Enjoying the outdoors overnight doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or intimidating. A portable camp cot is an easy way to stay off the ground and get away from the creepy crawlies. While they’re not suitable for every style of camping, when it comes to family expeditions or maintaining a little extra carrying capacity at your cabin or deer camp, it’s a great idea to keep at least one folding cot on hand. Here’s what to look for in this time-tested outdoor sleep solution.

Platform Size

Before you buy, make sure the dimensions of a cot are large enough to comfortably support whoever plans to sleep on it. Coleman

The benefits of packing a cot on your camping trip are lost if the cot is too small. A width of 30 to 35 inches is fine for average-size adults, and a length of about 73 to 75 inches will accommodate sleepers up to about 6’2” tall.

Ease of Set-Up

Most modern cots simply unfold into a bed and don’t require a lot of work to set up. TETON Sports

The old wooden and canvas army cots of yesteryear were notorious for being hard to pitch, rickety, and uncomfortable. Modern materials and engineering have produced cots that are practically child’s play to set up. Look for a design that does not incorporate a support bar running across the midpoint underneath the canvas. The sleeping surface should hang freely over the framework, with nothing that can dig into hips and back once the bedding begins to break in.

Mattress Type

Cots with mattresses, even a thin one, can make it easier to get a comfortable night’s sleep. Coleman

Most camping cots rely on a canvas or nylon fabric as the sleeping platform. They are usually comfortable in and of themselves but can be made even more hospitable with the addition of an inflatable mattress. To get the ultimate night’s sleep, consider a cot sold with its own foam mattress. For simple park-and-pitch camping, the extra bulk and weight will not be an issue, and you’ll enjoy the comforts of home with the convenience of a portable cot.