Outdoor Federation

Camping Cot Vs. Air Mattress

Outdoor Federation is supported by its readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Also, as an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Camping is a fun way to get away from it all and enjoy nature. It’s also a great way to connect with other camping enthusiasts. However, there are a few things to consider before heading out into the wilderness. One of those things is whether or not you should bring an air mattress or a camping cot.

camping cot vs air mattress

What Is a Camping Cot?

A camping cot is essentially a bed that folds up for easy storage when you’re done using it. They come in different sizes so they can fit almost anywhere. A typical size would be about 4 feet long by 2 1/2 feet wide.

Types of Camping Cots

Lightweight Cots

MARCHWAY Ultralight Folding Tent Camping Cot Bed, Portable Compact for Outdoor Travel, Base Camp, Hiking, Mountaineering, Lightweight Backpacking (Grey)

These types of camping cots fold down easily and weigh less than 10 pounds each. The downside is that these models usually don’t have any padding on them which means if you fall asleep while lying flat on top of one, you could hurt yourself pretty badly. Some lightweight models do offer some form of cushioning though.

Double Camping Cots


Outsunny 2 Person Folding Camping Cot for Adults, 50' Extra Wide Outdoor Portable Sleeping Cot with Carry Bag, Elevated Camping Bed, Beach Hiking, Green

Double camping cots are basically two single camping cots connected together. This allows you to sleep both sides at once without having to worry about rolling over onto other person. You’ll still need to make sure you keep the ends apart however.

Heavy Duty Cots

Heavy duty camping cots are made specifically for sleeping outdoors. They typically made of steel frames and thick foam mattresses that guarantees extra durability. If you plan to use this type of camping cot often then you might want to invest in something like a Coleman Trailhead 2 Camping Cot.

Bunk Bed Cots

Disc-O-Bed Kid-O-Bunk with 2 Side Organizers, Red

Bunk beds aren’t really considered camping cots but we thought we’d include them here because they work very similarly to regular camping cots. Just remember that bunk beds require a lot more space since they take up twice as much room as a standard camping cot does.

Cots with Mattresses

Most people think that camping cots does not come with mattresses attached. That couldn’t be further from the truth! Many companies now sell complete camping cots with their own built-in mattresses.

Popular Brands for Camping Cots


Kingcamp offers several styles of camping cots including double, triple, and quad versions. These models will comfortably accommodate four adults. Each model comes with its own set of features depending on what kind you choose. For example, the Double King has a full length zipper instead of Velcro straps for easier access.

Fun Outdoor Quiz


Coleman makes many popular camping products including tents, stoves, lanterns, and many other outdoor furniture. Their camping cots are no exception. Choose between three different camping cots: the Classic, Deluxe, and Elite. All three models provide comfortable seating areas and sturdy frame construction.


MarchWay manufactures high quality camping equipment including tent poles, tarps, and even folding chairs. Their camping cots come in various colors and designs.

Desert Walker

DesertWalker sells camping gear including hammocks, backpacks, and sleeping bags. Their camping cots also happen to be portable enough to carry around just like your backpack or duffle bag.

Pros of Camping Cot

More Comfortable

The biggest reason why people love camping cots is that they make camping more comfortable. After spending hours sitting upright on hard benches, sleeping on a camping cot feels amazing as it lifts you off the cold ground.

Space Saving

If you plan on taking along several friends or family members, then having multiple beds will only take up space. Instead, consider buying a single camping cot that everyone can share. If you really want to save space, try folding down the sides of the tent frame to create extra room underneath.


You probably know that tents aren’t exactly known as the easiest things to pack. But thanks to camping cots, you no longer have to struggle with heavy boxes full of stuff every weekend trip. Just throw everything into a couple of suitcases and hit the road.

Easy To Store

Once you return home, storing your camping cot takes almost zero effort. All you have to do is roll it up and store it somewhere safe until you decide to unpack it once again. And unlike a tent, you can easily fold it right back up and put it away whenever you leave town.

Cons of Camping Cot

Not For Everyone

People suffering from arthritis or other joint issues should avoid using camping cots since they tend to compress joints more than regular beds. Also, if you suffer from claustrophobia, you might experience panic attacks when sleeping in tight spaces like a tent.

Limited Comfort

Unlike traditional beds, camping cots come equipped with very little padding. So even though they provide excellent protection against bugs, they’re also nowhere close to being comfortable enough to use all day long.

Heat Retention

When the weather is both cold and dry, the only problem it faces is heat loss due to the increased air flow can make sleeping cold. However, foam pads and wool blankets can easily overcome this problem.

What Is an Air Mattress?

VOYAGGE Camping Sleep Pad, Ultimate for Camping, Backpacking, Hiking, Adventure, Compact, Comfortable and Lightweight Air Mattress (Dark Green)

An air mattress is basically just like any other regular mattress except instead of being made of springs, it has inflatable chambers filled with air. The inflatable mattress makes them much more comfortable than traditional mattresses since they adjust to fit your preferred sleeping position. The best part is that you can use them outdoors without worrying about getting wet. There are even some models designed specifically for outdoor use!

Types of Air Mattress For Camping

Manually Inflated Air Mattress

Manual inflation means that you have to manually pump each chamber individually before using it. It’s easy to do if you’re already outside but otherwise requires a compressor which isn’t always available when you go camping.

Self Inflating Air Mattress

A self inflating air mattress uses valves inside the chambers so that all you have to do is turn one valve open and let the whole thing fill itself up automatically. Most manufacturers recommend keeping these types of mattresses away from direct sunlight though.

Low-profile Air Mattress

Low profile refers to how low the mattress sits off the floor. You’ll find this type of mattress most often used by campers who want to sleep directly next to their campsite fire pit or grill.

Closed-Foam Camping Mattress

Closed foam mattresses are similar to standard memory foam mattresses. However, they feature closed cells where the air bubbles are trapped within the material. This keeps the mattress cooler during hot summer days while still providing great support.

Pros of Air Mattress

Better Support

Unlike the camping cots, you will have to rely on the ground beneath you to support your body weight. This means that if you happen to fall asleep while lying on uneven terrain, you will not risk injuring yourself. Furthermore, air mattresses feature built-in supports that ensure proper alignment throughout the entire night.

Less Sticky

Camping cots usually consist of thin fabrics made specifically to repel water. While this does help with the waterproofing, it doesn’t always work well when dealing with sweat. As such, you often find yourself struggling to stay dry during hot summer nights. However, air mattresses are designed with breathable material that allows perspiration to escape without leaving behind unpleasant odors.

More Durable

When compared to camping cots, air mattresses last much longer. Unlike canvas sheets, which wear out after years of exposure to sunlight, polyester ones remain strong and durable for decades.

Cons of Air Mattress

Must Inflated Before Use

Just as with camping cots, you must inflate your air mattress using air pump prior to its first use. Otherwise, it will collapse under pressure and won’t perform properly.

Risk of Punctures

If left unsecured, air mattresses can easily become punctured by sharp objects. If you want to keep yours safe from damage, make sure to secure it tightly whenever possible.

Might Leak Air During Night

Another disadvantage for air mattress is the possibility of leaking air at some point during the night. This will impact the sleep quality.

Price Comparison Between Camping Cots and Air Mattress

Air mattresses aren’t cheap. They typically start around $100 per unit, but prices vary depending on brand and model. The good news is that there’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars on an expensive bed because camping cots offer similar features for less money.

Which One Should You Buy?

The answer depends entirely on what type of camping trip you plan to take. If you’ll be spending several days outdoors, then a camping cot may prove useful. But if you only intend to visit the campsite occasionally, then an air mattress would probably serve better. Either way, both options are great choices and we recommend choosing whichever option best fits your needs.


Air mattresses are great because they’re light and compact. They’re also easy to set up and use. However, they aren’t recommended for long trips because they won’t provide enough support for sleeping.

On the other hand, camping cots are heavy and bulky. But they’re also more cheaper than air mattresses. However, they’re perfect for longer trips where you want to sleep comfortably.

So, if you’re planning on spending a night or two in the woods, then you’ll definitely want to invest in a camping cot. Otherwise, you might want to consider bringing an air mattress instead.

And with that, we officially end this blog post. But before you go, can you do us a solid and spread the love (or laughter) by sharing this on your social media? Who knows, maybe we might even find someone who can relate to our content and benefit from it... Wink