Why Are Coleman Tents So Cheap? (REAL Experience!)

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Coleman is a well-known brand in the outdoor industry, and many campers love Coleman for not only their budget friendliness, but also their decent durability. Coleman tents are one of the standout products, coming in at a significantly lower price than other competitors on the market.

Coleman tents are cheap for several reasons, including the low-cost materials and designs used in manufacturing Coleman tents, low foreign labor costs, economies of scale, as well as Coleman’s global and wide online presence.

This is a picture of me unboxing the Coleman Instant Tent 4 from its original packaging.
This is a picture of me unboxing the Coleman Instant Tent 4 from its original packaging.

Lower Cost Materials Used in Manufacturing Coleman Tents

I’ve personally bought and tested 14 different Coleman tents, and found that Coleman tents are not made of top-of-the-line kind of materials. To keep costs down, less expensive materials like polyethylene, polyester and fiberglass are used in the tent construction. 

The flooring of almost every Coleman tent is made of polyethylene, which is the material you will find in inexpensive tarps. Polyethylene is one of the least expensive materials used to make the flooring of any tent, and here’s what it looks like:

This is the polyethylene flooring of the Coleman Sundome 2.
This is the polyethylene flooring of the Coleman Sundome 2.

The tent body of almost every Coleman tent is made of 68D polyester, which is not very thick, and the poles are usually made of fiberglass, again, one of the least expensive materials used to manufacture tent poles, and these are usually thinner compare to higher-end brands:

One of the fiberglass poles of the Coleman Skydome Tent.
One of the fiberglass poles of the Coleman Skydome Tent.

In contrast, higher end tents (like REI Co-Op tents and The North Face tents) are made of higher quality materials, like 150D polyester for the flooring, and even DAC aluminum poles:

Here are the DAC aluminum poles of The North Face Wawona 6 Tent.
Here are the DAC aluminum poles of The North Face Wawona 6 Tent.

Designs of Coleman Tents are Cost-Effective

On top of simply just using budget-friendly materials, I’ve also noticed that the designs of Coleman tents fall short of higher-end tents as well. It’s the small details, you know?

No Color-Coding

For example, I’ve noticed that most Coleman tent poles do not come color-coded, which is not a super big issue to me, but at the same time, I think it’s just to lower the cost of the Coleman tent.

These are all the fiberglass poles of the Coleman Carlsbad Tent.
These are all the fiberglass poles of the Coleman Carlsbad Tent.

In a higher-end tent, you’ll find that the tent body poles are color-coded, and so will the screen room pole and the rainfly pole. However, for my Coleman Carlsbad Tent (above), every single pole is green. I suspect that manufacturing all the poles in the same color helps to keep costs down.

Seams Not Factory Taped

I’ve also noticed that Coleman markets their tents as water-resistant, thanks to their proprietary WeatherTec system, which features inverted seams.

While these seams are able to keep out heavy rain for between 15 to 30 minutes, they’re definitely not as good as sealed seams.

The bathtub flooring seam of the Skydome Tent had started leaking a little.
The bathtub flooring seam of the Skydome Tent had started leaking a little after 15 minutes.

In contrast, higher-end tents, like all my REI and The North Face tents, all come with 100% factory taped seams, so they keep out rain much more effectively than Coleman tents.

Instead, when you buy a Coleman tent, and you expect prolonged heavy rains, you’d have to buy seam sealant yourself to tape the seams on the inside of the tent. The lack of any factory taping inside the tent is another reason I suspect Coleman is able to sell their tents at a lower price than the competition.

Thankfully, at least Coleman tapes the rainfly seams, like so:

This is the rainfly of my Coleman Sundome Dark Room 6 Tent. Notice that there's seam taping around the seam.
This is the rainfly of my Coleman Sundome Dark Room 6 Tent. Notice that there’s seam taping around the seam.

Most Coleman Tents are Made in China

After inspecting my 14 Coleman tents, I noticed one big similarity with all of them – they’re usually made in China. I find this information usually written on the outer cardboard packaging of the Coleman tent when it first arrives from the retailer.

Some Coleman tents simply state that they’re “Made in China”, like so (sorry the picture isn’t too clear):

The outer packaging of the Coleman Sundome 6.
The outer packaging of the Coleman Sundome 6.

One of my Coleman tents went further to state that it’s “Made in China”, but “Cut and sewn in Bangladesh”.

The outer packaging of the Coleman Montana 8.
The outer packaging of the Coleman Montana 8.

While some consumers are completely put off by the idea of having their camping tents made in China, this is another key reason why Coleman is able to keep the costs of their tents low. After all, labor in China and Bangladesh is definitely much less expensive than labor in countries like the United States.

Coleman’s Manufacturing Processes Provide Economies of Scale

Another reason Coleman tents are so inexpensive is because Coleman has been in business for over 100 years now, having been founded back in 1900. (That’s about ~120 years now, not to be specific or anything.)

Large Range of Products

Over the years, Coleman has designed and manufactured a humongous range of products. When you look at just Coleman tents alone, there are easily dozens of different Coleman tents that you can buy.

In fact, I have 14 different Coleman tents, and I honestly think that’s just scratching the surface; there are so many Coleman tents out there that I haven’t got the chance to test yet.

My collection of 14 Coleman tents in my room.
My collection of 14 Coleman tents in my room.

And that’s just tents. When you look for a Coleman lantern, or a Coleman sleeping bag, or anything else Coleman, you’ll find that you will have dozens of choices. A mind-boggling number of choices, in fact.

This wide range of products allows Coleman to cater to outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and skill. This secures a humongous market share for Coleman.

In addition, I noticed that certain Coleman products share the exact same manufacturing process. For example, earlier in this blog post I showed you a picture of the Coleman Carlsbad tent poles. Now, take a look at the Coleman Dark Room Sundome tent poles. Don’t they look almost identical?

This is what all the fiberglass poles of the Coleman Dark Room Sundome Tent look like.
This is what all the fiberglass poles of the Coleman Dark Room Sundome Tent look like.

This allows Coleman to manufacture the same item for multiple different products, resulting in cost-savings that Coleman eventually passes onto the consumers.

Large Number of Suppliers

Since Coleman has been in business for over a century now, there’s no doubt that they have managed to acquire many different suppliers, which allows Coleman to reap cost savings from the lowest-cost materials and labor.

Their large-scale manufacturing process certainly provides economies of scale, resulting in cost-savings for consumers and cheaper Coleman products all around.

Coleman Has a Global and Wide Online Presence

Coleman’s Global Presence

As a content creator who focuses on camping and lives in Asia, I usually have quite a bit of trouble shipping different products to my home. After all, the North American camping market is infinitely bigger than the Asian camping market. Also, certain American brands like The North Face and Marmot don’t typically ship outside the United States.

The logo on my Coleman Sundome 2 Tent.
The logo on my Coleman Sundome 2 Tent.

However, I didn’t have the same problem with my Coleman tents. They were easily accessible to me via Amazon. In fact, I could even walk into any outdoor shop in Singapore (where I live), and find Coleman tents and other Coleman products easily. I feel that Coleman’s global presence really helps in increasing their revenue and passing cost-savings to consumers.

Coleman’s Online Presence

I also really love that Coleman often runs discounts on their products. On Amazon especially, the prices of Coleman tents are often super competitive, and you can’t get a better price elsewhere. This allows Coleman to access an even larger segment of consumers than before, turning more people into loyal Coleman fans.

How Cheap are Coleman Tents?

Coleman tents are usually priced in either the low or mid range. The least expensive Coleman tent that I have is the Coleman Sundome 2, which I bought for around $50. This tent fits a queen bed, has decent rain protection and decent ventilation, all for about $50. This is highly inexpensive.

This is a picture of me guying out the Coleman Sundome 2-Person Tent.
This is a picture of me guying out the Coleman Sundome 2-Person Tent.

In fact, one of my YouTube viewers even told me that he found a Coleman Sundome 2 at just a mere $23, which is incredible value for money. Where else would you be able to buy a decent quality camping tent for just $23?

An inexpensive large family camping tent is the Coleman Montana 8. It sleeps 8, or 3 queen beds, and I paid only about $150 for it, which is also an incredible steal.

This is what 8 pads looks like inside the Coleman Montana 8-Person Tent. From top to bottom: Klymit Uninsulated Double V, Exped MegaMat Duo 10, Klymit Insulated Double V, Big Agnes sleeping bag, and the last pad was under my feet when I was snapping this picture.
This is what 8 pads looks like inside the Coleman Montana 8-Person Tent. From top to bottom: Klymit Uninsulated Double V, Exped MegaMat Duo 10, Klymit Insulated Double V, Big Agnes sleeping bag, and the last pad was under my feet when I was snapping this picture.

Of course, you’ll find other mid-ranged Coleman tents as well, such as the WeatherMaster 10 and the Instant Cabin 10 for about $250 to $300. While these aren’t expensive, these aren’t as budget-friendly as the Sundome and Montana. But they are a lot more feature-rich (with hinged doors, etc.), and higher quality (with steel poles, etc.), so I do believe that you get what you pay for.

This is a picture of me setting up the guylines of the WeatherMaster 10-Person Tent. I had set up the entire tent on my own.
This is a picture of me setting up the guylines of the WeatherMaster 10-Person Tent. I had set up the entire tent on my own.

Do Cheap Coleman Tents Compromise on Quality?

Despite the inexpensive price tag of Coleman tents, I find their quality decent, and I would definitely recommend them if you’re on a budget. If you take care of your Coleman tent and maintain it well, you can camp in a Coleman tent for at least 5 years, if not more. Some of my Coleman tents have last me 4 years, and counting.

In fact, some Coleman tents are extremely feature-rich, despite the low price. A great example of this is my Coleman Sundome Dark Room Tent 6. I paid just $100 for this tent, and got an amazing dark room feature, which made camping in hot summer days much more bearable. I could also squeeze 6 people into this tent, and even stand up under the 6-foot peak height. It’s one of the best budget tents I’ve ever used in my life.

This is a picture of me lying down in the Dark Room Sundome Tent with the door closed.
This is a picture of me lying down in the Dark Room Sundome Tent with the door closed.

However, just bear in mind that Coleman tents are more fair-weather tents, and are not to be used in inclement weather. Unlike performance-enhanced high-end tents like the REI Base Camp, for example, Coleman tents are not to be used in strong winds, ridiculous storms, and are also not for deep winter use.

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