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 sleep.
But don't be deceived, not all cots for camping are equal. A quick google search for the best backpacking cot or lightweight cots for camping will deliver of host of impossibly cheap Amazon-only options, and though we haven't personally tested each, we'd warn against trusting these knockoff designs. As they say—if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
That said, we vouch for the following seven camp cot options, each with a unique, proven system of suspension designed to elevate above uneven ground, offer better back support, and allow more air flow underneath the body for a cooler, more comfortable sleep during warmer months.
The 7 Best Cots for Camping
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 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, 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.)
Packed Dimensions: 16 x 4 inches
Minimum Trail Weight: 2 lbs 10 oz
Weight Capacity: 325 lbs
Price: $200 SHOP NOW
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.
And for those less concerned with backpacking-friendly weight and more interested in style and comfort, check out the recent Helinox x Filson collaboration, which features a cool camo camp cot.
Packed Dimensions: 21 x 5 inches
Minimum Trail Weight: 2 lbs 13 oz
Weight Capacity: 265 lbs
Price: $250 SHOP NOW
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, 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.
Packed Dimensions: 17 x 7 inches
Minimum Trail Weight: 4 lbs 13 oz
Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
Price: $190 SHOP NOW
Weighing in at 4 lbs and 14 oz, and only $100(!) the Desert Walker Cot is our top pick for the budget-constrained car camper. Although we aren't super familiar with this brand, with its fast and easy setup, this cot seems equally fit for camping and overnight guests at home as well. We can't recommend it for thru-hiking, but it seems a solid option for the weekend warriors among us.
Packed Dimensions: 19.5 x 5.5 inches
Minimum Trail Weight: 4 lbs 14 oz
Price: $100 SHOP NOW
This chic, minimalist cot from Japanese outdoor retailer Snow Peak hits all the right beats style-wise and in terms of practicality. With durable but comfortable polyester 600D for the fabric and a stainless steel frame, the aluminium 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
Price: $426 SHOP NOW
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
Price: $125 SHOP NOW
A staple brand of childhood camping trips, Coleman is synonymous with affordable but highly practical camping gear. Ideal for family camping, the military-style Trailhead Cot makes setting up camp a breeze, using a dual cross-bar steel bed frame that is both supportive and folds down to a compact, car-friendly size. The roomy 73 x 35 x 17 inch sleeping area gives you plenty of space to stretch and turn over during the night without fear of rolling off onto the cold ground.
Packed Dimensions: 41 x 9.7 x 7.5 inches
Minimum Trail Weight: 21.4 lbs
Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
Price: $50 SHOP NOW