Camping Cots Versus Air Mattresses – Which One to Go for?

When it comes to camping, one of the greatest dilemmas is choosing between a camping cot and an air mattress. With both having their advantages and disadvantages, it can be hard to decide which one is best for you.

If you’re looking for something comfortable and durable, but don’t want to sacrifice convenience – read on! In this blog post we’ll explore the pros and cons of each option to help you decide which type of sleeping solution is right for you:

Before heading out on your next camping adventure, it’s important to decide if a camping cot or air mattress is the best choice for your personal needs and preferences. Understanding the differences between these two options can give you a better idea of which one is best for you.

In this guide, we will compare camping cots and air mattresses to help guide your decision. This comparison covers areas such as size, comfort, weight, portability, setup time, and more. Knowing the ins and outs of both options can ensure that you are prepared with the right gear when you head out into the great outdoors.

Which One Do You Need?

Camping cots offer a more stable sleeping surface than air mattresses, as they are typically made from a rigid material such as steel or aluminum. They also tend to be more durable and can provide a greater sense of security than an air mattress.

On the other hand, air mattresses are lighter, less bulky, and easier to transport. They also provide a softer sleeping surface and can be inflated or deflated to adjust firmness. Ultimately, the choice between a camping cot and an air mattress comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of the camping trip.

Benefits of Camping Cots

Camping Cots

Camping cots provide a reliable and firm sleeping surface, even over uneven ground. This makes them ideal for camping trips as they offer more reliable support than air mattresses.

They are also made from sturdy materials and designed to last, often with higher weight capacities than air mattresses. The frame of the cot offers more rigidity than an air mattress, so you won’t wake up on the ground in the middle of the night.

Another benefit is that camping cots generally fold into compact sizes for easy transport and storage, with some models featuring wheels for easy ocean-drag gliding.

Comfort-wise, some camping cots offer extra padding on top such as foam or even self-inflating mattresses that are integrated into the cot. While these features may add cost to camping cot models, if you want comfort as well as durability then these additions could come in handy when car camping or setting up basecamp for an extended stay. They can even be used indoors in a pinch!

Benefits of Air Mattresses

Air Mattresses

When camping, an air mattress can provide a great night’s rest. Air mattresses are much more comfortable than sleeping on the ground or using a camping cot. By creating insulation and cushion between you and the ground, they can help keep you warm while providing soft support to your body.

For those who are particularly sensitive to cold temperatures at night, an air mattress offers a considerably better sleep experience. They also come in various shapes and sizes suitable for various needs.

Air mattresses are highly adjustable – allowing for varying levels of firmness and comfort which is ideal for back-sleepers, side-sleepers, and stomach sleepers alike. Many of them come with built-in pump technology so setting up is effortless – just open them up, inflate and deflate as needed, then fold them away when not needed.

Some air beds even have foolproof tethering systems which allow for rolling for storage or transport; this makes it exceptionally helpful if space is limited in the back of your vehicle.

If you plan on spending extended periods of time outdoors such as several days in a row on a camping trip, having an air mattress may give you that extra sense of comfort while being remote from home comforts such as electricity or running water; it may be easier to fall asleep if you know that your bed will be comfortable no matter how long your trip lasts.

Factors to Consider Before Choosing

When it comes to camping gear, you have to make decisions around what best fits your needs – space, budget, and the type of camping you plan to do. Choosing between camping cots or air mattresses can often be a difficult task as both have their own advantages and disadvantages. To help you make your decision easier, here are some of the factors to consider when deciding between these two options:


Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Camping Cots and Air Mattresses - Comfort

Air mattresses provide superior comfort in comparison with camping cots due to their cushioning feature from the air inside them. However, cots provide better support due to their metal frame which helps keep the mattress more stable while sleeping.


Camping cots are lighter than air mattresses making them ideal for backpacking and long treks because they don’t take up too much bulk or weight in your bag pack. However, air mattresses tend to take a bit more time to set up since they need an external pump or manual effort needed for inflating them.


Air mats tend to last much longer than camping cots due to wear-and-tear on the fabric surface as well as wear of metal parts on a camping bed over time.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Camping Cots and Air Mattresses - Durability

Size & Space

You will want to be sure it fits in tent (or home when storage is required). This is especially important if you plan on bringing kids with you because children’s beds not only take up extra space but also were heavier than adult beds – meaning if you opt for a traditional “folding” style bed it could consume as much as 2/3 of the tent itself.

In this case, an air mattress may be better suited for children as they are typically lighter and smaller when compacted down after use.

Types of Camping Cots

Camping cots are an essential item for anyone looking to spend a night or two in the great outdoors. Not only do they provide a comfortable sleeping space, but they can also help you pack light and still be able to transport your gear.

Depending on your needs and preferences, there are different types of camping cots that can help you get a better night’s sleep while camping. Here are the main types of camping cots available:

Folding Cots

Folding Cots

These are popular with campers who need something lightweight and easy to transport. They fold up into a manageable size and can often fit into a large duffel bag or another small storage area. The downside is that they don’t provide as much support as other types of camping cots because the metal frames will bend when you sit or lay down on them.

Rigid Cots

Rigid Cots

These cots feature heavier-duty frames for increased stability and comfort when sleeping. They also come in various sizes, so you can find one that fits your body perfectly, no matter what size. However, rigid frames make them much more difficult to transport than folding cots, so keep that in mind when buying one.

Self-Inflating Cots

Self-inflating cots provide an excellent combination of portability, weight-bearing capacity, and comfort while still taking up minimal space when packed away. Since they use air pressure instead of metal frames for support, they usually offer more cushioning than folding or rigid cots do.

Air Mattresses

Air Mattresses

These are popular choices among campers and offer more cushioning than standard camping cots do—especially self-inflating ones since they’re designed to offer superior insulation against cold temperatures while still allowing plenty of air circulation during warm months.

Air mattresses can add extra comfort if you’re planning on spending more than one night outdoors but should be used in conjunction with another type of bedding (such as blankets) regardless of whether it is warm or cold out; this helps preserve the mattress’s integrity over time.

Types of Air Mattresses

Air mattresses come in an array of shapes, sizes, and prices. Some models are suitable for camping and some may be more suited to an outdoor get-together with friends. Before deciding which air mattress is best for you, there are a few factors that should be taken into consideration.

The first type of air mattress available is the standard air mattress. As the name implies, this is your basic inflatable plastic sleeping surface that works well for both indoor and outdoor use. It’s lightweight and can be easily transported to any campsite or location – but it’s not designed to last through a full camping trip without some wear and tear.

The next type of air mattress available is known as the self-inflating air bed or foam top air bed, which has built-in bedding on one side to provide extra comfort while sleeping outdoors. It’s thicker than the traditional air mattress, so it provides more insulation when used outdoors on cool nights as well as a soft sleeping surface that will last longer than a standard air mattress over multiple nights in the elements.

The third type of air bed is made from synthetic fabric surrounded by raised flaps on each side, with several inches of cushion between your support rails and the ground below – this model offers more comfortable restful sleep at higher elevations like camping spots set in mountains or among rocky landscapes. This model also offers protection from rain runoff if you happen to camp in wetter climates where puddles form after rainfall since it stays elevated above ground level even when inflated.

This is ideal for those who enjoy winter camping since it helps keep off cold from the ground below while still providing some insulation from cooler ambient temperatures overhead – making it perfect for use as an all-season sleep solution regardless of elevation changes throughout your campsite!

Pros and Cons of Both

Camping cots and air mattresses can be great options for sleeping outdoors, providing a comfortable spot to lay your head. However, each one offers varying levels of support, comfort, and practicality.

Whether you need to bring along a bed for car camping or are looking for an option that’s lightweight and packable enough to slap on your back during overnight hikes (or anything in-between!), it’s worth looking at the pros and cons of both before deciding which one is right for you.

Camping Cots

Camping Cots - Pros and Cons


  • Provide more support than air mattresses due to their suspension system
  • Keep you off the ground, protecting against insects and dampness
  • More durable than air mattresses as they do not get punctured as easily
  • Generally easier to set up than airbeds as they do not require inflating


  • Less portable than air mattresses since they tend to weigh significantly more and require more space for storing and packing away
  • Structurally more complicated than an air mattress so there is the potential for malfunction

Air Mattress

Air Mattress - Pros and Cons


  • Lightweight and easy to transport, great for backpacking or road trips when weight is limited
  • Fairly affordable when compared with cots if bought from discount suppliers or secondhand stores
  • Easy setup – simply inflate using a pump or breath in some cases
  • Quite comfortable due to their ability to adjust firmness depending on individual needs


  • Less supportive than camping cots so not ideal if you need extra back support while sleeping
  • Can be punctured by sharp objects like twigs, stones etc. lying around campgrounds
  • Inflatable beds tend not maintain their firmness over time as they slowly lose air pressure


In conclusion, the type of camping bed you choose depends on several factors, such as how often you intend to use it and what level of comfort you are looking for.

  • Cots are great for long-term camping or for those who want a more stable sleeping surface and may be easier to set up than air mattresses in some cases.
  • Air mattresses are generally the most compact choice and allow for the most comfort; however, they can be difficult to inflate in remote locations and require a certain amount of maintenance to remain functional.

Ultimately, the best choice for your needs will come down to personal preferences and budget.