I own a compact SUV, specifically a Jeep Renegade Trailhawk and built a diy camp kitchen for it a while back. I needed to find a solution for my sleeping quarters. Like many with smaller-sized vehicles, camping setup options are limited vs a full sized vehicle, especially when you can’t sleep inside your vehicle or it can’t properly accommodate a roof top tent. So, I set out to do some research online for a potential solution beyond a standard tent. I came across cot tents – they seemed like a potentially viable solution.
Why a Cot Tent and not a Roof Top Tent?
Nowadays it’s common place to see roof top tents on the road. I’ve seen examples of Renegades with small 1-person roof top tents mounted to their racks. However, for my personal budget they are expensive. I was hoping to find a more economical solution as I don’t want to invest a bunch of money into my Renegade Trailhawk for camping. Plus, I wouldn’t want to drive around all the time with a roof top tent – they are heavy and bulky enough to have a safety impact how the Renegade might handle in adverse driving situations and affect mileage. Not to mention, they can be cumbersome to deal with for one person to take on/off a vehicle. Some of the benefits I saw of going the tent cot route were:
- Raised sleeping platform off the ground away from creepy crawlers like a roof top tent, but not as high up (easier to get in and out of)
- Much more compact and stows away in your vehicle (no rack mounting, taking on/off vehicle, or exposure to inclement weather in transit)
- Much more affordable (approx. $150-250 vs $1,500+)
- Can leave the cot tent set up at camp if you want to leave with your vehicle vs having to pack up a roof top tent every time.
For the price, it wasn’t too difficult to make a decision and move forward purchasing a cot tent.
What Cot Tent Did I Purchase?
Through my research, it seems the predominant brand out there are Kamp-Rite Tent Cots. They come in single, single XL and double sizes. There’s also 2 styles, the standard style has a cot which folds/opens like a lawn chair. The Kamp-Rite Compact tent cots collapse more like a shade tent awning. The Kamp-Rite Compact XL Single is the version I purchased…I’m 6ft tall and it is sized right for myself. These tent cots are sold on Amazon and on their own company website.
1st Overnight Trip with the Tent Cot
Transporting the tent is easy..it packs into a rectangular bag with rollers and weighs about 25 pounds.
Setup took me about 10 minutes…I practiced before my trip which was a good thing since I arrived at night (which you can see in the accompanying video). The cot portion is standalone and expands out. It took me a few times to figure out how it properly sets. The tent itself sets up with tent poles that slip into eyelets on the cot. Around the underneath of the cot is velcro, where a flap on the tent attaches all the way around.
The tent has a rain fly and there is a mesh compartment under the cot for storing shoes off the ground, or whatever else. The doorway has a mesh screen, and there are triangular mesh window vents in the ceiling of the tent at both ends. The rain fly has flap openings to allow for some airflow with it on.
As with most tents, this tent is 3 season and I took it out in late November, into near freezing weather in a very damp environment. On the last leg of my trip I was forced to camp next to a creek due to a fallen tree on my path, in a steep valley with moisture like that of a bog. It would have been impossible to camp in this spot with a regular tent because the ground was saturated and all cobble rock.
Laying on the cot is very comfortable. However in this inhospitable weather I did get cold and some moisture inside due to being ill-equipped for the trip. What I suspected prior to going, and learned while on the trip is that this tent would be well suited to a sleeping pad with a decent insulation rating to protect from cold air passing underneath the tent. With this I believe it would be very comfortable in cold weather. This is no different than roof top tents. In addition, I might try to find a low power fan to help circulate air and minimize moisture collecting on the interior – these work well in roof top tents as well, and there’s a tie in the middle of the cot tent’s roof where you can hang one that has a light.
So, to do some real testing, I have to wait until summer when I can hit the road and properly camp in my new tent cot.
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