Best Backpacking Cot for 2018/2019 – 8 Lightweight Tools

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If you are looking for the best backpacking cot, this text is for you. I present 8 lightweight collapsible cots available on the market for the season 2018/2019. These are all portable tools that pack to a very small size. Please keep reading. 


What is a collapsible camping cot

To explain terminology first, a collapsible camp cot is a cot that is packed and carried in a relatively small carry bag, typically some 50 cm long and 15 -20 cm diameter. From this, you realize what makes them so different from folding camping cots which remain quite large in size even when they are packed.

But this is not the only difference. As you will see below, such collapsible cots can be surprisingly lightweight so that they can be used as hiking or backpacking tools. This holds in particular if you dislike hammocks, or you will be setting your camps in areas where using hammocks is not possible.


Why carrying a cot on a backpacking tour

When you think about backpacking (or hiking), you know it is about carrying everything on your back, so the grams count. A cot adds weight, so is it worth the effort? The answer is yes, definitely. Here is why:

  • Sleeping on the ground can never be as comfortable as sleeping on a cot. If you have tried both, you know this well. A cot is always more comfortable than a typical pad used on the ground.
  • A cot keeps you away from bugs, at least to some extent. This is of a particular importance if you use a tarp.
  • You do not feel the ground regardless of what you have under the cot, rock, a mud, or anything else.
  • You do not need any sort of ground cloth.
  • You lose far more warmth to a cold ground than to the air, to be specific, about 40 – 55 times more, dependent on the type of ground. This is a bit of physics, my profession, and you can see more about this here. So if you sleep off the ground, on a cot, you need less bottom insulation. A thin closed-cell foam pad may be good enough. This may save some weight, to compensate for the cot; such pads are usually very lightweight.
  • The weight can further be reduced in combination with a bottomless sleeping bag. If you are not familiar with the terminology, those are bags without insulation on the bottom side. The reason behind such a design is that insulation materials, when compressed, lose their insulating properties.
  • Or you can use a bag with dual insulation rate. So these details can compensate for the extra weight caused by the cot, and you will have a full comfort a cot can offer.

My list of best backpack portable cots

Here are all the cots sorted by weight from lighter to heavier:

 


1. Helinox Cot Lite

Helinox Cot Lite 4 legs variant.
Helinox Cot Lite 4 legs variant.

This cot is described in detail in my separate review, so please follow the link so see more. Here, I give only a few basic facts for comparison with other cots.

• Very easy to set up.
• Sturdy and stable construction.
• Bed size 72.8 x 23.6 inches (185 x 60 cm).
• Quite small packed size 20.9 x 5.1 inches (53 x 13 cm).
• Versatile.
• Portable.
• Ultra lightweight option 2.8 lb (1.3 kg).

Helinox Cot Lite is the lightest of all but it is relatively small, bear this in mind if you are a tall person.

Read my review.


2. Yahill Ultralight Folding Portable Cot

This is yet another ultra-lightweight option, portable and collapsible, and you need no extra tool for its setup.

Yahill Ultralight Folding Portable Cot
Yahill Ultralight Folding Portable Cot.

Extra holes of the cloth are designed for people who are very heavy, so that more tubes and legs can be ordered and used for extra support.

• Ultra lightweight 3 lb (1.36 kg).
• Load: 220 lb (100 kg).
• Quite small packed size 16 x 4.7 inches (41 x 12 cm).
• Portable.
• Dimensions 70.8 x 22.8 inches (180 x 58 cm).
• Materials: aluminum alloy; anti-tear PV oxford material; strengthened nylon.

Read my Review.


3. Thermarest LuxuryLite UltraLite Cot

Thermarest LuxuryLite UltraLite Cot.
Thermarest LuxuryLite UltraLite Cot.

This cot is a part of a set which includes a tent and cot in the combination called tent-cot, but it can certainly be used as a cot in a tent. In fact, in both combinations, you have a very lightweight backpacking tool. See the setup procedure in this video:

The cot is described in my separate text so please follow the link.

• The weight is 3.6 lb (1.53 kg).
• It packs nicely to a very small volume 17 x 5 inches (43 x 13 cm).
• The dimensions are 77x 26 inches (196 x 66 cm).
• The setup is not particularly simple and it takes some time.

Read my review.


4. Therm-a-Rest LuxuryLite Mesh Cot

Therm-a-Rest LuxuryLite Mesh Cot.
Therm-a-Rest LuxuryLite Mesh Cot.

This cot is obviously very similar to the UltraLite model above, from the same brand and with the same construction. You might want to know that this is a USA-made tool.

  • This cot comes in 3 sizes:
    – R: 72 x 24 x 4.5 in (183 x 61 x 11.4 cm).
    – L: 77 x 26 x 4.5 in (196 x 66 x 11.4 cm).
    – XL: 77 x 30 x 4.5 in (196 x 76 x 11.4 cm).
  • Weight:
    – R: 3 lb 9 oz (1.62 kg).
    – L: 3 lb 15 oz (1.8 kg).
    – XL: 4 lb 7 oz (2.01 kg).
  • Packed dimensions (L x D): 18 x 6 in (46 x 15 cm).
  • Weight capacity: 325 lb (148 kg).
  • Cot material: PVC mesh.
  • Frame: aluminum.

Read my review.


5. G2 GO2GETHER Camping Cots Tent Bed

G2 GO2GETHER Camping Cots Tent Bed.
G2 GO2GETHER Camping Cots Tent Bed.

This G2 cot is quite new on the market and it is becoming very popular. When you see its weight, packed size, and the price you realize why. So the cot weighs only 4 lb (1.8 kg) and its packed size is 23 x 5.7 x 5.7 inches (58 x 14.5 x 14.5 cm).

This is a fully collapsible cot with a sturdy aluminum frame and with bars instead of feet, similar to several models here in the list. The bed size is quite good and it measures 75 x 26.5 inches (191 x 67 cm). Please follow the link to check for the updated price.

Read my review.


6. Big Agnes Helinox Cot One V2

The V2 in the name of this cot indicates that this is an upgraded version of a popular outdoor tool. This is a high quality, ultra-lightweight, strong, and collapsible camping bed, with only 4.4 lb (2 kg) of weight. This makes it very much suitable for backpacking and hiking.

Big Agnes Helinox Cot One V2.
Big Agnes Helinox Cot One V2.

The setup is very easy, without any extra tool. The two side poles sections, and the three bar legs, are constructed with shock cords, so you cannot lose them.

The price at the moment of writing this text is $300. The Cot One V2 is described in detail in my separate text so please follow the link:

Read my review.


7. Alps Mountaineering Ready Lite Cot

Alps Mountaineering Ready Lite Cot.
Alps Mountaineering Ready Lite Cot.

This is a very sturdy and stable construction, with 5 bar legs, so you can be sure it will not sink on any terrain. It gives 19 cm of clearance from the cold ground.

The cot packs nicely to a small carry size, suitable to store at home, to put in the car trunk, and to carry attached to the pack.

• Weight: 4 lb 13 oz (2.18 kg).
• Dimension (L x W x H): 78 x 28 x 7.5 in (198 x 71 x 19 cm).
• Weight capacity: 300 lb (136 kg).
• Carry bag size: 17 x 7 in (43 x 18 cm).
• Materials:
– Durable 7000 series aluminum frame.
– 420D polyester honeycomb ripstop fabric.
• Current Amazon price: $160.

Read my review.


8. Helinox Cot Max

Helinox Cot Max stretcher.
Helinox Cot Max stretcher.

The Cot Max is heavier than the other cots presented above, but you will notice it provides far more space than any other. So this is a tool for tall people. It is described in my separate review.

This is a great tool with many great features summarized as follows:

• Very easy to set up, no tools needed.
• Sturdy and stable construction.
• Quite small packed size.
• Versatile.
• Portable.

This cot is rather expensive, $400, but its average rate on Amazon is simply incredible 4.9/5.

Read my review.


Summary

To conclude this text about the best backpacking cot in the season 2018/2019, what you have here is an impressive list of very different tools with respect to the price and construction.

So how to choose? A few more tips:

  • If the price is essential, the Yahill Ultralight is without a match. It is incredibly lightweight as well, but it is rather small.
  • If the cot is for a heavy and tall person, then your first choice should be the Helinox Cot Max, or the XL version of the Therm-a-Rest LuxuryLite Mesh Cot.
  • If you sleep on the back, any of the cots will be great for you. But if you are a side-sleeper and tend to have a fetal-type position, you will have issues with the side bars. In that case, go for a wide cot.

These are backpack-portable tools, but those are not the lightest options on the market. Check my exclusive list with ultra-lightweight backpacking cots if you need something for extended tours.

If you need something large and comfortable for camping with a car or motorbike access, please check my text with extra large camping cots.

Thank you for reading. I hope the text has been useful. It will be great to hear from you, so please use the comment box below. Have a nice day.


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18 thoughts on “Best Backpacking Cot for 2018/2019 – 8 Lightweight Tools”

  1. I’ve slept on the MoonLence cot two nights so far. Well, two half-nights.
    I’m a roller-sleeper: the first few hours of sleep I’m immobile, dead to the world, on my back. The remainder of the night, I twist and turn from side to side, from my back to my stomach.
    That’s when the cot, any cot for that matter, becomes an issue.
    How does one sleep on their side while drawing one’s knees up? The knees will poke over the side the same way the arms did with 24″-width cots.
    So now there’s the “knee problem.”
    I can’t win at this cot game.

    1. Hi Lynne, I feel you cannot indeed. Perhaps some compromise? It is worth it. This is an issue when you do not have a pad on the cot, so you touch the side bars. If you use a pad on the cot it should be a bit different. Knees will poke even if you are on the ground on a pad.

      I am a roller-sleeper too, but probably all the time, and I am never on the back.

      1. I can see how a mattress would help. (Adding up the weight of my sleeping bag, a mattress and a cot = 6+ pounds!)
        I don’t give up easily.
        Weight of the MoonLence components:
        Fabric = 14 ounces
        Side rails (two) are 9 ounces each = 18 ounces
        Feet (three for ultra-lite set-up) are 7 ounces each = 21 ounces
        Total weight = 3 pounds 5 ounces
        I asked the ZPacks people if they thought Dyneema could replace the rubberized nylon fabric with a significant weight reduction while resisting stretch and not being too pricey.
        I haven’t heard back from them yet (they’re in the midst of Hurricane Irma evacuation).
        If a company like theirs, who specialize in lightweight gear, put their collective minds into designing a better cot….carbon fiber side-rails, Dyneema fabric top….well, I can dream!

        1. Carbon fiber side rails – this would be something totally new. Dyneema must be expensive, it is stronger than Kevlar. It would be great to hear what they say.

          Did you consider bottom-less sleeping bags? You put the pad in the sleeve. They should be lighter; the bottom insulation is removed because it is almost useless in any case when compressed. But to solve your problem with knees, it should be a bit wider than the cot.

  2. Here’s the results of testing the XL (30″ wide) Thermarest and the MoonLence (~28″ wide).
    I set both up in (what I call) “ultra-lite” mode. Meaning, the Thermarest had 2 “double-bows” and 3 “single-bows. For the MoonLence I used only 3 legs. (Don’t make any sudden moves. It might collapse!)
    My butt hit the ground and/or the cross-bar with the Thermarest.
    I had two-fingers clearance with MoonLence. Yeah!
    “Ultra-lite” weight for both is about the same–3 pounds 7 ounces.
    The “arm problem” is solved with both.
    MoonLence is less than half the price of the XL Thermarest.
    Now….I have to decide if I want to pack THAT much bed weight. That’s almost two-and-a-half pounds more than my old Thermarest pad! Can I sacrifice elsewhere? I never get ahead in this weight game.

    1. With Moon Lence you pushed to the limits with only 3, my first thought was about using 4, but as you say it might work your way. So those extra 3.5 inches in width were critical for you.

      I do not know the area where you go, can tell you my recent experience from the Alps. I was using a new water purifier and was carrying only one small bottle with me, so this made a huge difference as I normally carry around 3 liters for day tours. But this can work only in areas with a lot of water streams around. In the high Alps this is almost always so, but there are dry areas and then one has to carry more water or plan carefully. I remember some earlier situations from overnight tours with 5 liters in the pack, it was terrible.

  3. Update: I’m sending the Helinox Cot Lite back. (Moosejaw has a generous 6-month return policy for unused stuff.)
    Reason? It’s just too narrow, creating an “arm problem” that should’t be a problem. (We’ve all got arms, right?)
    A 24″ width isn’t enough. My arms either end up dangling over the side (getting their circulation shut off due to the edge of the cot cutting in) or I have to assume the “dead corpse in a coffin” pose, holding my arms unnaturally across my chest. (It gets tiring.)
    Now….I’m going to try the Thermarest LuxuryLite XL cot. Yes, it’s a pound heavier (at least). Yes, it’s hard to find (leading one to believe it’s being discontinued). But, it’s the widest on the market at 30″.
    I’ll test it to see if there’s such a thing as a “light” set-up (using only three cross-bars).
    The Thermarest Large version (which seems to be the top size they offer) is 26″ wide. I tried that before. While better than 24″, it’s hardly a generous solution.
    It may be that cots, for me, will have to be for car-camping, not backpacking?

    1. So your struggle continues. Let me try to help. Check this MoonLence, it is 27.5 inches. You have 5 legs, one can be omitted to make it super light.

      Another option is this Yahill, observe they have two models with the same name, both are in the text. Check the new version, also 27.5 inches, and 5 legs, perhaps one or two can be omitted again.

      Also this Alps Mountaineering Ready Lite, 28 inches and 5 legs, so again some can be omitted perhaps. Let me know what you think.

    1. This makes it the lightest I have ever seen, 1.05 kg is an absolute champion. Though surely 3-bar setup cannot work for a bit heavier people. From one of your earlier comments, I know that you are the same weight as me. So for 170 pounds this clearly can work. Many thanks.

      1. Ay, but here’s the rub…
        The OUTAD Chinese rip-off you mention elsewhere may still be a contender.
        It’s 7 inches longer.
        Less than half the price.
        Has a life time warranty.
        May or may not allow for 3-bar set-up. (Helinox has five cut-outs in the fabric to allow this but OUTAD has only four.) If it permits three bars without major sag, that might drop its total weight below Helinox.
        Then too, there’s the quality question. Is Helinox built better?
        Two Amazon reviews of OUTAD mention either the bars slipping off when they sat down on it or a shock cord break (though it was quickly replaced by the warranty).
        Finally, should I patronize the expensive original designer (AU? Korea?) or the Chinese cheap imitation?
        Life is always grey, never black and white.

        1. Update on an OUTAD ordered from Amazon:
          It came with a broken cross-bar (ie, shock-cord), just as another Amazon reviewer had experienced.
          Nevertheless, using it with 3 good cross-bars to save weight, it still was heavier than the Helinox Cot Lite, as it weighed 2 pounds 12 ounces.
          Plus, my butt was only 1/2″ off the ground (one finger’s-width wedged between the fabric and the ground). Undoubtedly the slack was due to the missing cross-bar.
          So it looks to me like the winner is Helinox Cot Lite.

  4. Thank you for your research! Very valuable comparison.
    Here’s what I’ve observed, having tried both the Regular and Large Thermarest LL Cot. (I’m 5′ 11″ and 170 pounds and an ounce counter.)
    Neither one offers enough clearance above the ground. At only 4 1/2″ my butt is scraping on perfectly flat ground. (One can only imagine if the ground was bumpy.)
    Of course it gets worse when I only use three cross-bars.
    If I use two “twist bows” in the middle, the extra tension (and weight) gives me maybe a half-inch extra clearance. But I still can’t slide my finger between the fabric bottom and the bar’s top. (So much for weight saving with that arrangement.)
    With the “narrow” 24-inch width, I find myself wondering what to do with my arms. Too narrow to lay them by my side (as I do at home), I’m forced to place them across my chest, whether it feels natural or not.
    The wider 26-inch width doesn’t solve the dilemma but it certainly lessens the weird feeling. I suppose I could “get used to it.”
    Even the most “positive” Amazon reviewer mentions his butt scraping the ground.
    The alternatives?
    To get maximum clearance (15 cm. seems to be the most any other cot offers), you pay a severe weight penalty. No longer in the sweet 2-pound range, now you’re edging towards five (!!) pound territory.
    My conclusion? Nobody’s discovered the right combination of clearance and light weight yet. I’ll have to stick with my air mattress, despite bulging lumbar discs issues that are crying out for something better.
    PS
    It would be great if you could add a column giving clearance. After all, what’s the point of a cot if you’re hitting the ground?

    1. Thank you Lynne. I understand your frustrations.

      It is difficult to give any exact number for the clearance in the sense you describe it. It depends on users’ weight and on how you sleep. Formally, the only exact number is the height which is always given in the texts here. But as you say, the cots normally have some give in, so the height and real clearance are different things.

      There are higher cots, 6 inches (15 cm) and you can see them here. The number one in the list is one of them and it is the lightest as well.

      1. Today I had the opportunity to test the Helinox Cot Lite.
        Because it’s narrower by two inches and because the thicker cross-bars can exert more tension, the fabric is stretched considerably tighter than the Therma-rest’s reflective pad.
        I only used three bars and discovered I could wedge two fingers (~one inch) of clearance underneath my butt. Impressive!
        It’s almost three pounds, though. That’s 8 ounces more than the Therma-rest.
        Before I commit, I’m going to sleep on it for a night. Hopefully the narrow “arm problem” won’t be an issue. The extra clearance may then be what wins me over to the taunt Helinox.

        1. Many thanks Lynne for sharing this info, it will be valuable for readers. And I am really glad that you might be getting to the tool you need. Really great to hear this.

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