supports throughout the cot, including sides which are slightly raised.  Because the cot is fully padded, you can’t feel any of the supports on your back.  There is extra padding in the head and foot area.
  • Adjustable Front Legs: Another nice feature of the Kingdom Cot 3 is that the front two legs are adjustable.  This allows you to set up the cot as a recliner chair (though the back is very low – you won’t be able to sit up much in this position).  The adjustable legs also allow you to level the cot on uneven ground.
  • Quick and Easy Setup: The cot is very easy to set up and take apart, though it’s slightly annoying to adjust the leg height once the cot is fully opened.   The cot does weigh a hefty 20lbs, so it may be annoying to lug to camp.

The REI cot when folded – it’s definitely bulky!


  • Padding Annoying to Wash: You can’t remove the built-in padding on the REI Cot.  This makes it extra bulky for storage.  It also makes it a pain to wash.  You have to spot wash the padding.
  • No Storage Bag: This might not be a big deal – except that the padding gets dirty easily and it’s a pain to wash.  I personally would rather have a cot without padding.


2. Disc-O Bunk Bed Cots

Best for: Family camping

disco o bunk bed cots for camping

Specs (for L size):

  • Height: 11”/32”
  • Dimensions: 5″ (each)
  • Packed Size: 33x15x5” (each)
  • Cot Weight: 30lbs (each)
  • Cot Material: Polyester
  • Frame material: Steel
  • Weight limit: 500lbs (each)
  • Available At: Amazon, REI, Campsaver


  • Bunk Beds Give You More Floor Space: My friend Callie got the Disc-O bunk beds specifically for this reason.  It was the only way her family of four would fit into their 6p tent and still have room to walk around.   There’s even a “trundle” bed which can fit under the bottom bunk to give you more floor space in your tent (but it only fits under the XL sized bunk).
  • Can Turn Into Couch: The modular design on the Disc-O cots mean you can put it together as a couch too.  This might be good if you want to use it at home as well as camping.
  • Three Sizes and Lots of Accessories: There are also XL and kids’ sizes of the Disc-O bunk cots available.  They come with storage organizers and there are other accessories you can buy too.

The bunks fit into two (large!) carrying cases


  • No Headroom On Bottom Bunk: The bunk beds were designed so the top bunk is just 32” high.  This makes it possible for you to get on the top bunk without a ladder.  But it also means that the person on the bottom bunk won’t have any headroom for sitting up in bed.  There’s just 21” of space between the two bunks.
  • Takes a While to Setup: There are lots of different parts to assemble for the bunk cots.  Expect it to take at least 20 minutes to assemble both beds.  It’s probably not worth the effort if you are only camping one or two nights.
  • Heavy and Bulky: These camping cots are MASSIVE.  Each of the cots weighs about 30lbs and the carrying case is approximately 33x15x5 inches.  If you have a small vehicle, you might not be able to fit these cots in your trunk along with your other camping gear.
  • Pricy: The Disc-O bunk cots are not cheap.  But they are currently the only bunk bed cots available.  So, if you need the extra floor space,  you don’t have any other options.

Read my full review of Disc-O-Bed cots here


3. Coleman Pack-Away Cot

Best for: Affordable but still good-enough cot

Coleman Pack-Away camping cot


  • Height: 17”
  • Dimensions: 80×44”
  • Packed Size: 6x6x37”
  • Cot Weight: 23lbs
  • Cot Material: Canvas
  • Frame material: Steel
  • Weight limit: 300lbs
  • Available At: Amazon


  • Good for Tall and Large People: The sleeping area of the Coleman Pack-Away cot is 80×32 inches, which is a lot wider than most camping cots.  Because there aren’t any head or feet rails, you can actually use the full length of the cot.
  • Very Fast, Easy Setup: You literally just unfold the Coleman cot to set it up, much like a camping chair.  It takes seconds to do and even kids can handle it.
  • High Cot Height: With a height of 17 inches, the Coleman Pack-Away has enough room to fit totes underneath.  It also makes it easier to get in/out of bed.
  • Comes with Side Table: This feature is surprisingly nice to have.  It has a cup holder that you can use for a water bottle, your headlamp, or whatever you need to keep nearby.


  • Legs Don’t Lock: The biggest issue with the Coleman Pack-Away is that the legs don’t lock in place. They only stay in place once you lie down on it.  This can be an issue if you need to shift the cot for some reason, want to use it for a baby changing table, etc.
  • Terrible On Uneven Ground: Because there are 6 legs that are attached to the opposite leg with criss-crossing bars, it’s hard to set up the cot on uneven ground.  The feet are pretty small too, so you can’t easily prop them up to level the cot.


4. Coleman Two Person Queen-Sized Cot + Mattress

Best For: Cot for two people

coleman queen camping cot


  • Height: 14”
  • Dimensions: 78×59″
  • Packed Size: 5×37”
  • Cot Weight: 6lbs
  • Cot Material: Canvas
  • Frame material: Steel
  • Weight limit: 600lbs
  • Available At: Amazon, Campsaver


  • Two-Person Cot: This is one of the only cots for two people that you will find.  There are a few other options, but they aren’t built as well and are even bulkier.
  • Comes with Mattress, Battery-Operated Pump and Side Tables: The side tables are a really nice touch.  And, if you already were planning on using an air mattress, the set is a good deal.  Unfortunately though, you can’t buy the Coleman Queen cot by itself without the mattress.
  • Sturdy: The cot itself is very sturdy.  The steel frame can withstand some abuse and the canvas fabric is also pretty tough.  Like with all cheap air mattresses though, don’t be surprised if the Coleman air mattress eventually gets some leaks! Bring a repair kit with you.


  • Only for Really Big Cabin Tents: The cot height by itself is 14”.  With the queen mattress on top of it, the cot is approximately 22” high.  This makes it hard to use in dome tents or other tents with sloping walls.  Because the cot is so massive, you’ll also have to set up inside the tent – which can be annoying to do if you don’t have headroom.
  • Bar Down Middle of Cot: The Coleman queen cot has a support bar going down the middle.  This makes it really uncomfortable to snuggle with your camping partner.  You can’t feel the bar if you use the Coleman queen mattress with the cot. But you will definitely feel that bar if you decide to use a thinner mattress!  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a two-person cot which doesn’t have this bar.
  • Insanely Heavy: Because it is made from canvas and steel, the Coleman Queen cot is really heavy.  At over 40lbs, many people will have trouble moving it.  The cot does come with a wheeled bag, but the wheels won’t handle bumpy camp ground well.


5. Helinox Lite Cot

Best for: Backpacking

helinox lite backpacking cot


  • Height: 5”
  • Dimensions: 5”
  • Packed Size: 21×5”
  • Cot Weight: 2lbs 13oz
  • Cot Material: Nylon
  • Frame material: Aluminum
  • Weight limit: 265lbs
  • Available At: REI, Amazon, Campsaver


  • Insanely Lightweight and Compact: This is one of the only tent cots which is light enough to take backpacking.  The cot packs down tiny too.
  • Very Comfortable: The frame of the Helinox Lite is made in a way so the fabric is stretched taut throughout.  You won’t get that annoying longitudinal sag which occurs in many camping cots.  The fabric retains its tautness, so you don’t have to worry about your body hitting the ground even if you are a side sleeping.
  • Good for Tall People: There are no head or foot rails on the Helinox Lite frame, so tall people don’t have to worry about banging their heads on them.
  • Durable: For an ultralight cot, the Helinox Lite is surprisingly durable.  The material holds up well without ripping.

The Helinox Lite cot packs down TINY!


  • Expensive! The Helinox Lite is definitely luxury backpacking gear.  There are some other lightweight camping cots which cost much less than this.
  • Narrow: The width of the Helinox Lite is just 23.5 inches – and a bit of that width is taken up by the frame sides. If you put a thick sleeping pad on the cot, your body might go over the edges of the cot a bit.
  • Setup Takes a Bit of Practice: The biggest complaint about the Helinox Cot (aside from the price) is that it’s hard to set up.  There are several poles which have to be inserted.  The horizontal bars are under tension, so it can be tricky to get them in place – especially if you have joint problems or arthritis.  Definitely try setting it up at home before taking it to camp!
  • Low to the Ground: The low height of the Helinox Lite means you get almost no storage space underneath and it isn’t comfortable for sitting.  But the cot needs to be this low to fit in an ultralight tent.


6. Helinox Cot One Convertible

Best for: Insanely good, lightweight luxury cot

helinox one convertible backpacking cot


  • Height: 6” or 15” (with extenders)
  • Dimensions: 8×26.8”
  • Packed Size: 21×7”
  • Cot Weight: 5lbs 1oz (without extenders); 6.1lbs (with extenders)
  • Cot Material: Nylon
  • Frame material: Aluminum
  • Weight limit: 320lbs
  • Available At: REI , Amazon, Campsaver


  • Adjustable Height with Leg Extenders: The Helinox One has detachable legs.  This gives you two options for sleeping height: 6” or 15”.  Having these options is great if you camp in both larger and smaller tents.   Note that the leg extenders are sold separately at REI.
  • Very Comfortable and Suitable for Tall People: Like the Helinox Lite, the One cot is also very comfortable. There aren’t any head or foot bars, so tall people can use the cot comfortably too.


  • Not Light Enough: The Helinox One is very lightweight at just over 5lbs (6lbs with the leg extenders).  However, this weight seems high considering that the Helinox Lite cot is less than 3lbs.  It’s too bad that there isn’t a leg extender option for the Lite version.
  • VERY Expensive: The Helinox One Convertible is the most expensive tent cot reviewed here.  However, pretty much everyone who has bought the cot said it was worth the money.  Definitely an expensive investment though!


7. OneTigris Lightweight Extendable Cot

Best for: Overall great cot, if storage isn’t a priority

OneTigris lightweight camping cot


  • Height: 6.3″/14.5″
  • Dimensions: 74.8×27.5”
  • Packed Size:17.7×9×7.5”
  • Cot Weight: 8.5lbs
  • Cot Material: Polyester
  • Frame material: Aluminum
  • Weight limit: 330lbs
  • Available At: Amazon


  • Affordable: OneTigris makes cheaper versions of expensive UL gear. In this case, the cot is a knockoff of the Helinox One Extendable.  The OneTigris version isn’t made as well, but it costs a LOT less.
  • Lightweight and Compact: While the cot is still too heavy to take backpacking, it is lighter and more compact than other camping cots.
  • Two Heights: With the leg extenders, you can set the cot to either 6.5″ or 14.5″.  The 6.5″ height is very low so you might hit your butt on the ground when sitting on it.
  • Lifetime Warranty: It’s surprising to find a lifetime warranty on such a cheap camping cot.
  • No Head/Feet Rails or Crossbars: This makes it a good cot for tall people and it is fairly comfortable too.
  • Storage Bag: The bag also has some MOLLE attachment points, so you can  hang gear off of the cot too.


  • Lots of Parts to Assemble: It isn’t difficult to assemble the OneTigris cot, but there are a LOT of parts. Be careful you don’t lose any!
  • Generic Brand: You can find this exact same camping cot sold under other brand names too.  The quality assurance generally isn’t as good with generic brands that bulk purchase from Chinese manufacturers.
  • Not Much Storage Room Underneath: There are 16 (!!!) legs on the OneTigris cot.  The leg position makes it hard to fit gear underneath the cot.


8. Thermarest Ultralite Cot

Best for: Lightweight cot on a budget

therm a rest ultralight backpacking cot


  • Height: 5”
  • Dimensions: 24×72” (regular); 26×77” (Large)
  • Packed Size: 16×4”
  • Cot Weight: 1.8lbs/2.6lbs (regular); 2.2lbs/2.9lbs (Large)
  • Cot Material: Polyester
  • Frame material: Aluminum
  • Weight limit: 325lbs
  • Available At: Amazon


  • Very Lightweight and Compact: The Therm-a-Rest Ultralight cot really is the lightest backpacking cot on the market.  And, if you aren’t very heavy, you don’t have to use all of the cross poles when setting up the cot.  This means the regular-sized cot ends up weighing just1.8lbs. The entire cot packs down to around the size of a Nalgene bottle.
  • Lifetime Warranty: Therm-a-Rest has good warranties, including a lifetime warranty for their UL cot.  A few backpackers have said they’ve used it for years without any broken poles or fabric tears.  It’s definitely not as sturdy as the Helinox cot, but it will hold up if not abused.
  • Affordable(ish): Ultralight gear is almost never cheap but, compared to the Helinox UL cot, the Therm-a-Rest Lite cot is much more affordable.  You can usually find it on sale too.
  • No Head or Feet Rails: This makes it good for tall people. If you are skinny, you can get away with getting the Regular size instead of the Large to save some weight.

The cot packs down tiny, but has a zillion parts.

You can use either one or two cross poles when setting up the cot


  • Annoying Setup: The Therm-a-Rest Ultralight cot comes with a LOT of parts which you have to assemble. By comparison, the parts on the Helinox Lite cot have shock cords holding them together so you don’t have to reassemble them each time you set up camp.
  • Not for Sitting On: The UL cot only sits about 4 ½ inches off the ground.  If you sit on it, the cot will sag and your butt will hit the ground.
  • Terrible on Slanted Ground: Because there are so many feet/supports on the cot, it’s hard to get it to sit level on slanted ground.  The feet are shaped weirdly so it’s hard to put something underneath them to level out the cot.
  • Either Will Love or Hate It: Backpackers either find the Therm-a-Rest cot very comfortable, or they absolutely hate it. In case you fall into the second group, make sure you pay attention to the return policy!


9. Teton Outfitter XXL

Best for: Extra-large cot


  • Height: 5”
  • Dimensions: 86×45”
  • Packed Size: 42x12x7”
  • Cot Weight: 26lbs
  • Cot Material: Canvas
  • Frame material: Aluminum
  • Weight limit: 600lbs
  • Available At: Amazon

Note: There are also two smaller sizes of the Teton Outfitter available: Adventurer and Universal XL (see them here). But, because they have head and foot rails, I prefer the Coleman Pack-Away over them.

teton outfitter camping cot sizes


  • VERY Large: If you are a large person, then you’ll love how long and wide this cot is.  The rails take up a big of space, but the sleeping area is still a massive 35.5″ wide and 80″ long.  If you are petite, the cot is even big enough to co-sleep with a small child (not that I’d recommend it :)).
  • Lifetime Warranty: It’s a sign of good quality and craftsmanship that Teton has a lifetime warranty on all of their cots.
  • Easy Setup: It can be tricky to unfold a cot because the fabric needs to be stretched tight.  Teton solves this by adding an “arm” to their frame.  You just pull the arm/lever to get the last end bar in. It’s a very smart design.
  • Affordable: Considering how well this cot is made, it is priced very affordably.
  • Storage Accessories Available: Teton also has a few storage organizers that hang on or under the cot.  You have to buy these separately but they aren’t overpriced.
  • 600lb Weight Limit: The Teton XXL cot has a higher weight limit than any other single camping cot I’ve seen.  The fabric is very strong and doesn’t stretch even after enduring lots of use.


  • Head and Foot Rails: These aren’t a big deal if you get the XXL sized cot.  But, if you are tall and get one of the smaller sizes, you run the risk of your head or feet hitting the rails.
  • Heavy and Bulky: As you’d expect from an XXL camp cot, the Teton Outfitter is very heavy and bulky.  When packed, it’s even larger than the Coleman queen-sized cot.


Are Camping Cots Worth It?

If you mostly go backpacking or to walk-in campsites, then a camping cot probably isn’t worth it. Most camping cots are simply too heavy to carry and won’t fit in small tents. However, there are a lot of benefits to camping cots which make them worth getting:

  • Comfortable: Especially when the ground is rocky
  • Allows air to circulate underneath your body: Important when camping in hot weather
  • Extra storage underneath
  • Keep family contained: Less likely to end up with someone’s feet kicking you in the face!
  • Take naps outside: Without (as many) bugs crawling over you
  • Keeps gear off tent floor: Which keeps it dryer and cleaner
  • Getting in/out of bed is easier
  • Use as a guest bed at home


Choosing a Camping Cot

Not sure which camping cot to get? Here’s what features you should look at to make sure the cot is right for your style of camping.



Taller camping cots give you storage space underneath.  They also make it easier to get in/out of bed, and you can sit on them too.  But, if you have a small tent with sloping walls (as opposed to a large cabin tent), you might not be able to fit a taller camping cot in your tent.  Your head can end up banging the tent walls, which in turn can cause condensation problems.


Sleeping Area

The listed width of camping cots includes the side rails. The actual width will be several inches narrower.  This can make for a really tight fit.

As for the length of a camping cot, don’t forget to factor in your pillow. Your head sits in the middle of a pillow. If your pillow is large, you might even need to add as much as 5” of space for the part of the pillow that sticks out from your head.


Number of Legs

Cots with more legs will be sturdier and distribute your weight better.  However, I prefer camping cots with fewer legs.  The main reason is because you will have more storage space underneath.  It’s also a lot easier to set up a camping cot with just four legs on sloped ground.


Packed Size

The biggest downside of most camping cots is that they are VERY bulky and will take up a huge amount of space in your vehicle.  I recommend you actually get out a measuring tape and map out the dimensions of the cot before buying.  That way you can get an idea of how big the folded cot will really bed.


Fabric Type

Cheap camping cots are usually made from canvas. Canvas is prone to mildew (never put the cot away while it’s wet!).  Because canvas is so thick, it makes the cot bulkier and heavier.

Newer camping cots will use nylon or mesh materials. The thinner material has a lot of benefits, such as allowing air to circulate underneath you (great for summer camping), weighing less and being more compact.


Avoid Head and Feet Rails

Somoe camping cots, including Army cots, have bars at the head and feet.  These can be very annoying to sleep on: either your head or feet (or both!) will hit the bars while you sleep. If you are tall, avoid getting a camping cot which has these bars.  If you must get one with bars, make sure the sleeping area is actually long enough.


Also Avoid Crossbars

Older Army-style camping cots have support bars or straps in the middle.  These can be incredibly uncomfortable. Unless you are using a thick air mattress on the cot, avoid these types of cots.


Setup Time

If you mostly go on weekend camping trips, then avoid any camping cot which takes a long time to set up.  It simply won’t be worth the effort for short trips.  If you spend a lot of nights at the same camp though, then it won’t be so annoying to get a cot with a more involved setup.


Two-Person Camping Cots

There aren’t too many two-person camping cots available (one exception is the Coleman Queen-sized cot).   If the reason you want a 2-person cot is so you can “cuddle” with your partner at night, be warned: All two person cots have a bar going down the middle! You won’t be able to lay in the middle of the cot without the bar digging into your back. It’s still a better solution than pushing two cots together though, since you won’t have a gap between the cots.


About the author /

Diane Vukovic grew up camping and backpacking in upstate New York. Now, she takes her own daughters on wilderness adventures so they can connect with nature and learn resiliency. With dozens of trips under her belt, Diane is an expert in minimalist camping, going lightweight, planning, and keeping her kids entertained without screens.

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