How Good are Coleman Tents? (I Have 14 of Them!)
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I grew up with Coleman tents and used tons of different Coleman products when I was a kid camping on school field trips. When I started making my own money, I saved up to buy 14 different Coleman tents to test all of them and tell you everything you need to know. So, how good are Coleman tents?
Coleman tents are budget-friendly yet decent quality at the same time. However, these tents are not top-of-the-line. So, if you’re planning to camp in heavy storms or other extreme conditions, you should consider getting more rugged and durable tents than Coleman tents.
In this blog post, we’ll go through not just the pros, but also all the cons of Coleman tents. Read on to find out!
- Coleman Tents are User-Friendly
- Coleman Tents are Feature-Rich
- Coleman Tents Come in all Shapes and Sizes
- Lacks Waterproofing
- Lacks Structural Integrity for Extreme Conditions
- Lacks Features of Higher End Tents
- Lacks Storage Options
- Materials Used are Not as High Quality
- Not for Ultra-Light Backpacking
- Short Warranty Length
Are Coleman Tents Good Quality?
Coleman tents are generally good quality tents that come with many advantages for campers. These include being easy to set up and pack away, being feature-rich, as well as coming in all shapes and sizes for tons of versatility.
Coleman Tents are User-Friendly
One of the biggest benefits to Coleman tents is the user-friendliness of these tents, being easy to not just set up, but pack away as well.
In fact, on top of the standard Coleman Dome Tents, Coleman also features 3 types of tents that supposedly set up faster than your conventional Coleman tent (pop up tents, instant tents, and fast pitch tents).
A. Coleman Pop Up Tents
The Coleman Pop Up Tent is, by far, the easiest Coleman tent to set up. Just take it out of the carry bag, remove the black strap holding the tent together, toss it away from you, and watch it pop open, with the rainfly pre-attached. This takes all of 15 seconds.
B. Coleman Instant Tents
The Coleman Instant Tents don’t quite have the same pop-up mechanism. Instead, you’ve got to pull on the elbow joints to prop the poles up, and then extend all the telescoping wall poles upward, and then secure the rainfly over the tent.
But because the poles of these instant tents are pre-attached, that saves you the trouble of having to insert them through pole sleeves. This decreased my set-up timing by 30 to 50%.
C. Coleman Fast Pitch Tents
Coleman also has a Fast Pitch System, which comes with pre-attached poles, fast-fitting feet and pole clips instead of pole sleeves.
But when I actually tested the Skydome 4-Person Tent, it took me a whopping 9.5 minutes to set up, which is about the same time it would have taken me to set up a Sundome 4-Person Tent.
So, if you’re looking for a super easy setup, go for either the pop up or instant tents, not the Fast Pitch System.
D. Conventional Coleman Tents
The rest of Coleman’s tents set up conventionally; they don’t have pre-attached poles, you have to insert the poles through pole sleeves, and prop all the poles up manually.
Nevertheless, I still found all these Coleman tents pretty simple to set up, especially the classic Sundome series. It took me just about 11.5 minutes to set up an entire Coleman Sundome 6-Person Tent on my own, including staking and guying out the entire tent.
I could even set up a super large family tent, Coleman’s WeatherMaster 10-Person Tent, all on my own, in about 19 minutes. Coleman made the pole sleeves really short, and the poles were really sturdy, making for a relatively simple set up.
Coleman Tents are Feature-Rich
From the past year and a half of using Coleman tents relatively intensively, I found them to be quite feature-rich as well. My favorite features are definitely the blackout fabric (what Coleman calls their “dark room technology”), the Coleman patented hinged door, and the auto-rolling windows in their Elite tents. Let me show you these features in a little more detail.
Dark Room Technology
One of my favorite Coleman features has definitely got to be Coleman’s dark room technology, or the blackout feature. In the picture above, Coleman claims that it blocks out 90% of the light, and I think I would agree with that to some extent.
Here’s what the dark room feature looks like in the middle of the day. The bathtub flooring at the bottom of the tent doesn’t have dark room tech though, and also, there’s a gap between the ceiling mesh and the rainfly that will let some light in.
However, if you’re using a Dark Room Tent with mesh wall vents by the sides (like the Sundome Dark Room and the Carlsbad Dark Room), and you’ve guyed out your rainfly, just bear in mind that light will seep in through the vents, like so:
So, if you want it to be darker, you can’t guy out the rainfly too much. But even with the vents open, compare this Dark Room Tent to a regular Coleman Sundome Tent without the dark room tech. There’s no comparison.
Another one of my favorite features is definitely Coleman’s hinged D-door.
Only certain Coleman tents come with this feature, like the WeatherMaster 10, the Instant Cabin 10, the Montana 8, and Elite tents. If your Coleman tent has this feature, you will be provided with 2 extra fiberglass poles to install the hinged door.
And when you have this hinged door, it takes just 5 seconds, tops, to get in and out of the tent.
On top of that, you can even zip the hinged door up, with the fiberglass poles in place.
I also bought the Elite Sundome Tent to check out the extra features of Elite tents, and found that it even came with these ingenious auto-rolling windows, which roll themselves up automatically when you unzip the window.
So, there’s no more need to fumble with window latches, and you won’t have to be annoyed by droopy window fabric too!
Coleman Tents Come in all Shapes and Sizes
I also love that Coleman tents come in all shapes and sizes, so that campers get tons of choice and versatility.
Tent Capacity (1-Person to 12-Person)
Coleman tents have capacities ranging from 1-person to a whopping 12-person tent, providing lots of versatility for not just the solo camper, but large families as well. And from my testing of 14 different Coleman tents, I’ve found that their tent capacities are quite accurate, assuming that campers are sleeping shoulder to shoulder.
I don’t have a 1-person Coleman tent, but my smallest tent is a Sundome 2-Person Tent, and that can fit not just 2 single pads, but an entire queen bed as well.
My largest tent is the Coleman WeatherMaster 10, which can fit a whopping 10 pads, plus a little leftover space for some camping gear.
Tent Shapes (Cabin, Extended Dome, Dome)
Not only does Coleman have a wide range of tent capacities, they have a wide range of tent shapes as well, and the most common ones are the:
- Cabin shape;
- Dome shape; and
- Extended dome shape.
My favorite Coleman cabin tent is the Instant Cabin 10 with Dark Room Technology, which looks like this:
The side walls of this Coleman Instant Cabin Tent 10 has more vertical side walls than any Coleman tent with a dome shape. This gave me plenty of room to walk around the tent, and felt more like a house rather than a tent.
Coleman’s dome shaped tents are probably the best-selling, especially the classic Sundome series. If you buy the Sundome 6 (and not the Sundome 2 and 4), you would get to enjoy a 6-foot peak height and stand upright in the tent.
However, just bear in mind that the side walls aren’t vertical at all, and the peak height is only at the center of the tent. Just a couple of steps to the side and your head would touch the top of the tent, like so:
Another popular type of tent is the extended-dome shape that you will find in large family camping tents, like the Coleman WeatherMaster 10, Montana 8 and Red Canyon 8.
These have peak heights only at the center of the tent as well, they don’t have vertical side walls too, but have sides that extend out a bit, resulting an “extended dome” shape.
Is Coleman a Good Camping Tent Brand?
Coleman is a decent camping tent brand. It offers good value for money, and is extremely budget friendly. Coleman targets the average, budget conscious, summer camper looking for a simple getaway once in a while.
What are Coleman Tents Known for?
Coleman tents are mainly known for their budget-friendliness, and are thus easily accessible to most consumers. The quality of Coleman tents are decent as well, offering fantastic value for money for the price that you pay for the tent.
In fact, in my round-up of the 14 Best Coleman Tents, I recommended the Coleman Sundome Dark Room 6 as my “Best Value for Money” Tent. Why? Because it fits a small family well, the dark room fabric kept me cool and sheltered from the scorching hot sun, and I paid barely over $100 for the tent.
If you need something a little larger, I recommend the Coleman Red Canyon 8, which fits a whopping 10 pads, or 3 entire queen beds. And I paid only about $150 for the Red Canyon 8. Where else would you be able to find a large family camping tent of decent quality at the price? It certainly offers great value for money.
Who are Coleman Tents for?
Coleman tents can cater to many different campers, such as:
- The beginner camper;
- The average camper;
- The budget conscious camper;
- The summer camper;
- The 2 or even 3 season camper;
- The solo camper;
- The large family campers.
That’s why Coleman does so well and rakes in so much revenue from the camping industry; they cater to many different campers.
However, there’s a select group of campers that should not buy Coleman tents.
Who are Coleman Tents Not For?
While Coleman tents are cost effective and of decent quality, they aren’t for:
- Camping in prolonged heavy storms;
- Camping in extreme conditions;
- Mountaineering; and
- Ultra-light backpacking.
Let’s go through this in more detail in the next section.
Is Coleman the Best Tent Brand?
While Coleman is possibly the best tent brand for budget-friendliness and value for money, Coleman tents tend to lack waterproofing features, structural integrity for extreme conditions, and the materials used in Coleman tents are not top-of-the-line materials.
While most Coleman tents are water-resistant, they’re not completely waterproof. Coleman’s patented Weather Tec system has a few features that help the tents stay dry in light to moderate rain, but aren’t so effective against heavy rain.
For example, most Coleman tents don’t have full-length rainflies, which are needed to shield against heavy rain. In fact, most Coleman tents have super short rainflies that protect only the ceiling mesh, and nothing more.
In addition, Coleman’s Weather Tec features inverted seams, which also doesn’t fare well against heavy rain. Coleman tents tend to leak through these inverted flooring seams after 15-30 minutes of heavy rain, like so:
Related Reading: How Waterproof are Coleman Tents? (REAL Evidence!)
Lacks Structural Integrity for Extreme Conditions
Coleman tents also lack structural integrity required for extreme conditions, like extreme storms and winds. This is especially evident in the materials used to construct the poles, which is mainly fiberglass for Coleman tents.
Fiberglass tends to be the least structurally sound tent pole material used. A better alternative would be aluminum poles, which are more rugged and less prone to snapping.
Also, take note that the fiberglass poles of Coleman tents aren’t particularly thick or confidence inspiring.
Lacks Features of Higher End Tents
After using tents from REI Co-Op and The North Face, which are significantly higher-end, I realized that Coleman tents lacked certain useful features as well, such as vestibule space and multiple doors.
In fact, none of my Coleman tents had any usable vestibule space. Even the front porch of my Montana 8 didn’t provide sufficient protection from rain, and it only managed to provide a little shading.
On top of that, most Coleman tents come with only 1 door, even the large family tents like the Montana 8 and Red Canyon 8. Only my WeatherMaster 10, Instant Cabin 10 and Elite Sundome 6 had 2 doors.
Lacks Storage Options
Another premium feature that Coleman tents lack is storage options. For example, I have no idea why not all Coleman tents have e-ports. For example, my Red Canyon 8, Evanston 6, Skydome 4, Instant 4, Pop Up 4 and Pop Up 2 did not have e-ports.
Also, most Coleman tents have only 2 pockets, with an average size of about 9 by 7 inches. Even my Coleman Instant Cabin 10 had only 2 pockets. How can a 10-person tent have just 2 pockets?
Materials Used are Not as High Quality
On top of having relatively thin fiberglass poles (pictured above), Coleman tents are also usually made of 68D to 75D polyester for the tent body, and polyethylene for the flooring, which are not particularly high quality.
In contrast, higher end tents tend to be made of a higher-denier polyester (at the very least), they don’t use polyethylene but polyester for the flooring, and at least some kind of aluminum for the poles (instead of fiberglass like Coleman).
Related Reading: What Are Coleman Tents Made Of? (REAL Pictures!)
Not for Ultra-Light Backpacking
Coleman tents are also made only for camping, and not for backpacking. While you could maybe use a Sundome 2 tent for backpacking if you split the weight with a friend, the packed size is still fairly large.
In contrast, actual backpacking tents would easily shave 50% off Coleman’s weight and packed size (at the very least).
Short Warranty Length
While many tent brands offer lifetime warranties for their tents, such as Marmot, and even more budget brands like Teton Sports and Alps Mountaineering, Coleman offers only a 1-year limited warranty on their tents.
Which Brand is Best for Camping Tents?
The brand of camping tent that’s best for you honestly depends on your preferences and what you’re looking to use your tent for.
For example, if you’re looking for a regular camping tent with more premium materials, tents from REI Co-Op would do the trick.
However, if you’re more into mountaineering and winter camping, Mountain Hardwear or The North Face would be a great brand of camping tent for you.
Other fantastic brands for camping tents include Marmot and Nemo; there are just too many out there to list. However, bear in mind that these tents are a lot more expensive, at least 3-4 times the price of what you’d pay for your Coleman tent, likely even more.
Which Coleman Tent is the Best?
Since I bought and tested the 14 best Coleman tents, I think I’m in a fairly good position to give recommendations on which Coleman tent is the best. If you’re interested in the reading the full round-up, you can check it out here: I Tested the 14 BEST Coleman Tents!
Otherwise, here’s a quick summary of the best Coleman tents:
- Best Large Family Tent: Coleman WeatherMaster 10-Person Tent
- Best Budget Large Family Tent: Coleman Red Canyon 8-Person Tent
- Best Instant Cabin Tent: Coleman Instant Cabin 10-Person Dark Room Tent
- Best Screen Room Tent: Coleman Evanston 6-Person Tent
- Best Value for Money: Coleman Sundome Dark Room 6-Person Tent
- Quickest Set Up: Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent
- Best Budget Pick: Coleman Sundome 2-Person Tent
BEST LARGE FAMILY TENTColeman WeatherMaster 10-Person Tent
BEST BUDGET LARGE FAMILY TENTColeman Red Canyon 8-Person Tent
BEST INSTANT CABIN TENTColeman 10-Person Instant Cabin Tent
BEST SCREEN ROOM TENTColeman Evanston 6-Person Tent
BEST VALUE FOR MONEYColeman Sundome Dark Room 6-Person Tent
QUICKEST SET UPColeman 4-Person Pop Up Tent
BEST BUDGET TENTColeman Sundome 2-Person Tent