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Cot or bedroll?


Q. On camp-outs I see some boys with cots and others with bedrolls. Which should I use?
— Elijah the Bed-less, Comstock, Texas

A. Personally, I prefer a bedroll. Cots are definitely comfy and keep you off the ground, which in theory should make you warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. But here are some of the downsides of a cot: They can be bulky, take more time to set up, can malfunction or break (leaving you with no bed), and are way more expensive than a basic bedroll. And if you plan on doing some backpacking, it makes sense for you to start getting used to sleeping on the ground in your tent.

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32 Comments on Cot or bedroll?

  1. Venturing for Life // July 12, 2018 at 10:04 am // Reply

    As long as I don’t have to pack it, a cot with a pad on top is more comfortable than my king size at home! But for backpacking, a lightweight chambered air pad is the only way to snooze!

  2. Both. Bedroll for winter camping and a cot only for summer camp. If I had to choose one – bedroll.

  3. Pack 7 Den Leader // December 19, 2016 at 6:37 pm // Reply

    I wonder why the article didn’t mention hammock? Most people think you need 2 trees to set up a hammock, but I’ve seen one “inventive” Scout who made 2 A-frames from sturdy 4′ branches that were 1.5″ in diameter. He had them spaced about 7′ apart, anchored the opposing sides with a guide line and strung his hammock between the 2 A-frames.

  4. Cot! Even with a ground cloth under the best sealed tent, if you get a lot of rain, over several days, you will get damp. And you don’t have to worry about sleeping on that tree root that you couldn’t avoid when you were setting up the tent. Or a leaky air mattress. Plus I find it to be more comfortable. Unless it below freezing, then you don’t want the cold air under the cot.

  5. Depends on the situation. For summer camp, I would suggest a cot. Better yet, I used my hammock this year and LOVED it – the hammock has a built in bug net. Secure up the rain fly and you’re good to go.

    For weekend campouts, I would suggest a bed roll. More versatile than a cot. Bedrolls weigh less and can fit in a backpack.

  6. ScouterMomSETEX // July 22, 2016 at 11:51 am // Reply

    I have recently discovered the joy and comfort of the hammock so that is my new preference. Up to this time I used a bedroll. My husband only uses a cot at summer camp and he is now after me to get him a hammock along with our son.

  7. We discourage the use of cots because of the wear and tear on tent floors. Your body weight is distributed evenly when using a bedroll.

  8. hammock

  9. For summer camp, especially here in the south, a cot is a must. the cot helps keep you cooler and away from insects. for all other camping, use a bedroll.

  10. If you are getting one or the other. – bed roll. – Less money and more versatile
    For a scout new to the program. – bed roll. – less money, less space, warmer on cold nights

    For older adult leaders – both if you can afford it. – both have great uses.


  12. Although bed rolls do have a place, especially on short term or hiking camps, I prefer to use my old military style wood frame cot. It dates back to 1944, really it’s stamped on the side, and it hold up to about anything. While it may be a bit heavy it is dependable and comfy with my sleeping bag on it. You can find them on eBay too for half what the new ones cost.

  13. Scoutmaster! // May 2, 2016 at 10:34 am // Reply

    Hammock! beats them both!
    But if I had to make a choice, cot for long term, bedroll for hikes and short term.

  14. Bigbites // May 2, 2016 at 9:23 am // Reply


  15. A cot is very squeaky. Unless you or your mate is ready to wake up every moment and oil it, use a bedroll. Plus, a bedroll is easier to pack and put away.

  16. camping from the trailer; cot with bed roll on it. otherwise, bed roll.

  17. Cot= warm weather/ base camp.
    Bedroll= warm and cold weather/ base camp and backpacking.
    WINNER= Bedroll, more versatile and almost certainly more easy on your wallet!

  18. I would use cott because it wil keep you off the ground in the winter

  19. If you are cold weather camping, a closed-cell foam bed roll is the ONLY way to go. A cot will allow cold air to circulate under you all night. The ground temperature will be warmer than the air for most nights.

  20. Being a backpacker, I always use a pad on the ground with my bag on top. Realizing that air cannot get under the pad to chill you if the weather turns colder. This way you stay warm and the ground and pad are much more stable than the cot.

  21. Getting to be an old guy, I will use a cot if we are tailgate camping or at a council summer camp. If we are hiking in to some location, definitely a bedroll. The boys, being lighter weight, should use a cot only at summer camp. Noisy cot? Get a different one, my Roll-a-cot is quiet, comfy, and light weight.

  22. Bedroll I would go with bed roll they are cheaper and simple. The simpler the better.

  23. Awesomeness // August 27, 2011 at 2:59 pm // Reply

    I use an air mattress with a sleeping bag, so that is what I would suggest.

  24. bedroll

  25. bryce patties // August 2, 2011 at 6:58 pm // Reply

    depends on the length of camping trip. when i went long term camping (week long) i took a cot. It is definitely worth it. a weekend or backpacking trip, i would suggest a bedroll. it also depends on how you are getting to your campsite. it’s just a balance of how much comfort you want, and what you can and/or want to carry.

  26. i would go with cot it is softer and feels like a bed

  27. Bed rolls because cots break. Cots are very bulky while you can take bedrolls almost

  28. bedroll its easy to pack and unpack

  29. boyscout21 // July 27, 2011 at 7:00 pm // Reply

    i would use a bedroll or a one preson air mattress

  30. basketball hero // July 26, 2011 at 2:52 pm // Reply


  31. future marine // July 25, 2011 at 6:39 pm // Reply

    I would like to know the answer too. My dad says the cot is noisy. Anyone else have an opinion?

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