Last Updated on August 29, 2021
We love camping, but one thing that has always eluded us on our camping trips is a bed that feels like our bed at home. So we started experimenting with cots a few years back to get over this problem, and it helped!
Based on our experiences with camping cots, we will answer some common, important questions about camping cots in this article. From setting up your tent to picking the right colors, we’ve got you covered. Read on and put your mind at ease!
We’ve also included a few suggestions for some excellent comfortable camping cots, and a table that shows exactly how much space you’ll need in a tent for your cot.
Should I Use a Cot in a Tent?
There are three main alternatives to a cot:
- An air mattress
- A SIM (self-inflating mattress),
- A sleeping bag or mat on the ground.
And deciding between using a cot vs. air mattress vs. sleeping pad can be a challenge since each comes with its own pros and cons. So let’s compare the advantages of a cot to the other three mentioned alternatives.
Air mattresses are susceptible to deflation because of something as small as a pinprick. You might end up with nothing to sleep on if that happens. A cot is much more durable.
We have found that we have to keep replacing air mattresses very frequently, whereas a good cot lasts many seasons.
#2. Space to Keep Your Belongings
Most cots are 15 – 20 inches tall. This height gives you additional space underneath to keep your belongings, which your air mattress otherwise would have taken up.
#3. Protection from Bugs, Rats, and Snakes
All three alternatives to a cot have you sleeping close to the ground. Small insects like ants, spiders, worms, and animals like snakes, rats, and others can easily reach you. A cot keeps you away from the ground.
#4. Improved Airflow
A cot provides a natural way for air to flow underneath you during the summer, keeping you cool.
#5. For the Elderly
If you or another camper in your party has arthritis or other joint-related disorders, bending down to sleep on the floor or an air mattress can be hard.
#6. Additional Features
Cots have evolved a lot. Some of them are designed as a space for sitting during the day. Others have mattresses built-in for extra comfort. Some like the Coleman Queen Air Mattress Folding Cot have side-trays and pockets for extra space to keep your stuff. These features are not possible to attain in the alternatives.
Will Cot Feet Damage My Tent Floor?
Despite many advantages, cots have three main problems associated with them:
- The added airflow is a bane during winters when the cold air underneath your cot will end up making you shiver. But with a tent for cold weather, this could be alleviated.
- Some cots are heavy; they are not great for backpacking or tours on foot.
- Cot feet can poke through your tent floor.
How to Protect Tent Floor from Cot legs?
We have listed below a few ideas on how to keep your cot legs from poking through the tent floor:
- You can lay a thick blanket on the floor of your tent.
- You can bring a tarp from your home, fold it and place it on the floor.
- Try placing rubber foam on the floor.
- Lay wooden planks on the floor.
- Use a thick carpet underneath the cot.
- You can place caster cups on the legs of the cot.
- Buy a floorless tent.
- Attach tennis balls on the legs of the cot.
Typical Camping Cot Dimensions
A single person’s camping cot can be anywhere from 52 – 90 inches long and 24 – 43 inches wide (this includes children’s sizes too. For adults, we would assume a minimum of 76 x 24 inches). Therefore, the largest area that a cot can take up is about 27 ft² (90 x 43 inches).
However, rarely would you find anyone uses such a jumbo-sized cot. The average cot is about 78 x 28 inches, which translates roughly to 15 ft².
How Many Cots Fit in a Tent
Assuming that one needs about 2 feet on either side to get out of bed, a 15 ft² cot works out to require a floor space of roughly 20 ft². But, of course, this 20 ft² assumes there is nothing except for the cot kept in the tent!
Using this simple assumption, the table below shows mathematically the size of the tent and the number of cots you can place inside the tent.
However, what is mathematically possible does not equate to what is comfortable, so we have added another column based on experience and common sense on how many cots we expect to fit comfortably in the given area.
|Tent Capacity||Tent Area (square feet)||Possible Cots||Recommended||Tents big enough for cots|
|1 Person||15 – 30||1||Not recommended||Snugpak Ionosphere (25 ft²)|
|2 Person||25 – 40||2||1 (maybe)||Coleman Sundome (35 ft²) |
Wakeman 2 person (30 ft²)
MOON LENCE (35 ft²)
|3 Person||35 – 60||2||1 – 2||KAZOO (47 ft²) |
Alpha Camp (56 ft²)
|4 Person||60 – 80||3||2||KAZOO (72 ft²) |
Coleman Hooligan (63 ft²)
|6 Person||90 – 100||4||3||CORE 6 Person (99 ft²) |
Coleman Cabin Tent (90 ft²)
|8 Person||100 – 130||5 – 6||5||Columbia (112 ft²) |
Coleman Elite Montana (112 ft²)
|12 Person||>180||9 – 10||7 – 8||Core 12 person tent (180 ft²)|
Frequently Asked Questions About Tents and Cots
Will 2 cots fit in 4 person tent?
Ideally, yes, given that the size of the 4-person tent is between 60 – 70 ft², two cots should fit. Make sure to check your tent’s dimensions carefully.
What size tent for 2 cots should I buy?
We would recommend at least a 3-person tent, with a minimum floor space of 50 ft².
How big of a tent for 3 cots should I buy?
Look for a tent with a floor space of at least 70 ft². Typically a 4-person tent will accommodate 3 cots comfortably.
What size tent will fit a cot?
At a minimum, you need a 2 person tent with a floor space of 30 ft² to fit 1 cot. A good example is the Ozark Trail two-person cot.
You can look at our table above to understand what floor size will fit how many cots.
How to Clean a Tent Cot?
Below is a step-by-step guide to clean your camping cot.
Removing External Dirt and Dust
- Start outside because you are bound to make a mess while cleaning.
- Place your cot on a stable, solid surface.
- When you use a cot in a tent, it accumulates dust, dirt, and mud. Use a washcloth to beat out dust from your cot.
- If there is mud sticking to the cot, brush it away gently. Invest in a good scrubbing brush.
- Use a good soap or mild detergent along with warm water to clean your cot. Make sure to dilute your soap before using it directly on the surface of the cot.
- Most camping cots are either made of polyester, canvas or nylon. Some even combine all the 3 materials. I have explained below the method for cleaning each of them.
- Next, clean the frame. Take a cloth, dip it in soap solution and use it to wipe away dirt and mud from the metallic frame of your cot.
- You need to allow your tent cot to dry thoroughly. Even slight amounts of residual water may invite fungal growth or molds. Also, if the metallic frame is not powder coated or painted correctly, it could rust.
- When your cot becomes completely dry, you can store it inside the box. Just be sure to inspect your tent cot from time to time.
Use a very mild detergent and water for polyester. Don’t scrub it very hard. You need to be gentle while washing these cots. Once clean, allow it to dry completely in the sun. Otherwise, you will invite mold.
You should handle nylon cots with care, just like polyester cots. Use mild soap and water. If you need to scrub a nylon cot, use a very soft brush. Never bleach nylon cots.
Canvas cots are sturdy. You can clean them with fabric cleaner or mild detergent.
Preventing Your Cot From Getting Dirty
- Keep your cot inside the tent rather than outside because wind and rain can damage your cot.
- Try to always remove your shoes before entering the cot.
- Avoid eating your meals on the cot.
- Clean your cot after each camping trip.
Are Camping Cots Comfortable?
Camping Cots can be comfortable. Here is a list of a few of the best comfortable cots for tent camping. For those looking for a combination of a tent and sleeping cot all rolled into one, check out our best tent cots guide.
#1. Teton Sports Outfitter Camping Cot
The Teton Sports Outfitter can support 600 lb and measures 85 x 40 x 19 inches.
The Coleman Queen Cot is a queen-sized cot with a mattress and portable air pump. It can support 550 lb and measures 59 x 22 x 78 inches.
The Disc-O-Bed Cam-O-Bunk is a bunk bed cot with each bed supporting 500 lb. You can also use it as a bench for sitting on during the day. It measures 79 x 28 x 32 inches.