I have used this tent as my family’s sole tent for the past 10 months. During this time we have camped in southeastern Wisconsin on numerous occasions and throughout the rest of the state a few times. The terrain has been very similar every time – level, slightly rocky terrain.
Year of Manufacture: 2004
Manufacturer’s Website: www.coleman.com
Listed Weight: 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms)
Actual Weight: 31.2 pounds (14.2 kilograms)
Occupancy: 8 person tent
Rooms: 3 rooms & a screened porch (total 4 rooms)
3 doors to the outside
Material: 185T polyester, 1000D polyethylene sheeting
Poles: Fiberglass (6 total) – total weight 9 pounds (4.1 kilograms)
3 primary are 19 feet 3 inches (5.87 meters) long
weighing 1.8 pounds (.82 kilograms) each
3 secondary are 16 feet (4.88 meters) long
weighing 1.2 pounds (.54 kilograms) each
Listed Dimensions (open): 72 inches (183 centimeters)H
x 204 inches (518 centimeters)W
x 168 inches (427 centimeters)D
Actual Dimensions (open): 73 inches (185 centimeters)H
x 204.25 inches (521 centimeters)W
x 165 inches (419 centimeters)D
Actual Dimensions (packed): 11 inches (28 centimeters)H
x 23 inches (58 centimeters)W
x 13 inches (33 centimeters)D
It has been used in beautiful 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 Celsius) weather, in downpours when it was only 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 Celsius), and pretty much anything in between.
My biggest concern when first considering this tent was the weight – at over 30 pounds (14 kilograms), it truly is a beast. I would never consider using this tent for anything but camping when a vehicle was within 2 miles (3 1/4 kilometers) of the campground – any further and it would be too much of a burden to make it worthwhile.
While this tent packs down small for its size, it is still a monster and will take up a large part of any pack. Due to the sheer space that this tent takes up, it often requires a separate trip to the car. The only time that I would even consider taking this tent further than a few miles would be if I was using it at a base camp for an extended (a month or longer) trip, but even then I would favor just using lightweight tents or hammocks. I’ve been able to park within ¼ mile (1/2 kilometer) of our campsite each time I’ve used it, so the weight was not much of an issue so far. The biggest selling point for us on this tent was the size – while there are only 4 of us who use this tent regularly, it is nice to have some extra space in case the kids have friends that tag along. It is also very nice for me to have a tent that is tall enough that I can stand up inside with no effort.
While the tent doesn’t stay at full height for the entire inside of the tent, the taper to shorter heights is very gradual, ending at approximately 60 inches (1.5 meters) high where the walls drop down – this is high enough to be comfortable while moving around just about anywhere inside. This tent met all of my criteria for choosing a family car camping tent, and then some.
The second concern was how difficult setup would be. I am “technically challenged” to begin with, and I have had a very hard time setting up large family-style tents in the past. Imagine my terror when we realized that the instructions had not been included with our tent! Quite honestly, I was amazed with the setup of this tent. It definitely requires two people to set it up, but for the two of us, it was a breeze – from opening the tent to having it fully set up took us less than 5 minutes. A true testament to the ease of set up is that even with 6 poles and a huge tent, we had no trouble even without any directions. The biggest confusion that I had, which I only recently had cleared up by a discussion with a friend who has since purchased the same tent and an e-mail to Coleman, was the number of rooms that the tent is intended to have. It seems that my tent came packaged with an extra partition that it was not meant to have.
While I found a way that seemed to make some sense to set it up (creating a “foyer” in the tent), in fact, this wall was not supposed to be there at all – which makes much more sense – I always felt that the foyer was an unnecessary feature, and never used it, and it turns out now that it doesn’t really exist after all. That is the danger of not having any directions.
If there were to be a dictionary definition of torture testing a family tent, having two young & rambunctious children spend an entire weekend in it while it is cold and raining would probably be at the top of the list. This is exactly what happened to us on one trip. The floor is a bathtub style floor where it extends up the sides of the tent for a short distance so that the seams are not directly on the ground where they might end up sitting in puddles of water, and this worked out wonderfully for us – there was no leaking of any sort through the whole ordeal, and there was no shortage of toys (and children) bouncing off the walls, and fingers leaving smudges on the fabric – it stayed comfortable and put up with as much abuse as we could give it. Another blessing was the screened porch, which is basically a jumbo fly screen made of no-see-um netting that drops to the ground but is designed to be staked in the corners which creates two walls and a door with a zipper up the center.
The porch does not have a floor, but simply relies on flashing at the bottom of the walls to make contact with the ground and help keep out water and ground bugs. This is pretty effective for bugs, and while it didn’t keep 100% of the water off the ground, it stopped the ground from becoming a large mud puddle like the rest of our campsite, which meant that the inside of our tent stayed pretty dry with minimal mud being tracked in.
There is a fully zippered door to access the tent from the porch, which can be tied back for easy entry, but does not have a no-see-um netting layer to allow for ventilation while still having the tent closed off from the porch. Not only have the material and seams (which come factory taped and sealed) held up wonderfully to water, but the fabric has demonstrated its durability by withstanding the abuses of children playing inside the tent, and also playing with sticks swinging towards it on the outside. Another added bonus is that there are a plethora of mesh pockets inside, so there is no lack of storage for anything that I want to have at my fingertips.
This tent allows for fantastic ventilation, as there are three doors. The main door provides ventilation only when unzipped to access the porch, but the other two doors have a half-zip option that allows for the top to be opened which lets plenty of air through the no-see-um netting.
Since there are doors on three different sides, if they are all opened there is wonderful cross ventilation. The majority of the roof of the tent (80%+) is also constructed of the same netting which aids in ventilation too. It doesn’t appear to do much for ventilation when the rain fly is on, but it does provide some additional features. This netting allows sleeping under the stars while still being protected from bugs (provided the weather is clear) – and probably the best feature of all is that it allows me to very effectively air out the tent prior to packing up by simply removing the rain fly and allowing the tent to sit for a while.
All of the tabs for the windows & doors have worked flawlessly. They are long enough to easily work them, and I have had no problems with them loosening themselves or allowing the tied back portion to droop. Unlike many tents with multiple rooms, this tent has removable walls, which allows us to divide the tent into as many (or as few) rooms as we would like. The walls are attached using tabs similar to the ones used to hold the doors open and secure in place quite well. While there is the possibility to divide the tent up into 3 rooms, we usually only set it up with 1 or 2 rooms – it is very nice to have this added flexibility to make rooms different sizes depending on the circumstances.
Overall, this tent is fantastic – there are only a few small downsides. First, and most obviously are the weight, but that’s the price I pay to have a huge tent to sleep in, and for me, it is worth it when car camping with my entire family. Second, there is no screen to zip around the primary entrance, as the screen porch serves that purpose – I would much prefer to have a second screen so that the screen porch could be tied open, or so that I could sleep with only the screen zipped shut, but not let in the few bugs that might crawl under the porch.
Another problem, which is only an issue when camping in cold weather, is that because of the sheer size of this tent, it can be quite chilly. This has not been much of an issue for me, as I am more than happy to put on more clothes if I am cold at night, but is definitely something to be aware of. Finally, the stakes that are provided with the tent do not hold up well. If I remember correctly, the stakes are steel nail-type and approximately 6 inch (.15 meters), but I have since thrown them all away so I cannot confirm this. They are very prone to bending in the rocky soil that covers most of Wisconsin, but since I have had this problem with ALL of my previous tents, I was prepared and brought my preferred heavy duty plastic stakes (Reliance Power Peg – 9 inch (23 centimeters)) along just in case they bent. My only other complaint is that the tent is advertised as an 8 person tent, but it is really sized that it should be a 6 person tent.
It could accommodate 8 people, but would not be comfortable at that size except for sleeping, and with a tent this large I need everyone to be able to be active inside in the event of bad weather. Based on the way tents are sized, the listed capacity seems accurate – for 8 people to be able to be active inside a tent, I know that I would need to purchase a 10-12 person tent. This is the exact reason that I chose this 8 person tent when we never have more than 6 people (and usually only 4).
While this tent will never be my only tent (it’s too heavy to even be considered for a weekend backpacking trip), it will remain my only car camping tent for as long as it lasts. It has proven to be the perfect match for my family and has been extremely durable. At a glance, this tent looks like it has only been used once or twice even after 10 months of steady use because it has held up so well – in reality, it’s seen a great deal of use, but is still in near perfect condition.
I have had no problems with zippers or with the material/seams fraying/tearing, and I have no reason to expect any. I am very pleased with the quality and durability that this tent has demonstrated to this point.