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Anybody use a backpacking cot?

Old 04-06-20, 05:39 PM
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Smokinapankake
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Anybody use a backpacking cot?

In place of an inflatable pad? Something lightweight, foldable/packable? A search on amazon for “backpacking cot” brings up a wide variety of choices; either made in cheapistan or otherwise. Seems like it could be a viable alternative to a bad nights sleep in a tent on an overpriced, under padded air balloon. If you have used one, please describe your experience. I’m looking to do some bike camping this summer but can’t bear the thought of another night on a thermarest “mattress”....

Thanks for any insight you can give!
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Old 04-06-20, 06:06 PM
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Get a good mattress. I'm a side sleeper too sometimes. Sea to summit, big agnes and others . 17 oz.
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Old 04-06-20, 06:17 PM
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Where are you going to pack a cot? Picture, diagram?
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Old 04-06-20, 06:35 PM
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Ummm..... it would be a lot of weight to carry ?

Only pad I’ve slept on that was super comfortable is an LL Bean Camp Futon. It weighs 5 lbs., vs say a well insulated light pad designed for backpacking and that weighs 13 oz.
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Old 04-06-20, 08:19 PM
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You'll still need insulation under you if the night temps drop. Your body compresses the loft in your sleeping bag underneath you reducing your warmth. Have you ever tried to sleep in a hammock without an underquilt or pad?

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Old 04-06-20, 08:37 PM
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I have a military folding cot, couldn't tell you which one, works great for the kids and suspect you really need to be as skinny as a soldier to fit it. My air mattress is a full size so the wife and I can share, I just get to carry it, that inflates to nearly 4" thick, has an r5 rating and can be made too firm. It uses a bladder system that works quite well and lets me inflate it in about 5-6 minutes with no real effort on my part. Maybe find a better mattress?
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Old 04-07-20, 03:21 AM
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Originally Posted by mtnbud View Post
You'll still need insulation under you if the night temps drop. Your body compresses the loft in your sleeping bag underneath you reducing your warmth. Have you ever tried to sleep in a hammock without an underquilt or pad?

This was my concern as well. Never tried a hammock, but have used a few different pads; i.e., thermarest and an off brand Chinese knock off. Both worked as intended, but being a side sleeper neither was great. As I age I find I’m less tolerant of an inferior nights sleep. Don’t know how to make a link, but some of the cots (Helinox, Thermarest, alps) look pretty sweet and are advertised as being fairly lightweight— 2-3 lbs. I’m not super concerned with the weight as I’m only planning on doing mostly overnighters or maybe 3 nights at a time. They appear to pack down to a size similar to my older thermarest pad.... Maybe I’ll spring for a cheap Chinese knock off and just see how it goes.
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Old 04-07-20, 06:41 AM
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I haven't used them but was on a trip where they were used and in that scenario, generally worked well for individuals.
The scenario was on a 2013 supported ride across Africa (TDA). It was a supported ride, so people didn't carry that gear - but were limited to a fixed "locker" space. The cots they used folded pretty nicely and small for this space. The lowest temperatures we had in the entire four month trip was 4C/39F on morning in the Ethiopian highlands so warmth was not a big issue.

I used a thermarest. The problem I had, as did most of fellow thermarest users was that we went through areas with a *lot* of thorns. We pitched our tents in a general common area and even when one tried to be extra careful, with ~100 nights on the ground it was pretty easy to end up with a small puncture. I brought a patch kit and patched at least two holes in my first mattress and later bought a different thermarest from someone only on part of the trip. However, still had some nights ending up finding a deflated mattress.

So for that trip at least, and for those scenarios, I would recommend a lightweight, small foldable cot.
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Old 04-07-20, 07:52 AM
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I think you need to distinguish between the self inflating air pads that have a foam inside and are usually pretty thin and the air mattresses that roll up to much smaller volume, but are not self inflating. Thermarest makes both, refering to a brand name can be ambiguous.

I used to be sold on Thermarest self inflating pads since the 90s, but when I did the Pacific Coast in 2014, I bought an air mattress for that trip because it was smaller in volume when packed. It weighed a hair more than the self inflating pad, but the volume in a pannier was more important to me.

And, I am now sold on air mattresses. I have bought several, I got all of them at REI scratch and dent sales for less than half of new price, one pad had so many holes that I eventually gave up trying to patch it. But the others I bought it was pretty easy to find a hole and patch it.

My favorite air mattress is a tall sized REI Flash, an older design that they no longer sell. (They have a new design under the same name now, I have not looked at it so I have no comment.) Thick enough that I am not touching the ground when lying on it and the tubes on each side are slightly bigger which helps keep me centered on the mattress. It also had very large valve for emptying the air out of it, the air mattresses with smaller valves can take a couple more minutes to get all the air out. For one or two nights, you do not notice that but after a month those extra minutes add up and you start to notice them.

I also have an ultra light Neo Air air mattress that I use for backpacking, but I prefer the Flash for biking where weight is less critical. The Neo Air lacks the thicker sides so it is easier for me to go off the side of the air mattress.

I do not recall what i used for glue, but this patch that I applied at home soon after I bought the air mattress started to come off half way through a month long trip. But fortunately, the glue still maintained the seal on the hole even though the patch itself was falling off.



On a five week trip, I learned that my inner tube patches worked well. This is one of those patches that has adhesive already applied, not one that used a tube of glue.


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Old 04-07-20, 08:39 AM
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A suspended (frame underneath a platform) cot is probably not a good idea as others have said - space and weight. If you won't want to sleep on the ground then get a hammock.

The only time I would consider a cot is if I was "car camping" or if I was going to stay put for several days up to extended trips (without packing up and moving camp). For biking or backpacking - no way.

I switched to a hammock several years ago and have tried to not look back much. However, I left it at my cabins when I left last summer so I am constrained to my tents this season until I can get it back. Thats OK for now - gives me a reason to use old gear. However, I much prefer swinging in the trees even down to winter temps.
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Old 04-07-20, 08:53 AM
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I've had good luck with my neoair xlite inflatable and find it exceedingly comfortable, very light, and reliable. If you really have issues with thorns consider putting a light foam pad under your inflatable, maybe a ridgerest. I suspect the combination would still be lighter and less bulky than a cot, especially after you add some insulation.
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Old 04-07-20, 09:09 AM
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For those that don't know the OP is talking about lightweight cots... not an old army folding cot. Basically thin nylon held up by some plastic legs and aluminum tent pole sections.



I used a friends one time and found them to be comfortable, but you do need at least a foam pad on them to insulate you from the air moving under you. And I would think the poles are generally to long to find an easy place to carry them on a bike

::Edit:: looks like the thermarest's cot poles do come apart

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Old 04-07-20, 09:56 AM
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Save it for the tropics or very warm summer nights.
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Old 04-07-20, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Twang -O- Doom View Post
For those that don't know the OP is talking about lightweight cots... not an old army folding cot. Basically thin nylon held up by some plastic legs and aluminum tent pole sections....
Thanks for posting, I was unaware of those. But I still am quite content with an air mattress. I find that a day of exertion makes it very easy to sleep.
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Old 04-07-20, 10:48 AM
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There's a Chinese knockoff on Amazon right now for $35. It weighs under 3lbs and has decent reviews. If you have the money to spend, it might be a cheap way to try it out. $35 isn't much, you could always upgrade later if you like it.

I've gone the hammock route. I have been very happy using my hammock. You need something to set it up on, but it's not too hard finding trees in Oregon. I always wake up supper rested - no back issues or soreness ever. I really like not having to crawl out of a sleeping from the ground.
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Old 04-07-20, 10:52 AM
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I think the Thermarest ones are at least 2 pounds 10 ounces and $150 if you shop for a bargain for the regular, more for the large . There are other brands. Most are heavier, some a lot heavier. Some are cheaper, generally the heavy ones. Some are more expensive AND heavier. Looking at them they generally don't look too tempting to me, but I have not tried them. I am not likely to since none meet my standards for a light load.
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Old 04-07-20, 11:23 AM
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Not I. However, I do have a little camp chair that I enjoy as an alternative to sitting on the ground. It weighs around 2 lb. I had the cotton canvas sling replaced with synthetic, not much weight savings but it doesn't soak up water. Also replaced the cotton stuff sack with a synthetic.That did save weight, and, again, no soakage. I carry an ensolite pad and Sea to Summit inflatable mattress. The ensoloite helps save the tent floor, and the mattress is very cushy. It inflates with <10 deep breaths, weighs dry little and packs up about the size of a beer can. Ensolite can also pad a wet bench at a campsite.
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Old 04-07-20, 12:09 PM
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My tents are small enough that if I was up several inches higher, it would not work well. Some of my tents I have just barely enough room to sit up with my bum on my pad or air mattress. If sitting a few inches higher on a cot would negate that, that would be a deal killer for me.

My Neo-Air is 375 grams, my REI flash airmattress is 505 grams.
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Old 04-07-20, 12:36 PM
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Several years ago I researched and bought a Luxury Lite/ now Thermarest Cot. The assembly was easy. Compact when stored. Although I was within the weight limits by a large margin I had support poles bend and nylon feet separate from the support poles when i moved around while asleep. There was also a considerable noise factor when moving. I returned it to REI after the disappointing experiment. Maybe this will work for lighter non-clydesdale cyclists and backpackers but not for me.
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Old 04-07-20, 05:52 PM
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I often wonder if people actually use something like this.


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Old 04-07-20, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
I often wonder if people actually use something like this.


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Looks like a pop-up framed tent version of a Paul Elkins contraption. I like it.

Do you have a link to where you found it? EDIT: NM - I found it. Kamp-Rite Midget Bushtrekka. Looks like it was discontinued. According to reviews on Amazon and some other article reviews - the design was flawed. There are a lot of reports of wheel bushing failures.

I am not sure how many would consider using one of those. It all depends on how the individual views "practicality". I can see where most would absolutely not consider that "practical". However - if that is convenient, quick, and easy to set up and take down - faster than a traditional pole style dome, or otherwise, tent with the same level of protection - I can see where it would have a significant benefit. As to what pulling that trailer would do do rolling resistance and wind resistance - that might be the trade-off. It would be interesting to see, though.

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Old 04-07-20, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO View Post
Looks like a pop-up framed tent version of a Paul Elkins contraption. I like it.

Do you have a link to where you found it? EDIT: NM - I found it. Kamp-Rite Midget Bushtrekka. Looks like it was discontinued. According to reviews on Amazon and some other article reviews - the design was flawed. There are a lot of reports of wheel bushing failures.

I am not sure how many would consider using one of those. It all depends on how the individual views "practicality". I can see where most would absolutely not consider that "practical". However - if that is convenient, quick, and easy to set up and take down - faster than a traditional pole style dome, or otherwise, tent with the same level of protection - I can see where it would have a significant benefit. As to what pulling that trailer would do do rolling resistance and wind resistance - that might be the trade-off. It would be interesting to see, though.

Apparently there was a problem with the bushings.

https://gearinstitute.com/gear-spott...mping-trailer/
"So what went wrong?

Unable to reach the manufacturer, we looked at personal experiences of people who purchased the Bushtrekka. The stories are all the same: one specific part failed each time, and that’s a shame because every site that still has remnants of the product on its website boasts a “100% guarantee against faulty materials.” It appears there was a “mission critical” part failure in the bushings that hold the axles for the wheel assemblies; i.e. they fell apart.

Those who purchased it even describe their positive experiences and hope for a fix! Someone even demonstrated on YouTube in two shorts videos where these bushings fail, hoping someone at the manufacturer’s would see and fix. And yet, a reviewer named drfoss appears to have fixed the problem and even offers his email to ask questions about how to replicate the fix on your own unit. His final words: “Trailer pulls like a dream.” What’s more is that going through the comments, we discovered another successful dweller who said “I lived in this for a year in Elkhart, IN, 40 below sleeping bag and zip up the rain liner and warm as toast.[sic]”

So, the Bushtrekka proved that it is possible to create a portable towed shelter fit for taking the trails with a bike. Too bad the units had one design flaw that, according to one person, was an easy fix. Yet, the discontinuation of this product continues to mystify those looking for a versatile solution to crossing large stretches of wild America, but desire more than uneven ground and the volume that just a couple of saddlebags can fit."

https://www.extrahyperactive.com/201...te-midget.html

Here's the tent without the trailer.


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Old 04-07-20, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Twang -O- Doom View Post
For those that don't know the OP is talking about lightweight cots... not an old army folding cot. Basically thin nylon held up by some plastic legs and aluminum tent pole sections.



I used a friends one time and found them to be comfortable, but you do need at least a foam pad on them to insulate you from the air moving under you. And I would think the poles are generally to long to find an easy place to carry them on a bike

::Edit:: looks like the thermarest's cot poles do come apart

Yes, something like this is what I was talking about. My other concern is how high it lifts you off the ground. Using a small backpackers 2 man tent, you could end up with your face against the tent walls. Noise is a concern, but then noise is also likely on an air mattress, less so on a self inflating pad, of which I have a few (not thermarest brand but very similar).

Appreciate the input all, keep it coming. As far as hammocking, probably not going to happen in the near future. I’m too much of a side sleeper to be comfy (I have no experience with a hammock, just looks like your spine would be crooked after trying to spend a night in one sleeping on your side. Are they hard to move around in? I flop like a fish at night...)
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Old 04-07-20, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Smokinapankake View Post
As far as hammocking, probably not going to happen in the near future. I’m too much of a side sleeper to be comfy (I have no experience with a hammock, just looks like your spine would be crooked after trying to spend a night in one sleeping on your side. Are they hard to move around in? I flop like a fish at night...)
My hammock is a Warbonnet Blackbird. At the time I got it the design was routinely equated to the caillac of hammocks. From a function perspective - the hammock has a full integrated bug net, ridge line, gear shelf, and one of the most helpful design features (I think) is a foot box. This allows you to lay at an angle with respect to the strung line of the hammock (in-line with your supports). It allows for a flatter lay.

The above having been said, I have never slept as good while camping as I have in the hammock - even at 5deg F. I sleep between both sides and back and I move around regularly. Yes, moving in a hammock takes some getting used to. It is not the same as firm ground. I think the biggest thing here is letting your mind soak up the idea of the hammock. If you are apprehensive about it and claustraphobia sets in you will never be happy with one no matter what you do. On the other hand, if you are open to the idea and find just how comfortable they are and are open to making do with the nuances that you might find - I think you will quickly find them a significant improvement over a tent.

I have strung my hammock in some pretty unique places - hill sides, over rocks, over down trees, over bushes, and even hanging over a stream embankment. As long as you have sturdy trees or other supports spaced appropriately apart there is no concern with where you set up. The only adjustments I've had to make are in the suspension lines. With obstacles underneath sometimes I end up stringing the hammock up higher than would be ideal (ideal being where I can sit on the edge with my feet on the ground like in a chair - higher would be where my feet don't touch the ground or where without being in it the hammock is really high then sags under load).

Two last comments about hammocking:
1. Underquilts are almost a necessity. You put the insulation UNDER the hammock (outside), not under YOU (inside). You need some kind of bottom insulation - even when it is warm out. I have a HammockGear underquilt rated to 20deg plus the most over-stuffing they offer. It is a down underquilt. It is expensive, however after a few other ideas I tried the investment, for me, was well worth it. Again, I camp in it even in the dead of winter so being able to be comfortable not just in summer time was important - and something that was light. You can get warmer temp rated underuilts for less $ and less weight.

2. In regards to the bug netting - in past years I would set up my hammock to take a nap in on day trips. Just because there is bug netting doesn't mean the bugs can't get you. Mosquitoes, for example, can poke right through the bottom you are laying on and still get you. So keep this in mind and add another layer of something if you intend to lay in your hammock without a sleeping bag etc.
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Old 04-08-20, 06:40 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
I often wonder if people actually use something like this.


Cheers
The thing weighed 65 lbs. empty. You would be better of with a B.O.B. for your gear, including a large tent.
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