Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Equipment Spotlight: Backpacking Cots

By Caroline Williams

I have always had issues with my joints when sleeping on the ground, and have tried several different types of sleeping pads, to no avail. To make matters worse, I had neck surgery in June 2015, so finding comfortable outdoor sleeping arrangements is even more of a challenge for me.

When flipping through an outdoors gear catalog one day, I noticed a piece of camping equipment I never knew existed: the ultralight cot. I nearly fainted when I saw the price tag - they can run up to $250 -  so didn't pursue it further.

However, a little voice in my head wouldn’t let me stop thinking about what it would mean to sleep comfortably, no matter the conditions. I did a little research and found these cots are relatively light and easy to set up. After more research, I landed on the lightest one I could find (2 lbs., 9.6 oz.), which was a paltry $249.99. Unfortunately, it was out of stock everywhere, including online.

Because I had a Wilderness Volunteer trip coming up soon, I opted for my second choice. This one was 3 lbs., 2 oz., plus it was a bargain at $239!

I got it home, set it up in my kitchen and tried it out. It was extremely comfortable – I even took a short nap (until my cat woke me up begging for food, but that’s another story). I slept on cots at Girl Scout camps way back in my youth, but they were never anything I would rave about. In fact, I might still have a bruise on my back from the middle cross bar on the cot I used in 1976. It’s not a stretch to say that my new cot was light years ahead of that old canvas and steel cot.

Fast forward a week later and I was out in the desert, cot and all. It was a car camping trip, so I didn’t have to make the decision whether or not to jettison it from my pack. Good thing, because after the week was over I was hooked. There were no protrusions poking me in weird places, I could sleep on my back and side without issue and I slept the best I had in a long time inside of a tent.

Luxury item or necessity? That’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself. All I can say is, I will never camp without it again.

Helinox Cot Lite
The basics: $249.95 | holds 265 lbs. | weighs 2 lbs., 9.6 oz

Therm-a-Rest LuxuryLite Mesh
The basics: $249.95 | holds 325 lbs.  | weighs 3 lbs., 2 oz










Therm-a-Rest LuxuryLite UltraLite
The basics: $239.95 | holds 325 lbs. | weighs 3 lbs.,15 oz














(NOTE: these are the only three that I’ve found on the market.)


Do you have any cot favorites? Know about other options? Let us know in the comments below.