Cot Vs Air Mattress: Which Is Better For You?

The night can be longer than usual in the fields without the right sleeping equipment. Campers have to make wise selections for their sleeping gear, lest they be “bitten” by the ravenous cold — or end up with back pains from poor sleeping postures.

Today, we compare two of the most popular campers’ sleeping gear; camping cots and air mattresses. Our Cot vs Air Mattress article below has it all.

Cot Vs Air Mattress

wrap our head around each before we delve into the comparison section, where we’ll see how each of them is unique with regards to the mentioned features.

I think we should start.

Camping Cots: What Are They?

Coleman ComfortSmart Cot

Camping cots are collapsible, lightweight, and relatively small beds that most people use for camping. They mainly consist of a metal/wood frame featuring a canvas/nylon/polyester top on which you sleep.

People use them in situations where the regular bed can’t fit, or in places where the beds aren’t available. Mostly, you’ll find them in the army and camping fields.

The quality of camping cots relies upon myriads of features, including the sturdiness of the materials that make it. The frame needs to be rust-resistant (if it’s made of metal) and highly durable.

For convenience, the best camping cots should feature a washable fabric. Moreover, the fabric should stay tear- and wear-proof, leave alone decolourization. When folded, it should take just a small storage space.

What Are Air Mattresses?

Camping Air Mattresses

As you can quickly infer from its name, an air mattress consists of a fabric with a large air space inside, which takes up air in large volumes to get into the shapes a comfortable mattress. You need an air pump to work with the mattresses.

After use, the mattresses are easy to prepare for storage. You’ll only deflate then fold them. They’ll take up only a small space for that matter.

Most air mattresses are made of the PVC (PolyVinyl Chloride), while others also use rubber, urethane, and other materials for their construction. While most of them will need you to have an air compressor or handheld pump by your side, some are self-inflating.

Sometimes, though, you’ll need a pump for the self-inflating types, especially if you need more compactness.

A Comparison Of The Features:


No one needs a product that doesn’t serve them for as long as…they need it! Durability is a chief factor worth taking into account when making a purchase for any product. You need durable camping cots and air mattresses to fulfill your long use needs.

In this regard, it’s clear that the camping cot wins. It often features a durable frame (mostly aluminum) and fabric (of many types), both of which stand the test of time. You can also choose to go with steel, which even lasts longer.

Camping cots constructed from steel frames and canvas have an unparalleled longevity. Likewise, air mattresses — which rely on air-tightness for comfort — can often easily puncture and disappoint you. Rarely will you bump into an air mattress that doesn’t completely leak during the night?

Heat Retention Capacity

In winter, a sleeping gear that prevents your body from losing heat so that you get to sleep with comfort will help. An air mattress won’t do much to provide the much-needed comfort in this case. It’s closer to the ground than the camping cot; thus, heat lost to the ground is quite much.

A cot, too, will allow for more airflow, which promotes heat loss. However, you can extend your bedsheets to the ground to quickly mitigate this.

During summer, you need more air circulation to help you lose more heat while asleep. It’s easy to infer that the sleeping cot is perfect in this regard.

Usage and Setup

The foldable camping cot is straightforwardly set up in minutes. You only need to unfold it, and it’s ready for use. Others may need a bit of assembling, which needs neither expertise nor much of your energy.

Setting up air mattresses involves unfolding and inflating them. Most people use the manual pumps, but since you know that these mattresses take up much air, the pumping will also take up much of your energy.

You may opt for the self-inflating types in an attempt to reduce the amount of energy needed. However, these also make some significant noise, which may be stubborn to your neighbors, because you’ll have to do it every evening while inflating and every morning while deflating the mattresses.

The Sizes

Air mattresses are often ostensibly larger than camping cots. Mostly, camping cots come in a single-individual size while air mattresses come in various sizes that include the queen and king sizes. Nevertheless, you can still find large cots that accommodate as many as three people.

Space Needs

Camping cots, while in use, consume little space than their air mattress cousins, which are often large and bulky when inflated. Better still, the cots compensate for this space by offering space underneath for storage. Such camping gear as shoes and pumps, among others, can suit into the space.

During storage, deflated air mattresses will take up less space, because they often fold into a compact size. The majority of camping cots, however, feature rigid frames. Folding them into smaller sizes than air mattresses is impossible.

So while in use, air mattresses consume more space but the story changes when it comes to storage, because the camping cots will require more space.


Air mattresses often cost less than the camping cots, despite their large sizes. They come at different price points, most of which are highly affordable. However, most of them are quick to puncture, a feature that doesn’t make them worth the price.

Camping cots will cost more than air mattresses but stand the test time. So the camping cots are more cost-effective than air mattresses over time.


If you need comfort, air mattress will serve you better. What’s more, you can always adjust the amount of air trapped inside it to achieve the comfort that you need.

Camping cots, on the other hand, are only best for back sleepers. They align your spine in the healthiest posture for quality back sleep.

The Bottom Line

So the Cot vs Air Mattress piece above demystifies how camping cots and air mattresses stack up against one another with regards to the features explained. Overally, we realize that the camping cots are better than air mattresses in the long run.

Share Via

Leave a Comment