Last Updated on October 13, 2021
The last thing you want to sacrifice on your camping trip is comfort. After spending several hours hiking and setting up camp, you’re bound to be tired or even sore. Getting a good night’s sleep so you are fully rested for the next day is imperative.
Even though camping cots are designed to be ready to go right out of the box, there are steps you can take to make them even more comfortable. That’s what we’re going to discuss today.
This guide covers the most important qualities to look for in a camping cot, and then we’ll dive into an FAQ to hopefully answer any questions you may have about how to make a cot more comfortable.
Qualities to Look For In A Camping Cot
Cots are a good choice to bring on camping trips for sleeping because they are lightweight and break down into a more compact size so they are easily portable. It’s for this reason that cots have found favor with the military and civilians alike.
Most cots are built out of a metal frame and canvas bedding that fold out. The frame then locks into place to ensure that the bedding is stiff and will hold you above ground.
But while most cots are built using this basic concept, not all cots are built equally. Kid's cots will be a lot different than camping cots for two people, and there are even bunk bed cots! In any case, look for a cot that comes with the following features:
As noted above, one of the big appeals to camping cots is how portable they are. But some cots are more portable than others. Cots that are heavy (believe us, some are), take much space even when folded up, or are otherwise difficult to assemble should be avoided.
This is all especially true if you are embarking on a backpacking camping trip and need a lightweight cot to fit in a backpack, but it may matter less if you plan on transporting your cot to your camping location by vehicle only.
Quality of Materials
A good camping cot will provide many years, if not decades, of reliable use. The best cots are built out of either aluminum or steel frames with canvas, nylon, or polyester fabric. Make sure that the legs of the frame perfectly lock into place with the canvas flat and sturdy when the entire cot is unfolded.
Finally, this should be a given. While purely subjective, always aim to invest in the cot that is the most comfortable out of the box for you. Some sporting goods stores will even have cots out on display that you can test out. Take advantage of it.
A cot as it is out of the box should be more comfortable than sleeping directly over uneven ground. You can also find cots for bad backs if you have any musculoskeletal condition, which have a higher baseline of comfort. But there are still steps you can take to make it even more comfortable. We’ll discuss those steps next.
How To Make A Cot More Comfortable
You can make your camping cot even more comfortable by taking the following steps:
1. Ensure Your Cot Fits Your Body
First and foremost, ensure that your cot is large enough to comfortably fit your body. Again, testing your cot out in person is the best way to ensure this, but otherwise, you can make sure by checking the dimensions of the cot as listed in the packing. You will always have a harder time sleeping if your cot is too small for your body.
This is arguably the most overlooked aspect of ensuring that a camping cot is comfortable. Be strategic about your location, which ultimately means being careful about where you set up your tent. Pick an even ground surface away from bugs and mosquitoes, and in an area that is not exposed to the wind. If you know it's going to be very difficult to find even terrain check out our list of low profile camping cots that are more suitable for hilly terrain.
But even inside your tent, you should put some thought into where exactly you’ll place your cot. Pick the evenest surface area possible, and away from the entrance. Not only will the entrance most likely be a bit colder, but it also could leave you more vulnerable to flies and mosquitoes. If you need to hang netting over the cot to help guard against flying insects, by all means, do so.
3. Bring A Pillow
A lot of campers will often neglect to bring a pillow due to them wanting to minimize weight and bulk on their camping trip, and will use a folded coat or other article of clothing as a makeshift pillow instead.
Don’t make this mistake. Bring a pillow, even if it’s small, because it will make a massive difference in regards to how you sleep, especially if you are a side-sleeper. Additionally, so-called ‘camping pillows’ are usually much more compact and portable than the pillows you have at home to help avoid the aforementioned problem.
And while maybe not quite as nice as your pillow at home, a camping pillow will still be much more preferable to having no pillow at all.
4. Add A Cloth Sheet
This step is also often overlooked by campers. Always drape a cloth sheet over your cot before placing your sleeping bag or blankets over it. The sheet helps create a softer barrier in between your back and the harder surface of the cot’s canvas. It also helps to warm the canvas in cold weather (which can become quite cool in such scenarios).
5. Add A Sleeping Pad
An alternative (or addition) to a cloth sheet is to add a sleeping pad. Simple foam sleeping pads likewise add a softer barrier in between your back and the stiffer surface of the canvas, and they are warmer than the canvas as well.What’s more, a sleeping bag will ensure that no part of your body is pressed against any part of the steel or aluminum frame.
6. Use An Air Mattress
An alternative to adding a sleeping pad to your cot is to use an air mattress instead. Air mattresses are inflatable beds usually made out of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or a similar material such as textile-reinforced plastic. In addition to providing added comfort, an air mattress will also elevate you further from the ground, similar to your own bed back home.
7. Use A Sleeping Bag
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some commonly asked questions about making camping cots more comfortable:
What Are The Best Camping Cots Made Out Of?
Camping cots can be made out of a wide variety of materials including nylon and polyester as indicated before. One of the most durable (and most comfortable) materials, however, is Oxford cloth.
This is because Oxford cloth lasts longer than most other kinds of fabrics without losing shape. Take note that some cots made out of Oxford cloth will also incorporate synthetic materials (such as polyester) into them.
Are Camping Cots Comfortable To Sleep On?
Yes, cots are very comfortable to sleep on. In fact, there’s nothing to stop you from sleeping over a cot directly as it is out of the box. However, you can make it more comfortable to sleep on by adding a sleeping pad or air mattress, cloth sheets, and a sleeping bag with a pillow.
How Can I Make My Tent Bed More Comfortable?
Use an air mattress or a sleeping pad as your base. Cover the mattress or pad with a cloth sheet, and then rest your sleeping bag and/or blankets over the sheet. Always make your bed over a flat surface and bring a pillow.
Can You Put A Mattress on a Camping Cot?
Absolutely! In fact, adding an air mattress is one of the best things you can do to both make your cot more comfortable and to help elevate yourself further up from the ground.
Can A Camping Cot Damage The Floor of Your Tent?
It’s possible for the feet of the cot to puncture holes in a tent floor. Avoid this by padding the feet during the setup phase.
Why Is A Cot A Good Option For Camping?
A camping cot will arguably be the most comfortable and cozy option to get a good night’s sleep while camping. It’s certainly more comfortable than an air mattress, hammock, or sleeping directly on the ground.
Getting a good night’s sleep on your camping trip is essential and isn’t something you should have to sacrifice. And even if you’re usually a naturally good sleeper, don’t bet on achieving high-quality sleep directly over uneven ground.
Instead, invest in a camping cot that has the same qualities we outlined above, and then follow the additional steps we’ve covered to make that cot as comfortable as possible.