The best cot
Sure, they're not as comfy as your plush mattress is, but cots serve a particular purpose -- providing extra sleeping space on an occasional basis. Cots tend to be more supportive than air mattresses and usually last longer, since punctures won't stop them in their tracks.
We've created this guide to help you find the best cot for your needs. Our top choice is the TETON Sports Outfitter XXL Camp Cot, a sturdy and supportive option suitable for all kinds of uses.
Considerations when choosing cots
The standard size for a cot is 25 inches wide by 75 inches long, but this doesn't give sleepers much room, especially if they're adults. You can find extra-wide cots, spanning up to 40 inches across, as well as extra-long cots, measuring up to 85 inches top to bottom.
A cot will never rival your bed for comfort, but it shouldn't be uncomfortable. It should be firm enough that it's supportive and doesn't sag in the middle but not so firm that it's overly hard.
Cot frames are usually made from steel or aluminum. Although both are extremely strong, aluminum's strength-to-weight ratio means that it's lighter than a steel option of the same strength. In the past, the sleeping area was usually made from canvas, but now it's more often made from either polyester or nylon.
Consider how portable your chosen cot is, especially if you intend to use it on camping trips. A cot that's easily portable should be lightweight enough to carry without straining yourself and should fold down into a compact package.
Side table: Some cots have side tables that attach to the main body of the cot, so you can rest items on them when you need to. Some even have built-in cupholders, which is great for keeping water near you in the night. These side tables are usually optional and can be detached when you don't want them.
Storage: You can find cots with a small pouch or bag attached for storage. It's especially useful for camping, so you can keep essentials, such as torches or glasses, close at hand.
Carry bag: Many cots come with a carry bag that you can store them inside when packed away. This offers some protection from dust and dirt and makes them easier to carry.
Cot pad: A cot pad is like a thin mattress that sits on top of a cot to make it more comfortable. Occasionally cots come with cot pads included, but you usually need to buy them separately.
It is possible to find some cheaper options, but we'd recommend spending at least $50 on a basic cot, if you want it to last. Mid-range cots are priced at roughly $70 to $100, whereas high-end models can cost as much as $150 to $200.
Q. Are cots easy to assemble?
A. Some cots simply fold out and are ready to use, whereas others require a little more effort to assemble, such as stretching the canvas sleeping area over the frame or slotting the legs in position. However, in general, all cots are fairly easy to assemble.
Q. When might you need a cot?
A. The two main uses for cots are on camping trips and when having guests over to stay. However, they're sometimes also used for cabin stays (when you don't have enough beds to go around), for nap time at nurseries, or for emergency situations. If you intend to use your cot for camping, choose one that's as compact and lightweight as possible.
Cots we recommend
Best of the best: TETON Sports Outfitter XXL Camp Cot
Our take: With its lightweight aluminum frame and easy setup, this is the ideal cot for camping, though you can use it at home, too.
What we like: Extra-long and wide, measuring 40 by 80 inches. Offers firm support without sagging. Can hold up to 600 pounds.
What we dislike: Some users find it too hard.
Best bang for your buck: Coleman Pack-Away Camping Cot
Our take: This inexpensive cot looks somewhat flimsy but can support up to 300 pounds of weight.
What we like: Simple to set up and folds down small for storage. We love the removable side table with drink holder.
What we dislike: Fairly heavy so not ideal for camping unless you can park next to your pitch.
Choice 3: Kamp-Rite Tent Cot Kwik-Cot
Our take: An extra-long 81-inch cot that's great for taller users, though the 28-inch width doesn't give you much space to toss and turn.
What we like: Made from rugged nylon that will stand up to regular use. Hanging side pocket for storage.
What we dislike: Can sag a little.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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