Best Lightweight Travel Cot 2019
Littlelife Arc 2 review
The Littlelife Arc 2 is a compact, portable and lightweight travel cot that's easy to use and a dream to assemble. It's ideal for lovers of the outdoors, but we think anyone can take advantage of this handy little accessory. Pack it into a rucksack and the world’s your oyster.
Verdict in 10 seconds
- Folds down compactly making it really easy to carry
- Featherweight at only 2.5kg
- Can be used indoors or out in the garden
- Easy to carry – especially useful for those who rely on public transport
- Designed like a tent so it folds up into a small backpack
- Colour-coded poles make assembly simple
- Insect-proof mesh – great for hot weather and the outdoors
- Ground pegs keep the travel cot securely in place if it’s being used outside
- Mattress is fairly thin so doesn’t feel as comfortable as other travel cot mattresses on the market, like the SpaceCot Alfa's, which is much thicker.
- The sun shade has to be bought separately
What are the key features?
- Shock-corded aluminium poles
- Removable and washable foam mattress with cotton sheet
- Packs into a rucksack
- Ventilated anti-insect mesh top and sides made from breathable fabric
- Front panel with safety toggle which can be zipped down
- Ground pegs included to keep the travel cot in place
- Five-year guarantee
What are the specs?
- Suitable from: Birth to three years
- Dimensions: W 85 x L 133 x H 72 cm
- Dimensions when folded: W 31 x L 42 x H 20 cm
- Mattress dimensions: W 70 x L 121 x H 2 cm
- Weight: 2.5kg
- Testing certification: EN 716:1996
- RRP: £109.99
- Mattress and carry bag included
- Extras to buy: Sunshade (£15.99)
I can thoroughly recommend the Littlelife Arc 2. It's very light, uses a geodesic construction, and has a side zip as well as the top access. It's also got a mozzie net too.
How safe is the Littlelife Arc 2?
The great thing about the Littlelife Arc 2 is that it’s designed like a tent so your child is close to the ground at all times – and there's no chance of them falling out.
This ultra-compact storage system makes the Arc 2 unique. The mesh is insect-proof too, which is perfect for hot climates or the great outdoors. Another bonus to the mesh is that your child can peer out and see you from multiple viewpoints, making them feel safe in unfamiliar surroundings, even when the cot is zipped up.
A nifty zipped panel at the side of the cot allows you to lift baby in and out easily or, if they’re a crawler or walker, they can move in and out themselves while playing.
You wouldn’t have to worry about them being able to get out if you didn't want them to though as the zip is on the outside and fastens into a safety toggle so that little fingers can’t get to it.
While its design makes it look flimsier than it actually is, this travel cot is surprisingly robust. The tent poles bend to hold the fabric taut and are easy to secure with ground pegs, which are included in the pack. There is a possibility that a child could put a ground peg into their mouth, but only if they were left lying around.
Littlelife's Arc 2 is also fire retardant although the instructions clearly state you shouldn’t set it up near any fire hazards, something to be aware of if using inside a larger tent on a campsite.
It would withstand a small child running into it, but if fallen on it would likely be bent out of shape – the shock-corded aluminium poles should help to limit any damage here though.
This travel cot can also be used in the garden to protect your child from the sun. A separate sunshade, which provides protection from UV rays at SPF30, goes over the Arc 2 and can be bought separately for £15.99, and the mesh sides are well ventilated.
How easy is the Little Life Arc 2 to assemble?
It took a few minutes for our tester, Ruth, to work out what was what, but once everything was laid out in front of her it was easy to make sense of it all – after sussing out all the parts, it took her around five minutes to assemble.
The main part of the cot is assembled like a tent with two colour-coded poles – one silver and one green – that correspond with the coloured webbing. The poles come folded into sections but, once put together, are fairly lengthy which means that you'll definitely need some room in the living room or garden for assembly.
The poles are then inserted into eyelets to give the cot its dome-like shape. You will need apply some pressure to do this, but excessive force shouldn’t be used as you would risk damaging the cot.
Once this is done, you then need to need to attach the pole clips to the respective poles, unzip the side entry door, fold the mattress out and place it inside.
There are Velcro fastening strips on both the bottom of the mattress and the cot base to make sure the mattress stays firmly attached and doesn’t move around. The mattress sheet then goes over the top.
Ruth found it needed a bit of extra tucking in around the sides as it was slightly oversized for the mattress.
The travel cot includes an instruction manual, which can also be downloaded from the LittleLife website. However, if you work better with visuals, there is also a handy video which shows you exactly how to assemble the Arc 2.
Taking the cot down is easy as you just do everything in reverse, but we would suggest packing the poles and ground pegs away as you go. It also took a few attempts to find the best way of folding the cot down so you could get it back into the carry bag rucksack it comes with.
How does it look?
The Little Life Arc 2 doesn’t look like your standard travel cot but that’s part of the beauty of its design.
If it was shaped like most cots on the market then, admittedly, it wouldn’t be as easy to pack down and carry around. It provides a lovely, calming environment and Ruth said it felt a bit like her son was sleeping in a bubble.
There is only one choice of colour, which is a mixture of green and silver, but this gives the travel cot a more outdoorsy feel in keeping with the Littlelife brand.
While it looks like it could be pitched outside of your own tent if camping overnight, this isn’t something that we'd recommend doing. If, however, you were planning to use the cot inside the compartment of a family-sized tent, there would definitely be enough room for it.
What's it like to use day-to-day?
The Arc 2 doesn’t take up too much space, but the poles tended to get in the way in Ruth's bedroom. She also felt that it wasn’t also easy to find somewhere to put it because of it's dome shape.
The poles also need to be unhooked from the eyelets to fit through doorways but, when it is packed away inside the rucksack it comes in, it can easily be placed under a bed or in a cupboard for storage.
It’s so light that it can be picked up and put down without having to take it apart, but the mattress and sheet would need rearranging to make sure it was safe to place a child inside once the cot had been relocated.
During the summer it would make a great shady spot, but unfortunately our tester wasn’t sent the separate sunshade to try this out.
In terms of general use, this cot could be used for short trips away or for longer holidays abroad but not used in place of a regular newborn bed. Our tester tried the cot at home both indoors and in the garden and felt that it was more suited to outdoor life, which could put some parents off.
Outside, where there was much more space, it was generally much easier to set up and use.
When it came to comfort, Ruth's 18-month-old had trouble settling in this cot because he didn’t like being enclosed so she had to leave the side panel open. With that said, the Arc 2 does seem to be more suited to toddlers.
How easy is it to clean?
The mattress sheet is machine-washable as well as being lovely and soft.
While you can't wash the outer material, it can be wiped down easily with a damp cloth and dries very quickly.
There was no colour transfer after cleaning, but because the tent is designed for outdoor use it tended to attract dirt more easily.
Ruth spilled milk on the interior and exterior and had no trouble getting rid of stains. She did, however, find it easy to remove the mattress sheet straight away if there were spillages to reduce the risk of any stains directly on the mattress, which would be more difficult to clean.
What about value for money?
While the handy carry bag and mattress are included in the price, we think you’d need to be really into travelling to get good use out of the Arc 2.
At just over £100, it sits at a mid-range price point, which we think is fair enough – but only if you're likely to get good use out of it.
If you’re looking for a lightweight travel cot that's ideal for those grab-and-go moments, then the Arc 2 is a great choice. If, however, you’re after something that can be used in place of a regular cot, then it probably isn’t for you.
Overall, it blends in well whether indoors or outside and doubles up as a handy shelter from the sun. A great companion for those little people in your life.
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For more information about what to look for when buying a travel cot, check out our buyer's guide.
All prices correct at time of publication
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