[Note: This article is about tent:cot hybrids. If you are looking for reviews of cots for sleeping on inside tents, please check out my article on the best camping cots here...]
Tent cots have become an increasingly popular camping shelter since they first hit the market in 1999. The elevation they provide is great for when scrabbling around on the ground is either impractical or undesirable.
They serve as a very practical bugproof, rainproof, private space which makes them a popular choice with the likes of scout leaders, folk serving in the military and solo campers.
Other benefits include being able to pitch on top of a puddle without getting anything wet (which you can’t do with a standard tent). And getting up off the ground is ideal for anyone who has a bad back or mobility issues.
[Note: this article is about shelters that are a tent and cot combination. If you are looking for the best standalone camping cots, then I’ve written a separate article which you can find here...]
There are three main players in the tent cot market: Kamprite (the original tent cot), ThermaRest and Ozark Trail. In terms of what I think the best tent cot is, I reckon the Thermarest Cot Tent has the edge over the others. But different folk have different needs, and each brand has more than one design to choose from.
These are the cot tents that were reviewed:
This is a freestanding one-person tent cot that comes in two sizes (regular and large). It’s made from a unique fabric that’s insect repellent while keeping you ventilated on hot days. The tent comes with or without a rainfly.
The remarkably high dome, peaking at just over 55 inches, is unusual for this type of tent. Velcro tabs and hooks are used to attach the tent to the pole, and four stakes are included to fix the tent to the ground.
It's made up of 3 components, each sold separately. The specs are as follows:
6' x 2' (12sq feet)
6'5" x 2'6" (16sq feet)
6" x 18.5"
6" x 18.5"
6' x 2' (12sq feet)
6'5" x 2'6" (16sq feet)
16" x 5"
17" x 5"
The cot and the tent are best paired with a Thermarest Inflatable Mattress which weighs 1lb 6oz, is 6' long x 20" x 2" thich and packs down to just 11" x 7".
This spacious, easy-easy entry tent is truly astonishing. It transforms the most uneven terrains into suitable habitats. You’ll surely be spoiled when spending a night here. The fabric is durable and functional, making the tent a very versatile piece of equipment.
The entire package is extraordinarily lightweight, with a combined weight of 7 pounds. The ergonomically designed features ensure both the tent and the cot are collapsible into easy-to-carry sizes. Making them completely portable, a rarity for such products; this will make your trip all the more enjoyable.
If you’re kayaking, scouting, or merely backpacking, carrying this tent and cot won’t burden you. Unsurprisingly, military personnel finds products such as this, a better alternative to regular military cots.
The only drawback is that the tent and cot are sold separately; this may not be a bad thing. It enables you to use the tent and cot independently, improving the versatility of the product.
Because of the incredible quality, and the fact you have to buy the items separately, the Thermarest isn’t cheap, but this shouldn’t deter you from purchasing the product. You get true value for your money. Additionally, it’s advised you invest in the Thermarest Inflatable Mattress too. It’s reliable and lightweight, making it a brilliant add-on.
This tent is exceptional; the portability and well-designed features make this tent a must-have for those with extra cash to spend. It’s no surprise why this has been awarded the best tent cot.
Where to Buy Thermarest Cot Tents
The Thermarest Cot Tent can be purchased with or without the fly (so be aware before you buy)
The Thermarest Cot itself is sold separate to the tent and is available in regular or long.
The Thermarest ProLite sleeping pad is a lovely, lightweight pad for comfort and insulation.
The Original Tent Cot: Kamp-Rite
This product is pretty cool because it was the first ever patented tent cot. With U.S. military compact styling, the Kamp-Rite original tent is suitable for most occasions.
It’s not as light or as compact as the Thermarest but it is remarkably cheaper. And unlike the Thermarest Cot Tent, the bug net, rain fly and cot come as a single unit.
While there's an entire range to choose from, this will focus on just three. The Original weighs 24lbs, is 7' long and is rated for 300lbs. The Oversize weighs 32lbs, is 7'6" long and is rated for 350lbs. The Double weighs 51lbs, is 7' long and is rated for 500lbs.
84" x 28"
90" x 32"
84" x 53"
31" x 35" x 6"
36" x 34" x 7"
56" x 34" x 8"
1 person (+ dog)
The Klymit Static V is an excellent, relatively-inexpensive sleeping pad that will fit comfortably inside single KampRite tent cots. It's 72' long and 23' wide. It's a very comfy 2.5' thick when inflated. It weighs just 18oz and packs down into a stuff sack that measures 3" x 8". Available in five different colors.
The price and durability of this product justify its place on our list of best tent cots. The cot itself ensures you’re a good 11 inches off the ground, which will aid in making your trip more comfortable.
A decent clearance from the ground is beneficial when avoiding coldness and dampness; this will also satisfy those who are worried about tent floors ripping.
For extra comfort, pair your tent with a Klymit sleeping pad which is made of 75D polyester, making it puncture and tear-resistant, and comes in a variety of colors.
The tent is entirely waterproof, offering full protection against the elements. You’re able to enter the tent from all four openings, which makes your life easier when in a hurry to get shelter. Additionally, the easy setup makes this product ideal for first-timers. The simplicity of its design has completely removed the need for stakes.
There’s considerable room in the tent, because of the near-vertical frames, but it can’t be regarded as exceptional, the reason being that the height of the tent isn’t great. At 24 inches in height, the tent hinders most bodily movements. If you’re an adult of average height, you’ll find it very difficult to sit inside. For more space, you can buy the doubled-up version.
With only two bars as its legs, stability is slightly compromised. It’s sturdy enough, but more could be done to improve it; this isn’t great news for people who are much heavier or toss and turn while sleeping.
Although the weight of the system (compared to that of the Thermarest) may be a drawback, this shouldn’t make a difference to most people. The tent was designed for camping and not for backpacking; if this is your intended purpose, you’ll be more than satisfied with this option.
There’s nothing more to say about this tent cot: it just gets the job done. Being utilitarian in nature, most outdoors people are bound to form a long-lasting relationship with this piece of equipment.
Recent models from the same brand offer more comfort and features; the oversized tent cot is widely considered a better alternative to the original.
Where to buy KampRite Tent Cots
The Original weighs 24lbs, is 7' long and is rated for 300lbs.
The Oversize weighs 32lbs, is 7'6" long and is rated for 350lbs.
The Double weighs 51lbs, is 7' long and is rated for 500lbs.
The Ozark Trail Tent Cot is freestanding, collapsible, and can be set up on any terrain. The company has advertised that the setup can be completed in under a minute. How convenient?
Its collapsible nature implies that it folds nicely into a small size, making this tool ideal for car assisted campers who are unwilling to share a tent; this is the ultimate solo tool.
It is by far the cheapest tent cot on the market. It weighs 26lbs and offers 78" x 31" by way of internal space. The highest point is 57" and it has 3 entrances. It's rated for 300lbs. And it breaks down into a carry case measuring 40" x 8" x 8".
The Ozark Trail Instant Tent Cot is excellent because it offers a reduced setup time. The word “instant” is in the name of the product, which is quite the statement, and the product does deliver. Setting up this tent cot takes a matter of seconds.
The Ozark also has a freestanding feature; this removes the need to look for near-flat ground to set up camp. For tents at this price point, this is simply extraordinary.
The product’s openings are carefully placed for versatility. There are three large openings: two larger identical openings on opposite sides that give flexibility to the user on the bed’s orientation; and a head opening that’s large enough to be considered a third entrance. The three No-See-Um mesh doors and windows will keep you protected from annoying pests.
As mentioned earlier, this tent is only ideal for people with a car; the weight of 26 pounds will definitely tire those who attempt to carry it for long distances. It doesn’t mean that the compact size is of no benefit to you. You’ll save space in your cargo area and will be able to carry other essential camping tools to enrich your outdoor experience.
Unlike the Kamp-Rite, this Ozark Trail offers more stability. With three standing legs, even a person pushing the weight limit of 300 pounds will experience relative stability.
Ventilation in the tent is fantastic. Rain-fly openings can be completely rolled away and secured like this, leaving you with only mesh on the entries.
This product is so budget-friendly that any conceivable drawbacks aren’t applicable. Could this product be better? Yes. Maybe a bit lighter and more portable. But for the price, you can’t complain about this product’s shortcomings.
Even if you have a better tent, this Ozark Trail is perfect for keeping in the trunk of your car. You never know the adventure that lies ahead of you.
Where to buy an Ozark Trail Tent Cot
The Ozark Trail Tent Cot is a great budget offer for anyone looking to buy a cheap tent cot.
A Tent Cot: The Basics
What Is a Tent Cot?
A tent cot is a hybrid between a tent and a cot. The purpose of such a camping shelter is to provide more comfortable sleeping conditions than those offered by traditional tents. Also, the most popular models now have features that make them suitable in a variety of conditions.
A tent cot is a considerable distance from the floor and offers better protection from insects and moisture from the ground; this provides more luxurious conditions for people to camp in. Consequently, such products have been popular among people who want to experience a rugged holiday while maintaining a certain degree of comfort.
Who Needs to Use a Tent Cot?
Most people that are interested in glamping naturally opt for a tent cot. They’re capable of sleeping one or two people, and some models now accommodate dogs. Tent cots are more suited to campers with a car. Only rare models are small and lightweight enough to be used by hikers and backpackers, and usually, this group would settle for traditional tents.
Why Choose a Tent Cot Over a Traditional Tent?
Comfort and Ease of Setting Up
The additional comfort offered is the main reason one should choose a tent cot, but more importantly, these types of shelter are suitable for beginners. With the relative ease of setting up, even an amateur camper can feel at home in the great outdoors. Most tent cots have now been designed with minimum stakes and poles, allowing for effortless setup.
Lots of people are scared of insects, but some people experience allergic reactions to insects. Naturally, their fear of nightcrawlers is justified. With considerable distance from the ground, tent cots offer a safer option for those prone to allergic reactions; this is a compelling reason for parents to buy tent cots before going camping with children.
The latest tent cots now come with additional features; these may vary from product to product. Some can double as a lounging chair during the day, while others can act as storage spaces. The structure of tent cots opens different possibilities for innovation and versatility. Consequently, products are now designed more creatively.
Available in Different Sizes
Tent cots are available in different sizes to ensure every member of the family can benefit from a more glamorous way of camping. Also, some sizes accommodate people with non-average bodies. So, whether you’re taller or more muscular than most, you’re sure to find a cot tailored to you.
How to Choose a Tent Cot
Size Does Matter
Think first about the size most suited to your needs. Tent cots generally come in two sizes:
- Single Tent Cots: These work best for solo adventurers. They’ll naturally be lighter in weight and provide a great deal of privacy. The typical maximum load on such cots is 300 pounds. Most come standard with rain-fly and water-resistant properties.
- Double Tent Cots: These work best for couples who enjoy camping together. The maximum load is extended to 500 pounds, and more room is provided for your partner. But people who intend to camp alone and just want more room in their tent may also opt for this option.
There’s no conceivable advantage (not even improving your physical condition) to having a heavy tent cot. Even if you do happen to have a car, carrying (or dragging in this case) heavy camping equipment is an unnecessary inconvenience. Choose the lightest weight possible that doesn’t compromise on the features you’re looking for.
Better quality lasts longer. If you happen to be investing in a tent cot, you expect to go on many adventures. Equipment that isn’t reliable or that isn’t durable will disappoint you. It’s better to make a bigger initial investment and then use it for a longer period. Even if you’re on a budget, there are some great budget tent cots.
Cleaning a Tent Cot
Cleaning isn’t as difficult as most people think it is. The main thing you have to pay attention to is the material of the tent cot. It determines the type of detergent you use and the method you employ when cleaning it.
Nylon Tent Cots
Never use bleach; this is the quickest way to damage your tent cot. In place of this, use a mild detergent. Dishwashing liquid that’s sufficiently diluted with water is appropriate. Use a very soft brush when cleaning.
Polyester Tent Cots
Similar to nylon, polyester requires a very mild detergent. Also, warm water can help remove germs and stains. It’s important to ensure this water is never too hot; this would compromise some of the functions, such as weather resistance, that the material has.
Canvas Tent Cots
Canvas tent cots are the most durable of the three. You can use a fabric cleaner and dishwashing soap to remove stains. It’s also tolerant to warm water. Despite its durability, it’s in your best interest to be very gentle when cleaning canvas tent cots.
From everything discussed, it should be self-explanatory why the Thermarest Cot Tent was chosen as the best tent cot. Its portability and its lightweight features make this product a true innovation. Even though there are some cons to it, these are simply pet peeves you’ll soon forget once in possession of such a magnificent product.
The other two products mentioned are just as worthy of sharing the spotlight with our winner. The Kamp-Rite has heritage, and its reliability is other-worldly, and the Ozark Trail Tent Cot is perfect for first-time campers and those on a budget.
With all this information absorbed, it’s time you let inspiration lead you. Go and explore the wild, with a loved one or in isolation, and discover what it truly means to be alive. Mother Nature has given us a rare opportunity for escapism. So why don’t we take her up on the offer?