Coleman Carlsbad 4-Person Tent Review (Bought & Tested!)
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Rating and Summary
The Coleman Carlsbad Tent has 2 main selling points – its screen room, as well as the dark room feature.
I love that the screen room adds an additional 27.6 square feet of storage space for gear (yes, I measured this myself!), but I found that there’s hardly any rain protection at all over the screen room.
As for the dark room feature, while this Carlsbad Tent is certainly darker than any regular tent, I was a tad disappointed to find my dark room feature to be a little defective. I’ll show you more pictures on this in a bit, so do read on to find out!
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Check out the Coleman Carlsbad Tent:
- Set Up
- Take Down
- Peak Height
- Base Area
- Single Pad Sizing
- Queen Mattress Sizing
- Screen Room
- Dome Tent Door
- Screen Room Door
- Dark Room Technology
- Light Rain Test
- Overnight Rain Test
- Heavy Rain Test
- Light Rain Ventilation
- Heavy Rain Ventilation
- Hot Day Ventilation
In this section, we’ll touch on the following:
- In the Box
I bought this Coleman Carlsbad 4-Person Tent from Amazon, and here’s what it looked like when it first arrived:
And here’s what it looks like out of the box:
In the Box
Inside the package, I got a black carry bag, the tent body, the green rainfly, a foot mat, as well as 4 poles and 15 stakes.
The fiberglass poles and the steel stakes come in their own little separate carry cases, which look like this:
Dome Tent Specifications
Here are the measurements for the main dome tent of the Carlsbad Tent, not the screen room:
- Peak height of dome tent: 60 inches
- Length of dome tent: 8 feet 8 inches
- Width of dome tent: 6 feet 9 inches
- Base area of dome tent: 58.5 square feet
Screen Room Specifications
And here are the measurements for the screen room:
- Peak height of screen room: 54 inches
- Longest length of screen room: 8 feet 8 inches
- Shortest length of screen room: 5 feet 9 inches
- Width of screen room: 3 feet 10 inches
- Base area of screen room: 27.6 square feet
And here’s even more specs, in case you need them:
- Total base area: 86.1 square feet
- Floor material: Polyethylene
- Bathtub flooring: Yes, ~9 inches
- Tent body material: Polyester
- Rainfly material: Polyester
- Poles material: Fiberglass
- Number of poles: 4
- Mesh: Regular
- Packed size: 26 by 11.5 by 8 inches
- Weight: 14.4 lbs
- Number of guylines: 7
- Number of stakes: 15
- Number of doors: 1+1 (dome tent + screen room)
- Hinged door: No
- Number of windows: 3
- Number of vents: 1 (mesh wall vent)
- Number of pockets: 2
- Number of lantern loops: 2
- E-port: Yes, 1
- Black-out: Yes
I also did some testing on my own, and came up with this data:
- Set up timing (1 person): 11 minutes
- Take down timing (1 person): 10 minutes
- Number of single sleeping pads: 4
- Number of queen-sized mattresses: 1
Testing and Performance
I put my Coleman Carlsbad 4-Person Tent through these 7 tests:
- Ease of use: Set up, take down
- Spaciousness: Height, base area, mattress sizing, screen room
- Comfort and features: Door, windows, storage, dark room technology
- Ventilation: Hot day ventilation, rainy day ventilation
- Weather protection: Light rain test, heavy rain test
- Quality: Material, mesh, seams, stitching, zippers, poles, dark room
- Portability: Weight and packed size
First up, take note that the Coleman Carlsbad 4-Person Tent comes with these 4 poles.
First, grab the 2 poles on the left. These 2 poles are slightly longer than the other 2 poles, and these are for the main body of the tent.
Insert these 2 poles into the blue pole sleeves at the center of the tent, and this will form an X shape across the tent.
Then, prop both poles up by securing each end of both poles into the pins at the bottom of the tent.
For these 2 poles, use the pin between the red fabric, right here.
After that, attach all the pole clips around the tent (8 altogether).
Then, grab the next green pole, the second pole from the right. Notice that it’s slightly shorter, and it’s for the screen room. Insert it into the blue pole sleeve at the front of the tent, prop the pole up, and secure each end into the remaining pins.
Now, grab the last pole, which is on the extreme right. This is the rainfly pole, and it has these black tips of both ends.
Insert this rainfly pole down the center of the rainfly, like so:
To secure this rainfly pole, there are these 2 tiny pockets at each end of the rainfly, and also 2 Velcro strips between.
Then, drape the rainfly over the tent by grabbing the rainfly pole, and position the pole horizontally across the tent, like so.
Secure the 4 S-hooks of the rainfly to the 4 rings at the bottom of the tent where your poles are attached.
There are also Velcro attachments on the underside of the rainfly along each pole to better align the rainfly, 2 on each side of each pole (8 altogether).
After that, stake the tent body down with 6 stakes (4 stakes for the dome tent, and another 2 for the screen room). Also, guy out the entire tent with the 7 pre-attached guylines (4 at the front, and another 3 at the back of the tent).
It took me about 11 minutes to set up the entire Coleman Carlsbad 4-Person Dome Tent, including the screen room, on my own.
Taking down the Coleman Carlsbad 4-Person Tent and Screen Room is just the opposite of the set-up, and it took me about 10 minutes for the entire take down and pack up.
For more details on the set up, take down, and pack up, as well as tips on how I set this up on my own (like getting the right rainfly position!), you can check out my YouTube video here:
If you find the set up and pack away timings too long or tedious, you can check out how a simpler tent compares against this Carlsbad instead: Coleman Skydome Tent V.S. Carlsbad Tent (I Have Both Tents!)
The peak height in this Coleman Carlsbad 4-Person Tent is about 60 inches. I can somewhat stand up, I’m actually slouching a little, and my head presses against the top of the tent (I’m 5’3”, by the way).
Also, the peak height is only at the center, because this is a dome-shaped tent. The rest of the tent slopes downwards.
The length inside the dome tent itself measures about 8 feet and 8 inches, while the width measures about 6 feet and 9 inches, so slightly smaller than the marketed dimensions of 9 by 7 feet.
Single Pad Sizing
But I could still easily fit 4 regular sleeping pads inside the dome tent itself, excluding the space in the screen room. In fact, here’s what having 4 pads looks like:
You do have to sleep shoulder to shoulder, but notice that there’s a little bit of space between the 4 sleeping pads, so you could fit slightly wider pads too. There won’t be any space leftover for gear though.
Queen Mattress Sizing
Alternatively, instead of 4 pads, you can fit 1 queen-sized camping mattress, and having just 2 people is a much more comfortable fit. There’s also quite a bit of leftover room for storing gear, which is always very nice to have.
You can also fit the queen bed in vertically, just take note that it will take up the entire width of the tent.
Even though the mattress I used in my Carlsbad Tent is quite thick, around 9 inches thick, I still had plenty of livable room to sit up and lounge around inside the tent.
This Carlsbad 4-Person Dome Tent also comes with a screen room.
This screen room has a width of about 3 feet and 10 inches, and the longest length is about 8 feet and 8 inches, which is the same as the dome tent. It tapers off a bit at the front though, so the shortest length is only about 5 feet and 9 inches.
The peak height in this screen room is only about 54 inches though, which is shorter than the peak height in the dome tent, so I couldn’t even stand upright in the screen room.
This Carlsbad 4-Person Dome Tent has 3 windows in the entire tent. There’s 1 window on each wall of the tent, and the last wall is a mesh wall. (I’ll show you pictures of the mesh wall down at the ‘Ventilation’ section in a bit.)
All the windows are about the same size. Each of the side windows measures about 35 by 18 inches, and look like this:
Meanwhile, the window that’s part of the door at the front of the tent measures about 34 by 20 inches, and here it is:
Each window comes with a window latch to hold the fabric together when the window’s open, 2 white zippers, and also a bug net to prevent larger bugs (like mosquitoes) from getting in.
Dome Tent Door
The Coleman Carlsbad Tent has 1 door on the front length of the dome tent itself. It measures about 47 inches in length, and about 35 inches in width, so it’s pretty decently sized, and here’s what it looks like when I stand in front of it.
This door also measures about 52 inches from the ground to the top of the door, and I’m about 5’3″/160cm tall, so I had to duck when getting in and out of the tent through this door.
This door comes with 2 door latches by the side to tie the door fabric up to keep it open, and it also comes with 2 black zippers to zip it open and shut.
Screen Room Door
The screen room of this Carlsbad 4-Person Tent comes with another 1 door. It spans almost the entire length of the screen room, measuring about 5 feet and 2 inches in length, so it’s really quite big in size.
It’s only about 50 inches in height though, so a little shorter, and I had to duck even more when getting into and out of the screen room.
The door of the screen room comes with 2 door latches, 1 on either side of the door (you can see this in the above picture), to hold the fabric when it’s open.
It also comes with 3 black zippers for zipping open and shut.
I think this screen room door should have come with 1 extra stake loop at the front here, to make unzipping a little easier.
For storage, there are 2 pockets inside this Coleman Carlsbad 4-Person Dome Tent, each measuring about 9 by 7 inches.
Inside the dome tent, there’s 1 lantern loop at the very top of the tent, where you can hang a lantern for lighting at night.
Also, just outside of the screen room, there’s another 1 more lantern loop as well.
So, altogether, 2 lantern loops.
Also, there’s 1 e-port at the bottom of the tent with a zippered closure.
Dark Room Technology
This Carlsbad Dome Tent also comes with Coleman’s dark room technology, and this is what it looks like with the windows and door closed.
It’s a little bit darker compared to a regular Coleman tent without the dark room tech, but I don’t think that it blocks out 90% of the light (which is what Coleman markets its dark room tech to be). As a reference, here’s what a Coleman Sundome Tent looks like without the dark room tech:
After testing out a few other Coleman tents with the same Coleman dark room tech, which are seriously a lot darker, I realized that this Carlsbad tent isn’t as dark because Coleman used a different fabric for the bottom of the tent (red arrow below). The fabric is supposed to be pitch black (like the window), not translucent black.
Check out the fabric of my Coleman Sundome Dark Room Tent (pictured below). Notice the difference in the blackout fabric?
Is the Dark Room feature worth it though? Check out my recommendation in this blog post here: Is Coleman’s Dark Room Worth It? (3 Tests!)
Light Rain Test
It rained lightly while I was using this Coleman Carlsbad Tent out camping, and here’s what I found.
Even in light rain, the entire screen room at the front of the Carlsbad Tent got wet, and everything I had inside the screen room was wet as well. There’s no rainfly protection, very little fabric protection from the top, and even the entire sides of the screen room had lots of mesh that let water in.
Thankfully, it didn’t rain for very long, maybe about 30 minutes or so. After the rain stopped, I found that the entire screen room had small droplets of water.
Inside the Carlsbad Dome Tent itself though, there were no leaks, and the tent was still dry.
Overnight Rain Test
I also slept in this Carlsbad Dome Tent overnight in my yard, while it rained lightly to moderately for many hours over the entire night.
When I woke up the next morning, I found that there were a few small puddles of water on the ground, seeping in through the corners and also from the untaped but inverted seam of the bathtub flooring (the blue seam in the picture below).
The black fabric nearer the bottom was also pretty much soaked through, though the blue fabric nearer the top with more rainfly protection was still dry.
The window mesh was also dry, and though I left the windows open the entire night, no rain got into the tent from the windows.
Also, because there was a little bit of flooding in my yard overnight from the many hours of rain, all the dead grass and leaves washed up against my tent and got trapped in the mesh of the screen room, which was a bit of a pain to clean out.
Heavy Rain Test
To test for heavy rain, I had to use a water hose. I concentrated the rainfall on the front of the tent, also near the screen room, because I wanted to see how the tent and the screen room would hold up.
At about 30 minutes in, when I checked in on the Carlsbad Tent, I noticed that there were a few droplets of water already inside the tent from the leaking seam of the bathtub flooring.
Tip: If you need your Coleman tent to last longer under heavy rain, I highly recommend using some seam sealant to seal the bathtub flooring seam.
Also, because of the huge, unprotected mesh panels at the sides of the screen room (pictured earlier in the ‘Light Rain Test’), the rain sprayed right into the screen room, and everything got wet.
If you’d like to watch all of my rain tests on this Carlsbad tent, you can check out my YouTube video right here:
Light Rain Ventilation
For some ventilation during the light rain test, I was able to leave the windows open, because the light rain didn’t get on the mesh of the windows.
I was also able to leave the door open, thanks to the little bit of protection from the screen room.
The mesh wall at the back of the tent was also still dry after I took the rainfly off.
Heavy Rain Ventilation
During the heavy rain test, even though the rainfly and the rainfly pole did quite a good job of protecting the window mesh from the heavy rain, the bottom of the mesh still got wet, because of the angle of the rain. The top of the window was still fine though, so you could crack it open a bit.
Also, because of these big and unprotected mesh panels at the sides of the screen room, I realized that I couldn’t leave the tent door open, or everything in my tent would get wet.
Thankfully, even though I had to close the windows and door in heavy rain, there’s this 1 mesh wall inside the Carlsbad tent, which becomes a vent when the rainfly is in place over the tent.
It spans almost the entire length of the tent, and I was able to stake down the rainfly and leave this vent open in heavy rain.
Hot Day Ventilation
On a hot day, you can take the rainfly off from the outside, for more ventilation through not just the windows and door, but especially this mesh wall.
Just bear in mind that privacy might be an issue when you take the rainfly off.
The screen room has this fabric that’s fixed in place at the top of the tent though, so you can’t remove that.
The flooring of this Coleman Carlsbad Tent is made of polyethylene, and the bathtub feature extends up to about 9 inches. So, even though there was a little bit of light flooding in my yard overnight, the bathtub flooring actually kept my tent dry.
Tent Body Quality
Both the tent body and rainfly are made of polyester, and I had no issues with them.
The seams on the rainfly were taped, while those inside the tent were not. Only some seams inside the tent were inverted, like the black tent body to bathtub flooring seam here:
These seams have been inverted (though not seam taped), because they have less rainfly protection, being further away from the rainfly.
Meanwhile, the seams with more rainfly protection, like the window seams, which are higher up the tent, have not been inverted (and also not seam taped).
The seams of the Carlsbad Tent are generally good quality, double-stitched, and consistent, with only 1 tiny loose thread.
The mesh is just regular mesh, not no-see-um mesh, and it’s decent quality.
The zippers are also decent quality, and all of them are catch-free. I didn’t have snagging issues on the windows, and also no snagging issues on both the tent door and the screen room door.
While the zippers were color-coded white and black (white for windows and black for doors), I wish Coleman had color-coded the poles as well.
They’re all made of fiberglass and come in only one color. Plus, they’re all about the same size too!
I also wish Coleman made the pole sleeve for the screen room a little shorter, I found it super long and very snaggy.
Dark Room Quality
I’ve had this Coleman Carlsbad Tent for a few years now, used it lightly, and I realized that some of the dark room fabric is scraping off a little. It’s not that bad though.
This Coleman Carlsbad 4-Person Tent has a packed size of 26 by 11.5 by 8 inches, and here’s what it looks like beside a Coleman 2-Person Sundome Tent and a 32-ounce Nalgene bottle for a size comparison.
Because of the extra screen room, this Carlsbad 4-Person Tent has a packed size as big as my Sundome 6-Person Dark Room Tent.
Oh, and the Coleman Carlsbad 4-Person Tent weighs about 14.4 lbs for everything, stakes, guylines and foot mat included.
Pros and Cons
For pros, the base area is pretty generous in size, and you can squeeze 4 adults into the dome tent, not counting the space in the screen room. Including the screen room, you’d have space for about 5 people.
I also found the set up pretty easy, taking me just 11 minutes on my own including the screen room. Even the pack up was easy, and I could get the entire tent back into the carry bag, without even ripping the strip out at the bottom of the carry bag to expand the bag.
I also really liked that I had quite a bit of ventilation on not just hot days, but rainy days as well.
As for cons, I think the biggest one is that rain protection for the screen room is terrible. The rainfly doesn’t cover it at all, so you’d need to get an extra tarp or canopy if you expect rain, especially prolonged heavy rain.
And the clean up is a bit of a pain, even though it comes with this mesh drainage for draining water.
I also couldn’t stand up in both the dome tent and the screen room. To get through both the doors of the tent and the screen room, I had to keep ducking, which can be a bit of a strain, especially if you have back problems.
Tip: If portability isn’t an issue, I recommend upsizing to the 6-Person Tent (which has a 6-foot peak height).
Also, the dark room tech for this particular Carlsbad tent, and this tent only, seems to be a bit defective and a lot less dark than other Coleman tents with the same blackout feature. I suspect mine was defective. So, do check yours immediately when you get it!
After testing 2 Coleman dome tents with screen rooms, which is this Carlsbad (in a 4-Person version) and another one called the Evanston Tent (in a 6-Person version), I think I prefer the Evanston Tent. It doesn’t have dark room tech, so it’s quite a bit brighter inside the tent, but it does have many advantages over this Carlsbad.
First, there’s a lot more peak height, and I could stand up and walk around the Evanston 6-Person Tent.
Second, the rainfly of the Evanston Tent covers a little more of the screen room.
Third, and I think most importantly, I paid about the same price for both tents, so the Evanston definitely gave me more bang for my buck.
For the full breakdown of how the Evanston stacks up against the Carlsbad Tent, check out this blog post right here: Coleman Evanston Tent V.S. Carlsbad Tent (I’ve Got Them Both!)
But if you prefer the dark room tech, then the Carlsbad Tent wins hands down, and I’d say go for it! It’s still a fantastic tent, and I enjoyed camping in it very much.
Bonus: Must Read!
But wait, before you buy either of them, you should check out this blog post where I compared more than 10 Coleman tents against each other, including these Carlsbad and the Evanston Tents: I Tested the 14 Best Coleman Tents!
Or, check out the Coleman Carlsbad Tent: