Camping Cot Vs Air Mattress

Camping Cot Vs Air Mattress
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Trying to decide between a camping cot and an air mattress for your outdoor adventure?

It’s a tough choice. Do you go with the tried-and-true option of a camping cot, or experiment with the convenience of an air mattress?

When you’re considering purchasing either one, there are certain factors you need to take into consideration — cost, comfort, and packing process to name a few! Luckily, I’m here to provide some helpful tips on what to keep in mind when deciding between a camping cot versus an air mattress.

In this article, I’ll walk you through all the pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision about which product is right for your outdoor needs – camping cot or air mattress?

Key Takeaways: camping cots vs air mattresses

  1. The camping cot is usually more expensive.
  2. The camping cot provides 6-10 inches of elevation off the ground while an air mattress has 5-15 inches depending on how much air is used.
  3. Camping cots have a quick setup time while inflating an air mattress takes time and effort.
  4. Cots have a clear advantage for improved comfort over air mattresses as they support better spinal alignment.
  5. Cots provide better insulation and warmth than airflow mattresses as they are usually made with warm materials like canvas or synthetic fabrics, which also help keep you insulated.
  6. Camping cots are lightweight and easy to carry around but air mattresses are also relatively lightweight but more difficult to transport since they require an external air pump.

What’s a camping cot?

Camping Cot

A camping cot (or camp bed) is a piece of outdoor furniture that’s designed for outdoor activities such as camping and hiking. Essentially, it’s a portable bed rigid frame with a comfortable mattress on top.

Cots are typically made from lightweight and durable materials like aluminum or steel, which makes them easy to set up and break down.

Camping cots come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. From single cot to double cots, it’s important to understand the different types and models available so that you can purchase the best one for your camping needs.

Unlike air mattresses, camping cots will keep you off the hard ground and provide comfort while camping in tents and cabins.

What makes camping cots so great is their low weight, durability and comfort. They range in sizes that can fit comfortably depending on how many people need to sleep on them. You don’t have to worry about air mattresses getting punctures or holes either!

Camping cots also come with sleeping bags, blankets and pillows, making them even more convenient for the avid camper or hiker. 

What about air mattress for camping?

air mattress for camping

An air mattress (or inflatable mattress) is a type of mattress constructed with an inner inflated chamber where you can adjust the firmness or softness. Most air mattresses are composed of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) material.

Rather than using springs or foam, most air mattresses inflate using either manually or via a digital pump.

Air mattresses are generally considered to be the most comfortable option when camping due to their adjustable comfort levels and the ability to refill air inside them throughout your trip. Additionally, they provide better sleep support while also making them much easier to transport due to their portability and light weight.

Overall, air mattresses are considered to be one of the best choices for camping and are especially great for groups with different sleeping preferences as each person can customize their side as necessary.

On top of this, many come equipped with additional features like built-in pillows, built-in lumbar supports, headboard support and more, thus ensuring maximum comfort during your time spent outdoors!

Pros and Cons of Camping Cot and Air Mattress


The price of camping cots and air mattresses can vary drastically depending on their features and quality.

Generally, a camping cot will usually cost more than an air mattress, with the most basic of models costing around $30 – $40 USD.

On the other hand, an air mattress usually starts at around $20-$30 USD, with higher-quality models costing up to several hundred dollars.


Most cots will provide 12-18 inches of elevation off the ground, providing more insulation from the cold ground and keeping your sleeping arrangement from getting dirtier than you want it to be.

On the other hand, air mattresses vary in height depending on how much air is pumped into each one. Generally, an air mattress will provide 5-15 inches of elevation depending on how much air is used.

User’s Body Weight

Air mattresses provide less support than a camping cot, especially for heavier individuals.

An air mattress is likely to sag a bit or even give way entirely if the user’s body weight is above average. On the other hand, camping cots offer better support since they are typically made of sturdier materials like metal or wood frames that can handle greater amounts of pressure.

Ease of Use and set up 

A camping cot’s main advantage is its quick setup time. You don’t need to fill it with air or pump it up; you usually just have to unfold it. This makes a great choice if you’re trying to get your campsite ready quickly but don’t want to sacrifice comfort. However, cots are bulkier and heavier than air mattresses, making transporting them more difficult.

Air mattresses require just a few minutes of inflation before they are ready for use. Air mattresses are also quite lightweight, which makes them ideal if you plan on moving around during your camping trip. But inflating an air mattress takes time and some effort, which can be inconvenient if you’re anxious to get settled into your campsite after a long drive.


In terms of improved comfort and posture, camping cots have a clear advantage over air mattresses. The higher elevation helps support better spinal alignment while lying down or sitting up (after all, nobody likes waking up with aches and pains after sleeping on an uncomfortable surface).

Air mattresses can also deflate during the night which can force you to wake up and spend precious time re-inflating them. So if extra comfort is what you’re looking for when camping, then a camping cot might be a better option for you overall!

Insulation and Warmth 

The camping cot is the better option when it comes to insulation and warmth, as it typically stands off the ground by several inches or more. This helps to increase air circulation beneath the cot and keeps you relatively warm during a chilly night.

Furthermore, camping cots are usually made with warm materials like canvas or synthetic fabrics, which also help keep you insulated.

A camping cot creates much less heat loss than an air mattress and that can be invaluable for cold weather or winter camping. 

While during hot weather, A camping cot provides better insulation from the ground than an air mattress. This helps keep you warm on cool summer nights, even in hot weather. 

Air mattresses, on the other hand, tend to provide less insulation as most are designed to be thin and rarely stand more than two inches off the ground.

Though there are some that are thicker, these will still provide far less insulation than a camping cot since there is still that much less space for air circulation beneath them.

They may not be as reliable on colder nights either since air leaks can occur over time if the mattress isn’t properly inflated before use.


On average, a camping cot weighs around 15-20 pounds while an air mattress can be as lightweight as 8-12 pounds depending on size. This makes the air mattress a much lighter and more portable option, especially if you have to walk far from your parking spot.

The second factor is the packed size. When compressed, a camping cot will take up about 1/4th of its expanded size so it won’t be too hard to pack in your car or tent bag. An air mattress can require an additional pump for inflation and a deflate for deflation which adds more weight and bulkiness to consider when packing.


Talking about portability, the camping cot has several advantages. It is lightweight, good for a solo traveler or group or car camping. It folds up flat, making it easy to carry around in your backpack or car. Some cots may have removable legs, which allows them to be broken down even further into smaller pieces that can easily fit inside of a bag or suitcase.

Compared to camping cots, air mattresses are more difficult to transport since they require an external pump and are made out of inflatable material that has poor durability.

Overall, campign cots provide greater portability than their inflatable counterpart due to their compactness and light weight construction.

Surface Size

Camping cots typically come in Twin, Queen, and King sizes– but King sizes are usually reserved for car-campers who have the space for a bulky bed.

Air mattresses generally range from Twin to Queen sizes, designed with hikers and backpackers in mind. That said, some brands do offer King-sized air mattresses if you’re looking for extra sleeping surface area while camping.


For durability, the camping cot is superior to the air mattress.

Camping cots are made from heavy-duty steel frames, or aluminum frames, and fabrics, so they are designed to last for years of use. Air mattresses on the other hand are typically made from a combination of plastic and synthetic materials, which can wear down over time with extended use.

Even though camping cots tend to be more durable, both options will require regular maintenance in order to ensure that they remain comfortable and safe for sleeping.

For example, you will want to routinely check your cot for any rust or fraying fabric seams that may occur after frequent use.

Likewise, you should inspect your air mattress regularly and make sure there are no punctures or tears in the material.


1. Can I put an air mattress on a camping cot?

Yes, you can put an air mattress on a camping cot. While some may argue that the sleeping surface of the cot is not as comfortable as an air mattress alone, there are benefits to using both together.

An air mattress paired with a camping cot gives you more comfort than just an air mattress. Additionally, the added elevation from the cot helps keep you warmer at night by getting you off of the cold ground.

However, some camping cots may not provide enough surface area to fit standard-sized inflatable mattresses so be sure to check before purchasing one.

2. Are cots warmer than air mattress?

The short answer is yes. Cots are generally seen as a more comfortable and warmer option than air mattresses for camping.

Cots provide several inches of cushion between your body and the ground, which provides more insulation from the cold ground outside. The cushioned surface also offers better support than an air mattress, which can sag in spots due to pressure and make you feel colder at night.

Additionally, many cots have some form of built-in insulation such as foam or fiberfill that helps to trap heat inside and keep you warm even in cold temperatures.

3. Is an air mattress more comfortable than a camp cot?

Camping cots provide a more comfortable sleeping option than air mattresses, as they can help with better spinal alignment and will not deflate during the night.

Camping Cot or Air Mattress? 

In conclusion, camping cots and air mattresses both offer a comfortable way to sleep while camping. If you are looking for the most lightweight and easy-to-transport option, an air mattress is probably your best bet. However, if you’re looking for something more stable and supportive, then a camping cot is the way to go. Ultimately, it will come down to personal preference and comfort level when deciding which is right for you.

So whether you choose a camping cot or an air mattress for your next outdoor adventure – just remember that getting adequate rest can be just as important as having the right camping gear!

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