How Long do Camping Cots Last?

A canvas wall tent for elk hunters in Colorado.

Camping cots are extremely useful for getting a good night’s sleep while camping. However, how long do they last?

Heavy-duty camping cots can last upwards of 30 years. Lighter, more portable backpacking cots can last around 10 years. To maximize the lifespan of a camping cot, clean it regularly, pack it away properly at the end of a camping trip, and purchase a high-quality camping cot rather than a cheap one.

So, what are the steps that you can take to help your camping cot reach its maximum lifespan? I will explain the most important things you can do to achieve max longevity for your camping cot, along with both the pros and the cons that come with using a camping cot.

How to Help Extend the Lifespan of Your Cot

Take Weight Limit into Consideration

One of the fastest things that you can do to break your camping cot is to get one that you don’t meet the weight parameters for. When purchasing a camping cot, check to see if it can hold your weight. The closer your weight is to the maximum weight it can hold, the shorter the lifespan the camping cot will have as the pressure can cause the legs of the camping cot to bend or break. Try to get a camping cot that has plenty of difference between the maximum weight and your weight to help it last longer and prevent it from possibly breaking while you are sleeping.

Keep it Clean

While it may seem like a hard, if not impossible, thing to do while camping, keeping your cot clean, dry, and out of the sun is one of the more important steps you can take to extend your camping cot’s lifespan. A smart idea to protect your cot is to have your tent set up and in place before you set it up, as the weather can change quickly and is very unpredictable.

Some of the worst weather for you to leave your camping cot in are heavy rain and strong winds. To prevent rough weather from getting to your cot, it is recommended that you have a windbreaker and rain trap on your tent to stop the elements as best as you can.

If you do have to clean your cot, make sure to do so outside, as it can cause a mess. Also, try to clean your cot on dry, sunny days as this will help it dry quickly and prevent any weather damage. When it comes to actually cleaning the cot, use cold water rather than hot. You can use dish soap without harming the materials, just check what your specific cot can handle. Use a gentle scrub brush or rag to clean your camping cot and remove any stains.

After using cold water and soap, rinse the cot off and place it somewhere where it can be suspended and in direct sunlight. Being in the sun may cause the color of the cot to fade slightly however it doesn’t cause damage to the cot unless it is constantly being placed in direct sunlight. (Source)

Pros of a Cot when Camping

Green camp bed with sleeping bag isolated on white background

One of the biggest pros of a camping cot is the fact that it is lifted up above the ground. This provides a number of other pros in itself. The first big one is that you don’t have to worry about feeling any small stones or twigs poking you throughout the night. It also will allow for sleeping in the winter to be warmer and sleeping in the summer to be cooler. This is because typically the ground either cools you down or warms you up during the different seasons, but by being off the ground, you aren’t as affected by the different temperatures.

You also don’t have to worry as much about pests or insects as while you are on a camping cot, as it is very difficult for them to reach you. For most people, waking up next to a mouse, rat, snake, or other animals will be one of the worst ways to start their day, but with a camping cot, these animals are much less likely to get up and bother you. (Source)

The last major pro is the fact that sleeping in a cot is going to help you feel better once you wake up. Usually while camping on a sleeping pad, when you wake up you are sore because of the rough terrain you slept on. However, if you sleep on a cot you don’t have to worry about that happening. (Source)

Cons of Using a Cot

close-up a four tourists rucksacks for travel staying on the bench

However, the camping cot is not a flawless item, besides being able to break just like any other piece of camping gear, there are two other major problems with a cot. The first is the fact that a cot can be expensive. When looking at a site like Amazon, the price ranch of a single cot can be anywhere from $46 to $209. However, they can often be found for a cheaper price at a store like Sportsmans Warehouse.

Camping cots are much more expensive than sleeping pads, so it may be difficult for people to justify such an expensive purchase when they first start camping regularly or decide they want a camping cot. However, many people believe it to be worth the cost.

The other problem is that many cots take up a lot of space and weigh at least a few pounds. Because some of the heavy-duty cots weigh so much, it is very difficult to take them when you go backpacking, so you are going to want to make sure you are getting something like an ultralight camping cot, which can weigh as little as 3 lbs. For standard camping, the heavy-duty cots can make sense, just understand some cots can weigh upwards of 20 lbs, so you won’t want to bring one with you on a hike. (Source)

Camping cots are quite durable and can last for many years if you take care of them properly. However, they are not perfect products, and if you want your camping cot to last, you need to splurge and purchase an expensive, high-quality one.

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