A substitute for an inflatable mattress, this Therm-A-Rest cot (camping bed) is claimed to be the lightest you can buy.
If you are heading off for a longer camping trip, with many overnights, and you have the carrying capacity to take a camp bed itâ€™s likely that it will offer you more nights of sleeping in comfort.
When compared to an inflatable mattress, especially the self-inflated versions, being raised off the ground on a good quality camp bed (or cot) is easier on the body and softer on the bones.
Yet many wild campers will overlook a camp bed because of weight. When walking or cycling with a pack every item of kit will be assessed for its weight versus benefits.
However, the Therm-A-Rest LuxuryLite UltraLite Cot is actually quiteÂ light. The company claims that this is the lightest camping cot on the market. The regular size weighs 2lbs 12oz (1.2kgs) and packs into a fairly small stuff bag. (There are two lengths so the longer version is a little heavier.)
Features of the camping bed include:
BowFrame Technology: A patented BowFrame design eliminates painful crossbars and squeaky joints.
Ultralight: Itâ€™s claimed to be the lightest cot on the market and ideal for backpackers.
Super-Packable: Compact design that fits easily into a rucksack, pannier or portage bag (for kayaking, for example).
Durable construction: The cot stands up to heavy use and has anodized aluminium poles and strong nylon feet.
Quick set up: Assembles quickly and easily in less than three minute and no tools are required.
On test: Therm-A-Rest UltraLite Cot
The first attempt at constructing a new camping gadget is always going to take longer than repeated attempts. So a set up time of 10 minutes didnâ€™t seem too bad.
Referring to the instructions it became clear that there were different poles that assemble at different points along the cot. This means that there are stronger “crossed over” poles supporting the main weight of the body. These two double strength poles affixÂ into the middle section of the camp bed.
The feet are plastic and round. They are a superb design because they do not sink into soft ground yet they are very strong and supportive.
The overall construction and design is straightforward and the subsequentÂ set-ups took only minutes.
Lying down on the cot bed is really comfortable, especially when you compare it to a self-inflated mattress. Some mattresses are nice and comfy but they do not match the support of a camping bed.
The nylon fabric feels strong and durable yet offers enough â€œgiveâ€ to support and accommodate the shape of the body. The fabric does make a kind of rasping-rustling noise when you lie down on it but after that itâ€™s fairly quiet.
I couldn’t feel the poles at all when lying on the bed and I asked my partner who is heavier than me to try the bed for comfort, too. he also found it to be supportive and comfy.
Being off the ground feels very luxurious when you are more familiar with being on a mattress at ground level.
I usually end up with sore hips when sleeping on a mattress but the camping bed didnâ€™t cause any aches or pains. It was great to be able to turn over easily and feel supported along the length of the body whatever the sleeping position.
I had worried that I might fall off the bed in the middle of the night but this didnâ€™t happen, thankfully because the width and length of the regular cot was ideal for me. I’m a slim 5ft 8in tall female. My partner is slightly taller and heavier and the cot bed was good for him as well.
Packing the cot into the bag is easy enough once you have remembered how all the bits fit back together. The resulting package is neat and fairly light.
I would think twice about carrying this on a trip that required a lot of backpack walking. I do prefer to keep my total pack weightÂ super-light and most self-inflating mattresses are lighter.
However, for shorter wild camping trips or if you are a strong person who doesnâ€™t mind carrying an extra weight, the camping cot is a great choice. I can see me using this on overnight adventures where the walk fromÂ the car to the camping spot is less than 10 miles.
The sizes and weights of the regular and long cots:
RegularÂ Therm-A-Rest LuxuryLite UltraLite Cot
Weight: 2lbs 12oz (1.2kgs)
Width: Â 61cm
LongÂ Therm-A-Rest LuxuryLite UltraLite Cot
Weight: 3lbs 2oz (1.4kgs)
Packed dimensions: Â 41cm x 13cm
See Cascade DesignsÂ and buy from stores and on-line. It RRPs at Â£185 but can be found for around Â£165. See Outdoor Gear. This is not a cheap camping item but it looks like it will serve you well on many trips â€“ and comfort is a great thing when spending many nights outdoors.