cot camping

Looking to see what others are using when it comes to camping with cots. I use an allagash al cot and is actually comfortable. But its legs are slender and when camping in rocky areas it is cutting into the bottom of my tent. So im lookin gfor suggestions on other cot types. hopefully ones that will not tear other things up. they also need to pack small like the allagash.


There is no other worth considering IMO. Packs slighty larger than the Alagash and is heavy, but it does break down to a fairly small size and is durable and comfy.

I would buy 2 Pool Noodles, cut them in
half and slide them over the legs of your cot. That should provide enough padding to protect your tent floor from the cot legs. As a bonus it will add some floatation to your cot in case your flip your boat.

floorless tent?

furniture pads
You could use the plastic round furniture moving pads (available at Home Despot for putting under furniture legs to allow them to slide on carpet or hard floors), or any small round of wood, closed-cell foam, etc, to protect the floor.

Assuming you are kayak camping, the larger, unasked question is why are you using a bulky, cold cot instead of an inflatable mattress/pad or other choice? It’s your choice, but just curious.

Greg Stamer

I did a ton of research before buying the Camptime Roll-a-Cot and concluded that it has the best reviews of any cot on the market.

. . . but I would never take it kayak camping. Maybe canoe camping if you like to travel heavy. For me it’s strictly for car camping.

The Roll-a-Cot has some drawbacks. Not easy to assemble, but once you get it together it’s very comfortable, especially when paired with a good mattress (the REI Camp Bed 3.5 is great). I’ve used it often in the past year and the vinyl fabric has not stretched noticeably, so it provides good support. The wingnuts that tension the legs are quite difficult to turn, but a friend and I invented a wooden “wrench” that helps a great deal.

To protect the tent floor I cut 4 sections of pool noodle about 4" long and slipped them over the legs. Then I cut 4 circles of carpet about 5" in diameter and glued those to the bottom of the noodle pieces.

Many also recommend putting tennis balls on the legs.

A big challenge is to find a tent that’s tall enough to accommodate a cot. My recommendations: Alps Mountaineering Hybrid CE 3; Mountain Hardwear Corners 3; REI Taj 3. You need a minimum height of about 50", which is rare in a three-person tent and nonexistant in a two person. Or you can get a lower cot, in which case even some two-person tents might work, like the Kelty Trail Ridge 2.

Good Idea!
If you are sleeping off the ground, you don’t need the same type of protection from below as when sleeping ON the ground. Just bring a couple small tarps to set your gear on, and wrap the tarp edges up onto the packs if any water runs across the ground. If I were to use a cot (and I won’t ever), I’d use the old style Baker tent. Canvas versions are nice, but pricey. Cooke’s Custom Sewing makes a nylon version that’s more in line with the cost of typical modern tents, and it’s also very light. I think they might be more well known as “campfire tents” (but don’t put your fire nearby if the tent is nylon).

I usually float camp with
my small tent’s fly, poles and an anklet a gentleman custom made for me. Allows me the option of using what I already have and still going floorless. My Roll-A-Cot has rubber feet on the legs, but I still don’t like the idea of them on one side of the tent floor and a gravel bar on the other. I don’t worry so much on dirt, grass, etc.


– Last Updated: Feb-21-13 9:41 PM EST –

hey everyone thanks for the suggestions. i will look up the roll a cot. also i have an alps 3 person tent for the two of us. fits both allagash cots nice plus the doors on each side really helps. dont know if it will be high enough though but dosent hurt to check it.

i was thinking pool noodles to as they have alot of uses but just wanted to see if there was any better but this would be easy and cheapest route.

the reason i take a cot as the past years i have taken a queen air mattress. just dont like the thought of if the pump breaks to have to blow it up by mouth. just isnt going to happen. last year was the first year for the cots and other than the floor i did like the ease of set up and it folds down nice.

i have considered the air pads but havent really found one i liked and wasnt sure how it would do on the rock ground as we usually camp on the current and not many sand beds there. longest we have been has been 5 nights out and cot and air mattress have both been comfortable during those trips.

if you have a good suggestion on an air mat around 100 it might be something to consider but most pads are so double sided as far as one person has great reviews and the next person to follow says it gets holes in it the first year. i am open to all suggestions though.

Also this is for canoe camping

I would try clear PVC tubing first
its far more resistant to crushing than pool noodles.

You will have to do some cutting for the topside curve for sure, but it ought to work.

I suggest a scamper through your local hardware store. No one knows how to help you but there are often products that fit your “out of the box” needs.

Tent; mattresses
Which exact tent do you have?

A good mattress is expensive but worth the price. Here are two that have almost unanimous excellent reviews:

EXPED SYNMAT 7: Inflatable with built-in pump. Backpackers agree that this is as comfortable as an air mattress gets. Getting very pricey these days. Comfort about 8.5 out of 10.

REI CAMPBED 3.5: Self-inflating. Much bulkier than the Exped. I use it for car camping but I guess it would fit in a canoe OK. Comfort 9 out of 10. The only thing that would be more comfortable is an 8" inflatable bed. The 2007 model is on sale for $65 at the outlet, which is a very good deal. The only difference with the current model is the size.

I own both of those, selected after a ton of research and reading reviews. Very happy with both. Both are insulated for year-round use. For car camping, a Camptime Roll-a-Cot plus the REI Campbed 3.5 is as good as it gets.

Roll-a-cot and/or REI campbed 3.5
Like others, after reading reviews I chose a roll-a-cot. With a thermarest on top it makes a wonderfully comfortable car camping set-up. So far I’ve been placing pieces of cut up minicell floor mat under the cot feet to try to spread out pressure on the tent floor a bit.

After getting the roll-a-cot I saw an REI campbed 3.5 on sale and bought it last year. It too is very comfortable. I’ve been impressed with how well it self-inflates and how it is even more comfortable than the 2.5 inch thermarest that had been my luxury sleeping pad. If I’d bought the campbed first I might not have even wanted a cot, though I do like the roll-a-cot.

Those who camp with me
will tell you I’m not known for traveling light. My bed outfit is a Roll-A-Cot, Aire Landing Pad (google if you’re not familiar), weather appropriate bag and Exped Comfortfoam pillow. I highly recommend this setup provided: you can get it all (x2) in your boat (which might be a stretch depending on what else you take), you don’t have to portage, and you don’t tell your wife how much it all cost.

best part
You don’t have to take off your shoes.

Ryan L.

What does it cost?
My greatest fear is after I die my wife sells all my toys for what I told her I paid.

Former backpacker who now carries 200#'s of gear in the canoe. If you’re worried about failure carry a spare pump. But I don’t ever portage and the whole darn state is a sandbar.

If you’re asking about my setup;
think I found the Roll-A-Cot on sale at REI for $85 including shipping. The Landing Pad is $150 or so. When my buddy’s not using it on his raft I roll it up and stand it on end behind my seat. Makes a good back rest when I’m not paddling. If one weren’t comfortable doing that it could be placed on the floor (open, not rolled) and the gear piled on top of it. It could also be rolled and laid in the floor in front of the gear pile. The pillow was $40 I think and goes in with the sleeping bag.

2.5 vs 3.5"
Comparing the two thicknesses, I found the 3.5" mattress considerably more comfortable and worth the additional weight. Of course, it’s not “really” 3.5" thick. But I could feel my hip bones on the ground with the 2.5" but not with the 3.5".

25" is a good width. 20" is too narrow to support your arms and shoulders. 30" may be overkill, so 25" is a happy medium.

Good discussion. I ordered the REI
3.5 pad from the outlet and am going to get some pool noodles to pad the rails of my cot.

Pool noodles
I have to agree with Kayamedic: pool noodle foam is very compressible. I like her idea of the clear tubing.

Let us know how you like the REI mat. Very good deal you got.

Thanks everyone for the advice. I’m thinking the 3.5 on top of the cot with the tubing as the rails are the handle folded up I think that will keep it easier to handle rather than pool noodle on each.

I will see how this works and if I like the air pad I might eventually upgrade that and just start taking the pad without the cot. I have an allagash 174 so I have the extra room but would like to start upgrading items so I can downsize them. Started with the portable grill downsized to the jet boil and like that am just looking for better options.