Emergency Shelter Cots

Need Cots For Your Aid Shelter… Look No Further Than The Good Ol’ Reliable Army Cot

Gordon King Disaster Preparedness

What To Look For In An Army Cot

The most common type of cot used in humanitarian aid shelters is an army cot. It provides a raised sleeping area while still fitting into a small space for storage and carrying.  Army-style cots are also the most common heavy-duty cots for long lasting usage.

Aluminum Cot

An aluminum cot frame is the most common type of cot frame. These cots are lightweight and corrosion-resistant, making them convenient to travel and excellent for shelter use. An aluminum frame is available in all major cot styles, from basic military to special needs.

Army Cot
Aluminum Cot

Aluminum vs Steel

Aluminum is 1/3 the weight of steel and has a third of the (tensile) strength. Aluminum frames, on the other hand, can be constructed with a larger gauge and bracing to withstand the weight of heavier people.

When carrying the cot, shelter personnel appreciate the lower weight of an aluminum frame. They also like not having to worry about rust (corrosion) ruining the frame’s appearance and eventually causing it to break (bending or buckling).

Although aluminum corrodes like steel, the corrosion process results in a thin film of aluminum oxide forming on the metal’s outside, effectively galvanizing it and protecting it from further corrosion. The metal looks to have just lost its former lustrous sheen, but no more corrosion or damage to the frame occurs.

There is no paint to crack or scratch on aluminum-frame cots, exposing the metal surface to dampness and causing corrosion. These cots are unaffected by minor scrapes or blows to the metal surface.

Because aluminum corrodes only slightly, an aluminum-frame cot can last for years without danger of rust and corrosion causing the frame or legs to collapse over time.

Aluminum light-weight cots may weigh half as much as steel cots for the same amount of volume.

“Why not just use a lighter gauge of steel to produce a lightweight cot?” you might wonder. Light-gauge steel would deteriorate more quickly to the point of failure if exposed to outside moisture and temperature change.

Heavy-duty Aluminum Cots

Heavy-duty cots are made of tempered (hardened) aluminum in order to prevent the frame tubing from bending or buckling under the load (weight) of a large person.

Another way to strengthen aluminum is to insert a slightly thinner steel tube into the aluminum leg tubing and use the steel’s increased strength to keep the aluminum leg from bending. Steel inserts are the name for these steel tubes.


Steel connectors, which are flat brackets that hold moving parts together, are commonly found on aluminum frames. Aluminum is a soft metal, and if exposed to side forces, a flat, two-dimensional shape would easily bend. Steel, on the other hand, is a much harder metal that can be produced to withstand bending pressures even when flat.

Shelter Cots
Army Cot Elements

Aluminum-frame cots are ideal for Humanitarian Aid Shelters. The aluminum frame quickly seals itself against corrosion, and light-weight aluminum cots are easier to transport than steel cots.

These cots are easy to carry, transport and setup quickly for a large number of people who, in an emergency disaster situation, need them immediately!

See ProPac’s selection of army and other specialty cots here.