If you’ve never been camping before but want to give it a go, looking for your first tent can be intimidating. Finding a low-cost, reliable tent with a simple design is important for newbie campers.
But it’s not just for beginners – this great value tent can be useful to experienced campers, like backpackers looking for a more spacious option for camping with your car.
This Coleman Sundome 4-Person Tent review will cover everything you will need to know, so read on to find out if this is the right choice for you!
The 4-Person version of the Coleman Sundome tent is affordable and easy to set up, making it a fantastic option for new campers.
Who’s It For?
The Coleman Sundome 4-Person Tent is not just for newcomers looking for a budget beginner model. Even for more seasoned campers, perhaps looking for a second tent, this Coleman offers enough value to potentially meet their needs.
I could have used a model like this on a recent camping trip when a friend and I headed out this summer for a weekend getaway. We both took our trusted backpacking tents, figuring the weather would hold and we could sit outside all evening.
Unfortunately, it didn’t and we were forced to spend the night alone, each sheltered from the rain in our individual tents.
The Coleman Sundome would have been a great option. I can’t really afford to spend big money on a tent for every occasion so a low-cost option that allows me to get out in the great outdoors – without the complexities and limitations of my backpacking tent – is definitely worth the expense in my eyes.
It’s also a good option for festival camping. Festivals aren’t the safest campgrounds for your tent, so a low-cost, reliable model might be a good investment. It’s also very easy to set up which is a plus for festivals as well.
Features and Benefits
Durability: How long will the tent last?
You shouldn’t expect this tent to last forever – after all, it’s a low-cost option. But there are some nifty design features to help extend the life of this value tent.
Coleman tents are tested in winds up to 35mph to ensure they will stand up to stormy conditions. This is helped in part by the 11mm shock-corded fiberglass poles. They are thicker than poles designed for backpacking which are usually around 8.5mm.
Whilst, fiberglass is a more vulnerable material that can shatter and damage tent fabric with these poles being thicker, these poles are more secure and durable than we had anticipated they would be.
The Sundome comes with Coleman’s WeatherTec System design which helps protect the tent from the outdoor elements. The bathtub floor that comes with welded corners and inverted should keep water out of the tent.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a hydrostatic head rating for this tent. We reached out to Coleman for more information and their advisor told us that their tents “don’t stop water but will stop UV”. So if you’re looking for a tent guaranteed to keep you dry, the Sundome 4-Person model might not be the best choice.
Some users also found issues with the protective polyethylene (PE) flooring being damaged within a few uses. This was not an issue we found was consistent across reviews.
You can also improve the durability of your tent floor by laying a tarp or a tent footprint before pitching to offer added protection.
Another issue with the durability of the Coleman Sundome 4-Person Tent comes from the large windows (technically, mesh sidewalls) and small rain fly. They don’t provide enough weather protection in cold conditions, with the wind getting under the rain fly. This helps with ventilation in the warmer months but during spring and autumn, it can be an issue.
Size: Does it really fit four people?
It won’t come as a surprise to those who go camping regularly that the capacity of a tent is based on the maximum number of people you could squeeze in, rather than a size that prioritizes comfort.
If you are looking for a tent for four adults, you should probably consider at least getting a 6-person option.
So, if the Coleman Sundome 4-Person Tent isn’t good for 4 people, who would it be a good size for?
- Two adults
- Three children
- An adult and two children
- Two adults and a child
You can fit a queen-sized air mattress inside (but not through the door so make sure to inflate it INSIDE the tent) but most users who had used one found that fitting anyone else in the tent – even without an air mattress of their own – was very tight.
The center height reaches 4’11” which might be too small for some campers
Setup: Can one person manage?
This tent can be put up fast and easily thanks to the simple three-pole design. Two poles run diagonally between corners to give the body of the tent it’s dome-shape.
Coleman recommends that two people set this tent up, but it can be done by one camper. One camper even reported the tent was so simple, it could be set up by their ten-year-old son!
Even first-time users found the setup simple and quick, taking on average 10 minutes, but for some users as few as 5 – even without help. The fiberglass poles sleek design means they are less likely to catch on the sleeve during setup and breakdown, which makes this a frustration-free setup.
So yes! The Coleman Sundome can be set up by one camper – even one without any experience. As always though – we recommend you practice setting the tent up at home before you head out on your trip. It helps you feel more confident in your ability and will speed things up considerably.
Features: Can you expect any thrills for this low price?
There isn’t really much remarkable about this tent other than the price. Inside you’ll find everything you will need, including two storage pockets, a hook on the ceiling for a light, and a zippered port for an electrical extension cord.
The E-port makes it easy to bring your electronics with you by allowing space for an electrical cord to enter the tent.
The rear ground vent also helps with improving ventilation in the Sundome, keeping it dry, cool, and comfortable.
The carry bag that comes with the tent is rectangular and would be too bulky for backpacking, but is conveniently sized and shaped for car camping.
We found plenty of recommendations and reviews from users on Reddit for the Coleman Sundome 4-Person Tent, particularly for car camping.
It’s a classic style and will do the job for your car camping trips. I’ve used it in many rain storms and stayed dry.
There are definitely way better tents on the market – but until you are ready to invest more money – just keep it simple.
Other users emphasised the value of the Coleman Sundome but warned prospective buyers to have a back-up plan if you’re camping in unpredictable conditions.
If you’re car camping a Coleman is fine, most upgrades start looking more at weight and extreme weather durability, so as long as you are willing to change plans if a hurricane is in the forecast you should be fine. Save the money and put it into a literal “rainy day” fund so if the weather turns into more than your Coleman can handle you can pack up and spend the night in a motel.
Alternatives to Consider
There are plenty of other options to consider if the Sundome doesn’t feel like the right tent for you.
For campers willing to spend a little more on a more rugged tent, the ALPS Mountaineering Taurus 4-Person Tent is a great alternative. As a well made three-season tent, you’ll be able to use this tent longer in the year than we’d recommend for the Coleman.
In researching this we came across a user who had even used the tent successfully in snow – which is some really impressive durability and protection from a tent that won’t break the bank. This tent is also better suited to backpacking than the Sundome.
If the Sundome is more of a beginners tent than you want, the Hooligan (also from Coleman) could be a good alternative. This tent comes with a vestibule for storage and a rain fly which provides much more coverage from the weather.
Finding pop-up tents this big is rare. The tent is incredibly easy to setup. It also comes with a fantastic vestibule with a door that can be propped up to form an awning. The sheltered living space in this tent is the advantage it has over the Coleman Sundome.
However, like the Sundome the mesh windows in this tent mean that without the rain fly on, users lose all sense of privacy. The floor is also best used with a footprint or trap underneath to make sure it isn’t damaged.
Pairs well with
For the difference in cost between the Coleman Sundome and the most expensive alternative we considered at the time of review, you could buy a well-made sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and a flashlight with a solar panel and hand crank for your trip.
We think this approach makes more sense for new campers. The products are low-cost but like the Coleman Sundome that doesn’t mean they are low-quality.
Is the Coleman Sundome tent waterproof?
It appears that the quality of materials is pretty inconsistent based on reviews. Some users reported that the Sundome could stand up to thunderstorms – others found that after a few showers, leaks started to appear.
Investing in some waterproofing sealer is definitely a good idea – not even just for this model, but lower budget tents in general.
Is this tent good for a family of four?
Unfortunately not, unless you are planning to use the tent just for sleeping (and keep your gear stored somewhere else) it’s going to be too small for a family of four. Even without gear, it’s going to be a tight squeeze. Families would definitely be better off investing in a larger model – like the 4-Person or 6-Person model.
Can you fit a queen size mattress in a 4-person tent?
Yes – but not through the door! So make sure to blow up the mattress inside the tent. There also won’t be much room in the tent with a queen-sized airbed, so we’d be hesitant to recommend it if three people are sleeping in the tent.
How to set up a Coleman Sundome 4-Person Tent:
- Firstly, find an area of level ground and lay your tent with your door facing the direction you wish
- Then stake the tent corners into the ground
- Unfold the longer, main body tent poles and slide them through the snag-free, continuous pole sleeves sewn onto the tent, before attaching the poles to the pin at the corner.
- Then hook the clips to the poles to fully attach the tent and give it shape.
- To use the rainfly, attach the smaller tent pole to the fabric before placing it over the main body of the tent and using the hook and loop straps.
- Relax in your tent!
Wrapping It All Up
The Sundome 4-Person Tent from Coleman is an excellent tent for beginners thanks to its low-cost and easy setup design. Being so reasonably priced means that the tent is also a good choice for more experienced campers looking for a new tent that won’t break the bank.
Overall, we think it’s a shrewd investment for a first-time camping tent, or as an additional shelter for car camping trips. Click here to see its current price on Amazon.