Tent cots are a great way to lift a tent to give yourself a more comfortable sleeping surface, keep water from entering through the bottom of the tent, and regulate the temperature within the tent by reducing heat loss from ground transference.
These aren’t the small cots that fit inside a small tent or underneath a tarp on backpacking trips. Rather than placing a cot into your tent, the top of the cot is the tent floor. You might think that sounds sure to cave or tip over, but these tent cots are universally stable, in some cases more so than traditional tents are.
Read on to find out more about tent cots and how they’re changing the face of backcountry camping. We’ve selected the five best tent cots available on Amazon so you can take less time searching for your perfect tent and more time enjoying the great outdoors.
In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:
The 5 Best Tent Cots - Overview
Here are the top 5 picks.
- Elevated sleeping platform keeps you high and dry and away from the bugs and snakes
If you’re looking for the most versatile tent cot on the market, the Kamp-Rite double tent cot is the one for you. They have more tailored products such as the Kamp-Rite original tent cot, Kamp-Rite compact, and Kamp-Rite oversize tent cot, but the double tent cot has the most optimal sleeping area, aluminum construction, an included rainfly, and near-instant set up time that makes it a pleasure to have along on any camping trip.
Best of all, this Kamp-Rite tent cot is convertible to accomplish multiple purposes. It can be unzipped from the base and used as a standard camping tent would be or it can even be converted into a lounge chair for when you want to be outside for a stretch but aren’t in the middle of a camping trip.
The weight limit on this product is 550 pounds, which means you have plenty of room for one person with lots of camping gear or else two people with average-sized rucksacks. It’s collapsible and sets up in almost no time at all. Given it weighs about 44 pounds, this Kamp-Rite tent cot is probably best for car camping and other trips where you don’t have to carry it far. But in such a situation, the Kamp-Rite tent cot is the best tent cot you could ask for.
- 2-IN-1 CAMPING COMBO: This portable 1 person all-in-one set includes a camping tent and an elevated sleeping cot together in one easy to carry bag for transport and storage.
The name says it all with this Outsunny tent. It has everything one person needs for shelter on a camping trip, including an air mattress, sleeping bag, and pillow. It’s a bit more portable at around 20 pounds, but you’d still have a hard time transporting it over difficult hiking trails without access to a vehicle of some kind.
Nonetheless, it’s quite roomy for a single person to use and it also comes with a carrying case to bring it to your campsite. You could also disassemble the constituent parts and use them as simply an air mattress, tent, cot, or tent cot.
If there’s one thing they could improve about this tent cot, it’s that it underperforms in the rain and inclement weather. The manufacturer advises purchasing a rain fly separately to help, which does work although some of their competitors include this rain fly with the purchase of the product.
Everything secures with clips and velcro and stays very stable when there is a rucksack or enough weight in the tent. Securing the legs is a bit of a challenge in especially inclement weather but it’s certainly not impossible if you choose the right campsite.
- All-in-1 Camping Combo: Combining a tent with a camping bed, our tent cot is cost-effective. It comes with a full set of bedding which includes 2 sleeping bag, 1 air-mattress and 2 inflatable pillow...
Besides having one of the most unique designs on this list and plenty of additional features, this Tangkula tent cot is also one of the most comfortable and the best choice for a four-season two-person tent. It doesn’t have as much ground clearance as some of the other tent cots in this guide but it works great in standard conditions.
Two pillows, two sleeping bags, and an air mattress are included with the purchase of this model. That’s super convenient for people who want a one-stop-shop for their camping equipment, although it does take a bit longer to set up than some of its competitors.
It’s collapsible and foldable so you can stow it away when it’s not in use. That being said, it’s not nearly as portable as some ultralight packing options such as a hammock or a tarp. The design does allow for some space in front of the tent to be shaded and makes for a great hangout spot.
- [Fast Folding & Easy Setup]: Integrated single tent cot, can be easily set up in minutes, just unfold the frame & adjust the top attached to it, makes various camping easier, like car/trunk camping as...
This cot is built with some of the most high-quality materials available in this section of outdoor gear. From the polyester used in the top and bottom sections to the PU coating and additional rainfly, you can take this tent cot into more severe camping environments that you could some of the others on the list.
We’re talking about lots of rain and wind, though, not natural disasters and mega-storms. Still, for the most common weather that happens on the majority of camping trips, this tent will last and provide a comfortable and restful night’s sleep.
Everything is waterproof but they still took care to provide for good airflow so one camper can easily rest within the tent cot without overheating or feeling stifled. There’s even space for a portable fan if you have the means to power it and this tent also has plenty of gear storage space for all the things that make camping more enjoyable.
At just over thirty pounds, it’s not the heaviest tent and it’s not the most lightweight piece of camping equipment either. For example, it’s already over twice some limits for what qualifies as ultralight. But it’s easy to transport in the included carry case if you have a car or some other vehicular means to get it to your campsite. Once it’s there, it does a great job keeping every camper warm and dry.
Last of all we have the ultralight entry into our top five best tent cots. If you’re interested in solo backpacking, this is the selection for you. You lose out on the ground clearance because they wanted to cut out weight primarily from the steel or aluminum legs you would otherwise need on this tent cot.
Everything is about ease of use with this tent. It’s easy to get into and out of it quickly and you can also set it up very quickly thanks to the stubbed poles that support it. The included rainfly and roof are strong enough and effective enough at blocking bad weather from touching the camper using it.
It’s lightweight, sets up fast, and keeps you off the ground so that you don’t freeze while you’re sleeping on the mountain trail or at your chosen campsite. What else could an ultralight hiker or camper ask for? The only issue with this product is that they sell the cot separately.
That being said, once you combine the two you have a great method for sleeping easy, safe, and dry on quick jaunts and ultralight outings wherever you go.
Tent Cot Camping
As with any other kind of tent or camping shelter, the ideal tent cot is heavy-duty and built for all weather conditions. They typically have foldable legs so that you can take them on camping trips no matter how remote your campsite is.
But there are some considerations you should make when you’re selecting the best tent cot for your camping style. For example, since the tent is essentially on stilts, you need to make sure you get one that won’t tip over on uneven ground or in high winds.
Partly that depends on your campsite and how you sit on the tent cot and partly it depends on the construction of the product. Here are a few specific things to look out for when you’re searching the market for a reliable tent cot:
Needless to say, you’re probably going to spend downtime in your camp. You’ll generally be reclined and either sleeping or relaxing. As such, you need to make sure you have a tent cot that you can lie down on and get enough support from without experiencing back pain or losing sleep.
To some extent, what you find comfortable may be different from what other people do. A certain material or structure could be your preferred style of tent cot while others prefer completely different styles.
Look for materials that are sturdy and strong enough to support a sleeping pad or an air mattress if you want to put one within the tent. The good news is that you won’t need to invest in a camping cot because the tent already provides the same benefits.
Although the tent bottom will be lifted off the ground by the legs of the cot, the material used to construct it should still be able to withstand a considerable amount of damage during transport or unintentional contact with debris. The rest of the tent also has to be made out of strong and sturdy material.
Wind, rain, and sunlight can cause serious damage to lesser materials and cause them to wear out well before their time. Ideally, your tent will be able to rough its way through any camping experience for many seasons so you can get your money’s worth out of it.
Both the legs of the tent cot and the material of the dome at the top need to be weatherproof or at least water-resistant if you’re to be able to expect them to last through all your outdoor adventures. Some have an additional rain fly to help them last intact through rough weather.
An easy setup will make you envy any other campers along on your camping trip and leave more time for relaxing and enjoying the great outdoors. For many ultralight backpackers, hikers, and campers, it doesn’t make much sense for their straightforward gear to take tons of time to make ready for use.
But even campers with no interest in ultralight packing still benefit from shorter time requirements when it comes to setting up their gear. Saving time on the setup also means you can tear down your camp faster, too. That’s helpful for getting out of the way of hazards like inclement weather and a huge convenience more generally.
In addition to the bodyweight of whoever is using it, any given tent cot also needs to be strong enough to support a camping bed, air mattress, sleeping bag, rucksacks, and additional camping gear that campers want to keep safe from inclement weather and intrusive critters.
2-person tent cots might be the best choice for solo campers who want to keep lots of camping gear with them in the tent or simply want to have plenty of space to stretch out after a long day of outdoor activities in the backcountry.
Since so much gear shopping is done via online retailers like Amazon, you have to balance certain characteristics of any given piece of camping gear with other characteristics to get a complete picture of its efficacy, perhaps without seeing it in person until it’s delivered.
Weight capacity and materials descriptions are two of the most important for determining a camping cot’s durability and overall quality.
Balance & Stability
Anything lifted above the ground has some danger of tipping. Like any tent, these models also have a risk of getting picked up by the wind if there isn’t enough weight to hold them down. But since they are on stilts, there is also some risk of tipping over.
Technically, there is also a possibility that the camper could fall through the bottom of the tent as well, but any brand worth its salt has figured out how to build tents with nylon fabric or some of the various other high-quality materials that won’t split unexpectedly.
The construction of the stilts and supporting section is equally as important as the material used to make the canvas tent section. A steel frame is likely to be the most durable and, although they weigh more, they are more likely to stay upright in severe weather.
An aluminum frame is lighter than a steel frame and a better choice for campers who like to hike to their campsites. Steel frames are fine for car camping and short walks, while aluminum frames are better for remote locales with reduced wind and other extreme weather.
Finally, anyone shopping for the right tent cot should stay on the lookout for some additional features. The stability of the frame and the material used to make the top part of the tent are only half of the total design of the tent.
Certain materials such as UM mesh leave enough holes for optimal airflow within the tent while still keeping out pesky bugs. No-see-Um mesh has an irregular pattern to protect campers from even the smallest insects.
Aside from specific materials, campers shopping for a tent cot should also look for bonus features like gear storage pockets, secure doors, included carrying bags, and instant tent combo models that set up in under a minute and have air mattresses and sleeping pads included.
Our top pick for the best tent cot in 2021 is the Kamp-Rite Double Tent Cot without a doubt. It’s incredibly versatile and makes staying off the ground while you’re camping a cinch.
There are some other tent cots in this guide that have features more specifically applicable to different camping conditions, but the Kamp-Rite reigns for the majority of camping trips. If you’ve never used a tent cot before, this is a great model to learn with and it’s still plenty effective enough if you’re a tent cot camping pro.
All in all, reversing the traditional tent-cot order makes for a much more comfortable sleeping experience with less heat transfer between the ground and your body. It also lifts you above critters like snakes or bugs and most have material built-in that will keep out flying pests like mosquitoes as well.
Pick one of the tent cots in this guide and you’re sure to have one of the most pleasurable sleeping experiences on your next camping trip.