If you’re into backpacking, you know that every ounce matters. Whether you’re trekking up the side of a mountain or just trying to pack light, backpacking requires a bit of creativity and ingenuity. Typically, one area where you’ll often be out of luck is where and how you sleep. With so little room inside your bag, it’s almost impossible to bring a sleeping pad or something else for comfort.
That said, cots are not out of the question. In fact, the best backpacking cot could make all the difference and ensure you have the best trip possible. So, before packing for your next excursion, be sure to read through this list and discover the best lightweight or ultralight backpacking cot. Your body and your back will thank you later.
The best backpacking cots are:
- Helinox Cot One – Best Overall
- Helinox Lite Cot Ultralight – Best Ultralight Model
- Naturehike Ultralight Folding Camping Cot – Holds the Most Weight
- Big Agnes Goosenest Inflatable Cot – Most Compact Backpacking Cot
- MARCHWAY Ultralite Folding Camping Cot
- ALPS Mountaineering Ready Lite Cot
- FE Active Folding Camping Cot
- Therm-A-Rest Ultralight Cot
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Best Ultralight Model
Holds the Most Weight
Most Compact Backpacking Cot
|Ease of Setup
|Value for Money
As a relatively tall backpacking cot, this unit might be a little too tall for your tent. But by elevating you off the ground, this cot is more comfortable.
If you like Helinox cots but don't want to worry about running out of room, this model works well for most backpacking situations.
If you're a relatively large camper who's also backpacking, you need something that can hold extra weight. Although, this isn't the most comfortable cot.
As an inflatable cot, this model is much different than anything else we've seen. But, it's pretty lightweight and can be comfortable if you know what to expect.
As an ultralight camping cot, this model works well for most backpacking excursions. But, it's not ideal if you sleep on your side.
Another ultralight cot that can work on most trips. However, it's a bit pricey for what you get, and it's super low to the ground.
A lightweight cot that can be pretty comfortable when it works. However, it's not as sturdy as others on this list.
Comfortable as a backpacking cot, but can be hard to put together and is somewhat flimsy, so it can break under pressure.
You can technically call this a cot, but it doesn't work much like one. This should only be a backpacking cot of last resort.
Comparing the Best Backpacking Cots
As a rule, backpacking requires far more commitment and attention to detail than regular camping. When every ounce counts, you have to pay close attention to everything you bring along. With that in mind, we’ve ranked our list based on the top two specifications – weight and comfort. If either of these elements is lacking, the cot will be toward the bottom. Now, let’s break open our camping gear and see which cot works best for your next adventure.
- Holds up to 320 pounds
- The bed is made of 600D polyester material
- Fast and efficient setup with automatic assembly
- Weighs just 5.1 pounds
- Doesn’t sag very much while you’re sleeping
- Ideal for all sleep positions
- May be too tall for some backpacking tents
- More expensive than other cots on this list
Kicking things off is this cot from Helinox. Although this isn’t the lightest model we’ve seen, it’s one of the most comfortable. The secret is the way the cot is designed with feet that distribute your weight evenly so you don’t sag. This cot can also hold a lot more weight than others in its class – 320 pounds.
At just five pounds itself, this cot packs up pretty tight. It’s also super easy to set up, thanks to the auto-assembling legs that practically do everything themselves. You can be ready to go in a minute or so, and it takes about as long to tear this cot down, too.
While the price tag for this cot is a bit higher than you might expect, it’s worth the investment if you want something rugged and comfortable. Also, it sits just over six inches off the ground, so it should work well for back, stomach, and side sleepers.
- Weighs under three pounds
- Self-assembling legs
- Distributes weight evenly for better support
- Folds compactly for easier storage
- Cot material conforms to your body without sinking too much
- Not as wide as other models, so you have to stay tight while sleeping
- Still expensive compared to other light backpacking cots
Considering that Helinox takes our top spot, it’s no surprise that it also claims the second. This ultralight backpacking cot is the lightest model on this list, weighing in at just 2.8 pounds. So, no matter how lean you’re trying to be, this cot will suit your needs.
Although this model is not as tall as the Cot One, it still offers excellent comfort and support while sleeping. We don’t necessarily recommend this unit for side sleepers since you can touch the ground, but it works well for back and stomach sleepers.
Otherwise, the same elements we liked about the Cot One are also present here, including self-assembling legs, sturdy frame, and rugged material. However, this model only holds up to 265 pounds, so heavier campers need not apply.
- Weighs only 4.85 pounds
- Holds up to 330 pounds
- Affordable price point
- Folds for easier carrying
- Extra support legs for better stability
- You can sink down in the center, so this cot is not ideal for side sleepers
- Although it holds up to 330 pounds, it starts to buckle as you get closer to this threshold
- Doesn’t pack down as compactly as other cots
If you’re looking for an affordable ultralight cot that can hold your weight, this model from Naturehike might be the best option. We didn’t rank it higher than the Helinox because it’s not as durable, but this cot does have some interesting features that make it stand out.
First, it has extra support legs on the bottom, so your weight gets distributed more evenly. Second, at just under five pounds, this cot weighs practically nothing, although it is a bit bigger than others on this list. Finally, the cot material hugs your body, so you feel more comfortable while sleeping. That said, the legs are not as rigid as the ones on the Helinox, so the larger you are, the more they bend. Also, if you’re a side sleeper, this cot might not work well.
- The ultralightweight model weighs just over three pounds
- Packs compactly to take up less space in your bag
- Can inflate it as much as necessary for extra support
- Quick deflation valve for faster tear down
- Doesn’t take too much time to inflate to full size
- Can double up with a second cot for a wider or taller model
- Very expensive for what it is
- In rare cases, the seams may not hold up well to the elements
In many cases, the best backpacking cot is the one that takes up the least room and weighs less than the competition. If you’re struggling to justify bringing an entire cot along, you may reconsider with this model from Big Agnes. As an inflatable cot, this model works well for situations where ounces matter. At just over three pounds, you can bring this cot on virtually any excursion.
One element to point out is that this product isn’t technically a cot so much as an air mattress. However, it’s much faster to inflate and deflate than an air mattress, so you won’t be spending all your time breathing into a small tube. Also, the benefit of inflating your cot is that you can make it as firm or loose as necessary based on your preferences.
The primary downside of this cot is the price tag. However, the material is very sturdy and should hold up well, especially on uneven terrain. With other cots, you’ll have a hard time staying flat if the ground isn’t, but this cot doesn’t have that problem. Another issue is that the nozzle can wear down over time, creating small leaks. But, with proper care and maintenance, you shouldn’t have to worry.
- Durable aircraft-grade aluminum frame
- Holds up to 275 pounds
- Extra supports for added comfort and reduced sagging
- Multiple colors available
- Fast and easy assembly
- Anti-skid feet
- Not ideal for side sleepers
- Center can start to sag a lot over time
Here we have another ultralight model weighing in at only 4.8 pounds. This backpacking cot from MARCHWAY is surprisingly comfortable and rugged, even though it sits so close to the ground and can sag a little more than some other models we’ve seen.
We like the anti-skid feet of this cot, as well as the multiple support sections. This way, you can move around and feel comfy without ruining the bottom of your tent. The short height of this cot makes it ideal for backpacking tents, but it may still be too high for some tent options. If you sleep on your side, you should look elsewhere for comfort and accommodation.
- Durable ripstop polyester fabric
- Extra leg supports to distribute weight more evenly
- Holds up to 300 pounds
- Weighs only five pounds
- Reinforced seams for better sturdiness
- More expensive than other cots in its class
- Some pieces may break sooner than others
As with the MARCHWAY cot above, this model is well-suited for most backpacking trips. The frame is made from aircraft-grade aluminum, and it comes with additional supports, so you don’t sink in too much while sleeping. This cot is pretty rugged and holds up to 300 pounds while only weighing five pounds itself. However, since it’s not less than five pounds, it’s not considered ultralight.
The price point for this cot is why we didn’t rank it as highly. It can also break at some pressure points, so you may need to do minor repairs before the season is over. Otherwise, this is a lean backpacking cot that shouldn’t cause any significant problems.
- Affordable price point
- Durable aluminum frame
- 480D ripstop material
- Sits 6.5 inches off the ground
- Patented feet distribute weight evenly
- Has one of the lowest weight ratings (only 250 pounds)
- Can be somewhat tricky to set up
Looking at the FE Active folding cot, you may think it looks like the Helinox Cot One, thanks to the design of its feet. However, this cot is significantly less comfortable and resilient, which is partly why it’s so affordable.
We like this cot because it’s comfortable and won’t sag very much while you’re sleeping. Also, this cot is as tall as the Helinox model, meaning you don’t have to strain to get in and out. That said, if you have a super compact tent, this cot might be too high to work properly.
- Super lightweight at 2.6 pounds
- Fast and easy assembly
- Patented foot design won’t break easily
- Therma-Capture tech helps you stay warm at night
- Center will bend and sag more than other cots
- Feet can damage tent bottoms
- Extra pressure will cause the feet to break off
If you’re looking for the lightest backpacking cot, this may be it, weighing in at only 2.6 pounds. However, we didn’t rank it higher because it comes with some significant flaws.
First, let’s break down the positive elements. It’s super light and packs pretty compactly, making it ideal for backpacking. Second, the cot uses patented Therma-Capture technology so you don’t get cold at night. This tech can also make you overhead during the summer.
The negative aspects are the high price point and the fact that it sags pretty significantly when you’re on it. Also, the feet are tapered at the ends, so they could damage your tent if you’re not careful.
- Fast and easy setup
- Mesh material is breathable for summer camping
- Slim profile fits practically any backpacking tent
- Folds up compactly when traveling
- The feet bow out so you’re practically sleeping on the ground
- Mesh can tear more easily than other cot materials
- Hard to get in and out because of the extra flexible round feet
- Can slide around a lot if you move while sleeping
Our final backpacking cot doesn’t have much to offer for your next camping trip. The rounded-edge design of the cot’s feet means that you’ll slide around while sleeping on it, and they bend a lot more than other models. So, you’re not doing much better than sleeping on the ground, and if you’re using a sleeping bag, this cot doesn’t add much comfort.
We do like how easy it is to set up and that it fits pretty much any backpacking tent. However, the disadvantages make this cot a last resort because it won’t provide the same benefits as a regular model.
How We Chose the Best Backpacking Cots
As we’ve seen, these cots range in size, weight, and practicality. Depending on how you want your next backpacking excursion to go, you can make the right decision for your needs. However, here are the factors we looked at when ranking these cots on this list.
Which Cots Weigh the Least?
First and foremost, backpacking is all about shedding unnecessary weight. When you’re carrying all of your gear, every ounce matters, which is why these cots are all around five pounds or less. We like cots that won’t weigh you down while still providing all the necessary comfort and accommodation that a cot should. Basically, while weight was a vital component of our ranking system, we looked at each model as a whole, not just the sum of its parts.
Which Cots are the Most Comfortable?
Why buy a backpacking cot if it’s not much better than sleeping on the ground? If the cot doesn’t offer much comfort, then there’s no reason to pack it and weigh down your bag at all. Even if the cot is ultralight, it will ultimately be a waste of space.
So, cots that are comfortable to sleep on ranked higher than those that barely offered a better option than a sleeping bag on the ground.
Which Cots are the Least Expensive?
Although the price point shouldn’t be a primary dealbreaker when picking the best backpacking cot, it does make a difference. For this reason, we tend to favor cots that deliver on the first two factors while also being affordable. However, the adage “you get what you pay for” holds true for camping beds as it does for everything else. So, if spending a little extra money means getting a better cot, we ranked that model higher than a cheaper version.
Another point to consider is whether you’re serious about backpacking regularly or if it’s just a mild hobby to pass the time. If you’re planning on heading out several times per year, it’s worth investing in a high-end model that delivers superior results.
Which Cots Will Hold Up to the Elements the Best?
Backpacking means you’re “roughing it” far more than you would on a regular camping trip. So, your backpacking cot needs to be able to survive harsh elements, including wear and tear. If a cot won’t hold up for much more than a single season, it gets pushed down to the bottom of the list. Fortunately, all of the cots we reviewed are relatively sturdy and reliable, but some are far better than others.
Which Backpacking Cots Fit in a Tent the Best?
Finally, if you’ve ever been backpacking before, you know that tents are often pretty cramped. So, adding a cot to the mix can cut down on the amount of space you have inside. As a rule, taller cots won’t work well for backpacking tents, but shorter cots may be less comfortable. Overall, when comparing different cot models, be sure to pay attention to their dimensions, so you know whether they’ll fit in your tent or not. Then, it’s up to you to decide whether a larger cot is worth buying a bigger shelter.