You'll find a selection of folding camping cots in the camping section of many hardware stores.
These come in a variety of styles, ranging from simple metal frames covered with fabric to real little beds with springs and mattresses.
Depending on your family's needs, a camp cot may be for you.
People who must sleep in a tent for months at a time often choose a cot for this reason.
If your children need to be "in bed" to go to sleep, a folding camping cot may be a good option.
Some new campers especially like this feature.
If you are worried about bugs and critters in the tent, you may appreciate being above the ground.
Of course, if you are careful about always keeping your tent well zipped, there shouldn't be any critters in your tent at all!
Some tent cots are high enough off the ground that you can store gear under them.
It's handy to have an extra bed for visitors!
In general, the more comfortable they are, the heavier they are.
Aluminum cots are the lightest option - but even they weigh about 8 pounds/3.6 kg each.
This luxurious camping cot weighs 46 pounds - but in the words of at least one reviewer, "It's worth it!" It does have a carrying case with wheels so that you can move it around easily.
On a family camping trip, space for packing is generally at a premium.
A family set of camping cots will take up a lot of room in the trunk of the car!
You'll need a bigger tent than you would if you used sleeping pads.
You'll probably want a cabin style tent with straight walls, rather than a dome camping tent with sloping walls.
Before you can use a camping cot, you have to set it up. Some cots require more work than others.
If you are staying in one place for a number of nights, doing the work to set up a camp cot makes sense.
If your camping trip will be short - or if you will be moving from campground to campground - choose a cot that sets up easily. A folding cot is a good choice.
This might be hard to believe, but on a cool night, you won't be as warm on an uninsulated cot as you would be on a sleeping pad.
You can solve this problem by putting a closed cell foam sleeping pad on top of the cot.
If you decide to get a camping cot, be sure to get one made with polyester or nylon fabric - not cotton.
Polyester is easily cleaned with a damp cloth and will dry quickly. Cotton is harder to clean and takes a long time to dry.
This cot has a polyester cover and stainless steel legs. It packs small and gets good reviews for comfort.
Some cots are like actual beds, with spring systems and mattresses. This type of cot is most suitable for use at home. If you are considering one of these for camping, check the material used in the mattress. Avoid cotton, even in a polyester-cotton blend. If the mattress gets wet, it will take a long time to dry.
Will the cot fit comfortably in your tent?
If you want to store gear under your cot, look for a cot that is at least 15 inches/38 cm high when set up.
This handy folding cot keeps Fido or Fluffy off the ground. It's especially good for older pets - both at home and at camp.
If it's important to you to be off the ground, and if you have room in your vehicle and in your tent, a folding camping cot might be right for you.
Now that you know about folding camping cots, click here to read about the other sleeping pad choices for camping.
Have you visited The Camping Family home page? You'll find lots of ideas to help you plan your next camping trip.