No longer is your only outdoor sleeping option a squeaky, leaky, uncomfortable air mattress. The camp cot has come a long way from the days of military surplus wood-and-canvas behemoths fit only for barracks and forest service cabins. In recent years a number of brands have been innovating in the space, designing lightweight air pad alternatives engineered to help weary outdoor enthusiasts get a better night's sleep.
But don't be deceived; not all camping cots are created equal. A quick google search for the best backpacking cot or lightweight cots for camping will deliver a host of impossibly cheap Amazon-only options, and though we haven't personally tested each, we'd warn against trusting these knockoff designs even if the site marks them as their best sellers. As they say—if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
That said, if you’re looking for a high-quality, lightweight, and portable camping cot for your next camping trip that can be trusted on outings near and far for years to come, Therm-a-Rest and Helinox are far and away your best bet. Though the recent line revamp of Coleman camping cots has the classic brand taking aim at the aforementioned camp furniture forerunners.
The following eight camping bed options are ones we vouch for—each with a unique, proven system of suspension designed to elevate sleepers above uneven ground, offer better back support, and allow more airflow underneath the body for a cooler, more comfortable sleep during warmer months.
Pair one with a down quilt and a lightweight backpack (maybe a lightweight side table, too?) to rethink your entire camping experience altogether. When it’s the off-season for outdoor camping, these foldable cots can turn your living room into a sleeping area quick-deploying guest bed, outfitted with just a sleeping bag on top. Sure beats a leaky airbed.
The 8 Best Camping Cots
It doesn’t get much more OG than Seattle-based Therm-a-Rest. For decades the Cascade Designs brand has been outfitting record-breaking expeditions and car campers alike with the absolute highest quality sleep solutions beginning with their inflatable mattress pads. The UltraLite Cot is the latest and likely the lightest and smallest packing cot available. Available in Regular or Large sizes, it breaks down easily, can be set up without tools, and features reflective materials to help retain body heat.
At its lightest packable weight without the storage bag, the cot becomes backpacking friendly at around 2 lbs 10 oz (and that’s without leaving support poles at home, which would further lighten the load). While the standard packable weight lands around 3 lbs, this puppy has been our go-to for car camping for years, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Space-wise, it hardly takes up more room than two one-liter water bottles put together. (For backpacking, the 12 oz NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad is hard to beat.)
Packed Dimensions: 16 x 4 inches
Minimum Trail Weight: 2 lbs 10 oz
Weight Capacity: 325 lbs
The South Korean maker of our favorite camping chairs has been making cots for a few years now too. The look is quite a bit different from Therm-a-Rest, but the tech specs come damn close to matching. The Helinox Lite Cot packs down to 2 lbs 13 oz, with only a slightly larger packed footprint. Though we wouldn’t recommend it for extended thru hiking, this cot could be used for mellow backpacking and is ideal for hike-in campsites.
For those less concerned with backpacking-friendly weight and more interested in style and comfort, check out the Helinox x Filson collaboration.
Packed Dimensions: 21 x 5 inches
Minimum Trail Weight: 2 lbs 13 oz
Weight Capacity: 265 lbs
You’ll spot a Dometic cooler in all of the most decked-out adventuremobiles, and now they’re branching out into even more comfort-focused goods with pieces like this lightweight and sturdy cot. An oversized steel frame elevates sleepers well above the hard cold ground at the height of twenty inches. If you’re always forgetting your pillow, this sleeping cot has you covered with its short but integrated comfy pillow.
Packed Dimensions: 41 x 5.1 x 6.1 inches
Minimum Trail Weight: 21 lbs
Weight Capacity: n/a
This deluxe, minimalist cot from Japanese outdoor retailer Snow Peak hits all the right beats style-wise, and in terms of practicality; who says camp furniture has to look like camp furniture anyways? With durable but comfortable polyester 600D for the fabric and a collapsible stainless steel frame, the aluminum legs use innovative design to create tension where weight is placed heaviest on the fabric, ensuring maximum support and zero sagging.
Packed Dimensions: 49 x 11 x 7.8 inches
Minimum Trail Weight: 13.2 lbs
Trusted by everyone from alpinists to families, Eureka has been helping people discover the outdoors since the 1800s. While best known for their tents, their wide range of other outdoor gear is equally reliable. Their Camp Cot is great for weekend getaways and overnight camping, setting up without hassle in just a minute. The heavy-duty fabric includes a faux leather headrest for increased comfort, and the strengthened steel frame supports up to 300 pounds.
Packed Dimensions: 37.5 x 5.5 x 5 inches
Minimum Trail Weight: 14.8 lbs
Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
The classic American outdoor brand Coleman practically became a household name during the recreation boom of the 1950s with their line of coolers, lanterns, and gas grills that ephemera enthusiasts collect to this day. Today, their offerings provide campers comfort well beyond their midcentury catalogs, like this compact-packing camp cot that receives design queues from the twenty-first century.
Spring-loaded hubs snap the lightweight poles into place for a quick and easy setup, a feature you’ll undoubtedly appreciate at the end of a long day of hiking and fun in the sun. Rounded feet at the ends of the poles offer increased stability on a variety of terrain, and the cot’s surface tension is perfected for a night of supportive and comfortable sleep.
Packed Dimensions: 26 x 6.5 x 6.5 inches
Minimum Trail Weight: 15.8 lbs
Weight Capacity: 350 lbs
At 4 lbs 13 oz, the Ready Lite Cot from Alps Mountaineering is best suited for car camping or mellow hike-in sites. Designed for maximum comfort and a good night’s sleep, the aluminum frame and abrasion-resistant ripstop fabric provide a sturdy platform for sleeping. while the zippered carrying bag makes packing easy as can be, it compacts into a storage bag that takes up about as much space as a lounge chair.
Packed Dimensions: 17 x 7 inches
Minimum Trail Weight: 4 lbs 13 oz
Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
This option’s certainly the lowest on this list of recommended folding camp cots due to the brand name with questionable clout levels on tap. Still, it’s hard to ignore the low cost and familiar design: a light aluminum frame with plastic hubs/legs that bring a suspended sleeping surface just inches above the ground. It might not last long, but it’ll probably offer up a good night’s sleep or two.
Packed Dimensions: 18 x 6.3 inches
Minimum Trail Weight: 4.8 lbs
Weight Capacity: 330 lbs (allegedly)