Best Backpacking Cot for a Good Nights Rest: 2020 Review

Overall Winner “Best Backpacking Cot”

YAHILL Ultralight Folding Camping Cot

DESERT WALKER Camping Cots, Outdoor Bed Ultra Lightweight Bed Portable cot Free Storage Bag Included,2.8 Pounds (Army Green)

It is just as surprising to us that the YAHILL backpacking cot earned the top spot on our list, but it is hard to deny the value this model brings to the table– especially for extended hikes. Not only is this one of the lightest backpacking cots we reviewed at 3 lbs 5 oz, but it is also one of the more compact.

When packed, this cot sits at 16” x 4 ⅔” which is right in line with the other cots that pack smaller than most. Of course, the YAHILL does not come with everything, but its great value and modular design mean you can expand on its build without reducing the value it offers upfront.

One of the better qualities of the YAHILL is that it is one of the few value models we found that does not have durability issues. This almost certainly comes down to the use of aircraft-grade 7001 aluminum alloy poles and an Oxford cloth cover treated with polyvinyl waterproofing.

Bottom Line: With no major glaring faults that make it unusable, the YAHILL Ultralight Folding Camping Cot provides the best value for most people.

Introduction

When checking the gear for your next camping trip, making sure you have someplace comfortable to sleep should be near the top of the list. While our minds might immediately go to the tent we use, sleeping directly on the tent floor is rarely all that comfortable.

This is where something like an air mattress or cot comes in handy with the cot sacrificing a bit of comfort for better functionality. Not only is the cot better-suited for tougher conditions, but it also helps keep you warm and dry in ways that might not be so obvious upon first glance.

That is why we put together a list of the seven best backpacking cots, highlighting what each one does best. We also provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you can find the right cot to bring a restful night’s sleep on your next backpacking excursion.

Looking for a great cot for backpacking?

You’re in the right place! In this guide we will be covering the following:

  • Examine different backpacking cot features to find which are out the most important
  • Why we favor size, weight, and quality materials over other factors
  • Reviews of the best backpacking and camping cots on the market
  • Give our unbiased view on the #1 backpacking cot

Why take a cot backpacking

There are a couple of different solutions for sleeping while camping, but a cot offers solutions for particular circumstances. For example, most backpacking cots sit at least 4” off of the ground, which means you do not have to worry as much if water gets into your tent.

However, a camping cot’s best benefit comes from another weather-based issue: the cold. When camping in a colder climate, one of the biggest concerns is maintaining your body temperature– something sleeping on the ground makes it more difficult.

The raised profile of most backpacking cots ensures that you do not lose body heat while you sleep.

What to look for in a backpacking cot

Comfort

It should be noted at the beginning of this discussion that cots are not the most comfortable option when choosing something to sleep on while camping. That said, there is no reason that cots cannot tweak their design, so they offer as comfortable of an experience as they otherwise could.

In this instance, one of the biggest things backpacking cots can do is support the structure without using poles that run through the cover. Ideally, the support poles should run low enough underneath the cover that you do not feel them when you lie down, though simply not sinking onto the poles is generally good enough.

Weight & Portability

While these qualities may not always be the most important for camping in general, they take on a new air of importance for backpacking where weight and space are in short supply. Between the 2, you should probably pay more attention to the weight of the cot as this quality cannot be accounted for otherwise.

With a cot’s packed size, you can generally rearrange your gear in such a way that a larger than average packed cot does not impede your movement. While most backpacking cots are reasonably thin, look for ones whose packed length is shorter to prevent getting snagged on branches when hiking.

Size & Weight Capacity

In terms of comfort and specs, these are the two that tend to get the most ad space, because it is easy to see how they translate to a better overall experience. That said, this pair likewise has a more important factor, much as the previous consideration does, and it is size.

When you unfold the cot, you want to make sure that your entire body lies on it, which turns out to be more of an issue for width than it does for length. In terms of weight capacity, even cots with a lower weight capacity tend to work well-enough for healthy people with active lifestyles.

Durability

The general durability of backpacking cots comes down to the materials used, though there are some common trends in this regard. Polyester, nylon, and cotton find themselves as the most common materials used for the cover, with most cotton covers also being treated with waterproofing.

In terms of support, aircraft-grade aluminum is king, though a wide variety of different alloys are used, which can alter their durability in minor ways. Beyond the materials, the design of the supports can influence how well the cot adjusts to movement while the stitching is an often overlooked weak link.

Included Accessories

More often than not, backpacking cots eschew as much additional weight and space-taking accessories as they can. However, a couple of companies still aim to offer a bit more value by including useful accessories that do not otherwise increase the weight, space, or cost too much.

One of the more useful extra accessories is a pillow, as this means you may not need to pack an additional piece of gear or use your clothes or pack for that purpose. Another solid accessory is a little pouch that connects to the support poles of the cot and holds your phone or other small equipment, keeping it dry and off of the ground.

If you are looking for a more traditional cot…

  • We’ve reviewed 7 of the great cots on the market to find out which one comes out on top as the best camping cot for your money.
  • If you’re not sleeping alone, stay comfortable and cozy by considering investing in a double cot.

Best Backpacking Cot: The Results

Therm-a-Rest Mesh Cot

Widest Backpacking Cot

Therm-a-Rest Mesh Cot, Large - 26 x 77 Inches
  • Bow frame Technology: cot's patented bow frame design eliminates painful crossbars and squeaky joints
  • Light & packable: extremely light, compact design fits easily in a pannier, portage bag or backpack
  • Easy set up: shock-corded poles and pre-assembled feet make set-up and break-down a snap
  • Durable construction: stretch-free Breathable mesh fabric, anodized aluminum poles and durable nylon feet stand up to heavy use
  • Made in the USA of the finest US and global materials

Therm-a-Rest is one of the few companies on our list focused exclusively on outdoor sleeping gear, which helps explain why it offers options not often seen in the camping cot market. For the Therm-a-Rest Mesh Cot, in particular, this comes down to offering the largest overall sleeping surface on our list.

While the length of 77” is sweet and ranks second-best on our list, the width of 30” is even better, making this one of the most comfortable backpacking cots regardless of your size. Even better, the Therm-a-Rest Mesh Cot is one of the lighter backpacking cots we reviewed, though just barely, with a weight of 4 lbs 7 oz.

This size advantage comes as part of Therm-a-Rest’s use of high-end materials, including aluminum poles and 500D scrim cotton– the most durable fabric layer we found. Both of these design qualities not only make this cot more durable than most, but it also allows the Therm-a-Rest Mesh Cot to support up to 325 pounds– the second-largest weight capacity reviewed.

Of course, any product that checks at or near the top of the most important features for its market cannot also afford to offer one of the better values. On top of that, the large unfolded size means that the Therm-a-Rest Mesh Cot also presents a larger packed footprint of 18” x 6”.

PROS

  • Larger than most
  • Has a high weight capacity
  • More durable than most
  • Lighter than most

CONS

  • Is more expensive
  • Difficult to assemble

Bottom Line: For those of us who are a bit horizontally challenged, the Therm-a-Rest Mesh Cot offers the widest unfolded size and is built more solidly than most.

ALPS Mountaineering Ready Lite Cot

Best Backpacking Cot for Larger Campers

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ALPS Mountaineering Ready Lite Cot
  • Made of sturdy Ripstop fabric minimizing carry weight without sacrificing long term durability
  • Aluminum frame is extremely lightweight and will be sure to provide a long lasting use
  • Compact foldable design with included shoulder carry bag makes transporting and storing a breeze
  • Our Ready Lite Cot is a must have and won't disappoint on your next adventure
  • Dimensions: 78" L x 28" W x 6" H Weight: 5 lbs., Weight Capacity: 300 lbs

ALPS Mountaineering is one of the more respected brands on our list, which is why it makes sense that they would offer one of the best backpacking cots that we encountered. This performance begins with its overall size that boasts a 78” length and a 28” width ranking first and second on our list, respectively.

It is also worth noting that the ALPS Mountaineering Ready Lite Cot sits higher off of the ground than any other entry as well. This is important for certain situations, especially when camping in colder climates, to help insulate your body and prevent heat from escaping into the ground.

While not the strongest, the ALPS Mountaineering Ready Lite Cot uses a good mix of high-end materials including 420D polyester for the fabric layer and 7000 series aircraft-grade aluminum alloy for the support poles. These materials combine to provide this model one of the larger maximum weight capacities at 300 pounds.

Yet again, though, most products that sit at the top of the list tend to provide a little bit less in the value department than those that use lesser materials or designs. It also does not help that the ALPS Mountaineering Ready Lite Cot can be challenging to assemble, requiring more force than you might expect– something that can be especially frustrating in cold or wet weather.

PROS

  • Larger than most
  • More durable than most
  • Has a higher weight capacity
  • Made of good materials

CONS

  • Is more expensive
  • Difficult to assemble

Bottom Line: When you need a professional level camping cot, the ALPS Mountaineering Ready Lite Cot covers all of your bases and keeps you warmer.

MARCHWAY Ultralight Folding Cot Bed

Best Value

MARCHWAY Ultralight Folding Tent Camping Cot Bed, Portable Compact for Outdoor Travel, Base Camp, Hiking, Mountaineering, Lightweight Backpacking (Grey)
  • Ultralight and Compact: Weighs only 4.8 pound, and folds down to 16.9 x 5.5 inch stuff sack that can fit into your travel backpack. Ideal for camper, trekker, hiker, backpacker, adventurer.
  • Simple Setup: Foldable aluminum shock-cord pole structure makes for easy assemble, within minutes you can finish the assembly process. Disassembly is also the same simple.
  • Durable: With tent pole style aircraft-grade high strength aluminum legs and ripstop nylon fabric, it is sturdy enough to support up to 275 pounds. Wide feet do not damage what they rest on.
  • Comfort: Cot size is optimal for most people, your arms can stay in the bed without crowded feeling. 5 heavy duty rods strongly support the cot make cot surface flat without sag. 10 anti-skid feet make the bed stable without wobbling. Off ground design keeps you away from hard and wet ground.
  • Versatility: Convenient for overnight hiking, trekking, hunting, road trip, also ideal for indoor and office lunch break use. Throw off burden to light travel now!

MARCHWAY is a newer brand that cannot rely on reputation to get noticed, so the brand makes it a point to provide an excellent all-around value instead. Though comparable to some of the other value options in important ways, the MARCHWAY tends to provide just a little bit more functionality than other cots.

Of course, with value products, you should not expect top-tier specs, but the MARCHWAY Ultralight Folding Cot still surprises in a couple of areas. For example, this is one of the larger cots in the value group with an unfolded length of 74 ⅘” and a width of 27 ⅖”– not to mention a 6 ½” height for those sleeping in colder climates.

This unfolded size does not seem to impact its packed size, however, as the MARCHWAY Ultralight Folding Cot is one of the more compact backpacking cots on our review at 16” x 5 ½”. To give a little bit more where others offer none, this model is also the only entry on our list that comes with a side holster for holding your phone or other belongings while you rest.

Unfortunately, all of the specs that make this an excellent choice for extended hikes to remote campsites are almost entirely undone with the heaviest weight on our list at a hefty 6 ½ pounds.

PROS

  • Easy to assemble
  • Has extra features
  • Is reasonably compact
  • Is less expensive

CONS

  • Heavier than most
  • Not the most durable

Bottom Line: The MARCHWAY offers the best all-around range of features and specs given the value it offers, including an uncommon pocket for your phone or other accessories.

DESERT WALKER Camping cot

Best Ultralight Camping Cot

DESERT WALKER Camping Cots, Outdoor Bed Ultra Lightweight Bed Portable cot Free Storage Bag Included,2.8 Pounds (Army Green)
  • Ultralight - 1.3kg / 2.8lb Camping Cot
  • Comfort - Special Oxford Fabric Cot Bed
  • Strong-7001 aviation aluminum rod material, supporting up to 440 pounds
  • Size - 185 X 60 x 15 cm / 72.8 X 23.6 X 5.9 in
  • Packing size 50 X φ12 cm /19.7 X φ4.7 in, Easy cot,Easy to install and remove.

DESERT WALKER is a bit interesting in that they have not been around quite as long as other brands but still manage to hit some of the best marks for backpacking cots. Easily the most impressive quality of this model is its weight, which sits at a svelte 2 ⅘ pounds– a full ½ pound lighter than the next closest competitor.

On top of being the lightest products on our list, the DESERT WALKER can also hold more weight than any competitor with a maximum weight capacity of 440 pounds– over 100 pounds more than the next closest option. Given that DESERT WALKER is a newer company, the brand manages to provide these specs at a better value than products at similar quality levels.

Unfortunately, the DESERT WALKER stumbles a bit when it comes to size both for unfolded and packed profiles. The unfolded DESERT WALKER cot is shorter than most at only 72 ⅘” as well as thinner than most at 23 ⅗”.

This issue becomes more magnified when the DESERT WALKER’s packed length of 19 ⅔” easily measures the longest on our list. Still, the use of Oxford fabric and 7075 aircraft-grade aluminum alloy poles helps make up for some of the more superficial deficiencies.

PROS

  • Is extremely lightweight
  • Made of good material
  • Has a higher weight capacity
  • Is less expensive

CONS

  • Not the largest
  • Not the most compact

Bottom Line: When you need to cut as much weight as you can, the DESERT WALKER camping cot will not also make you cut other great qualities.

Therm-a-Rest Ultralite Cot

Best Camping Cot for Comfort

Therm-a-Rest Ultralite Cot, Regular - 24 x 72 Inches
  • Lightest outdoor cot on the market
  • Compact design fits easily in the included carry-bag
  • Stands up to heavy use
  • Standard and lightweight setup options
  • Fast and easy assembly - no tools required

Therm-a-Rest makes another appearance on our list, but this time the brand aims to hit high marks while also adding a bit more to the structural integrity. It accomplishes this task with a unique leg design that combines the flexibility of bow frame supports with traditional foot frames.

This not only allows the Therm-a-Rest Ultralite Cot to lay more comfortably without rigid bars digging into pressure points, but this cot does not require as many pole supports in general. What you end up with is a backpacking cot that is not only lighter than most at 3 lbs 6 oz, but it can also still support the second-largest maximum weight we found at 325 pounds.

That said, much like the other high-end Therm-a-Rest cot, the Ultralite Cot is not known for providing the best value. Also, like the other Therma-a-Rest cot, the Ultralite Cot can be complicated to assemble, both physically and comprehensively.

On the other hand, this model might be the most compact on our list at 16” x 4” while still offering more lying surface than you would expect. The 26” width may not be at the top of our list, but the 77” length ranks second.

PROS

  • Larger than most
  • Lighter than most
  • Has a higher weight capacity
  • More compact than most

CONS

  • Is more expensive
  • Difficult to assemble

Bottom Line: The Therm-a-Rest Ultralite Cot accomplishes pretty much everything the other models did while also coming in at a pound lighter weight.

YAHILL Ultralight Folding Camping Cot

Best Budget Backpacking Cot

YAHILL Ultralight Folding Camping Cot Sleeping Collapsible Portable Foldable Bed Aluminum Replacements for Tent Backpack, Adults Youth Outdoor Travel Hiking Fishing Hunting (Grey -1st Generation)
  • 🛌★Super Lightweight & Portable- cots portable★ YAHILL 1st Generation cot camping bed weighs only 3.3lbs, but can hold up to 220 lbs.
  • 🛌★Convenient to use- travel bed portable★ Folding size is very small, very easily to carry. Folding size: 16* 4.7inch; unfolding size: 70.8*22.8*3.9 inch.
  • 🛌★Durable Construction- heavy duty camping cot★ Cot stands up to heavy use; Waterproof, stretch-free nylon cover, anodized 7001 aluminum poles and hard plastic feet.
  • 🛌★Multi-function Use- cot beds★ Applicable to a variety of activities, such as camping, traveling, hiking, and some other outdoor activities, or as a good rest furniture at home.
  • 🛌★Multiple Security Design- cot sleeping bed★ Extra holes of the cloth are designed for those people who is very strong, so that they can order extra tubes and legs to support the cot.

YAHILL is another newer brand that has to get by on value rather than appealing to reputation and prestige, but this product goes further in that regard than any other option we saw. Of course, you often have to give up something for that value, but this YAHILL model has you covered in case you want to expand it as well while still staying squarely in the value category.

Outside of the significant value this product provides, it is also the second-lightest option on our list at only 3 ⅓ pounds. Even better, YAHILL complements this lightweight design with one of the more compact packed sizes at 16” x 4 ⅔”, making it one of the best options for extended hikes to remote campsites.

Still, the value has to come somewhere, and with the YAHILL, that value shows up in some of the most important specs for camping cots. In terms of size, the YAHILL camping cot is shorter and thinner than any other option reviewed at 70 ⅘” and 22 ⅘” respectively while also providing the smallest maximum weight capacity at only 220 pounds.

On the plus side, this model uses nylon for the cover and anodized 7001 aluminum for the poles, equating to a surprisingly durable product given its value.

PROS

  • Can be expanded
  • Lighter than most
  • Is more compact
  • Is less expensive

CONS

  • Has a lower weight capacity
  • Smaller than most

Bottom Line: The YAHILL folding cot is one of the best options for longer hikes and easily provides one of the better values that we came across.

KingCamp Ultralight Compact Camping Cot

Best Camping Cot for Packed Size

KingCamp Ultralight Folding Camping Backpacking Cot for Adult with Pillow (4.9 lbs), LightweightPortable Compact Foldable Sleeping Cot Bed for Travel, Office Nap,Hiking, Support 265 lbs
  • 【Ultralight Camping Cots--Easy to Carry】The adult sleeping cots only weights 4.9 pounds. Packed size: 14 x 5.1 inchs. Just like a handle bag, fit into your travel backpack or across your shoulder.Say goodbye to backaches.
  • 【Sturdy and Comfortable】**The dimension of the cot bed is 75 L × 25 W× 4.7 H inches.,wide enough that your arms did not fall over the edge and fits your body perfectly. **Frame is made of high strength aluminum alloy, supports up to 265 lbs.**Bed cloth is specially treated 420D Oxford cloth, which is breathable and tear-resistant.**Footrest cover and foot pads make it slip resistant on hard ground surface.
  • 【Easy to Set Up and Take Down】 NO TOOLS NEEDED! You just need a few minutes to set up or take down the camp cot. Please refer to the video we uploaded and instruction manual before you assemble our camping cot, any problem please feel free to contact us.
  • 【User-friendly Design】**Come with a removable pillow to serve as a headrest, lumbar support or for other support purposes,Easy for washing and providing a more comfortable experience.**Two elastic straps to keep your mat from slipping. **Off ground design keeps you away from hard and wet ground. **Thick fabric makes cot quiet even if you turn around while sleeping.
  • 【Versatility Foldable Cot】Our collapsable cot is ideal equipment for camping, hunting, hiking, trekking, road trip, beach, you can also use it as a temporary bed at your home or office nap.

KingCamp is another newer brand, but this one has a backpacker as its founder and makes it a point to offer an excellent value that still offers more than you normally expect. A perfect example of this is the unfolded dimensions of 75” long and 25” wide, which are both solid for a cheaper product.

Even better, the KingCamp camping cot manages to offer a decent unfolded size while still keeping its packed size to a compact 14” x 5”. While not the thinnest packed package, the KingCamp cot still ranks as the shortest packed cot we reviewed.

That said, one of the best features of this cot has almost nothing to do with the cot itself and is instead the inclusion of a small pillow, further removing other gear from your pack. Even better, this model uses 420D Oxford cloth for the cover and aircraft-grade aluminum for the support poles.

However, while the materials of this lightweight camping cot are solid, the craftsmanship does not fare quite as well with the stitches of the cover coming undone quicker than most. This iffy build shows up with the maximum weight capacity too, which sits at 265 pounds– the second-lowest maximum on our list.

PROS

  • Has a pillow
  • Made of good materials
  • Is more compact
  • Is less expensive

CONS

  • Has a lower weight capacity
  • Not the most durable

Bottom Line: The KingCamp cot is the perfect option when you need solid specs but have to consider your storage space and the cot’s packability more than other factors.

Last update on 2020-08-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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