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Upgrade Your Camping Sleep: Air Mattress vs Cot – Which Option is Best?

| Zack Newsome | | Leave a Comment
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camping air mattress vs cot

When you’re camping, few things are more important than a good night’s sleep. Whether you’re exploring the wilderness or just getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, a comfortable place to rest your head at night can make all the difference in your overall experience. That’s why choosing the right sleeping setup is crucial.

Two of the most popular options for camping are air mattresses and cots. Both have their pros and cons, and choosing the best one for your needs can be a daunting task. So, camping air mattress vs cot – which offers the best sleep upgrade? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at both options and compare them in terms of comfort, support, ease of use, portability, and other factors. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of which option is right for you and how to make the most of your camping sleep setup.

Camping Air Mattresses

Camping air mattresses have become a popular choice for campers who want a comfortable sleeping surface without sacrificing portability or affordability. Here are some benefits of camping air mattresses to consider:

camping air mattress vs cot
The Coleman Airbed Cot is a hybrid air mattress and cot that is perfect for camping couples.
Comfort

A well-made camping air mattress can provide a comfortable sleeping surface that rivals that of a traditional mattress. Many models are designed with features like extra cushioning, built-in pillows, and adjustable firmness to ensure a good night’s sleep.

Affordability

Compared to traditional camping cots or sleeping pads, air mattresses are often more affordable. Prices can range from under $50 to over $200, depending on the size and features of the mattress.

Portability

Most camping air mattresses are designed to be lightweight and easy to pack. Many models can be rolled up or folded down to a compact size that fits into a carrying case or backpack.

Types of camping air mattresses available

Camping air mattresses come in two main types – self-inflating and manual inflating. Self-inflating mattresses use an internal foam core that expands when the valve is opened, while manual inflating mattresses require you to blow air into the mattress with your mouth or a pump.

When choosing a camping air mattress, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, consider the size of the mattress – make sure it will fit in your tent and accommodate your body size and sleeping preferences. Next, look for features that will enhance your comfort, such as a flocked or textured surface, built-in pump, or adjustable firmness settings. Finally, be aware of common issues with air mattresses, such as leaks, punctures, and noise.

Overall, camping air mattresses are a great option for campers who prioritize comfort and affordability. With the right mattress, you can enjoy a good night’s sleep in even the most rugged camping conditions.

Popular Camping Air Mattresses

SAYGOGO Camping Air Mattress Travel Bed Sleeping Pad - Leak Proof Inflatable Mattress with Thickened Surface Built-in Pillow Air Bed for Home Camping SUV Truck RV Tent(Updated)
Coleman Air Mattress | Double-High SupportRest Air Bed for Indoor or Outdoor Use, Twin
Kampair Portable Camping Air Mattress, Ultra Thick (4.75") and Wide (30") Inflatable Sleeping Pad Machine Washable for Camping, Traveling, and Backpacking, Brown
Our Favorite
Coleman Camping Cot, Air Mattress, and Pump Combo | Folding Camp Cot and Air Bed with Side Tables and Battery Operated Pump
SAYGOGO Camping Air Mattress Travel Bed Sleeping Pad - Leak Proof Inflatable Mattress with Thickened Surface Built-in Pillow Air Bed for Home Camping SUV Truck RV Tent(Updated)
Coleman Air Mattress | Double-High SupportRest Air Bed for Indoor or Outdoor Use, Twin
Kampair Portable Camping Air Mattress, Ultra Thick (4.75") and Wide (30") Inflatable Sleeping Pad Machine Washable for Camping, Traveling, and Backpacking, Brown
Coleman Camping Cot, Air Mattress, and Pump Combo | Folding Camp Cot and Air Bed with Side Tables and Battery Operated Pump
$29.98
$45.49
$89.99
$186.99
SAYGOGO Camping Air Mattress Travel Bed Sleeping Pad - Leak Proof Inflatable Mattress with Thickened Surface Built-in Pillow Air Bed for Home Camping SUV Truck RV Tent(Updated)
SAYGOGO Camping Air Mattress Travel Bed Sleeping Pad - Leak Proof Inflatable Mattress with Thickened Surface Built-in Pillow Air Bed for Home Camping SUV Truck RV Tent(Updated)
$29.98
Coleman Air Mattress | Double-High SupportRest Air Bed for Indoor or Outdoor Use, Twin
Coleman Air Mattress | Double-High SupportRest Air Bed for Indoor or Outdoor Use, Twin
$45.49
Kampair Portable Camping Air Mattress, Ultra Thick (4.75") and Wide (30") Inflatable Sleeping Pad Machine Washable for Camping, Traveling, and Backpacking, Brown
Kampair Portable Camping Air Mattress, Ultra Thick (4.75") and Wide (30") Inflatable Sleeping Pad Machine Washable for Camping, Traveling, and Backpacking, Brown
$89.99
Our Favorite
Coleman Camping Cot, Air Mattress, and Pump Combo | Folding Camp Cot and Air Bed with Side Tables and Battery Operated Pump
Coleman Camping Cot, Air Mattress, and Pump Combo | Folding Camp Cot and Air Bed with Side Tables and Battery Operated Pump
$186.99

Cots

Cots have been a go-to sleeping option for camping enthusiasts for years. Here are some benefits of cots to consider:

camping cot
Camping cots are more durable and have a more solid structure than air mattresses.
Support

Cots offer a solid, off-the-ground sleeping surface that can provide better support and comfort than sleeping on the ground. This can be especially beneficial for campers who have back or joint pain.

Durability

Cots are often made with sturdy frames and high-quality materials, making them a durable and long-lasting option for camping.

Types of cots available

Cots come in two main types – traditional cots and camping-specific cots. Traditional cots are designed for indoor use and are typically heavier and bulkier than camping cots. Camping-specific cots are designed for outdoor use and are typically lighter and more compact, making them easier to transport.

Portability

While cots are not as compact or lightweight as air mattresses, camping-specific cots are still relatively easy to transport. Many models can be folded down into a compact size and come with a carrying case.

When choosing a cot, consider the size of the cot and make sure it will fit in your tent. Also, consider the weight capacity of the cot and make sure it can support your body weight. Look for features that will enhance your comfort, such as a padded sleeping surface or adjustable headrest. Finally, be aware of common issues with cots, such as difficulty setting up or disassembling and bulkiness.

Overall, cots are a great option for campers who prioritize support and durability. With the right cot, you can enjoy a comfortable and restful night’s sleep, even in the great outdoors.

Popular Camping Cots

Our Favorite
Coleman 765353 Trailhead II Military Style Camping Cot
MARCHWAY Ultralight Folding Tent Camping Cot Bed, Portable Compact for Outdoor Travel, Base Camp, Hiking, Mountaineering, Lightweight Backpacking (Grey)
REDCAMP Folding Camping Cots for Adults Heavy Duty, 28" Wide Sturdy Portable Sleeping Cot for Camp Office Use, Gray
Coleman Camping Cot with Sleeping Pad | Folding ComfortSmart Camp Cot with Mattress Pad
Coleman 765353 Trailhead II Military Style Camping Cot
MARCHWAY Ultralight Folding Tent Camping Cot Bed, Portable Compact for Outdoor Travel, Base Camp, Hiking, Mountaineering, Lightweight Backpacking (Grey)
REDCAMP Folding Camping Cots for Adults Heavy Duty, 28" Wide Sturdy Portable Sleeping Cot for Camp Office Use, Gray
Coleman Camping Cot with Sleeping Pad | Folding ComfortSmart Camp Cot with Mattress Pad
$46.74
$69.99
$69.99
$119.99
Our Favorite
Coleman 765353 Trailhead II Military Style Camping Cot
Coleman 765353 Trailhead II Military Style Camping Cot
$46.74
MARCHWAY Ultralight Folding Tent Camping Cot Bed, Portable Compact for Outdoor Travel, Base Camp, Hiking, Mountaineering, Lightweight Backpacking (Grey)
MARCHWAY Ultralight Folding Tent Camping Cot Bed, Portable Compact for Outdoor Travel, Base Camp, Hiking, Mountaineering, Lightweight Backpacking (Grey)
$69.99
REDCAMP Folding Camping Cots for Adults Heavy Duty, 28" Wide Sturdy Portable Sleeping Cot for Camp Office Use, Gray
REDCAMP Folding Camping Cots for Adults Heavy Duty, 28" Wide Sturdy Portable Sleeping Cot for Camp Office Use, Gray
$69.99
Coleman Camping Cot with Sleeping Pad | Folding ComfortSmart Camp Cot with Mattress Pad
Coleman Camping Cot with Sleeping Pad | Folding ComfortSmart Camp Cot with Mattress Pad
$119.99

Comparison: Camping Air Mattress vs Cot

When it comes to choosing between an air mattress and a cot for camping, there are several factors to consider. Here’s a breakdown of how these two options compare:

Comfort

While both air mattresses and cots offer a comfortable sleeping surface, air mattresses generally provide a softer, more cushioned surface. Cots, on the other hand, offer a firmer sleeping surface that can provide better support for your back and joints.

Winner: Air Mattress

Portability

Air mattresses are typically lighter and more compact than cots, making them easier to transport. However, some air mattresses require a pump or power source to inflate, which can be inconvenient if you’re camping in a remote area. Cots are typically bulkier and heavier, but camping-specific cots can still be relatively easy to transport.

Winner: Air Mattress

Setup

Air mattresses are generally easier to set up – simply inflate with a pump or manually inflate with your mouth. Cots can be more difficult to set up, requiring assembly of the frame and attaching the sleeping surface.

Winner: Air Mattress

Durability

Both air mattresses and cots can be durable, but cots are typically more robust due to their sturdy frames and construction materials.

Winner: Cots

Price

Air mattresses are generally more affordable than cots, with prices ranging from under $50 to over $200. Cots can range from around $50 to $300 or more, depending on the size and features of the cot.

Winner: Air Mattress

For us, air mattresses are the clear winner – offering plenty of comfort with reduced cost and portability. While they may not last as long as cots, the lower cost of an air mattress allows you to replace it when needed while still being economical. Our current camping bed of choice is both an air mattress and a cot.  The Coleman Queen Airbed Cot is a queen air mattress that is elevated on a folding structure to make it easier to get into and feel more like your bed at home.  It’s the best of both worlds. Read our full review here.

Ultimately, the choice between an air mattress and a cot will depend on your personal preferences and needs. If you prioritize comfort and portability, an air mattress may be the best choice. If you prioritize support and durability, a cot may be the better option. It’s important to consider factors such as the size of your tent, the weight capacity of the sleeping surface, and the ease of setup when making your decision.

The Bottom Line

So who wins in the battle of camping air mattress vs cot? When it comes to choosing the best sleeping option for camping, both air mattresses and cots have their pros and cons. Air mattresses offer a soft, cushioned surface that can be easy to transport and set up, while cots offer a firmer, more supportive sleeping surface that is typically more durable.

Ultimately, the best option for you will depend on your personal preferences and needs. If you prioritize comfort and portability, an air mattress may be the best choice. If you prioritize support and durability, a cot may be the better option.

It’s important to consider factors such as the size of your tent, the weight capacity of the sleeping surface, and the ease of setup when making your decision. By carefully considering your options and weighing the pros and cons, you can choose the best sleeping option for your next camping trip and enjoy a comfortable and restful night’s sleep under the stars.

camping air mattress vs cot
No matter what your sleeping preferences are, you deserve to sleep well when out under the stars.

Sleep Well

If you’re planning a camping trip in the near future, it’s important to choose the right sleeping option to ensure a comfortable and restful night’s sleep. When making your decision in the “camping air mattress vs cot” showdown, make sure to carefully consider your options and choose the best option for your needs.

If you found this article helpful, be sure to share it with your friends and family who are also planning a camping trip. And if you have any additional tips or insights on choosing the best sleeping option for camping, feel free to share them in the comments below.

Happy camping, and sweet dreams!


About the Author

Zack Newsome

Zack is a lifelong adventurer passionate about sharing the joy of the outdoors with others. He loves camping, fly-fishing, sailing, and exploring wild spaces. He launched Outward in early 2022 to inspire others to spend more time outdoors – improving mental health and more deeply connecting with the environment.


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