Three Lightweight Cots for a Better Sleep While Camping
These highly-packable designs make getting a good night's rest under the stars easier than ever, without the noise and feel of an air pad
No longer is your only outdoor sleeping option a squeaky, ill-fitting air mattress, as the camping cot has come a long way from the days of military surplus wood-and-canvas behemoths fit only for barricks 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 sleep.
The elevated design makes uneven ground a nonissue while allowing for better back support and more air flow underneath the body, making for a cooler, more comfortable sleep during warmer months. Try it with a down quilt and rethink your entire camping sleep experience altogether.
The following three options are our top picks for the best cots for backpacking and car camping.
Therm-a-Rest UltraLite Cot
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. The UltraLite Cot ($200) is the latest, and likely the lightest and smallest packing cots available. It breaks down easily, can be set up without tools, and features reflective materials to help retain body heat.
At its lightest packable weight, 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. (For backpacking, the 12 oz NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad is hard to beat.)
Helinox Lite Cot
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 Lite Cot ($250) packs down to 2 lbs 13 oz, with only a slightly larger packed footprint.
Though we wouldn’t recommend it for extended thru hiking, the Helinox cot could be used for light backpacking and is ideal of hike-in campsites.
Alps Mountaineering Ready Lite Cot
At 4 lbs 14 oz the Ready Lite Cot from Alps Mountaineering ($143) is best suited for car camping and designed for maximum comfort. 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. For the budget constrained car camper, there is no better cot option than this.