Camping Cots

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Advice on Camping Cots To Add To Your Camping Equipment

A challenge of tent camping is trying to get a good night’s sleep.   One way this can be improved is by using camping cots.   These favorites of the military and scouts provide a better sleeping surface than the uneven ground.   In addition, since you are raised off the ground, it is closer to what you would be used to at home.   Finally, because you are raised off the ground, there is less of chance for you to be bitten by ants and other possible non-flying insects.   


Camping cots essential come in two types: (1) end bar construction and (2) no-end bar construction.   End bar construction cots are the ones that have the the poles make “Xs” on the ends.   They are great for providing full support for your body and are very stable. 

No-end bar construction has essentially four rectangular bars spaced evenly along the cot.   These tend to be geared more for decks and homes.   Their main advantage for tent camping is the rectangular bars do not have sharp ends.   This means they are less likely to cut a hole in your tent floor.


Regardless of the type of cot, almost all cots are made of a polyester fabric.   This is great because they can last a long time and are usually water resistant.   The frame of the cots tend to be made of either straight aluminum or a blend of aluminum and steel.   Gone are the days of wood frames which could warp and were much heavier by comparison.   All these cots have folding frames which make them great for storage.   In addition, most cots have a carrying case that can be used for easier carrying.


Weight of the cots varies from item to item with the range going from 8 lbs up to about 25 lbs.   The price range for cots goes anywhere from $20 up to $140.   The higher end cots tend to have more support and padding and some can even be converted into lounge chairs.   Although these tend to weigh a little more (around 22 lbs), they are great because you do not need to also bring camping chairs.


With the number of options available, it can be a little daunting trying to pick one out from among the full range of camping cots.   Here, is our list of tips to make this easier:


1.        Choose an oversized cot.   There is nothing worse than having a cot where you feet hand over the end.   The extra room will come in handy as it may allow you to turn over in your sleep and place other things on your cot like a small flashlight or your hiking boots.   An added benefit is you won’t have to do as much rummaging around at night in the dark trying to find these items and waking up your other guests.


2.        Cot must be able to fit in the tent.   After reading #1, you may be thinking this one is contradictory.   However, if you recall from my article on choosing a good tent,   I recommend getting a tent with extra space.   Getting an over-sized cot is one of the reasons why I suggest purchasing a tent with extra room.


3.        Check for strong frame and strong fabric.   If you checking out camping cots at the store, be sure to take them out and test them there.   You are essentially trying to see if you think you could break the frame or fabric of the cot.   If you believe you can, I would pick another camping cot.   If buying online, you will need to rely on other people’s recommendations to see about the quality.   The good news is that most cots out there are of a good quality so this point is probably somewhat overstated.


4.        Determine if the cot is rust resistant.   It is also a good idea to get a cot that is rust resistant.   Often times, cots end up in the garage where they are exposed to more moisture and if they are not rust resistant, they will rust after a few years.   Do yourself a favor and choose one that will not rust.


5.        Check screws and fasteners.   In past cot models, one challenge was the screws would come loose over time and then, you could end up losing the screw or bolt or at least, have a more uneven cot.   Now, there are some cot models that have addressed this issue.   Be sure to check and see if you will need to do any re-tightening on the cot you purchase.


6.        Weight occupancy.   Most camping cots can hold up to 300 lbs.   If you believe that this could be a problem for you or someone in your party, recognize that you can buy higher end cots that can allow for more weight.


7.        Carrying weight.   Giving advice on what size cot would be appropriate depends in large part on how much carrying you plan to be doing (how far is the camp site from your car) and what other camping equipment you will be bringing.   As a rule of thumb, I would suggest getting a cot less than 16 lbs if you plan on hiking with it more than ½ mile.   If within a ½ mile, you can pretty much choose whichever version you like.


8.        Test your new cot at home first.   As with all new equipment, be sure to set it up first at home.   A number of camping cots need to have their fabric stretched out a bit to make for easier assembly in the field.


This should provide you with a good working list of suggestions for your next purchase.   If you haven’t tried using camping cots before, I recommend you give them a try.   A good night’s sleep can make a big difference in how much you enjoy your camping trip.


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