Ultralite Cot for Under $30




About: Just a little kid

On everyone of my camp outs, I always carry a big, heavy cot. I would sleep on a pad, but you can feel the rocks under the the tent. An self-inflating mattress seems pretty good too but in my experience, they deflate. So in my search for a reliable,portable, and lightweight cot, i found this: http://www.luxurylite.com/cotindex.html . It's the perfect cot! BUT,with all good must come evil and that evil is the price tag.I thought I going to have to break open the piggy back (again) for this :( I didn't want to break the piggy bank (again) but i REALLY want that cot so, I do what i usually do- make it myself! It's quite simple. you see, you lay on the cot and the poles underneath stretch the fabric so you stay aloft! (What a marvelous invention!) 

Some notes:
I am around 100 pounds and I am an inch off the ground. if you are over 130 pounds, you may have to buy the actually cot.
This is not for those who toss and turn at night. sorry :(
I wouldn't use on a weeklong campout right after you finish making it. I suggest you try it for nap in your living room then a camp out. If you think its ready, take it wherever you want!

I am not responsible for any injuries that happen due to this cot.

If you trust your crafting skills, then proceed and good luck! :) 

Step 1: Materials

Material needed:

Fabric that doesn't stretch and is strong. i used tarp cause it was around :P you can use rip-stop fabric or the bottom of old tents for those who recycle.

8 to 10 3/8 inch diameter tent poles. mine are 25 5/8 inch long.

2 feet of 4  inch pvc

2 seven feet collapsable tent poles. its going to be longer than bed. that is fine.

3 feet of flat, thin wooden molding. mine is 1/4 inch thick. i suggest the same if home-depot has it

sewing machine
gorilla glue

I got my 3/8 inch diameter tent poles from 2 repair kits. they come in a pack of 4 and you have to cut them in half yourself. usually the stretch cord is provided. 

Step 2: Choose the Amount of Legs

First decide if you want 6 legs or 5 legs. *I have 5 legs and I am an inch of the ground and i am 100 lbs.* The cot is lighter with 5 legs. The cot is stronger with 6 legs. 

If you choose 6 legs, get 10  3/8 inch diameter tent poles

If you choose 5 legs, get 8  3/8 inch diameter tent poles

Step 3: Cutting the Tarp

Take the tarp and cut it so it's a 25 inch by 78 inch rectangle. along the long side, fold-in 1 3/4 inches and sew it together. I used pins to hold the flap together so its much easier to sew. do the same to the other side. Sew the flaps so you have room to put the poles through. (see picture 2)

More instructions in photos.

Step 4: Making the Legs

If you choose 5 legs make 10 of these

If you choose 6 legs make 12 of these

Take the 4 inch diameter pvc tube and cut 1 1/4 inch of it off. take that 1 1/4 inch section and follow the pictures below.

the leg with 2 holes is for the twisted pole*. The leg with one hole is for the head end sections where you are not as heavy.

go to the last picture for twisted pole.

Step 5: Putting It Together

I dont have a camera that allows me to record. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTGQugYmJBA  watch that and follow the instructions.

Hope you have fun with this cot. 

any questions, stories, and ideas can go in the comments.



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    14 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Thanks for provide technique to make our own camping cot s we don't need to buy camping cot from others.


    2 years ago

    Great instructable! For anyone who, like me, doubts their ability to construct sturdy feet out of PVC pipe and wood, you can buy some (and any other parts) from luxurylite here: http://www.luxurylite.com/cotparts.html. 12 feet are $38.

    Also, another idea I had is to use the 3/8" orange reflective fiberglass rods people use in driveways instead of the 3/8" diameter tent poles. (Home Depot has them.) They come in 48" and 72", so you can make your cot wider than this one, which is limited by the length of the tent poles. I wouldn't make it wider than 30", though, because that's the widest one that luxurylite offers. And they're cheaper than the tent poles. I haven't actually tried this yet, but I know they're solid, not hollow, so probably as strong as the tent poles. And they're fiberglass, so probably a bit flexible, too.

    Now that I know I can get feet that will work, I'm very excited about making this for my Grand Canyon trek in November. Thanks again! I'll post again when I've made it, to say how my plan worked.


    3 years ago


    But I have a question before I try this.

    I am around 170 pounds. Do you think this is able to stand my weight?


    3 years ago

    I have been looking at this cot online for a while but found it out of my budget. Thank you for the post! Most excellent tutorial!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    great instructable, finally have all the ingredients...thank you!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    awesome, I was looking at these online but they are too expensive, I will try this out instead. Thank you


    5 years ago on Introduction

    This looks very cool.. but I'm about 275 lbs, so I think I'm going to mod it up a little bit and see if I can make one that will hold me up. I think I have some poles that would work for this, already, and instead of the wood molding, I've got some metal braces I think can work for this... Thanks for posting this, I didn't even know about these cots until I saw your rework here.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Can this be made wider and higher so it is close to the same height as a bed and as wide as a twin bed? We have big people in our family and If I could make it fit at least a 200 lb. person that would be great. but it needs to be wide as well as long. 24 inches isn't good enough because we toss and turn. Even the ones you buy are not wide enough

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    To increase the strength of the legs cut a larger section and increase the diameter of the PVC, because there will be more deflection (sag) on the cot. The pole strength and size are pretty much fixed, but addition legs will increase the strength of the cot over all. Good luck


    6 years ago on Introduction

    The original cot is about 3 pounds, what was the weight of your final cot?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I really like this, for the longest time I've looked for portable cots and I think this may be the answer I've been lookin for, Thanks!!!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for sharing-I've seen the design on the internet, but it was very expensive, and also hard to get (from Hungary)...anyway, great instructables!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome! This is a great Instructable. Welcome to the community :)