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Comparison Between Camping Cot Vs Air Mattress: Which Is Comfortable

Camping is one of the many outdoor activities that require adequate preparation, starting from identifying the perfect camping site, what gears to pack, and what foods to bring with you.

When it comes to sleeping bags several factors you should keep in mind. Choosing a camping cot or an air mattress depends on the season of the year. These two are great options to pick from for a great night's sleep on a camping trip. Let’s check them in detail to help you understand which one is better.

Also called a camp bed, is a small light transportable bed that is used by campers and backpackers during camping trips. They’ve existed long before since they were used by soldiers at war. They’re usually used when real beds aren’t available and probably seen in emergency shelters or military camps.

It comprises a foldable steel or aluminum frame with a thick polyester or canvas stretching across the frame that becomes taut once assembled covering the top area for comfortable sleeping. Most cots are usually small and designed for one person. Double cots can be also available for instances where partners are camping.

Cots can be packed inside the car and carried to the camping site. When buying a camping cot consider a lightweight, compact, and comfortable model. The sleeping area usually made of fabric makes it comfortable to sleep on, should be easy to wash, and is also durable.

On this note, polyester and nylon are always the best, whereas canvas also gets a yes because of its durability but can be difficult to wash. The frames should be made of material that is lightweight, resistant to rust, durable, and easy to fold. Most of the frames are made of aluminum with either X or U shape designs.

Cots with X shape design tend to support more weight than the U-shaped ones which are also considered to be good because they tend to evenly distribute the weight of the one sleeping thus protecting the floor. Also one should consider carrying a camping pillow and a camping cot pad for more optimal comfort.

Air Mattresses

Also called an air bed, is an expansible mattress that is constructed with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or other synthetic fibers. The synthetic fiber material is hydrophobic, lightweight, sturdy, and stretchable which works best for air mattresses allowing quick inflation and deflation.

The top layer of an air mattress is reinforced with layers of rubber and other synthetic materials that support its inflation. They don’t take up much space because they can be deflated then folded, stored, or carried in a much-simplified form. This and their affordable price makes them popular for camping and home users.

Some are self-inflatable whereas some require a portable air compressor or a handheld air pump to fill them up. The self-inflatable ones will fill up with air up to a certain pressure point on their own once the valve is left open but will also require an air pump to help fill up the remaining small space.

Comparison between Camping Cots and Air Mattresses

A camping cot and an air mattress differ in some aspects. To help you choose the right camping cot or an air mattress, understand their difference first. Here is a detailed comparison of the two.

The Setting up

Setting up a camp cot is much straightforward than when setting up an air mattress. All you have to do when having a camping cot is to remove it from the stuffing pack, unfold then add a camping cot pad for extra comfort.

On the other hand, an air mattress needs more, you will always have to remember carrying a pump to inflate them. Sometimes the energy and extra time needed for inflation can be so frustrating. Adding to the noise that the pump produces many campers would opt for camping cots.


Between the two, you’ll need to select one that does not eat up a lot of space considering that you’ll need to carry other essentials, like food, water, clothing, and shelter. Air mattresses are lightweight and take little space because they are easy to roll up and carry.

With a cot, depending on the material of the frame, they are harder to pack and carry than an air mattress. Although some cots are made in such a way that they can be backpacked and weigh only two pounds, still storing them can take lots of space.

Comfortable Sleeping Positions

There are different sleeping positions, these are, back, stomach, and side positions. And when choosing between two or more, sleeping position matters because different mattress’ firmness works better with different sleeping positions.

Adults, mostly prefer to sleep on their sides. Therefore, they would go for a medium-firm mattress. This helps them keep off too much pressure from being exerted on the pressure points i.e. the hips and shoulders. It allows the joints to sink into the bed just a bit thus providing better sleep. Therefore, air mattresses would suit the majority of adults because they sleep on their sides.

Stomach sleepers need a soft to medium-firm mattress to help give them comfort and support their spine and a camping cot added with a cot pad for extra comfort.

Back sleepers. Choose an extra firm mattress for their hips, spine, and shoulders to rest on in line. A camping cot is ideal for back sleepers.

Overall, an air mattress gives a better comfortable night's sleep compared to a camping cot. But still, you should have a taste of the two, to come up with the best preference.


When it comes to elevation, the choice of sleeping bag will depend on several factors like the weather. Camping cots are usually elevated above the ground by the frames. Most people prefer this because it allows free air circulation. This keeps you cool during summer seasons and during winters keeping you dry.

Another advantage of choosing camping cots is that it keeps safe from being bitten by pets that live on the ground. On the other hand, air mattresses are not a good choice because sleeping directly on the ground can be troublesome.

Quality and Durability

In terms of quality and durability, campers have their tastes and preferences because the two are both good but with some faults too. An air mattress can get a puncture or sudden deflation. This might make most people prefer other sleeping bags.

Camping cots do not have many disadvantages in terms of quality because the aluminum frames and the canvas are both made with extremely sturdy and flexible materials that are hard to break hence most people go for them.

Suitability during different seasons

When choosing which camping gear to pick, the weather plays an important role. Camping cots are considered best during summer. They’re elevated with single-layered firmness that is not insulated allowing perfect air circulation.

Therefore, they’re ideal during summers. They also work best during the rainy season because of the elevation thus keeping you up from the water on the ground.

On the other hand, air mattresses are the best choice during winters, because they’re warm, cozier, and keep you curdled up.


Choosing a sleeping bag depends on the preference of the sleeper. Honestly, you wouldn’t know until you try them both to make a preferred decision. Either way, investing in any of those two would give a good sleep making your camping trip an experience that’s enjoyable.

Matt Bartlett

Outside is always better .I'm an avid Traveler, Cyclist, Paddler,Hiker, Outdoor Adventurer, Sports Lover & Wannabe Runner. I write about adventures and share them on my website and for other outdoor publications. . Wannabe Runner Love being outdoors.I enjoy sharing outdoor experiences with others.

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