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Sleeping Pad vs Air Mattress vs Cot

sleeping pad vs air mattress vs cot

Spending time outdoors will bring a unique experience, especially if you do it for a few days. However, the challenge in doing this activity is making yourself or others comfortable at night, particularly in resting or sleeping.

You can use three choices for sleeping outside: a sleeping pad, air mattress, and cot. But what are the differences between the three? This article will compare and feature the difference between a sleeping pad vs air mattress vs cot and what it brings to every user.

Features Sleeping Pad Air Mattress Cot
Weight Lightest Heavier Heaviest
Transport Easy Difficult Difficult
Comfortability Least Comfortable Most Comfortable Comfortable
Insulation Best Insulation Poor Insulation Average Insulation
Durability Average Worst Best


If you want to compare a sleeping pad, air mattress, and cot, the primary feature that you need to look at is the weight. The reason behind it is that the weight will directly affect how you transport this camping essential to your destination.

The general average of a camp cot is around 14.7 lbs. For an oversized camp cot, the weighted average is about 27 lbs. However, there are also smaller size camp cots that can weigh as low as 2.8 lbs up to 47 lbs for the large size.

On the other hand, the average mattress weighs around 10 lbs. The smaller twin air mattresses weigh approximately 8.5 pounds, while a full-size air mattress has an average weight of about 10.5 lbs. The bigger queen-sized air mattress weighs an average of about 12.8 lbs.

Meanwhile, sleeping pads come in various weights depending on the size and thickness. But, it’s generally light compared to the other two. The lightest sleeping pad weighs a pound, while the heaviest weighs around 15 lbs.

With all the average weight of each camping accessory shown above, I can say that sleeping pads are the best option if you are not comfortable carrying heavier loads. Meaning, use sleeping pads if you want light and compact.

Ease of Transport and Storage

Another factor that can be used to compare sleeping pads, air mattresses, and cots is the ease of transport and storage among these three camping accessories. It may not be a problem for campers with cars, but for those who are backpacking, this factor is extremely important.

With its size, the sleeping pad is arguably the easiest to transport between the three. As we all know, it is also the lightest, which makes it easy for anyone to carry or bring it to the destination. Comparing a sleeping pad vs air mattress when it comes to ease of transport, the air mattress is bigger, which makes it more difficult to transport. The pump and the repair kit will also take up additional space during the transport and storage.

The cot is the bulkiest option among the three, making it difficult to transport. It is also the heaviest and will take a lot of storage space. So, the preferred choice for backpackers is the sleeping pad as it is very light and does not take a lot of space.


cot vs sleeping pad

Another essential factor that can differentiate between the three is the amount of comfort it gives to the camper. After all, a nice sleep is necessary for any camper after spending the day doing all the activities and adventures.

They always say that an air mattress is as comfortable as a regular bed. This statement is also true in a camping environment. The air mattress comes in different sizes and will allow you to adjust the firmness by adjusting the air inside, making you more comfortable once you use it. This feature will provide comfort to side sleepers because it reduces back pain with the added cushion.

However, the only downside with the air mattress is when it deflates accidentally. It can also lose temperature overnight, even without holes or punctures, which can cause some problems in the back. Nonetheless, the air mattress is still the best option for comfortability.

When comparing cot vs sleeping pad for comfort, the cot provides a unique comfort to the user when it comes to the benefits it brings to the user. It will give you the chance to elevate to the ground and sit up like a bed. When you try to get up, it will put less strain on your muscles and back.

You will also be safer and will not experience unwanted creatures crawling on your skin because you are elevated. The only issue with a cot is it may not be as comfortable as the air mattress with its rigid surface, which can cause a sore shoulder once you wake up. But, this issue is just minor in general.

On the other hand, the sleeping pad is the least comfortable of the three choices. The comfort will depend on the thickness of the pads, which will provide the cushioning you need on the ground. The thinner the sleeping pad, the less comfortable it is for the user.

Insulation Properties

cot camping

Insulation may not ring a bell to anyone, but for campers; it is an essential factor for campers when they are sleeping at night. During sleep, you just want the right amount of warmth when sleeping which means proper insulation is necessary to achieve it.

As far as insulation is concerned, the sleeping pad has the best insulation among the three options. This insulation property does not change regardless of the weather. Whether it’s summer or winter, the insulation properties are still the same.

On the other hand, the cot also has nice insulation properties during summer. It will provide an excellent airflow that will keep you cool throughout the night. However, a cot is cold during the winter because it does not give any other insulation beyond the elevation from the ground.

Lastly, air mattresses have the poorest insulation properties among the three. For one, it is closer to the ground and is filled with air which makes it a poor insulator.

Durability and Sturdiness

Durability and sturdiness can also be used to differentiate between the three camping accessories. But the most durable and sturdy is the cot will the materials being used in the construction.

Cots are built with aluminum frames and rugged fabrics, making them durable compared to the others. Other cots are constructed with steel frames that provide extra durability and sturdiness.

Sleeping pads are durable but are not comparable to the cots. But they are made with natural elements and rugged surfaces. The worst option when it comes to durability is air mattresses because they tend to get punctured or leak.


Comparing a sleeping pad vs air mattress vs cot is essential for selecting the best accessory for your camping needs. Each of these camping essentials has unique advantages and disadvantages, which means it all depends on the user and his preferred choice to bring during the camping activity.

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