Cot vs air mattress vs pad..


Since a RTT isn't in my future anytime due to my disdain for roofracks on JKU's, I'm limited to ground tents. I bought, but haven't used, a coleman instant tent that is considered a 6-person tent. I have always used a 2-man pop-up dome tent but discovered that I really like having a place to stand up and put my boots on and have all my clothes inside WITH me instead of inside the jeep staying dry.

I've always used blow-up mattresses but I've had issues with them losing air, getting holes and burning up a pump. I'm considering a cot because it gives you a place to sit while you put your shoes on and get dressed. But I'm not sure they'd be very comfortable. I rarely sleep zipped up in my sleeping bag, I sprawl out all over the place. It would seem that it would be easy to level the cot instead of trying to find a dead level place for the tent would make setting up camp a little easier.

And as far as a ground pad goes, that seems like the most simple of options but they all seem really narrow and thin. And since weight isn't really a concern, I doubt the ground pad is the go-to choice.

Any thoughts? What do you guys use?


RTT owner now, but with my grount tent I used a cot with a pad on the cot. Very comfortable and warmer as air under the cot is 2nd only to an air mattress sucking your warmth from you! I tried air mattresses too, but always went back to the cot.


If you want durability and comfort in a ground pad, skip any of the camping or backpacking pads and go for a whitewater rafting pad. Something like this: or this:

These pads are thick, comfortable, and they are coated in PVC which makes them really durable. On the inside, they are filled with foam so even if you get a hole you can still sleep comfortably on them. I have a nice Thermarest for backpacking, but when I am car camping or rafting I bust out the NRS pads. They do take up more space and they cost more, but they are worth every penny. Also, because they are coated in PVC and are waterproof, my wife and I slide them under our tent floor so our entire tent floor is soft. By sliding them under the tent floor (on the outside of our tent), it also prevents sharp objects from poking holes in the tent floor and it keeps our tent floor about 2" off of the ground in case of a solid rain. I would highly recommend them for use with a ground tent.

Good luck!


cot all the way, with a pad. i'll never go back to an air mattress. i have a regular width cot from cabelas. my brother has an XL. both plenty big to flop around. as you said, it's great to sit up and put on your shoes (little things), also you get all the "storage" under the cots.


I think it's tough to beat a cot with an air pad for comfort when weight isn't a concern. Personally, I now use a cot and an XXL air pad with 4" of self-inflating foam.

Here's an older picture.


Doesn't Get Out Enough
I still have a jones for the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Cot and matching Pad...

...but for the most part I just plug ye olde air mattress in at the back of the FJC and air it up. So convenient and I have the room for it.


We use cots, woke up one morning with a half deflated air mattress and that was it....cot's purchased the next week.
We also use wool blankets instead of a pad (but my wife and I both have down bags) and have no complaints on heat loss from the cot. Love having a place to sit and also to store items underneath.
With the 10x10 Kodiak there is plenty of room and I've yet to have a leveling problem.


I really dig that xxl Cot.. looking them up now.. I think they'd be the way to go.. And big enough for two IF NEED BE.. lol
Bought that XXL Teton cot last month. Pretty comfy. Use an old mattress topper that I had on top of it. Fits me and the girlfriend.

You missed out. Yesterday REI had an extra 30% off any single outlet item. They have an Alps XXL version on there for $69. Would have been $49!

Lazy Hiker

New member
I lucked out and ordered one...anxious to see ow it works. With the 30% discount, I couldn't pass it up.

Bought that XXL Teton cot last month. Pretty comfy. Use an old mattress topper that I had on top of it. Fits me and the girlfriend.

You missed out. Yesterday REI had an extra 30% off any single outlet item. They have an Alps XXL version on there for $69. Would have been $49!


Wiffleball Batter
I'd give the nod to the cot, especially with a comfort pad. I slept on a cot for ~ 6 months when I was in Haiti, I got used to it. Sleeping on the ground is very uncomfortable to me, especially as I get older. The drawback to a cot is that it's heavy and bulky compared to an air mattress but if you've got space for it, I'd vote for the cot.

Having said that, I've not tried the newer, heavier "inflatable beds" that they make. Maybe they've fixed the always-runs-out-of-air-before-morning problem. Every air mattress I've ever slept on has left me sleeping on the dirt by morning.


Ive had the same issues. In the outdoor environment, I think the temperature changes overnight have something to do with the air pressure changes inside the mattress. They seem to work better indoors. But I have a twin size airbed that would fit on a cot. Best of both worlds maybe?


Like to Camp
I am 'moving on up' to an RTT, however previously I had been using a cot and a sleeping pad. Call it getting old!

The one problem I had with cots is that they made a nice three man tent into a two man tent. Otherwise the one's I bought were fairly easy to put together and store. The pads however have been a drag to deflate. :(

If I had a JKU... I'd rob a bank to have one of these...


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