Gear

Coleman Sundome 3 Review

coleman sundome review
Bertie
Written by Bertie

Camping is pleasant alone, but with friends or family, it’s fantastic. Whether you’re rocking out at a festival or sending your kids off to the Scouts, you need a great tent.

In this Coleman Sundome 3 person tent review, we aim to find out if this is the perfect tent for any occasion.

It may be a tight fit for three adults, but it’s more suitable for an adult and two kids. You can also fit a queen-sized airbed inside, with a foot of space to spare for gear.

Let’s check out the tent further...

What We Like

  • Fantastic price.
  • Simple to set up for beginners.
  • Protects against rain.
  • Well-ventilated.

What We Don’t Like

  • No room for gear.
  • It can get chilly.
  • Double the weight of similar tents.
  • Poor visibility to the outside.

Bottom Line

Before we get into the bulk of this Coleman Sundome 3 person tent review, here’s the skinny if you’re in a hurry:

This is a tent that works great for the price and does exactly what it says on the tin. It’ll sleep three people—cramped for adults, roomier for kids, with a small space left for gear.

Because there’s so little space for equipment, it’s not a great tent for backpacking. But, it’s good for bikepacking, motorcycle camping or casual summer use. It’s also a great gift for kids in the Scouts, or who like to play camping. (Check out our article Coleman Sundome reviews for info on other versions of the tent).

Where to buy Coleman Sundome 3

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The Coleman Sundome 3 weighs just under 9lbs and has a footprint of 7'x7'

Overview

As we enter this Coleman Sundome 3 person tent review, we can note that it’s well-named. To give it the more informal name of a “3-man” tent would be a lie, as it’s not optimal for three adults.

However, this is a nice and spacious tent for two adults and a child or dog and a small amount of gear. It’s much roomier for three kids on their own, solo-ing in the backyard or with the Scouts.

Forgoing any gear, it can also be a decently roomy experience for three adults who don’t mind sleeping without much personal space.

Size aside, it’s a great beginner tent for people of all ages. It’s neither the best nor the lightest, but you can easily test the waters with it. Given the right conditions, it provides just enough shelter from the night to help you determine if you enjoy camping.

Forgoing the best conditions, you’ll need to give the tent a few upgrades:

  • New stakes.
  • Seal the seams.
  • Add a waterproof coating.
  • Consider using a tarp.

But after that, you’ll be set.

Specs

The Coleman Sundome 3-person tent weighs 8.7 pounds, with a 7 by 7 floorplan. It’s 4 feet 4 inches at its tallest point in the center.

You enter this space via a single door, with an awning to keep the rain out. As well as the entrance, you also have two windows for ventilation. The polyethylene floor has a nearby vent allowing for ventilation, too.

Both the floor and walls are also waterproof—the entire tent is meant to be weatherproof, and some customers vouch that it’s a 4-season tent. The manufacturer doesn’t state a season-rating for the tent, so all we have to go off is customer opinions.

There’s an expandable pocket large enough for phones, sunglasses and similar basics. Also easily accessed from the floor is an e-port, so you can power a laptop or radio without opening the windows or doors.

Features and Benefits

While the specs are great for the price, some are very beneficial, but others have their downsides.

Weight

8 pounds isn’t a lot for an adult to carry, but it’s substantial for a child, depending on their age and strength. This might cause a slight struggle for kids going solo, for example, with the Scouts.

That’s also quite heavy for a 3-person tent. According to some backpackers, any weigh less than 5 pounds—even many premium 5-person tents weigh less.

However, you’re likely to pay more for a lighter tent, as the manufacturers have to use lighter, costlier materials.

Floor Space

There’s nothing over or underwhelming about the Coleman Sundome when it comes to sleeping three people. The 7 feet of space side to side is enough to have two people and a small child—or a medium-sized dog!—sitting comfortably cross-legged.

You could fit three adults sitting in this fashion, too, but two of them might be touching the walls, and there’d be no wiggle room.

Lying down, it’s another world. There’s more space to spare even with three adults, and you could fit a king-sized mattress for you all to share.

However, this will compromise storage space if you don’t have a vehicle. So, cutting down to a queen-size gives you room to place your backpacks and other essentials besides the mattress.

Lengthwise, you’ll have about a foot of space between the mattress and the entrance to work with, regardless of mattress width.

So, to optimize the tent’s floor space, you’ll either need:

  • To not have three adults in the tent if you have gear and no vehicle.
  • An enclosed, lockable vehicle.
  • To only use the tent for short trips requiring minimal gear.

Height

Unless you have a bad back, you should have no problem with the height of this tent. Extensively tall people will find it cramped, but 4-feet 4-inches is plenty to get around for most adults when stooping. 

Realistically, you’ll be sitting or lying down in the tent. You’ll only be standing to get in the door, which measures a little under 4-feet tall. Any discomfort will be quick.

When sitting, there’s plenty of room overhead, even when kneeling.

Stakes

7 feet is wide, and 4 feet is taller than you’d think. For these reasons, the 

stakes that come with this tent might not hold well.

Coleman Sundome 3-person reviews from customers particularly mention that they’re cheap and lightweight—as is often the case with budget tents. It’s hard to see how they’d suffice if the weather were windy or if the ground is too hard or soft.

They may also bend on too-solid ground—customers had this issue with other Sundome models.

Don’t let this put you off buying the Sundome 3, though. Tent stakes are easily replaced, so consider replacing the standard set with higher-grade options.

Ventilation

Ventilation is vital in a tent, especially when it’s warm and crowded. Luckily, there are two windows to help keep the air circulating.

These are made of a meshy material that’s supposedly waterproof from the outside, but allows more flow from within.

It’s the same story with the small vent flap you can open low down on the tent, which provides extra airflow when sleeping.

Keep in mind, the more ventilation you have, the colder the tent will get in the wind or frost. It’s a budget piece of equipment and wasn’t made to withstand harsh, freezing conditions.

Consider adding extra insulation if you’re handy with a needle and thread. Keep in mind; this will increase the tent’s weight.

Temperature and Weatherproofing

Every tent will advertise how it’s waterproof and stays warm—even the lowest-quality tents come with this claim.

The Sundome 3 is of mid-quality, and Coleman advertises that it’s WeatherTec-patented and waterproof, with a door awning to keep rain out.

Weatherproofed it may be, but you’d be safer reinforcing the exterior with an extra layer of insulated waterproof material.

You’d also be smart to invest in a tarp to cover the tent in the direction the rain is falling, if not the whole tent. If you can’t do this straight away before your first trip, don’t worry. People found the tent will keep you dry—but the question is, how many trips and days of heavy rain will it work perfectly for?

Customers also found this is definitely not a cold-weather tent, so be prepared and take some blankets or extra insulation with you.

Storage

This tent has nothing fancy in terms of storage. There’s no gear loft, and pockets are minimal.

If you want to keep your valuables safe, there’s one small, low pocket inside the tent. It’s expandable but definitely not infinite, so it’s really only there to hold your phone, wallet, torch, water bottle and anything else you may need in the night.

The pocket is easily accessed, though—to the back and on the left side looking in. Although, if you tend to flail in your sleep, you may end up hitting it due to its proximity to the ground. This may unseat your valuables, so secure them well.

E-Port

One of the best features of the Sundome 3 is the e-port. While external battery packs are always convenient to charge a phone, you can’t really use them to power anything bigger.

When spooky stories get boring, or you just can’t sleep, it’d be nice to have a laptop or radio to liven things up. Or, some pleasant twinkle-lights to comfort young kids.

The e-port makes this simple. You run a (weatherproof) extension cable through it from a vehicle to your electrical device of choice. If you’re backyard camping, you could also run the cord from the tent to the house.

Having the e-port ensures you can keep the door closed, keeping out any rain, wind or insects. It makes it an altogether safer and more pleasant experience.

Inverted Seams

A smart feature this tent possesses is inverted seams, meaning the joinings of the tent are on the inside. This is to protect them from weather damage and is an extra move to keep water out of your tent.

Although the inversion will protect them from external damage, there’s no telling the quality of the stitching. At this price, it may be one of the areas lacking in the tent—reinforcing the seams would be a wise move to extend the tent’s longevity.

Snag-Free Pole Sleeves

One of the most irritating parts of tents is the setup. To make this one a breeze, the manufacturers attempted to keep the tent snag-free, so it slides onto the poles with ease.

It seems to have worked—customers rave about how easy the tent is to assemble.

The simple assembly makes this an excellent buy for beginners or for kids who’ll be setting up solo.

Scenarios Ideally Suited to the Sundome 3

Let’s be honest—most experienced campers wanting a 3-person tent will probably go for something premium. They may even go for something bigger, too, for the extra space per person.

This is an excellent option for frequent campers with lots of gear who go out in all weathers. But, if you’re a beginner and are considering the Sundome 3, let’s look at real scenarios buyers have used it in and see how it held up.

All information is taken directly from a Coleman Sundome 3 person tent review from verified customers.

Festivals

Festivals can be messy places with drunk people gone wild, so the first piece of positive news in this scenario is the tent’s price. If it gets trashed, it’s not a tragedy.

The second is that this is a simple, uncomplicated tent—perfect for quickly setting up at a festival, letting you save the rest of your time for enjoying yourself.

Two adults plus all of their gear and luggage could get incredible use out of it. It’s great for couples or two friends but would also suit a family well—parents and gear in the 3-person tent, with the kids in another tent to give them some independence.

Of course, it also fits three people, but there’d be no space for festival memorabilia or your gear—glow sticks will just about fit in, though!

All in all, spatially, it should work well, and people found it structurally sound. Several festival-goers praised its ability to withstand some rain, where people without the Sundome 3P had to go hide in their cars.

Backyard Camping

There are three fun backyard camping scenarios this tent would be terrific for:

  • Kids going solo for a night.
  • Parent(s) and child for a first early-years camping experience.
  • A toy for daytime play—a secret clubhouse, a great hiding place for hide and seek, and so on.

However, there are some conflicting reviews for backyard use.

Festival-goers praised its waterproof capabilities, but several backyard users found water came in through the seams. Although, most of them didn’t use a rain cover—so consider getting that tarp!

Rain issue aside, it’s a great temporary tent you can throw up and whip down easily, even daily if you wish. It’s lightweight, so it’s easy to carry back inside, and it folds up small, making it simple to store.

Just be careful you don’t use it near the flower beds—just one gust of wind and dirt ends up in the tent. One user had this issue with sand when camping in a desert.

Scouts

Whether you’re a scout master or a scout, you can get some great use from this tent indoors or out.

One buyer found the tents excellent for an entire Boy Scout troop, in all seasons—even in snow.

It’s an excellent shelter, but many buyers state it’s best to add some seam seal to the seams first.

Not only does the Sundome 3-person tent keep the kids safe from the elements, but it’s incredibly easy to put together for an independent child as young as seven. And, if something breaks or gets lost—as happens frequently with kids—you can order replacement parts from the manufacturers.

The price also makes this Coleman Sundome tent easy to replace if it’s beyond repair. Although, if the damage is from the elements and not the rowdy kid, you might consider an alternative.

Alternatives

If the Sundome 3-person isn’t for you, the ALPS Mountaineering Meramac 3-person tent is another great budget option. For a few more dollars, you'll get a proper 3-season tent that’s also suitable for backpacking and thru-hiking.

You won’t need to upgrade this one quite as much as the Sundome 3, either.

The Stakes Are Out

All in all, what we learn from this Coleman Sundome 3 person tent review is it’s a little-criticized and decent starter tent for kids and amateurs. It has a handful of intuitive features and will keep you dry, but could do with some TLC.

It may be used as an all-season tent, given the conditions in the given season are optimal—not too windy, and not too cold unless you bring extra blankets.

And, if you don’t use it every other weekend, it should last you for a few years of fun. However, it may stop being so roomy as your kids start to grow!

About the author

Bertie

Bertie

I’m Bertie and I’ve been enjoying the wilderness for as long as I can remember. I get out camping, hiking and backpacking whenever I can. And when I can’t, I enjoy writing about outdoor-related stuff!

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