Last updated on 18 Aug, 2023

Camping Cot Vs Air Mattress(Pros & Cons) - Which Is BEST?

– By Eric Smith

camping cot vs air mattress

Camping cot vs air mattress, this question arises in the mind of many campers who have just started or are about to start their camping journey.

And, if you have the same question, you have landed on the perfect page because, in this guide, I’ll clear all your confusion about camping cots and air mattresses. So that, next time, you can be your own guide and choose the best item between these two for yourself.

One can’t say that a cot is better or a mattress is better because, in some aspects, an air mattress gives you some advantage over the cot, and in some cases, the cot gives.

Now, let’s jump into this comparison guide and see which one you should buy for your camping trip in 2023.

Camping Cot Vs Air Mattress: Detailed Comparison

Most of you would know about air mattresses and camping cots, but if you don’t know, then let’s have a quick look at both these sleeping systems.

Air Mattress:

air mattressAir mattresses are simple inflatable beds primarily used in emergencies when you don’t have any option left except sleeping on the ground. These are mainly made of PVC and TPU.

TPU air mattresses are more comfortable and long-lasting compared to PVC ones, but these are expensive airbeds; that’s why you’ll hardly find a TPU airbed in your nearer store.

Camping Cot:

camping cotA cot is a foldable bed mostly used in tight areas, where we can’t use our regular bedding or an air mattress, and when we need some elevation from the ground—for instance, camping on a hilly area.

If you can’t find a flat surface for your air mattress, you are probably putting it in danger. So instead of an air mattress, you can use a cot.

Now, let’s move on to their key specifications and know which one is the best fit for you.


First, let’s talk about air mattress sizes. Generally, air mattresses come in 4 sizes – Twin size, Full-size, Queen-size, and King size.

These sizes have their own sub-size, such as twin-XL, Full-XL, and so on.

A standard twin-size airbed measures around 74 inches long and 38 inches wide, full size 74 x 54 inches, Queen size 80 x 60 inches, and King size 80 x 76 inches.

Here, I am not talking about their height, as it can range anywhere between 5 to 25 inches.

Coming to the cot. Narrow and regular are the two most used sizes in the cot category. The narrow size has a width of around 24 to 26 inches, and the regular size has nearly 30 inches of width.

You got more sizes in an air mattress compared to a cot. Also, an air mattress can be used by 2-3 people simultaneously, but when it comes to a cot, these are made for single-person use.

So, in the size section, we have a clear winner, which is an air mattress.

Ease of Use:

No one wants to waste time setting up their bed, and everyone wants their bed to be easy to set up and use.

If you use a simple foldable cot, all you need to do is just unfold and place it on the flat ground, and it is all set to sleep on.

air mattress - ease to useBut in the case of an air mattress, first, you need to find a flat surface and make sure it is free from dust and debris.

Plus, unfold and inflate it with that loud pump. All this setup process can take 20-25 minutes.

Moreover, inflating an air mattress on camping is not easy unless you have a battery-operated pump or manual pump as they don’t require any external source of electric power to run.

Therefore, you can save a lot of time and effort while setting up your bed if you use a cot instead of an air mattress.


When it comes to durability, an air mattress can never beat a cot. One needs to be very careful while using an air mattress as it can burst up anytime coming into contact with a sharp object.

Cots don’t need to be used with proper precautions like air mattresses, plus their metal frame and nylon construction make them durable and provide excellent stability.

Weight Capacity:

Weight capacity is a factor that you need to consider while buying a new sleeping system.

Camping cot weight capacity ranges from around 150 to 600 pounds. As we discussed, cots are meant for single-person use, so if you weigh around 200 pounds, you don’t need to spend your money buying a 400 or 600 pounds capacity cot.

But, things are different in the case of air mattresses. The weight limit of an air mattress can be between 250 and 1000 pounds depending on the size. However, any number of people can use it simultaneously within that weight limit.


As we know, an air mattress is a sensitive sleeping system, so we not only need to use it carefully but also need to maintain it in the right way.

This maintenance includes cleaning, inspecting every time you use and store it, inflating according to the capacity, and most importantly, keeping it away from sharp objects such as needles and your pet’s pointed claws; otherwise, you will need to patch it, which is not a difficult task unless you know the correct procedure.

While in cots, all you need to do is clean and store correctly. So, in this case, cots give you a slight advantage.

Almost all airbeds start losing air when you inflate it for too long, like for 9-10 hours, and some cheap quality airbeds lose the air rapidly and make you sleep on the icy ground.

If we talk about cots, no matter how bad the quality is, at least you’ll never face this problem.

Heat Loss:

Heat loss is a big issue in air mattresses, especially in winter. The two main reasons for this are the materials used to build the airbed and not lifting it off the ground.

Most people don’t use a frame to keep the air mattress off the ground or floor, due to which their mattress becomes cold like a slab of ice. You may need to make many efforts to stay warm on your air mattress while camping without a frame.

On the other hand, cots have a built-in frame, and the material is also warm and well insulated against the cold; that’s why a cot is far better than an air mattress in terms of heat loss.

Space Occupy:

Blow-up beds occupy almost double space after inflation than a regular-sized camping cot, and if you have a small tent, it can be pretty challenging to fit a full-size airbed inside it.

If you managed to fit it inside, you might have no space left to keep your bags or heater, which is recommended to place at least 1 meter away for an airbed.

On the other hand, Cots are almost half in size and don’t acquire much space, making them an excellent choice for solo campers and small tents.

Portability & Storage:

Some cheap quality cots don’t allow you to fold their frame, due to which storage can be a big issue for them.

However, some cots also exist that allow you to remove all their parts and position them again when needed, which makes them very convenient to transport and store in a carry bag.

Even though the air mattresses are almost double in size than a camping cot, they are much easier to store and carry.

All you have to do just fold and keep it inside the bag, whereas in camping cots, you need to keep them carefully in your vehicle; otherwise, the frame can damage your other items.

FAQs: Camping Cot Vs Air Mattress

1. Can you put an air mattress on a camping cot?

Of course, you can put an air mattress on a camping cot, but to do that, you should consider some important points so that you can sleep on this sleeping system comfortably without damaging any of them.

The first important thing is the air mattress size. As we know that the cots are not that wide like an air mattress, which’s why it is highly recommended to choose an airbed according to the size of the cot; otherwise, it may even hurt you if not used correctly.

Yes, you read it right, hurt. Because when you place your air mattress on a narrow cot, which is about twice as wide as a cot, it can unbalance and knock you to the ground.

And the second most important is the cot’s weight limit. If you and your mattress weigh less than the weight limit of your cot, you’re good to go.

2. What is the best thing to sleep on when camping?

sleeping bagAir mattresses are mostly used as an alternative to regular bedding, but they are not the ideal sleeping source for regular use and outdoor trips.

On the other hand, some other alternatives, such as sleeping bags and camping cots, are considered the best sleeping options for winter use or camping in cold areas as they keep you warm throughout the night.

Plus, they are more comfortable and easy to use than any other sleeping system.

3. What to use between camping cots vs air mattress for guest?

Cots vs air mattress has always been a debatable question, but if you want a quick bed specifically for guests or home, there’s no better option than an air mattress.

You never know how other people prefer to sleep. Some people prefer to sleep in the same position while most people feel comfortable changing sleeping positions, and for those, a camping cot can be a very annoying option.

Just because of its small size, it is not easy to turn the back quickly and easily, which may disrupt them.

In an air mattress, Where two people can sleep sharing equal space, no matter which position they prefer to sleep, they will not feel a lack of space on the bed.

Plus, It is not easy to make a camping cot look like a real bed, but you can make an airbed look like a real bed in just a couple of minutes with a cover and some pillows.

Wrapping Up: Camping Cot Vs Air Mattress

Camping cot vs air mattress, both are capable of giving you a plush sleep all night, and considering all the mentioned factors, you can decide which one fits best for you.

If you are a solo camper and want a bed only for outing purposes, a camping cot can be a good choice, but if you love enjoying with your friends and family, we would suggest you drop the idea of buying a cot.

Although it is comfortable, easy to use and maintain but as I said, it is suitable only for one person, and if you really want to buy a cot, then you need to increase your budget and buy a two person cot, which can be much expensive than the normal ones.

Don’t worry if you are still confused between these two. There are many alternatives available in the market, such as sleeping bags, sleeping pads, folding mattresses, futon mattresses, hammocks, etc.

All these sleeping systems can be used for indoor and outdoor purposes and available in an affordable price segment. You can have a look at them by clicking here.

Tip: Air mattresses can lose their strength from frequent inflation and deflation, and you can’t do anything; that’s why it is suitable for occasional purposes. Keep this in mind if you really want your air mattress to stay with you for a longer time.

About Eric Smith

eric smith - content writer

With 4+ years of experience dealing with air mattresses, Eric has gotten really good at making useful and interesting stuff for you to read. He loves helping people find the right air mattresses and fix any air mattress-related issues.