Thermarest has taken the long standing classic cot design and modified it into an ultralight, compact design that’s more portable than ever. Weighing under three pounds in some configurations, it’s the lightest on the market, but does such a huge weight reduction hamper comfort? My review.
The Luxurylite cot comes in two versions, the Ultralight model covered here and a slightly heftier Mesh variant. The Ultralight is based around an sturdy, stretch free fabric that makes up the sleeping surface of the cot. The frame of the cot consists of two long aluminum tubes, each sliding through small slits that run the length of the bed fabric. Each leg is a combination of two round plastic rings connected by another aluminum pole that’s flexed into an arch and connected to the frame to provide a spring like resistance and lift for the cot. The legs connect directly to the frame and create a full, tensioned sleep system. The regular size, covered here, weighs 3 lbs packed with a minimum weight to 2 lb 12 oz (leave off a couple of optional feet). It’s 24″ wide, 72″ long, and retails for $219.95.
To set up the tarp, the two long aluminum shock corded poles are first assembled and slid through the fabric. Next, the legs are assembled by combining two non-corded sections of pole into on length, which are then slid into openings in the plastic ring feet. The rings have small notches cut into them that fit against the frame of the cot. To connect them, the small poles must be flexed into a slight “u” shape while placing the notches against the frame. This is continued until all of the legs are connected. For extra tension/support, up to two legs can be assembled with double bowed sections, where two sections of pole which are twisted around each other, and then flexed into position per usual.
What I liked
Can a light weight cot provide a better night’s sleep than a simple sleeping pad? That was the real question I wanted to answer while testing the cot. My answer is a most definite yes. Being lifted off of the ground and suspended above the Earth in itself completely eliminates several major issues that normally apply to resting on a sleeping pad. The largest effect is that it eliminates any lumps or unevenness that can be caused by the imperfect ground beneath the cot. It doesn’t matter what it beneath you as the frame holds the body up as the taut fabric produces a consistently smooth and even sleeping surface regardless. A second major benefit is that it provides spring and support along the entire body, without feeling like a hard surface.
When laying on the cot, the material slightly flexes, creating a subtle concave shape that gently cradles the body. The end result is a sleeping device that’s consistent and supportive in any position, making it extremely comfortable. It almost feels like a very taut, flat hammock, just without the joy of my spine being bent into an arch while I’m trying to drift off to sleepy land. The cot was even remarked as providing a better night’s sleep than one testers bed at home, with less back and neck pain when paired with a Thermarest Evolite Plus mattress for padding and insulation.
I’ve found that sleeping on my back and stomach were both well suited to the design, having a extra room on the 24″ wide surface to lay my arms to my side without dangling onto the ground. I had somewhat less success with side sleeping as I felt a bit like I was slipping to the center of the cot and had difficulty finding a comfortable position for my shoulder this way. Although, the intrinsic springiness in the fabric did allow my hips and shoulders to adjust into a nice, neutral position, after a little manuvering. I was surprised at how well it accommodated resting on my stomach, given I could find a position that allowed my arms to avoid laying across the frame.
As mentioned above, the cot can be paired with a sleeping pad for insulation or additional padding, which adds some flexibility to it’s use. When used solo, it provides excellent support and a night breezy sleep for warmer nights. When paired with a lightly inflated foam filled pad, it provides an excellent boost in padding, further reducing any presence of pressure points. There is also an available “cot warmer” that adds a thermally reflective layer to the cot, allowing the cot to be used in three seasons at the cost of 2.6 oz and $50. Having a system that’s usable in a wide range of conditions, even if the accessories are sold separately, is appreciated.
Assembly is fairly straight forward, after a bit of a learning curve. Initially, the number of parts seems overwhelming and the oddity of the design seems very foreign, but in reality it’s quite simple. Most of the parts are interchangeable, so there is no digging for a specific pole or foot. They all assemble in the same way, and the process of assembling the legs and attaching them in the same all the way down the cot, unless you’re creating a high tension section with two poles. Once I assembled it for the first time, I was able to pop it together with little issue without a manual. The first run will definitely require a little reading though, as I doubt many people have ever assembled anything quite like this.
During assembly “double bow” sections, where two aluminum poles are used on one leg, can be used to add additional support to areas that are either sagging or where a tauter sleep surface is preferred. This allows the user to strengthen specific areas of need (I preferred having a stiff shoulder and hip region) and keeps sleepers from flexing the sleep surface down onto the legs or the ground. Those who are light enough or prefer the softer surface can simply leave out the double bow sections, or entire leg assemblies, providing flexibility in setup to fit the user.
The entire kit is pretty light weight at around 3 lbs packed. When car camping or kayaking, this is abysmal in comparison to some of the 20 or 30 lb setups I’ve used in the past. For a lighter setup of around 2 lbs, nonessential legs can be left at home, sacrificing some support for weight. It packs away to about the size of a two liter bottle, and much of the assembly can be left intact for a quicker setup the initial setup at the expense of a slightly larger packed size. The included carry sack keeps everything organized too, making the cot extremely convenient to carry, setup or store.
The durability of the cot has been pretty impressive so far. The sleeping surface is built from a tough ripstop nylon like material, just a bit thicker with a plastic like backing. It’s resisted puncture, tearing, and stretching, and has handled weight and abrasion very well. Even after weeks of constant use, the cot sits taut with no sagging or bowing. The frame itself is a thick, tough aluminum that holds its shape even with the weight of a human on top of it. The aluminum poles used on the legs are thinner to allow them to flex, but so far have sprung back to their original shape even after the cot was pitched and used for a solid week without being disassembled. I have some reservations about the feet themselves, as they are simply made of plastic and have a lot of tension placed on them, but so far I’v had no problems at all. The stitching is consistent, fray free and has held flawlessly. The construction all around is certainly top notch.
What I didn’t like
Assembling of the double bow sections can require some strength. The user will need to bend two relatively short lengths of high quality aluminum poles to be able to hook the foot onto the frame. For me, a mid weight at around 175 lbs, it took some effort to ensure that it cleared the frame. I had to stand on the cot to stabilize the frame while crouching and using brute force to curve the poles. Luckily, those who are lighter than myself and lack some arm strength will not likely need to use these double bow sections, which likely will result in a non-issue for those. The standard single bow sections also have a similar issue, but to a much lesser degree as they are much easier to flex.
The legs use small lips to connect the feet to the cot frame. The same feet can tend to nip the fabric around the frame while being dissembled, resulting in some light stretching of the fabric. I’ve been unable to tear the material and so far it has had no affect on the durability or use of the cot, but I imagine after a couple hundred set ups, this could potentially become an issue over time. The solution is simply to bend the pole enough to clear the frame/material while taking it apart, making sure it doesn’t catch it while being released, but some campers may not have the strength to do so. I’ll update if this does causes any issues in the future, but so far I cannot find any complaints of problems arising from this.
The feet are hard plastic and when used on soft ground can indent the floor of a tent. What happens is the feet can sink into soft dirt or duff, pulling the tent along with it. This can cause some stretching, and even some delamination of a tents DWR which can be a problem over time. The hard feet can also grind on a tent floor if there is rock or gravel underneath which can cause some wear also. Thermarest now offers “cot coasters” in response to these issues at only $15, but it’s more weight and expense. Cheaper solutions include cutting up “fun noodles” and placing them on the feet or placing cloth underneath.
The Ultralight Luxurylite Cot offers something no other product has managed, to stuff a full sized cot’s features and comfort into a packable size and weight, and it pays off. Having the supportive yet flexible structure to sleep on provides a wonderful substrate for rest, far exceeding the comfort possible with practically any sleeping pad. It’s especially useful for those with back or hip issues, as it provides true bed like support around the spine and joints, and is even better when paired with a self inflating/foam sleeping pad. It provides a quality of rest that’s usually set aside for much heavier, bulkier equipment that I generally cannot justify. The cot is easy enough to assemble, packs away conveniently, and has the flexibility to adjust to nearly any season, with a little accessorizing that is. Aside from a few minor issues like managing tent floor wear, and a somewhat challenging double bow connection, the Luxurylite is exceptionally well designed and engineered. It’s found a home in my car camping kit and it doubles as a secondary bed for guest or while traveling. If you find that a traditional sleeping pad isn’t doing it for it, the Thermarest Luxurylite is likely the solution you’re looking for. It doesn’t disappoint.
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I wanted to send a special thanks out to Thermarest for their continued support and for providing this excellent piece of equipment to review. We couldn’t do this without their help. Thank you so much! Our full disclosure can be found on the about me/contact page.