Camping Cot Vs Air Mattress: Which One Do You Prefer?

Going outdoors for camping or hunting in the countryside can be amusing. However, when it involves sleeping or resting, bedding is a crucial part to think about. You must pack a bed with you, and the most common options are Cots and Air Mattresses.

Certainly both of them have their pros and cons, but only the right one should be on your packing list. So, in this comparison of camping cot vs air mattress, we’ll discuss  which one to go with in which situation. Let’s get things straight and end the dilemma between them once and for all.

Quick Comparison: Between camping cots and air mattresses

Camping cots Air mattress
Costs more than mattresses Costs less than cots
Multipurpose use (sit or sleep) Flexible (available in big or small size)
Need extra foam topping Standalone, ready to go
Heavier (good if you drive) Lightweight (good for hiking)
Easy to set up Takes time to manually inflate

About Camping Cots

A camping cot is more like a bed at your home, only with a completely different structure to it. While a home bed has a standalone and assemblable structure, a camping cot is usually a collapsible one. Mostly made of metal, camping cots are popular choices for campers, hunters, and hikers for nightstay.

Camping Cots

Long before being out in the wild for recreational stays, they were part of military camps as beds for soldiers. It’s popular because of having the regular bed size while being highly portable. You can easily carry them around, especially if you’re driving to your picnic spot with your family.

Advantage And Disadvantage Of Camping Cots

If you’re planning to get a camping cot for your next trip, you must not get one until you know its pros and cons. Camping cots certainly have their perks to offer, but with a few disadvantages too. Let’s discuss how a camping cot can improve your camping experience and how it may not!

Advantage Of Camping Cots

  • Safer: Since camping cots keep you above the ground while sleeping in the wild, it keeps you safe from harmful bugs.
  • Two in one: Camping cots are sometimes convertible to make a recliner, which is great for sight seeing and relaxing.
  • Easy to sit: As you have a bed raised from the ground, you can also use a cot to sit on and hangout substituting chairs.
  • Portable: Despite being a little bulkier compared to mattresses, you can easily take a cot from one place to another.
  • Collapsible: The best part about camp cots is that you can collapse them into smaller versions if you want to.
  • Storage: Camping cots come with bed storage space to store little things like phones, boots, and other camping gear.

Disadvantage Of Camping Cots

  • Bulky: Camping cots are heavier than mattresses, therefor, you cannot take them on hiking as the weight can be a big issue.
  • Metal: Although cots generally offer a strong steel frame, it can rust if not stainless steel. if you’re a frequent traveler, get an SS folding frame with fabric stretching.
  • Not for any surface: Camping cots need a flat surface to put on. If you’re into completely uneven terrain like mud or gravel, setting it up can be frustrating.
  • No insulation: Camping cots don’t offer insulation from the ground. If you’re going into the trip in a cold season, you’ll need extra blankets.
  • Costly: Camping cots are generally costlier than air mattresses and that can be a big decision making matter.

About Air Mattress

Air mattresses are more of a modern bedding concept compared to camping cots and generally provide more comfort. Unlike cots, an air mattress, airbed or sleeping pad is good for camping, hiking, hunting, and more. And that’s because of their portability with lightweight build which you can even take on a backpack.

Air Mattress

However, you can also find air mattresses in regular home bed sizes like king or queen, double size, etc. In that case, if you’re getting a bigger or bulkier mattress, it’s not quite good for carrying. Bigger mattresses are good when you’re driving to a destination with the priority of comfort in mind.

Advantage And Disadvantage Of Air Mattress

Just like camping cots, air mattresses also have  their highs and lows, benefiting campers, hikers, and hunters in different ways. You can choose the right bedding option for your camping nightstay accordingly. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of air mattresses for camping before choosing comfortable options:

Advantage Of Air Mattress

  • Comfort: When you’re using an air mattress, you’re getting the comfort of your home bed while lying in the woods.
  • Controlled firmness: With air mattresses, you control the firm surface level of the bed; how soft or how rigid it would be.
  • Lightweight: Since air mattresses are made of lightweight material, they’re much easier to carry around.
  • Easy to store: Air mattresses are much easier to store in a car bonet, or even a backpack if it’s smaller in size.
  • Cost effective: Air beds are more cost effective and flexible in pricing compared to camping cots.
  • Use with tents: You can use air mattresses with tents for hunting and camping without compromising the head room from the tent floor.

Disadvantage Of Air Mattress

  • Time consuming: Using an inflatable mattress can be annoying if you do it with a manual air pump (self-inflating air mattresses are available as well).
  • Vulnerable: An air mattress can be damaged from unwanted punctures from hidden sharp objects or rigid grass roots.
  • Air leakage: It’s a common thing to worry about. A damaged or faulty mattress will leak air overnight only to leave you on the bare ground.
  • Squeaky noise: Low quality air mattresses often make a squeaky noise every time you move on them to disturb your outdoor sleep.

A Comprehensive Look At Camping Cot Vs Air Mattress [Detailed Comparison]

Whether you’re driving or hiking, or maybe canoeing, bedding gear can take a hefty portion of your loads. Putting that in mind, you must select the right one between a camping cot or an air mattress. Here are some factors to keep in mind to determine between camping cot vs air mattress:

Camping Cot Vs Air Mattress

The Comfort You Need

The first thing you’d consider for nightstay is the comfort level you want in sleeping or resting on your trip. A cot will give you the comfort of safety from unwanted bugs. The air mattress can give you the comfort of sleeping on a bed-like coziness.

Setting them up

Setting up a camping cot is much easier than an inflatable air bed. All you’ll do is take the collapsible cot out and stretch it out to its full size. On the flip side, you’ll spend quite a time inflating the mattress (if you use a manual inflator)

Considering the Season

If you’re going on the trip in a colder season, an air mattress would be a great option with insulation. However, if it’s not cold ground or you need no heat retention, a camping cot is just fine. You can also use an extra insulated memory foam mattress.

Storing and Carrying

Storing a camping cot is easy if you’re driving to your destination as it’s a bit heavier than a mattress. But if you’re hiking or walking, an air mattress can offload you big time while keeping it much more lightweight.

Durability And Service

In terms of durability, both are good, but an air mattress can be vulnerable if you have sharp things on the ground. On the other hand, a camping cot can give you durable service if it comes with steel rigid frames (aluminum frames aren’t good).


With more than 40 million people going camping in the US, the camping cot vs air mattress have their fair share of people’s choice. You’ll choose your nightstay companion for your camping trips depending on your camping situation. Keep the type of camping place in mind while choosing it.

Regardless of which one you choose, keep two things in mind: Safety from both the ground and the weather and Ease of use setup or use. Price point also can be a factor, especially if you’re a budget camping enthusiast.

Scroll to Top