Gear

Coleman Sundome Review – Worth It or Bust?

coleman sundome review
Bertie
Written by Bertie

Every summer Sundome tents fly off the shelves. It's not hard to explain why. Coleman are a well-known, trusted brand and the Sundome series is probably the cheapest series of tents on the market today.

So we're saying you should buy one, right?

Well...not exactly. A trusted brand and a cheap price point does not necessarily mean you will get a tent that's right for you.

We'll dive into much more detail below (and we've got separate reviews for the Sundome 2, Sundome 3, Sundome 4 & Sundome 6). But if you're after a quick and dirty summary, here you go:

Pros 

Let's face it, the main pro is that they're cheap. And the overwhelming majority of people who buy one seem happy with their purchase. So they definitely work.

They make a fantastic tent for kids, especially for backyard camping. They're a very low-cost investment to test out if it's something the little ones will enjoy or not. (Can you imagine investing 100s only to find out they hate it?!).

By that same token, they're a really good first tent for anyone, including adults, who wants to test the water without breaking the bank.

Plenty of people report that they've had great success using the Sundome for scouts, festivals and car camping in the summer.

Cons

It doesn't have a proper rainfly. This means that in anything but the lightest drizzle, you're opening yourself up to the risk of getting wet. That's not to say you will definitely get wet. There's plenty of folks who say they've stayed bone dry in a downpour.

But the design (which lacks total coverage) does increase the risk of water ingress.

And the lack of total coverage also means that the tent has more ventilation than tents with a full fly. That's great in hot weather. Less good as soon as the temperature starts to drop.

In Summary

It's a summer tent aimed at kids, festival goers and first-timers looking to dip their toe into the world of camping. If you're on a budget and expecting fair weather, then you probably won't be disappointed.

On the flip side it's not a tent you should expect to survive really heavy use. And we wouldn't take it backpacking, especially not in anything but the fairest of weather (and even then only if we were on the tightest of budgets).

Where to Buy Sundome Tents

coleman sundome review

Coleman Sundome 2 - 35sq feet, weighs 7lbs and fits a queen size mattress.

coleman sundome review

Coleman Sundome 3 - 49sq feet of floorspace and weighs around 9lbs.

coleman sundome review

Coleman Sundome 4 - 63sq feet of floorspace and weighs a little over 9lbs.

coleman sundome review

Coleman Sundome 6 - 10' x 10' of floorspace.

The Coleman Sundome Series

The Sundome series is a range of inexpensive, no-frill tents for basic car camping, a scouting trip or a music festival. Sundome tents are near as damnit the cheapest tents you can find anywhere. 

These tents come in different sizes intended for anywhere from two to six people, and here's everything you need to know about each one.

Coleman Sundome 2

The Coleman Sundome 2-person tent counts as the most budget-friendly option for first-time campers. The tent protects you against harsh weather, has proper ventilation, and best of all, it's super easy to install. 

In addition to its two large windows, the tent has a floor ventilation system, which enhances the airflow and freshens the inside atmosphere. It's also equipped with a sturdy frame and durable flysheet that won't get damaged in heavy storms. 

The tent is 5 by 7 feet, meaning it has enough space for single travelers or two co-campers who don't need extra space for their gear. It has a 48-foot center height, making it a favorable choice for most people. One customer who’d bought the tent to camp in a private place during the quarantine days says, "It has great ceiling height and floor area for two adults and two dogs." 

However, people over 6' 2"—who comprise less than 10 percent of the American population—can't comfortably lie down in the tent. They should either bend their knees or push their head against the wall!

The two internal pockets are a great place to put your glasses, phone, battery bank and other breakable items. As a bonus, these pockets are high up, meaning your stuff will even be safer.

One precaution to consider before buying the product is its weight. Based on customer reviews, many reported it not being lightweight. So, it's only best for car camping, backyard camping or any other trips where you don't have to walk a long way. 

The zippered e-port located on the front corner is another indicator that most people use the tent in equipped campsites or places with car access rather than far-fetched, wild natures.

Besides, although it's listed as a three-season tent, the windows and ventilation system let the heat out in the winter and will make you feel drafty in cold temperatures. It really is just a warm weather tent.

If you're not that tall, are no more than two people in your party, and want a fair-priced tent plus two gear pockets, a lantern loop, and an electrical port, the Coleman Sundome 2 Person might be your best bet. However, I don't suggest it for two people who aren't fine with a cozy space! 

Pros

  • Affordable.
  • Great for solo installation.
  • Lantern loop, electrical port and gear pockets.

Cons

  • Rather tight for tall people.
  • Chilly in the fall and winter

Coleman Sundome 3

This one is a dome-shaped tent that measures 7 by 7 feet wide and 4.3 feet high. According to customer feedback, this version can only fit two adults with a kid, dog and additional luggage or three adults with no extra gear.

Moreover, if you want to sleep on a queen air mattress, it would be a little tight, and you'd better go for a 4-person alternative.

Regarding the height, an average height—5'3" to 5' 10"—can comfortably lie down or sit up in the tent, but anyone over 6’ may run into some trouble.

Compared to its capacity, the 3-person Sundome is rather lightweight. With all its accessories, the tent is about 3.5 kilograms, which is only 300 grams heavier than the 2-person alternative. What's more, the tent comes with separate bags for the fabric, stakes and poles, meaning you can divide the load between three people and start your backpacking trip.

Like any other Coleman tent, the 3-person Sundome has inverted seams and welded corners, making it a highly waterproof shelter that prevents water from getting in. Also, its snag-free design avoids any rips or tears, and its resistant polyester fabric makes it stay upright during heavy winds and floods.

It only takes about 10 minutes to set up and another 10 minutes to take the tent down. As one reviewer said, two people with a bit of practice can even set it up in less than 3 minutes! The good news is that you can even put the tent up without looking at the manual. So, if you're not a "follow the instructions” kind of person, the Coleman Sundome 3P will work well.

The tent is equipped with two interior pockets on both sides and offers enough space to put your stuff, such as cellphones, car keys, wallet, etc. But, it doesn't have the lantern hook at the top, making it less favorable for those who like to read a few pages before going to bed.

Even if you're only two travelers rather than three, you should pick this model because, for only a few more dollars, you'll get a more spacious tent and won't face any storage issues.

The 3P tent is also a summer-type camping tent—an issue that's rarely mentioned in Coleman Sundome reviews. Unlike what's written in the specifications, the tent cannot protect you against heavy breezy winds in the fall or cold winds in the winter.

Concerning color, this model is available in two shades—dark and bright. If you're not a morning person and want to sleep a couple more hours in the morning, it's probably better to pick the darker gray color. The white-green one lets the sun rays get in, so it'll be pretty hard to keep sleeping when the sun rises.

On the other hand, if you live in a hot city or plan to travel in warm climates, the green tent is probably a chillier option because the dark fabrics can really get hot under the full sun.

Pros

  • Easy to carry.
  • Quick setup.
  • Water-resistant fabric.
  • Waterproof.

Cons

  • No light hook.
  • Only suitable for one season.

Coleman Sundome 4

This model’s interior is 9 by 7 feet wide. Although it's mathematically enough to put four standard sleeping pads in and fit four people, it can be a bit crowded for four adults. So, you should opt for this tent only if there are fewer than four people in your group, or at least if you don't mind being a bit friendly with your companions. 

In particular, a customer commented on how they fitted a queen-sized mattress in the tent and had a little space left on both sides of the mattress. Along with her two teenagers, they had some extra room to one side. But, although they slept comfortably, she suggests it's not a roomy tent for three people plus backpacks, let alone four grownups.

However, a perfectly happy customer reported that six 11-year-old girls fitted nicely in the 4-person tent along with their three bags. Also, the tent is 4' 11" high, and a 6' 3" customer reports he had plenty of room when laid out in the tent.

Like all Coleman Sundome products, this 4-person tent is waterproof, and, with its 1mm shock-corded fiberglass poles, can resist more than 35mph winds. 

Plus, the quality rainfly, which is made of polyester taffeta 75-denier fabric, serves as a strong barrier against storms, and its bathtub floor design prevents water from below. 

As a disadvantage, we can point to its single-door design. While a single door is enough for a 2-person tent, and maybe a 3-person one, a tent for four people usually needs more entries. 

It has two zipped windows on the walls, plus a screened window on the door. You can even open half the ceiling for more airflow, making the tent ideal for summer days. There's also a ceiling loop for attaching a lantern and two pockets for holding your small belongings.

One critical issue that we found in conducting our Coleman Sundome review is about the warranty. Although all Coleman Sundome products have a one-year limited warranty, customers report that the manufacturer falls short on fixing the problems. A customer who bought the 4P tent had gotten the poles broken, and despite sending multiple emails to the company, he never received a response.

However, aside from the warranty issue, limiting size and single-door design, the Coleman Sundome 4-person tent provides great value for the price. It offers excellent ventilation, weather protection and is a breeze to set up.

Pros

  • Quality rainfly.
  • Resistant poles.
  • Suitable for tall people.
  • Great ventilation.

Cons

  • Doesn't fit four adults.
  • Only has one door.

Coleman Sundome 6

This is the largest tent in the Coleman Sundome collection. So, if you plan to spend a night in the lap of nature along with your family, the Coleman Sundome 6-Person should be your go-to.

According to the manufacturer, the tent has enough room for six people, and its dimensions are 10 feet by 10 feet. But, you'll have a hard time trying to fit five or six adults in there. If you're four people, though, it has the space. 

The tent will also properly fit two queen-sized mattresses. With these, you'll have a 2-foot gap from the tip of the mattresses to the door. Therefore, it provides enough space for your luggage and backpacks.

Although five people can still fit in the tent, they might have to push a bit against the tent’s walls. And, the more you push, the more likely there’ll be water leakage. So, groups of more than four people should spray silicon on the seams as a precaution. 

One customer, who’d set up the tent in a Florida thunderstorm, says that although they didn't get the chance to spray waterproofing on it, the tent never leaked.

Despite its resistance against rains and showers, some customers have reported a weakness against heavy winds. "To give you an idea," a reviewer says, "we were asleep when the storm started and woke up with the wind pressing the top of the tent down on our faces!"

Even so, the best thing about the Coleman Sundome 6P tent is that the setup procedure is a breeze, and only one person can do it. When checking out Coleman Sundome reviews, we even found a first-time camper who’d gone camping with two kids and two dogs, who installed the tent in just 15 minutes on their own.

This easy setup is due to the tent having only two poles—one for the tent and the other for holding the flysheet up. The fiberglass poles are already assembled like a string, and all you need to do is to thread them through and clamp them together with the attached clips. 

With its 6-foot height, the tent is also high enough for anyone shorter than this. You can easily move, get in/out and even stand up in the tent.

The airflow is also great—there are two mesh windows at the sides, and an optional window at the top, which is great for summer ventilation. But, for those planning to camp in crowded places, like festivals, and need privacy at the same time, it's not an ideal tent—there's a revealing gap between the rainfly and the windows. 

Moreover, with too much ventilation, you might find the tent chilly during the cold season. So, it's more suitable for hot-weather camping.

Pros

  • Nice airflow.
  • Quick setup.
  • Readily assembled poles.
  • Spacious.
  • Fits two queen mattresses.
  • Well-suited to tall people.

Cons

  • Low privacy.
  • Not suitable for the cold season.
  • Not flood-resistant.

Bottom Line

Coleman tents come in different sizes and styles. In this review, we rounded up the most practical ones for beginners, first-time campers and low-budget folks.

Choose the best option for your needs based on how many people you're traveling with, how tall you are, what mattress you want to use, and what climate you're going to camp in.

The Coleman Sundome 2-person tent is the best option for solo campers or couples with limited baggage. Its price makes it especially appealing to those who don’t want to spend a fortune on their first tent. 

If you’re willing to spend a few more dollars to have more convenience, you should go with the 3-person model. It’s ideal for camping in warm weather with your partner and pet, but it isn’t a good option for the winter.

The Coleman Sundome 4-person tent comes with a polyester rainfly, which protects you against storms. It’s also designed to prevent water entering from below the tent. However, the single-door design can make the tent a bit tough for four people to use. 

Finally, you should buy the 6-person tent if you want an easy-to-set-up tent for an entire family adventure. But, it doesn’t score high on the privacy scale because it has a revealing gap between the rainfly and the windows.

History of the Coleman Brand

When it comes to quality, few companies enjoy the credit and reputation of Coleman.

Founded in 1900, Coleman has been manufacturing recreational, camping and outdoor gear for over 120 years. 

William Coffin Coleman—the founder—dedicated his whole career to creating and selling quality products. When he died in 1953, Coleman's investors and his grandchildren kept the company moving forward. 

In its early years, the company was just a maker of lighting equipment. In 1914, while the American allies struggled in the Great War, Coleman used to ship lanterns to farmers so that they could work at night and produce more crops for their soldiers, citizens and allies. 

In less than five years, Coleman made a name for itself and became widely known worldwide.

In the 1940s, the company expanded its range of products to pocket stoves and distributed them for military use. These compact, portable stoves could work with almost any kind of fuel and easily fit into a soldier's pocket.

After World War II ended, the company entered the recreational sector. To meet its outdoor customer’s needs, it started to produce different types of camping gear, such as camp stoves, lanterns, tents and even coolers. 

Since the company’s core objective is to make the outdoor experience easy and affordable for all groups, Coleman now provides the most inexpensive, high-quality camping tents for outdoor enthusiasts.

Read on to learn more about the best Coleman Sundome tents, along with its core features.

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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