Category Archives: Product Reviews and Gear

Kamp-rite Tent Cot Product Review, Is It As Good As It Looks?

I’ve spent a vast majority of my life, from the time I was a teenager, working or playing outside. While that kept me in nature from time to time, it also had an adverse effect on my camping experience. I was always too busy to stop and set up a campsite and enjoy the time there or I had been outside in the elements enough for work or recreation that I wanted a shower, bed, and thermostat to control. Now as I enter my 40’s, I’m learning that not every hill and obstacle has to be climbed on a trip out in my Jeep and that not every trail has to be finished on schedule if I hike into the forest for a couple of days. Armed with that little bit of reassurance, I’m finally able to camp some and enjoy the time spent setting up and staying at camp instead of treating it like a necessary challenge of taking part in a trip that doesn’t have a motel stop scheduled.

The fact that I’ve made peace with camping by no means should indicate that I intend to be uncomfortable by choice! The outdoor industry has exploded in the last 20 plus years and become almost overwhelming, but there are some winners out there that I want to share with everyone when I find them. If you’d like to read more about some things I’ve found to make time outdoors, whether its for recreation or survival, safer and more comfortable, click Here.

What Is A Kamp-Rite Tent Cot?

Well, with a name like “Tent Cot,” it’s pretty obvious what the basic premise is and it takes very little imagination to see what Kamp-Rite wanted to create. The general layout of the system is a tri-fold cot that has a small, one person tent sewn to it. As we unfold the cot base, the tent springs up automatically and a couple of tension rods are inserted across the top to keep the roof line tout. Though I have never set mine up as such, it also has notches in the hinges to set the cot up as a lounge chair as well.

The Benefits Of The Tent Cot Design

Camp setup in Coppinger Cove, Sequatchie, TN

A good night’s rest is not a trivial thing for mankind, in general. If the goal is to simply set up camp and stay there for the duration, we can afford a little more tossing and turning at night, but for camping as part of hunting, hiking, off-roading, exploring, and especially survival ventures, exhaustion is a severe detriment to our wellbeing. While the market is ripe with great options to sleep well at camp, the tent cot has a few features that make it one of my top choices:

The Cot Itself: The simplicity of a folding cot makes it easy to set ourselves up for a decent night’s rest. It may not be the pillow top tempurpedic mattress we have at home, but its still a bed with some support as well as cushion. The material and design of the tent cot does a great job at keeping the body up off the frame of the cot and keeps it from feeling like a night on a cheap pull out sofa bed. The next thing that any cot offers is some elevation above the ground. many of the new tents I see in most price ranges are offering a bathtub bottom of some sort that is much more waterproof than the rest of the material. That’s a huge plus on keeping ground moisture out of the tent, however it means any water that makes it inside due to condensation, rain, or wet clothing or gear stays inside the tent. I cannot think of a single time I have camped in the southeast with a tent that I didn’t manage to roll around and find at least a small puddle collected in the tent bottom. Being elevated a foot or so up keeps us from fighting that war all the time. A word of caution about cots as well as hammocks: In cold weather, make sure to insulate yourself from the bottom as well. Bridges on the highway freeze first because the cold air can reach the top and underside. Cots and hammocks allow the elements the same access.

The Tent Covering: The covering portion of the Tent Cot is very similar to tent material most of us are already used to. with zip in bug screens and solid panels to close off both sides and each end, the design allows pretty good ventilation if needed, as well as an option to close up the sides for warmth or privacy. If the weather is threatening showers, the kit comes with a rain fly that snaps into the web straps used to keep the cot securely unfolded. It does a pretty good job overall, however, like most any light tent material, it’s not monsoon proof. Either the rain, or the condensation and humidity will bring in some moisture. If I am expecting rain, I will usually fashion a lean to with a tarp that’s tapered towards the windward side of the cot. This keeps the rain from seeping in and also keeps me from stepping out into a puddle the next morning. I have the oversize version of the Tent Cot and I recommend everyone who can to get it as well. These are meant for sleeping only and don’t offer much extra room by design but the larger version gives a little more elbow room to adjust clothing and bedding without getting out.

Portability: The entire getup folds up and zips into its own storage bag. If you look closely at the photo below, you can see the black bag strapped to the roof of my jeep with an orange ratchet strap. above it is a folding camp chair in it’s carry bag. It’s easy to throw on the top of the Jeep or in the bed of the pickup and unfold when you get to camp. I can usually fumble through setting mine up in less than 5 minutes even if it has been months since I’ve used it.

Loaded up and waiting for friends at the Trials Training Center, Sequatchie, TN

Cons To the KampRite Tent Cot

I’ve been using the same Tent Cot for about 7 years now and, while I don’t camp as often as I would like, I’m also not very gentle with my gear, so lets say that I probably can call my use “average”. In that time I have only noted a couple of issues that come with tent cot camping.

Packing Size: The packed cot is 36″ by 34″ and 7″ thick according to the Kamp-Rite website. My experience is that it folds back into its case nicely but that still eats up some real estate in a vehicle. Combine the space it takes up with the weight of 32lbs, and it only takes a second to realize that we aren’t in the ultralight camping section anymore. For car camping and overlanding trips where we have means to carry a piece of gear this size, it’s great, but it might not be the ticket if packing space is at a premium.

Interior Size: I mentioned before that this is pretty much just a sleep system and as such, it doesn’t leave a ton of wiggle room inside. Expect to roll over against a cool or damp tent wall from time to time if you don’t sleep like a petrified mummy. This minor irritation can be limited by spreading out an under blanket to run up against the tent walls or wearing fabrics that don’t suck up moisture like a sponge if they happen to brush against a damp canvas. If you want or need a lot of interior space, go ahead and step up to a traditional tent and then consider a standard folding cot to place inside.

Final Thoughts on Kamp-Rite Tent Cots

Camping and survival gear is a personal preference game for everyone. Each of our camping styles varies and I have found that as an individual, there’s not just one type of camping gear that I can use for everything. With that in mind, I want to offer reviews on the practical aspects and quality of gear and the Tent Cot is a practical and well made piece of camping gear that I plan to continue using anytime my packing arrangement allows. It sets up and breaks down quickly and can be ready to throw in the vehicle at a moment’s notice. Click on any of the pictures above or the link HERE to pick one up and enjoy the benefits of tent cot camping!

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate and may make money on qualifying purchases.

How Can I Get Solar Energy Without Spending a Fortune?

Anytime someone mentions living “off the grid,” one of the first thoughts many of us have is having a bank of solar panels to provide for the small amounts of electricity we plan to still need. Now, I realize that to truly live like our ancestors did, we would be completely free of the need of electricity, however, I personally don’t want to give up some benefits of electrical power. One tool that we as prepper should maintain some electrical reserve for is our phone/radio communications. Most of the two way radios as well as many AM/FM radios, including those with weather bands, are available in a 12 volt DC version. If we already have some of those devices in an AC version, an Inverter can help us make use of battery power. Cellular phones are also easily charged and the smartphones of today can house tons of information as well as access to even more critical news such as weather alerts. If you want to read more about some of the things that even deactivated smartphones can do for us, check out my blog post on them Here.

While solar power sources capable of producing energy comparable to what we receive from the electrical grid take thousands upon thousands of dollars to install, there are many smaller solar setups that can help us maintain some of our most critical energy needs without breaking the bank.

Small And Packable Solar Power Options

When we have to travel on foot to a camp site or bug out location, we have to cut the cord, both symbolically and physically with our sources of electricity. At least while in route to our destination, we have to survive on what’s in our packs, including battery power. Now, we have covered the need for portable battery packs to give our phones a boost and we can shut them off when not using them to conserve battery life, but there is a still going to be a point where we need to recharge them. One great way to do this is with a small solar charger kit. We can charge our phones as well as certain other lights and devices with one of these and buy ourselves a much longer time away from the extension cord than would be possible without it. One great option for this is the kit below. This kit by Goal Zero has a battery pack and a solar panel that can give it a full charge in about 4 hours. Get more information by clicking on the picture.

Cabin Sized Solar Power Options

Supposing all of our plans work out and we make it to our bug out location, we may be a ways from electrical power or the power grid may be down for any number of reasons. Such a scenario is one where we can benefit from a larger system, but still not have to spend more money on the solar panels than the whole cabin or bunker. It’s important to keep a realistic view of what we can power with a small system and not over extend it or we will be sitting in the dark for a while until it can recharge. We will still have to ration our power usage, however modern LED lighting among other efficient appliances can help us get a lot of use out of a little bit of battery storage.

Based on our goals and timeframe, we can use the systems for not only lighting and charging, but for other appliances like the 12 volt ice makers and refrigerators that I mentioned in another post. We can now begin to harvest and store meat and plants to eat with less wasted food. Adding fresh protein and greens to our caches of dried and non perishable foods can help our physical and mental health in a survival situation by keeping us nourished and healthy. If you want to read more about survival refrigeration, click Here.

It is important to remember that solar power is a system that uses panels to absorb the energy and regulators and chargers to store the energy in batteries and then to feed that electricity to the circuits, so we need to do some close research into our actual needs, but I want to present one setup that might be as close to a turn key system as we can find. The Goal Zero Yeti line of power packs along with one of their foldable briefcase style solar panels is a great setup that we don’t have to do any of our own wiring to get up and going. It’s also a great option to have at home for short term power outages and is much simpler than having to hook up and start a gasoline or diesel powered generator outdoors. Click the pictures below to see each part of the system.

Final Thought on Inexpensive Solar Energy

As with almost everything, we get what we pay for. Don’t expect cheap products to last forever and have a plan to maintain your systems as needed. Also, check them often. batteries lose their ability to maintain a charge and chargers and controllers quit working unexpectedly. The items and systems we ignore may do the same to us when we need them the most. Have a plan and a backup plan and remember that one size does not fit all. You may find yourself in need of a much more sophisticated system and I hope to be able to post on one in more detail in the future to help guide everyone that needs it.

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate and may make money from qualifying purchases.