Tent Camping Cot VS Air Mattress: Which Is Comfortable

Published on: February 15, 2022
Written by Camila Avery / Fact-checked by David Rowan

An age-old war, cost vs mattress, especially on campsites, which is comfortable for tent campers? Opinion rather than this dispute is very helpful while selecting one of these even though both camping and sleeping stuff has advantages and disadvantages like axes or hatchet usage.

tent camping cot vs air mattress which is comfortable

As if camping in the rain, a camping cot is suitable to let you not surpass the air and let you not catch a cold. Whether a sleeping air bed on the campsite or in a tent gives relief through sleeping bags, it consists of R-value-leaded thermal resistance in winter conditions. 

Instead of underquilt hammock plans, or hammock stand creation, a cot or an air mattress is great camping stuff in terms of ensuring comfort. In general, different sleeping styles and tent sizes as well determine either the pad offers or the sturdy and durable cot selection. However, in terms of durability, single-person sleeping and side sleeping camp enthusiasts’ first choice is a cot, and occupies little space indeed. 

Over every dispute, an effective sleeping cot or airbed’s ultimate goal is to ensure a good night’s sleep. Nonetheless, numerous factors and other effects address the inefficiencies.

At the end of the day, elements are possible to use for making sure an enjoyable camping trip, and this only reason that leads to camping stuff buying stores. From our experience and given below, a side-by-side comparison will decrease the possibility of shortcomings. And, dive into the depth answer to choose from cots vs air mattresses, which one is more comfortable for tent campers. 

tent camping cot vs air mattress 3
Impact on Mood

Cot Vs Air Mattress

What is a camping cot, or an air mattress? Whether camping cot or air mattress definition we are about to say rather than using, became confused. Why? In between cot or air mattress choice conflicts, the comfortable issue matters a lot. Like camping hammock standing plans, or treating it like camping under the quilt, which is the easiest and toughest one, varies from camper to camper. 

What Are Cots or Camping Cots?

The answer is simple, the bed refers to very lightweight, portable, and transportable where common home-based beds are not available. People often call it a folding bed system, which means to carry instead of your backpack with other important stuff while camping or hiking by wearing duck boots


Its wood frame with Linen, Polyester, Nylon, and Canvas covering to lie on or a category of foldable metal, it comprises so. In general, such beds are useful in emergencies, for instance, in army camps, accidental instant camps, and blood donation similar health camps. Either for leisure outdoor camping, suitable, as if, for prolonged camping periods. You only need to add a pillow and foam mattress. 

In terms of durability, washable and comfortable fabrics, such as Nylon and Polyester are preferable, except for Canvas material. But yes, for rust resistance, an X-shaped or U-shaped design, Aluminum frames are perfect.  

What Is an Air Mattress?

Heard of air beds or blow-up beds? Obviously, you might have. Well, an inflatable mattress comes with Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) in construction, and sometimes rubber is popular as an air mattress. These are rather portable than cots with greater affordability. However, available in many designs, inside tents usage, RV’s at home are some of examples. 

Confused to use much stuff regarding air mattress applications? Well, a hand-held pump like handy different hammers is the basic stuff. Because not only this can inflate or insulate your bed at rapid speed. In terms of comfort, camping air mattresses sound quite folded, deflated, and smaller in a storage case.

Yet contains a high risk of damage, unless you inflate it before use. However, easy leakage overnight and tears possibly can take place which may shorten the reliability. But for adjustable firmness, it can beat the camping cots at ease. 

Though it is quite hectic to manage anywhere, only some necessary pinpoints, like a repair kit, optional chair sling, and hand pump can solve this uncomfortable issue.

Side-by-Side Comparison

For the comparison on point by point, we have prepared a checklist before reading thoroughly.

Cot Air Mattress  
Ease of Set-UpEasy Not that much as expected 
Use Simply to fold and unfold Need air pump to inflate 
Elevation from the groundHigher from the ground On the ground  
Sleeping styleSide sleepers Sleeping on back
Size 4” to 22” from ground Low profile or raised style 
Heat lossSuits every weather Perfect for dry weather 
Durability Yes Not well enough 
Storage For backpack Takes space enough 

In a detailed comparison, you can understand why we charted the differences between camping cots and air mattresses. 


All cots are foldable, this is not an absolute concept, or anything wrong. Foldable cots, like elevated up and down with Aluminum or Steel frames, are cozy while setting up inside your tent. As well, simply unfold both sides frames and again lock them on the exact size you want after placing them inside.

In contrast, air mattresses you can fold over your backpack end, later unroll and inflate before applying at night before sleeping or after starting a campfire. 

For making a good fluffy air mattress, you need to carry another electric or manual hand pump machine like a spray gun which offers a pull and push back method. You can compare it with a reciprocating saw. It can worsen by forgetting that air pump, as well as living in a grumpy night, which is not desirable at all. Even things can sound like the vibration of an air vacuum cleaner whether to inflate or deflate the mattress. 


How to use both cots and air mattresses while camping in the rain? Is it difficult? Not at all, says our camp crew’s experience. Campers often relieve themselves with cots in the rain camping season, whether in dry places, an air mattress is a sleeping breeze, though it covers up huge places inside the camper’s small tent.

About a grumpy night during late winter, in front of a campfire, sleeping in an underquilt hammock or taking a bivvy bag as a sleeping hammock, not better than an air mattress. Why? Because it is portable, foldable, and transferable to accommodate as per the camper’s needs. Is it or not?

In contrast, whether you have acknowledgment on setting up cots from folding it with backpack shoulder side, this is nothing difficult to place in a tent at any time. So far, it consumes less place and at inflating time as per your neck and back comfortability, never sounds like vibrating.   

Elevation from the Ground

Not only on proper airflow but also heat loss cases up by being close to the ground, even too close can become problematic. Sleeping pads make poor sleeping insulation like air mattresses, even overnight leakage in accidental way is the worst nightmare too while camping in wet weather.

For dual protection to avoid cold waves, one can place a severe foam strip, made of some insulating material. Yeah, a self-insulated one is nothing special, rather a bulky option whether your air beds remain 3”-4” elevated from the ground above.

Varying elevated heights from 5”-22”, well-off-the-ground, camping cots are helpful. In the way of not only cools campers off in hot weather but also promotes retention during cold weather conditions. However, the comfort adaptation can vary from age to age. 80% of those up to 50 ages feel back pain and suffer much while putting huge strains on the backbone’s surrounding muscles. In this approach, costs are high preference. 

tent camping cot vs air mattress

Sleeping Style

Sleeping styles, for instance, sleeping on the stomach, Firefall position, couples favorite spoon style, sleeping on the back, and so on. But the right way to sleep or the healthiest sleeping position confronts a lot of things about you. Even sleeping styles can select over the choice of cot vs mattress, either triumph over oversleeping on your side bed for your question. 

For a shared tent sleeping system, air mattresses have got the best low profile or raised styles. Available in many sizes, for instance, king, queen, and twin sizes. Favoring your left side for better blood circulation? Well, you can maximize this system through camping-compatible air mattresses. In contrast, for campers who would love sleeping on their stomach and back, though it is not good with knee support, a camping cot suits much.     


Cots vs air mattresses, which is comfortable for tent campers, while searching for answers for this type of question, both air mattress and cot sizes matter from the store. Both are available in the infamous king, queen, twin, and other British sizes too. Though cots made for campers have a special design for a single person inside a tent, it is very impractical to turn into sharing. However, double bed type cot existence we cannot ignore at all. 

On top of that, your tent measurement should enlist in the first calculation. If it is big enough, the cot height and sizes, are around 4” to 22” for adults, even compatible for double persons. Whether it is for kids’ usage 52L × 22W inches to king sizes like 84L × 40W inches are available in camping instruments stores. One thing we should not forget is infrequent toss and turn at night cases, then camping with a bigger cot is perfect to transport. 


In cold weather, either in dry weather, airbeds are good for being a poor conductor of work and heat, or conductive and radiation means. Well-fitting as a block of heat transfer. The height of involved cavities often determines how thermal resistance will happen.

In general, convection, either results in a decrease or an increase in heat transfer. And the whole procedure of an airbed through expected airflow is good enough throughout the hot summer night. Another benefit you can take into account is not allowing ample heat transfer away from a camper’s body. 

A pad with an R-valued shape on the upper side of the airbed helps to provide more cushioning, as well as insulation. In contrast to such pad usage, ample area is left in camping cots that let the airflow. In fact, good heat loss or retention from your body is enough during hot summer. With a few tweaks, cots often offer the biggest deals to suit an all-weather sleeping system. However, you can experience a little draft from under the camper’s big tent during winter hiking or camping time.  


Another key factor is the cost of air mattress durability over the question of which one is comfortable for tent campers. In addition to lasting capacity, you should focus on structural integrity, as well as transportation like axes or hatchets while hiking out. Air mattresses perform very little than a cot. Why? If we notice that airbed structure, the possibility of overnight air leakage by sticks or sharp objects that we cannot ignore. Even a great fault inside valves is one of the greatest non-deniable points. 

Camping cots, on the other hand, are perfect to handle and set up for longer camp nights. Whether an airbed that may contain a thicker PVC layer throughout it can let itself avoid air leakage and seam splits. In general, cots offer the sturdiest sleeping system for every sleeping style with wrapped up rugged fabrics underneath upheld by Aluminum frames or Steel ones on both sides. Sounds strong, right? 

Storage Availability

The last fact to consider, yet the most important one is storage availability. Whether you are planning on rolling down the air mattress with a backpack, or folding the cot behind the backpack, at last, the situation demands again its storage, either in-home or in the tent in the morning. Even while placing one of the cots or mattresses, which is comfortable for tent campers, may consume ample space.

Like storage capacity, on a matter of easy transportation by installing inside a backpack, an air mattress is the convenient one. Simply fold the deflated piece of bed and put it into a storage carrier. If campers have their internal plastic pumps, quite easier installation is possible with the deflation, as if, takes up a little carrier space. 

Camping cots have sturdy frames, freeing up overall spaces at ease even though it is folded. Heavy and bulky, however, not much practical without carrying it inside another plastic carrier with a backpack. But yes, remember to use it in case of a perfect RV and car camping in bear country

Benefits of Using a Tent Camping Cot Instead of an Air Mattress

1. Comfort: A camping cot offers a more supportive and comfortable sleep experience than an air mattress, as it is designed to contour your body and provide better support.

2. Portability: Camping cots are generally much more portable than air mattresses, as they are typically lighter and come with their own carrying bags.

3. Durability: Camping cots are made with sturdy frames, making them more durable and long-lasting than air mattresses.

4. Versatility: Camping cots can be used both indoors and outdoors, while air mattresses are best suited for indoor use.

5. Elevation: A camping cot provides more elevation than an air mattress, making it easier to get in and out of bed.

Wrap Up

Whether it is over a perfect dispute on a cot vs an air mattress, which is comfortable for tent campers, many facts you need to consider. Sleeping style, tent size, durability, and storage availability are some examples. Other extras like back pain relief camping stuff you should choose over everything, like an airbed can provide comfort. Campers sometimes opt for only air mattresses, which is very good for side sleepers or in terms of sharing while camping, especially in cars or RVs. 

Compared to cots, insulated sleeping beds are not that comfortable and durable during wet weather and late winter hiking through better portability. But sleeping cots on a campsite not only left space inside tents, but also relief of back pain, increased sharing capacity, and never let surpass the cold wave. 

So, over this old-age war, campers should enjoy both worlds by considering all hard facts.

Relevant Resources:

Rate this post

About This Writer

camila avery author

Guys, I am Camila Avery and I love to help my mom to do indoor & outdoor activities. As a lady, I have passed my time on gardening, home improvement, and personal or self-care. I have acquired some degrees in outdoor recreation, beauty, and hair care. It is not easy to work with top-level professional beauty experts. But, I got that opportunity and experimented with different hair extensions, hair colors, and cuts.

Guys, I am Camila Avery and I love to help my mom to do indoor & outdoor activities. As a lady, I have passed my time on gardening, home improvement, and personal or self-care. I have acquired some degrees in outdoor recreation, beauty, and hair care. It is not easy to work with top-level professional beauty experts. But, I got that opportunity and experimented with different hair extensions, hair colors, and cuts.

Leave a Comment