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Thread: Travel cots for camping

  1. #1
    Administrator Kestrel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Willamette Valley, OR

    Default Travel cots for camping

    So for the last couple yrs I have been getting into cots - roughly parallels my approach toward 50 yrs perhaps;

    Long ago I used to use an ultralight ThermaRest mattress for camping/backpacking, then upgraded to one of their 1.5" thick deluxe versions.
    But getting a good nights' sleep for me now entails cots.

    I have set up a Toyota Sienna minivan for car camping; two rather comfy cots are featured here:

    However, those camp cots are on the heavy & bulky side and wouldn't really do for any other sort of camping.

    Last year, I finally got one of the ThermaRest Ultralight backpacking cots - which I've taken on one backpacking trip so far, and provided a level of camping/sleeping comfort I've never known before.
    It was most certainly not cheap (~$175 last year IIRC?), but is US-mfg with a lifetime warranty - I have read the various reviews of the inexpensive imported knockoff versions, and they sound pretty flimsy, getting bent & often failing after only a few uses.

    • 24"W x 72"L ("Regular")
    • 2lbs 12oz
    • rated for 325 lbs (rather optimistic IMO)

    While that cot was exactly what I wanted for backpacking, I also want to set up my Subaru Outback as a micro-camper, so I wanted to get a (less-expensive) cot for that as well.
    REI had a closeout ($50 shipped!) on a ThermaRest cost I had never heard of before, their Camp Rest Cot:
    • 24"W x 72"L ("Regular")
    • 4lbs 4 oz
    • rated for 300 lbs (more accurate than for the UL)

    So naturally I wanted to compare the two;
    For those who don't want to pull up each pic, the DropBox link to the entire picture album is here:


    Overview pic (including extra UL parts I subsequently purchased, detailed later)

    First, the Camp Rest cot;
    Very quick to set up (only a couple of minutes), and the one-piece fiberglass cross-members are really solid:

    Don't let the oversize 'mummy bag' fool you, the cots are of comfortable size for the average person IMO.

    Lying down on the cot, I found it to be very solid indeed - and a perfect thing for me to keep in the Subaru.
    Looking at the build quality, I found it to be superlative for a product costing only $50 (closeout price) - IMO an appropriate price for this US-mfg cot should be in the ~$100 range.

    And, the Ultralight;
    Longitudinal poles are 5-segments instead of 3, and the horizontal members are two-piece aluminum.
    The advantage from those two is that its packed size is of course much smaller.

    Setup time, 4-5 minutes I'm guessing; a little fiddly but not that objectionable - while very straightforward in concept, both cots do require some strength to assemble.

    Note the doubled-up rods in the two center sections; more on that later.

    Assembled view:


    After my first backpacking trip with the UL cot, I got to thinking that I'd like it a little more solid for entrance/exit and tossing/turning.

    My 170 lbs is well-within even the 'light' build config (let alone the 'standard' config); the extra slots on the cot underside provide the flexibility to transition between the 'light' & 'standard' build configs.

    So I purchased two add'l sets of replacement 'feet' assemblies for the cot, adding ~5.5 oz of weight per assembly:

    and then reassembled the cot, now having four "doubles" in the center, and two "singles" to each side:

    So my preferred config of the Ultralight is now 11oz heavier; 3.5 lbs total weight.
    But adding the extra parts doesn't really increase the packed bulk:

    Conclusion: Much more solid, it now feels comparable to the still-heavier Camp Cot - but packs down far smaller.
    Its packed size is comparable to a ThermaRest mattress, but is so comfy that a mattress is no longer needed for comfort.

    I've never been a long-distance backpacker, instead preferring to do single nights or to set up basecamps for day hiking from; this will be a perfect component of that.


    Thanks for reading & Best regards,
    Last edited by Kestrel; 07-12-2019 at 01:41 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    South GA/ North FL

    Default Re: Travel cots for camping

    You are just killing it these last few days! Bags, cots, stoves. I backpack a Base camp XL pad of theirs that is 2" thick. Not much lighter than the budget cot here at 4lbs!!! ... Hmm....... I would need a biggun though! (6'7" 300...)

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