Thermarest Ultralight Cot 

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Thermarest Ultralight Cot 

I remember the days when I could fall asleep for hours on the living room floor or pack nothing more than a half-inch roll-up pad on a backpacking trip and sleep like a baby. However, for the past several years, and especially with my age beginning with a 4, if I try to sleep like that, I can hardly walk the next day. Due to this, I am constantly on the lookout for a better sleep system for my backpack hunts. I had never really considered anything different until I came across an ad in a backpacking magazine for a lightweight cot for backpacking. A lightbulb came on above this dense head of mine. Could this really be a thing? 

So, last spring, after some research, I ordered a ThermaRest Ultra Light Cot to try out on some backpacking trips. Being taller and bigger than many guys, I ordered the large version. When I first received the cot, I couldn’t believe how small and packable it was. it was not much bigger than a Nalgene bottle. Pulling it out of the package, I was convinced this thing would blow to pieces the first time I laid on it. The fabric of the cot is ultra-light ripstop polyester that is paper-thin. Once you get looking at it though, you see that the tight patterning of the fabric is designed to be as strong as possible, and it really does hold up to having a big person lay on it. The legs of the cot are made from nylon material and the cross poles are anodized aluminum. 

Setup and Takedown 

Setting up the cot the first time was harder than it needed to be for me because, in true guy fashion, I didn’t follow the instructions. Once I did read the instructions though, it went together very easily. Takedown and stowing this cot in its bag is also quite easy, which is nice, as we all know that isn’t always the case with backpacking gear. 


Ok, now for the part everyone wants to know. Yes, this cot is very comfortable. Being only 4.5” off the ground, some spots on my body were nearly touching the ground with full weight on the cot, but it didn’t matter. What matters is that the cot cradles your body and pressure points are evenly distributed unlike when sleeping on the hard ground. In the beginning, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to carry both the cot and a sleeping pad, so I tried sleeping both with and without my sleeping pad. Both ways were fairly comfortable, but I prefer with my pad, although I may get a thinner pad for when I am using the cot. Yes, carrying both cot and pad adds a little weight, but I have shaved enough weight off of my gear over the years that I feel a little extra weight for sleeping comfort is worth it. 


I have only spent a couple of nights on the cot, but haven’t had any issues with durability. I am, however, careful and don’t treat it like a trampoline. I make sure to put weight over one of the legs of the cot when getting on and off. I really think if you are careful, you can get a lot of use out of this cot. 

Final Thoughts 

So far, I am very impressed with the Thermarest Ultra light cot. Sleeping is much more comfortable than nights I used to spend on the hard ground with just a sleeping pad. Lack of sleep from being uncomfortable is one of the things that wears on me on extended backpack trips, and I believe the cot will help in this department. The most telling sign is that I do believe that there will permanently be a spot in my backpacking setup for a cot from now on. 

Cot Specs: 

Size: Regular/Large 
Packed Weight: 2 lb 10 oz/2 lb 15 oz
Width: 24”/ 26” 
Length: 72”/77” 
Height off ground: 4.5” 
Packed dimensions: 16”x4” 
Max Load: 325 lb 
Cost: $220-240 
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Zach Bowhay

A widely published western big game writer and successful western big game hunter, Zach has taken multiple species in nearly every Rocky Mountain state. Zach is an expert elk caller and is highly regarded in the Western Hunting community for both his calling and abilities to successfully hunt elk on public land. He is an accomplished deer hunter as well, and enjoys hunting with both a rifle and archery equipment. He is exceptionally knowledgeable about gear and enjoys sharing his expertise to help others succeed.

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