Camp Beds – Sleeping Beauty or the Princess and the Pea? – Part 1: Getting off of the Ground – Purchased Solutions

Trail Camp


When I was considerably younger I thought nothing of spending my weekend camping, eating food from cans and sleeping on an air mattress on rocky ground. Now that I have a few more years under my belt, the prospect of crawling up off of an air mattress in the morning, or even worse, for a 2 o’clock potty run, is not a pleasant one. In addition to this basic issue of comfort, I now often camp for a week or more at a time. Things that were tolerable for two nights, just won’t cut it for a ten day campout. So how can we fix this issue? Simple – sleep in a bed.


The “bed” solution breaks down into two basic categories – something you buy or something you make, with an interesting range in between. It also involves two parts, the thing that holds you up off the ground and a soft thing to lay on.


I have seen some amazing bed solutions over the years, some of which were excellent, and some of which are waaay more than I am interested in dealing with. Hopefully I can give you some ideas that will solve your sleep comfort issues. You need to look objectively at what you are capable of transporting and carrying. Do you have a truck, or a sedan, or a bad back? What is your budget? Some cots and frames can cost hundreds of dollars, and some less than $70. Do you own something that you can repurpose? Think about it…


I know folks who truck an entire futon frame, complete with queen sized futon to events. While this may sound outrageous, some of the modern metal framed futon sofas are not that heavy, but they can take up a LOT of packing room unless you want to take them apart.


One of my friends actually uses a lightweight version of one of those fold-in-half rollaway beds, like they have at hotels. He makes up the bed, complete with sheets, blankets and pillow, closes it, and puts it in the back of his pickup truck. When he arrives, all he has to do is set up his tent, put his bed inside, and he is ready to go to bed. This is a particularly practical approach if you are prone to coming in late at night  – going to bed is quick and easy.


The camp cot is another solution. It has the advantage of getting you off of the ground, and is usually quite light. Camp cots come in all ranges of complexity, from super light-

camp at the beach

camp at the beach (Photo credit: muhawi001)


weight back pack versions to ridgid frame “base-camp” versions. My personal interest is in the “base camp” comfort versions (seen along both walls of this “garage tent”).


Cots come in several basic sizes – single, full, and queen are fairly common. You also need to consider weight limits. Cots have recommended weight limits and exceeding those limits can sometimes result in a sudden crash landing. I recommend spending some time on sites like  Some of the best prices that I found were actually at Target. Read the fine print and the reviews, and then if possible go look at one in person before you buy.


Next time: Camp Beds – Sleeping Beauty or the Princess and the Pea? – Part 2:  – Something Soft to Sleep On – Purchased Solutions


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