Updated September 24, 2019 by Melissa Harr

The 7 Best Tent Cots

video play icon

This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in December of 2016. If you've ever experienced a poor night's rest outdoors due to rough or wet conditions, you'll want to check out these tent cots. Providing a convenient and compact combination of both shelter and raised sleeping platform, they will keep you dry and off the ground on your next camping, fishing, hunting, or wildlife photography expedition. Roughing it has never been so comfortable. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Kamp-Rite Oversize

2. Ozark Trail One-Person

3. Kamp-Rite Original

Editor's Notes

September 21, 2019:

Kamp-Rite remains the top name in tent cots, and we’ve included two of their most popular, the Original and the Oversize. The Original is not exactly large; if you’re claustrophobic at all, you might find it slightly suffocating. But the size is an advantage in many situations, since it can be transported with ease. The Oversize, as you might have guessed, is a larger model. Most folks can sit inside it comfortably, and it even makes a fine camp chair.

As for the competition, we removed the Outsunny Compact due to availability issues but added two Ozark Trail models. The first, the One-Person, has many features that make it feel more like a full-blown tent and less like a mesh sarcophagus, including a padded sleeping platform. The second, the Ozark Trail Instant, is definitely on the smaller side, but it’s also a cinch to set up and highly portable. It’s not quite as lightweight as an ultralight backpacking tent, of course, but it can still help you keep your gear weight under control.

4. Ozark Trail Instant

5. Winterial Double

6. Heininger Portable Pet

7. Tangkula Folding

A Wild State Of Mind

Every state in this country has a park system that allows people to come and visit nature, to camp and reconnect with their friends, their family, and their environment.

We live in a time when people are spending more and more hours each day planted in front of screens. For many of us, our day jobs involve the use of a tablet or computer for the majority of our tasks. And whatever the work day holds, plopping down in front of the television after a long day on the job is a common way for people to cope with the stresses and tedium of their work week. The problem with this is that, even though decompressing in front of the boob tube might offer some temporary feeling of mental escape, the reality is that it is almost identical to the physical and psychological state that you experience at work.

If you were to take a look at your level of physical activity and mental exertion during a given work day in, say, a typical office setting, and then compare that to the level of activity you experience at home, you’d find startling similarities. We tell ourselves that the exhaustion we experience from a day at work leaves us feeling sapped at the end of the day and the end of the week, so that there's little more we can do than vegetate. But the reality is that we're exhausted from vegetating at work. What our bodies need in response to this isn't more of the same sitting and staring at screens, repeating the same actions we profess to despise for 40 hours each week. What our bodies need is movement, fresh air, new scenery, and above all, a form of entertainment that doesn't rely on pixels or electricity.

Fortunately, that kind of activity is incredibly inexpensive and accessible to nearly everyone. Every state in this country has a park system that allows people to come and visit nature, to camp and reconnect with their friends, their family, and their environment. As long as you have the means to get to the park and a day or two to spare in your schedule, you can dramatically reset your body and mind, preparing it to endure the tedium of your work life in a far more profound way then trading one seat in front of a screen for another.

The Advantage Of Elevation

One of the things that's so attractive to most people about camping is the fact that it will force you to think and act on your feet in order to keep yourself dry, rested, fed, and comfortable, not to mention safe. Even glampers, with their mobile fortresses and excessive comforts, still have to endure the presence of bugs, the danger of wild animals, and the realities of the weather. For the rest of us, when we head out into the wilderness, we usually have little more than a backpack with basic supplies, a tent, and a sleeping bag.

That means that any wet conditions stand less of a chance of pulling the warmth from your bones.

With such simple tools at our disposal, it's important to completely evaluate the quality of your campsite to ensure your comfort and safety. For many, comfort and safety alike are most at risk when laying down to sleep. From a comfort standpoint, one of the most difficult aspects of sleeping outdoors is the feel of the ground beneath your body. Rocks, twigs, and uneven surfaces beneath a normal tent can easily make for a terrible night’s sleep.

From a safety standpoint, that tent setup is often vulnerable to moisture, especially moisture along the ground. Many tents are good at keeping out rain from above, and a variety of models included additional rain covers that are small enough and light enough to easily pack into your backpack, but a wet ground can be a significant hazard. Even if the tent manages to keep all of that moisture out, its presence will still pull warmth from the tent and your body as you sleep. And if you do your camping in the mountains, then there's a good chance that a sudden downpour or even a melt from the mountain’s snowy peak can create a flash flood or a landslide. And even on a very small scale, such a natural event can flood your tent, and pose a great risk to your safety.

With a tent cot, however, your body and your belongings will be elevated off the ground. That means that any wet conditions stand less of a chance of pulling the warmth from your bones. It also means that a rush of water or mud stands less of a chance of flooding your tent, ruining your stuff, and endangering your life.

Tent cots are also downright more comfortable than sleeping on the ground. And if you line yours with a simple inflatable sleeping pad, you may get the best outdoor night's sleep you've ever had.

How To Choose The Perfect Tent Cot For You

Just as there is a very wide variety of tents on the market, there are a lot of different choices among potential tent cots. Finding the right model for you is going to have a lot to do with the gear you already own and your intended use for the item.

How you plan on using your tent cot will also help determine which one you should buy.

Regarding the gear you already own, you may want to find a tent cot that breaks down small enough to fit in your current pack. At the very least, you want something that you can easily lash to your bag if it won't fit inside. If you already own an inflatable mat for sleeping, you want to make sure that the cot you have your eye on can accommodate it. If the sleeping surface is a little too large, you may find yourself sleeping on the bare cot, which can be rather uncomfortable if you end up with a model who's frame protrudes a bit into the floor of the tent.

How you plan on using your tent cot will also help determine which one you should buy. There are models made of extremely lightweight and rugged materials that are waterproof and spacious, and that are ideal for more serious campers. There are also models that are suitable for the backyard camper in you, and even some designed specifically for pets. If you find yourself falling in love with this product, there's no reason you can't own a variety of styles.

Melissa Harr
Last updated on September 24, 2019 by Melissa Harr

Melissa Harr is a language-obsessed writer from Chicagoland who holds both a bachelor of arts and master of arts in English. Although she began as a TEFL teacher, earning several teaching certificates and working in both Russia and Vietnam, she moved into freelance writing to satisfy her passion for the written word. She has published full-length courses and books in the realm of arts & crafts and DIY; in fact, most of her non-working time is spent knitting, cleaning, or committing acts of home improvement. Along with an extensive knowledge of tools, home goods, and crafts and organizational supplies, she has ample experience (okay, an obsession) with travel gear, luggage, and the electronics that make modern life more convenient.

Thanks for reading the fine print. About the Wiki: We don't accept sponsorships, free goods, samples, promotional products, or other benefits from any of the product brands featured on this page, except in cases where those brands are manufactured by the retailer to which we are linking. For more information on our rankings, please read about us, linked below. The Wiki is a participant in associate programs from Amazon, Walmart, Ebay, Target, and others, and may earn advertising fees when you use our links to these websites. These fees will not increase your purchase price, which will be the same as any direct visitor to the merchant’s website. If you believe that your product should be included in this review, you may contact us, but we cannot guarantee a response, even if you send us flowers.