The LittleLife Arc2 travel cot is genuinely one of the best pieces of travel equipment we bought for Rosalin – she first started using it when she was three months old and still happily sleeps in it now.
What I love about this cot is that it’s super lightweight (2.5kg), it’s quick and easy to put up and take down, and packs away in a little rucksack, hence is easy to carry. It also doubles as a sun shade which is a bonus.
Perhaps a little unusual compared to traditional travel cots, the Arc 2 is a simple but cleverly designed tent. It is held up by two flexible, corded aluminium poles. There is one opening on the front and one at the top, both of which can be zipped up with a breathable, anti-mosquito mesh cover. There is also a large mesh panel at the back.
The cot comes with a removable and washable foam mattress, which is fitted in the tent with three heavy duty Velcro strips. It’s standard cot size so will fit any usual cot sheet, but it does also come with a cotton cover. The mattress may seem a little thin, but it’s fine and Rosalin sleeps perfectly on it.
LittleLife also provide a UPF 50+ sun shade which is just fitted over the top, covering the entire tent except the front opening.
Easy and quick to put up
When putting up the Arc 2, all you have to do is unfold the canopy and insert the two poles. Once inserted, the ends of the poles are fixed in each of the four corners, causing the poles to bend and create the tent shape. Possibly a little tricky the first time, but generally very easy. I haven’t timed myself but I’d estimate it takes me 2-3 minutes to put up. Then the mattress goes inside and voilà.
I always struggle with fitting the sunshade properly in all four corners, but it doesn’t matter, it works just as well when fixed in just two or three places.
Due to the tent poles sticking out on each corner the Arc 2 takes up a little more space than a traditional travel cot (85cm wide by 133cm length), but we’ve so far not had any problems squeezing it into any hotel room.
When I first read about the Arc 2 I was a little concerned about the tent concept. I couldn’t quite imagine how this would be sturdy and safe enough for a young child. But in fact, the cot is remarkably robust, thanks to the clever double crossing pole design. And the Arc 2 comes with numerous safety features:
Toggles around the zippers ensure curious little fingers won’t be able to undo the zip and open the cot themselves. There is a little pocket at the top where you can safely store away the top mesh when not needed, to ensure it doesn’t hang down into the cot. There are two small loops at the back with which you can fasten the cot around furniture if needed. It also comes with tent pegs for outdoor use.
The cot packs up into a practical little backpack and weighs no more than 2.5kg – perfect for travel adventures. Although not part of the cot as such, the sun shade can be squeezed into the backpack, so everything is stored together.
A simple but extremely effective design
Depending on the situation or your child’s preferences you can turn the Arc 2 from an open cot into a shady tent or even a playpen. Thanks to the mesh the tent is bright and airy, even when the openings are closed.
When Rosie was really little (and didn’t move around) I used to keep both the side and top open, to not make her feel too enclosed. Now that she’s moving I often close the side but still open the top as it allows her to stand up and look out when she is awake.
Our Arc 2 is in use regularly, even when we’re at home. We use it in the garden or on the beach as a shaded play tent, and occasionally as Rosie’s bed when guests are staying in her bedroom.
When we’re abroad it’s reassuring to know that Rosie is sleeping safely, protected from bugs and mosquitos, thanks to the mosquito mesh.
Value for money
The LittleLife Arc 2 doesn’t come cheap, however, if you travel a lot and often, it’s worth investing a bit more into a good quality lightweight cot. And if you consider the fact that it could last 2-3 years, the Arc 2 is very good value.
Its RRP is £109.99 plus £15.99 for the sunshade. However, prices vary across retailers and there is always some kind of offer on, so you should be able to get everything for around £95. Even cheaper if you buy second-hand of course.
Check out LittleLife’s website as well, as they sometimes have the best price thanks to special offers and new customer discounts.
Helping your baby get used to the travel cot
If you’ve not used a travel cot before and are a little wary about how your child will cope there’s a few things you can try to get him or her used to it before setting off on your travels:
Put them to bed in the travel cot at home for a few days to get them used to sleeping in it while in familiar surroundings.
Using it as a play tent at home also helps them getting to know and love the new cot. Don’t overdo it though so your baby doesn’t primarily associate it with play and not sleep time.
It might also help to use your baby’s familiar cot sheets instead of the new one provided (which is green and might feel strange or distracting).
Finally, make sure you bring your child’s favourite comfort toys or blankets to create a familiar sleep environment.
Getting ready for your next family travel adventure? Here’s my ultimate packing list for travelling with a baby or toddler.