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After researching more than 30 of the best camping cots on the market, we bought the 10 most promising models for side-by-side testing. Our goal is helping you find the perfect model for you to use the next time you need a portable bed. We extensively tested each model, rating and comparing how easy each is to assemble and transport. We also scored them for comfortability and durability. Keep reading to find out which cot is the comfiest, which is the quickest to put together, and which is the best bargain.
If you're on the hunt for an excellent all-around cot, it's hard to beat the Coleman Pack-Away Cot. This model is a cinch to set up and 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, the legs tended to buckle if we found ourselves 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. It could also be a bit temperamental on uneven ground. 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.
If you are shopping for a new cot on a budget 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 which is excellent for a nap on the beach or a great addition to a car camping setup.
While we did think the KingCamp Folding Deluxe cot is plenty comfortable, it is a bit on the narrow side and doesn't offer the same level of uniform support provided by other cots we have tried. The folding mechanism and overall constructions don't seem quite as heavy-duty as some of the other cots, and given our experience with folding chairs in a bag, we wouldn't be surprised if this isn't the most durable product out there. Nevertheless, when it comes to unpacking, it is by far the most convenient, and its low retail price makes it the perfect option for anyone shopping for a new cot with limited funds.
If you are shopping on a budget, then we highly recommend you check out the Coleman Converta Folding Cot. This relatively inexpensive cot not only functions as a sleeping surface but also can convert to a lounge chair. It's fairly easy to carry and quick to put together, with an overall construction that seems decently durable in our experience. We found it to be very comfortable both as a cot and a chair and appreciate the different reclining levels you have to choose from when in chair mode with the adjustable brace.
Unfortunately, this cot doesn't pack down to be the smallest and is a bit on the heavy side, so you will probably be restricted to car camping or similar when using this product — definitely isn't the most backpacking-friendly option out there. We also found that it can be a little finicky to fully engage the back adjustment mechanism sometimes, requiring just a bit of extra pressure to snap it into place. All in all, we think these are minor flaws and we highly recommend this product to anyone shopping for a new cot without spending a ton of cash.
It didn't receive top scores across the board, but we simply can't deny the REI Co-op Kingdom Cot 3 its spotlight. This cot is one of the best products on our list, but we held back on naming it our favorite cot because of its low scores for portability and fussy nature during setup. Those two factors aside, we feel the Kingdom Cot is a superb product and an excellent choice for consumer looking for added features, versatility and top quality. This cot is large, comfortable, and incredibly adjustable, giving users a large variety of elevation options. It can even double as a shay lounger while beach camping. We love its built-in, padded headrest, as well as its perimeter padding. We also appreciate its oversized, swivel feet, which allow for greater stability on uneven ground, and protect tent flooring from being punctured.
The cot struggles at being compact or easy to carry. Its legs are positioned at slightly odd angles, which makes the Kingdom Cot a little fussy when setting it up, as the legs tend to unexpectedly fold up if not perfectly positioned. Likewise, the headrest portion of the cot requires a fair amount of force to push it down into place. However, these negatives are small when compared to this cot's top quality, and ability to perform in a wide variety of settings.
While camping, if you care about having the comfiest night possible 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 with the mattress, it's by far the most comfortable we tested. You have plenty of room to toss and turn; the ComfortSmart offers even support across its entirety — no pressure or drooping points.
Regrettably, the Coleman ComfortSmart does trade a considerable amount of portability for its exceptional comfort. 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.
Our camping experts teamed up to develop a comprehensive test plan, which we applied to every camping cot in this review. We tested every model equally in several different environments, including shorelines, mountains, and deserts. We even set them up at home and binge-watched a few of our favorite series. In the end, our goal was to discover the unique nuances of each cot, so that we could confidently file a comprehensive assessment of each product.
Each model was set up and broken down repeatedly to determine its ease of use and craftsmanship. We also took to the road, spending time at the lake and in the mountains. Along the way, we spent multiple nights testing these cots in varied conditions. Closer to home, we even put our houseguests on them over the holidays. We folded and unfolded each product dozens of times and packed them in different cars and cargo carriers to assess portability. We weighed them, measured them, studied their fabrics and components, and also evaluated the overall construction and design of each product. In the end, we were able to get a sense of how durable each is, as well as noting any damage or wear and tear sustained throughout testing. Through our rigorous testing process, we were able to gain extensive knowledge of each product in the areas that we feel matter most.
Our comprehensive testing is broken down into the following five performance metrics:
Ease of Setup (35% of overall score weighting)
Portability (25% weighting)
Comfort (25% weighting)
Durability (15% weighting)
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, and she is now 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.
Our most recent update was led by Jason Wanlass. Jason is a native of Utah and seeks time in the outdoors every week. He spends time playing at local lakes, dunes, and campgrounds, where he routinely uses cots for sleeping under the stars. Jason is also an avid car camper, hiker, and backpacker and has extensive knowledge of general outdoor gear. He has been a member of the GearLab family for more than six years.
Analysis and Test Results
To help determine the right model for every user, 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.
If you are searching for a reliable camping cot on a budget, then it's hard to go wrong with the Kingcamp Folding Deluxe or the Coleman Converta cot. The Kingcamp is honestly one of our all-time favorite cots, and it doesn't hurt that it retails at a very affordable price. The Coleman Converta is also very comfortable and easy to set up, with its versatility giving you even more bang for the buck, as you not only get a cot but also a lounge chair for the same price.
However, the Coleman Pack-Away Cot doesn't cost too much more than the Kingcamp, 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. Those on a budget may struggle to find a suitable ultralight cot for carrying into the backcountry.
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. We also took note of how easy it was to fit the cot back into its carrying bag.
Taking the top spots in this metric, the Kingcamp Folding Deluxe and the ARAER Camping Cot are some of the quickest and easiest camping cots to set up or break down that we have seen to date. These cots unfold just like a tailgating camp chair in a bag, usually taking no more than a minute or two to get it completely set up and ready for someone to lie down on.
Your fingers are usually well away from the folding mechanism, so there is a low likelihood of them getting pinched, and it's effortless 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, the KingCamp 4-Position, and the Coleman Converta Cot all followed when it came to ease of setting up. The Pack-Away Cot is almost as easy and fast to unfold as the Kingcamp Folding Deluxe or the Alpha Camp, but the legs are a bit more cumbersome to unfold, and there is a slightly higher potential to have your fingers pinched.
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 angled correctly 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 nearing bedtime.
The Converta Cot and the KingCamp 4-Position are both single-piece cots that unfold in one smooth motion. The only aspect of setup and breakdown that we found took a little extra time was to make sure the locking mechanism for the backrest adjustment was fully engaged if you were setting these cots up for chair mode.
Another Coleman cot came next, the Coleman ComfortSmart. This cot is very similar to the Coleman Converta and the KingCamp 4-Position, but it folds in half rather than thirds. This makes it a little more cumbersome to set up, 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're 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. It can be a little tricky to feed it back in for storage, but this doesn't add too much time to breaking down the Coleman ComfortSmart.
The Coleman Airbed Cot isn't too difficult to set up but is a bit more time-consuming. The main body of this cot seems like two of the Pack-Away cots stuck together and can be unfolded in just a minute or two.
However, inserting the airbed into the top pocket, inflating it, and then adding the side tables adds some more time and steps than other cots. We did appreciate that this cot included a battery-powered air pump that can both inflate and deflate the air mattress in 4-6 minutes or so.
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.
The Helinox Lite is the lightest model by far, weighing in at less than 3-pounds. It packs into an approximately 5-inch by 20-inch cylinder, and can easily be strapped to a backpack or fit on a pannier or bike rack. Its small size also makes it extremely easy to toss into a car or roof carrier, even when hauling tons of other gear.
The remainder of the cots are all significantly less portable. They are heavy and bulky enough that we can't imagine them being used for any sort of backcountry adventure, but they're great for car camping or anything else where you won't need to carry them very far. In terms of portability, the KingCamp Folding Deluxe and the Coleman Pack-Away Cot came next with their middle-of-the-road results. The KingCamp Folding Deluxe weighs in at about 15 pounds and the Coleman Pack-Away Cot is a bit heavier, at around 23 pounds.
They fold up to be approximately 6 inches by 6 inches by 40 inches — about the size of a chair in a bag. They aren't too cumbersome to carry for short distances so long as you aren't carrying much of anything else. However, you would struggle to strap these to a backpack or carry them for any significant distance, and this is not their intended application.
The Coleman Airbed Cot is easily the heaviest of the group, tipping the scales at over 40 pounds.
The carrying case even has built-in wheels, but we found these don't work too well on unpaved surfaces. We definitely wouldn't want to have to move this cot any amount of distance without a vehicle.
Our next round of tests focused on how comfortable each cot is, both to sleep/lie down on and sit on 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 and feet on the frame. This product feels very comfortable to lie on, offering ample support across your whole body. Likewise, the REI Co-op Kingdom Cot 3 is also one of the more comfortable cots on our list, due to it's flexible, bungee-cord support system, as well as its quilted top and padded headrest.
The Coleman Airbed Cot is also worth mentioning here. We found it to be particularly comfortable even without the air bed in place, with the air bed elevating this cot to a downright luxurious sleeping option when camping. However, it still is an air bed at the end of the day, and that feel and type of support isn't for everyone.
The Teton Sports Outfitter XXL came next. This cot is ginormous — it's even wide enough that you could almost get two people on it (if they didn't mind getting 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.
The Converta and KingCamp 4-Position have support at the head and foot of the cot and provide an excellent amount of support. We found these cots to be very comfortable, both in sleeping and sitting modes.
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.
While we only tested 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 and REI Co-op Kingdom Cot 3 are two of the most durable of the cots we have tested to date. Both employ impeccable components and materials and are built to last. The Teton Sports Outfitter XXL boasts a whopping maximum weight of 600-pounds, while the REI Co-op Kingdom Cot can hold a respectable 300-pounds. The Teton's bed is 600D canvas, and the folding mechanism and frame have a heavy-duty metal construction that showed no signs of damage after all our testing.
Next, the Coleman ComfortSmart has a durable frame and is rated at 275 pounds. It 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 followed with its solid construction and weight limit rated up to 300 pounds. The Pack-Away Cot didn't sustain any damage throughout our test. Both the Coleman Converta and KingCamp 4-Position felt very solid to us and are rated for 225 and 264 pounds, respectively. Neither suffered any damage.
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 borrows heavily from folding chairs in a bag, which aren't the most durable in our experience.
Next up, is our ultralight cot. The Helinox Lite is rated up to 265 pounds, an impressive feat for its lightweight design. It held up fine to the rigors of our side-by-side testing process. However, the amount of force it takes when assembling or disassembling this product 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 and best tent experience.
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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.