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The Helinox Cot One Is One Heck of a Lightweight Camp Cot

Show of hands: Have you ever gotten swept up in a friend’s enthusiasm for a piece of kit and gone right out and bought one yourself? My son Jackson, who is AJ’s house filmmaker, bought REI’s Kingdom 3 cot as a solution for sleeping inside his 4Runner (the cot’s tall enough to fit over his folded middle seats). When I shared Jackson’s photos with Justin, our online editor, he went out and got his own Kingdom 3. After hearing both of them rave (and rave…and rave), I drove to REI in Tustin, California, and bought my own.

A couple months later, after using it once, I returned the cot to REI. It’s amazingly comfortable and makes for a heck of a camping lounge chair or bed, but it’s too bulky for my taste. I did, however, remain cot curious, and so I’ve been testing the compact Helinox Cot One.

Bulky it is not. Heavy it is not. The Cot One collapses to the size of a lightweight camp chair and tips the scales at five pounds. Setting it up takes about two minutes: You slide collapsible aluminum tubes into side sleeves, turn it upside down, then attach the bottom supports. A handle/lever snaps into one of the side poles and tensions the cot with a satisfying thump. Breakdown is even faster.

Folds up nice and neat. You *could* take it backpacking, though they make lighter version for that. Photo: Casimiro

And what of the sleep on the Cot One? Darn good. I snoozed happily without an extra pad on it, and on a hot night I appreciated how air circulates underneath to cool you. Jackson spent two nights on it with temps in the low 50s-one night with a blanket under him, one without. Funny enough, he slept great, better, without the padding.

The Helinox stands six and a half inches above the ground and this low level certainly keeps the weight down, but I wasn’t wild about the height. Laying down on the cot was easy, but getting off was awkward. I found it better to roll onto the ground, then stand up. Helinox offers eight-inch extension legs, which I’ll order as soon as they’re back in stock.

I suspect the Helinox won’t be most campers’ first cot, not at a cost of $299. Rather, it’s for someone who knows they don’t want to sleep directly on the ground and are leveling up to a lighter, tricker model-one light enough that you could backpack with it. For that, five stars.

• Available at REI, $299

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– Steve Casimiro

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