Camping Cot vs Air Mattress (Which is Better for Cold Weather Tent Camping)

Last Updated on April 10, 2022 by DAVID

Wherever you go for one or more days, people need a comfortable sleep to stay healthy even outside. A good night’s sleep can help you work and travel better. Now it is a matter of question which type of sleeping material for camping facilities can make you sleep better. When you go for a trip camping, you may consider several factors that may make your sleep better to go fresh the next day. People of diverse preferences are fond of camping cots or mattresses according to their choice. In this case, a question can arise in your mind that is camping cot vs air mattress – which one should you buy?

Now which will be the best option for you? We can’t tell that as these two have their good factors and sleeping systems. We just can help you to know the factors that can suit you personally for the cots and air mattresses.

What Are Camping Cots?

Camping cots are temporary management for sleeping and portable light beds that are formed on aluminum, metal, or wood frames. Over these frames, there are covers made of linen, nylon, polyester, or canvas covering over it.

You can put a foam mattress and pillow to increase comfort during sleeping. Make sure the fabrics that you sleep on are easily washable and lightweight like nylon and polyester. Otherwise, the canvas fabrics are not difficult to wash.

Usually, camping cots are needed for lengthy camping time like army camping, planned tours for leisure, or emergency camping.

Pros of camping cots

Off the ground: The camping cots help you to raise off the ground. It is like just a single but thin and lightweight bed. You won’t have the worries about any cool environment or insects as the altitude of the cot is higher. So, it can reduce the heat loss outside during cold weather. You just get the feeling of staying in bed for the time being.

Space for sitting: Camping cot has the option of sitting in it by letting down your legs. Sometimes you have to just rest on something at other times of the day. You can sit here comfortably. You can dress up on the cot too when you need it, there is enough space.

Suit for all-weather: It can be perfect for all weather and situations. In the rainy season, you can just wipe it out to use after getting wet. In hot seasons, the cot would not get too hot to rest on. You can’t get cold in winter as it stays off the ground.

Storage space: At the same time as sleeping or resting, you can keep your other belongings for a camping tour under the cot. There is enough space for storing the things under the cot.

Fold-able frames: The cots are set on frames of different materials, these are strong enough to stand with your weight. These are fold-able and durable too that remain stronger for a longer time.

Usage: For hunt camp, outdoor camps, cottage outings, and even in spare beds for sudden guests; these cots are favorable for using in large manners.

More feature: If you want to absorb the full and extra feature of a cot, then it is possible too. There is a bunker cot which has a cover like a tent and foam bed too.

Cons of camping cots

Not easily portable: The camping cots are not so easy to carry. It is bulky and slightly heavy to be stored and moved irrespectively. But for the fold-able features, people can keep some trust in it. If you don’t have a good transportation system, then camping cots may cause you trouble during lifting.

Slightly higher price: The camping cots are somewhat pricey than air mattresses. To purchase good quality cots, you have to go for a higher price range that may be tough to buy for some people.

What Are Air Mattresses?

Air mattresses are inflatable beds that are blown up with air compressors or handheld pumps. Maximum air mattresses are made with polyvinyl chloride and rubber. Air mattresses are called air beds too and you can use these in-home, tents, and recreational vehicles too.

After using air mattresses you can deflate it and fold it into a smaller shape and put it inside the bags. You can store this easily with the fold-able option.

Pros of air mattresses

Controllable firmness: As the air mattresses are blown up with the help of a compressor so you can adjust the firmness of the bed. It can be made soft or hard as per your choice. If you are experiencing bad back, you can read another article regarding affordable camping mattress review.

Larger bed: Air mattresses can be larger that you don’t have problems moving on the bed. It is easier to get on, move and get down from the bed as it is set on the ground.

Easy portability: The option of deflating can make it easily portable during camping or tent activities. You can move with the air beds easily anywhere. For long trips, these are favorable options as portability is easier.

Comfortable bed: The air mattresses are comfortable as beds to lie on it. In the market, single and king-size air mattresses are available here. So, you can pick the air mattress according to your family size and enjoy the trip.

Cons of air mattresses

High risk of damage: There is a high probability of damaging the air mattress by crack and leak. And it may happen any time during camping. So you have to keep the accessories of the repair kit. Air leakage is another problem with air mattresses. It can happen anytime in the day. Since air mattress can lose air without hole, you can prevent air mattress from deflating by using patch kit or duct tape in the affected area.

Installation complexity: You have to inflate it before using it. Sometimes this is a time-consuming and difficult task to do for some people. You can’t just open and use this as a bed during camping or a short trip. Sometimes it creates troubleshoots during blowing up and off the mattress.

The need for Larger space: For an air mattress, you have to keep a place that is larger for putting the air mattress. This would lose space for storing other belongings of camping. In spite of this, you can put your air mattress in a bed frame for you convenience.

You may read: Should you use an air mattress when camping?

Side by Side Comparison: Camping Cots Vs. Air Mattresses

We got to know the pros of each thing now we can analyze and compare both things with some points. Then you can easily understand the difference and find the best fit for you.

Ease of Setup and Use

Camping cot takes less time and is easier to set up. These are in folded frames and just unfold the frame & lock it in the place where you plan to set it. On the other hand, in the course of an air mattress, you have to inflate it and then make it ready to sleep on.

So, if any mishaps happen to like air leaking or torn apart, then the camping would go in vain. You will face the same level of problems if you forget the accessories that are necessary items for the pumping task. Some electric air pumps are auto-set to the air bed. This electric pump creates lots of high sounds which is not favorable at all.

So, the bottom line of this is that the camping cots are better in terms of installation and usage. The air bed causes complexities in the installation process.

Storage of accessories

You can store things under the camping cots like the other accessories that help in camping or tour. You can store lots of things under the cot as it has proper space below it. So, whatever space it takes, it will makeover with the storing of belongings. But the air mattresses don’t have the option of storing camping accessories under them. You have to search for another place for storing all these.

So, the bottom line of this is that the camping cots are better in terms of storage of accessories. The air bed doesn’t have any space under it.

Transport and storage of the bed and cot

Then it comes to the necessity of telling about the storage system of both. An air mattress can be deflated after usage, folded, and stored inside a bag. It is easier to transport the air mattress than the camping cot because the cot is a heavier and bulkier thing to move with. When you plan to go hiking or hunting with a backpack, then it will not be a better thing to go with a camping cot.

So, the bottom line of this is that the air mattress are better in terms of the carrying & storage. The camping cot has a complex transport system for the rigid structure.

Sleeping Style

People differ a lot in their sleeping system. Most of the people sleep by side. When people sleep by side, it will affect their waist and shoulder. To adjust this, medium firmness is needed which you can get from an air mattress for sure.

People who like to lie on their back need a firm and hard surface to keep the balance of the spine, head, and neck. For this a camping cot is ideal.

People who lie on their stomach, lying causes lots of pressure on their stomach, spine, and chest. So a soft foam layer surface can help to prevent muscle problems on these parts of the body. Air mattress is ideal for this.

So, the bottom line of this is that individual preference or advantage to sleeping style affect the choice of a cot or air bed. So, here both are winner in terms of sleeping style.

Elevation from the Ground

Elevation from the ground would save the person from excess heat or cold from the ground or air. In the cold weather, if you are too close to the ground then, you need to have a foam strip over it to save you from the cold. Another matter is that cold air can get into this mattress then make you feel cold. If it rains, then the water may pool under the bed, so thus you can’t feel comfortable.

So, you have to add extra protection or foam to the air mattress to reduce the discomfort. Usually, the height of the air bed differs from 3 to 5 inch where a cot goes to 4 to 22-inch height. So the cot can keep you higher from the ground during rainy days. It can help you create heat loss during the hot season.

Another thing is that if the people have physical sufferings like back pain, shoulder pain or knee pain, etc. camping cots may alleviate these problems as much as they can for its firm surface. In the air mattress, elder people feel problems during getting up and down from the ground.

So, the bottom line of this is that for seasonal problems and physical problems camping cots are the best choice for camping tours in comparison with air mattress.

Size of Sleeping System

Size matters if you want to sleep with family and lessen the burden of accessories during camping. Air mattress can be shared with several people when it comes to king size, queen, and double size. But camping cot provides sleeping space for just one person, double cots can also be available in the market.

So, the bottom line of this is that air mattress has option to sleep with several person in comparison to double cot.


In terms of longevity, we have found the camping cot more durable as it is made with sturdy frames and a sophisticated cover with comfortable fabrics. For a more rugged feature, you can use a steel-framed structure in the camping cot. Additionally, you can lubricate the steel before using the cots to avoid creaking.

On the other hand, air mattresses can lose the air accidentally by sharp objects or by any means. Pvc layers are thick covers adding to the air mattress. To utilize more you may use extended features of air mattresses like inbuilt coil systems to prevent sliding and increase stability.

So, the bottom line of this is that in terms of stability camping cots are better rather than air mattress.

Heat Loss/Retention

In cold or hot weather, air transfer is a crucial thing to make your body feel comfortable. So, in cold weather, heat from your body has to be deposited inside to reduce the cold feeling. In the hot season, you should let the heat transfer or flow to the outer side to keep you cool. Air mattresses can’t allow the air to flow the heat to outside, so you would feel hotter.

On the other hand, in the cold season, the cold from the ground can transfer to your body. You can prevent this by adding a PVC layer that is thick to flow the air.

So, the bottom line of this is that camping cot has better heat loss / retention capacity rather than air mattress.


Do I need a sleeping pad with a cot?

Yes, you need a sleeping pad with a cot because sleeping pads are very useful in winter to adjust the proper insulation with the cold air under your cot. A sleeping pad can be used with the camping cot as it is quite light and portable. In summer you can use a cot without a sleeping pad if you want.

Can you use an air mattress on a cot?

If you put an air mattress on a cot, its height and weight will increase but its width will not increase. Therefore, it is not at all safe to sleep with a mattress in a small cot. If your camping coat is wide enough to support a twin-size air mattress, some balance can be maintained. You can use an inflatable cot if you want to get facilities like an air mattress from a camping cot.

Can you use a cot in a tent?

Yes, you can use your cot inside your tent but you must also think about protecting the floor of the tent. Before you place the cot inside the tent, cover the tent floor with a tarp and cut the tennis ball at the cot’s feet and attach it. This way you can safely use the camping cot inside the tent.

Is a camping cot worth it?

A camping coat is a suitable sleeping surface for any weather.

Final Thoughts on Camping cot vs air mattress

So, with a brief discussion of all the points, we got that a camping cot is ideal for a long trip with a good transportation system, but for a short trip, it can’t be a good pick as it is slightly heavier and bulkier. Other features like weather conditions, physical problems of users, easy usage, easy set-up, sleeping position, cots are favorable. The size of the air mattress makes it favorable for people who prefer a large bed. The easy transport system of air mattresses is also a reason to buy for a short trip as it can be deflated and folded into smaller bags.

So, by considering all the comparison points one can choose the way to have a good sleep on a camping trip. All the best for your camping adventure.

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