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The name Coleman immediately calls to mind images of campfires, nature, backpacking, marshmallows, and generally anything to do with outdoor living.

It has a storied history and has been producing quality camping gear for over 100 years.

And while there's no doubt about Coleman's proficiency in manufacturing quality gear, the big question is how good are Coleman's tents? What's Coleman tent reliability, and how do they stand against harsh conditions?

In this article, I'll discuss all these and more questions based on my camping experience. And hopefully, it will help you decide whether to go for a Coleman tent.

And take note; this is coming from someone who is super picky about camping gear.

Coleman tents up in the mountains

Are Coleman Tents Good?

Coleman tents are good. They may not be the best in the market or top-tier products, but they're an excellent choice for the average/casual camper. And the reason is they're priced competitively, durable, and generally well-made.

Furthermore, Coleman has over 60 different Coleman tent designs, so their tents will tickle the fancy of any camper and different camping styles.

While Coleman tents aren't the de facto outdoor gear they were a few years back, I've found them to be good tents for good prices.

I'm a solid fan of Coleman gear. They're like the Craftsman of camping gear. Not the best by a long shot, but not garbage, either. They're functional and will do what you need.

Coleman tents are far from being the lightest in the market or even the most feature-packed, but depending on your needs, they can be a solid option.

I consider the Coleman tents as the Toyota of camping gear. They're fairly generic, with a few exceptions here and there, and will generally fit many uses and are ok at most of them.

But, they're not good at any one thing. You'll always be able to find a competing product that does much better than a Coleman tent.

But an issue with specialty gear is they're super expensive and far from the reach of the regular campers. Plus, they've limited applications compared to the Coleman tent.

Therefore, choosing a Coleman tent over a specialty tent means the difference between an $800 tent and an inexpensive but bulky Coleman tent.

To sum up, Coleman tents are good but not the best. But, of course, there're a few exceptions and marginal Coleman quality gear I've come across that I've to give them some credit for.

Daughter and mother sitting outside of a tent

Coleman Tents Vs. Other Tent Brands

Generally, Coleman gear is all about functionality. They have some decent stuff, but their target market has never been glampers, ultra-light packers, or backpackers.

Let's go back in history to give you an idea of Coleman's history, production, and target market. In WW2, Coleman was the sole provider of stoves to the US army.

The army wanted a stove under 5 pounds, as compact as a packet of milk, and something that could use different fuels. Coleman delivered a stove exceeding all expectations, and it was an instant hit.

In general, Coleman adheres to low-cost materials, but it doesn't produce trash products.

Regarding tents, Coleman's tents are generally cumbersome, but they're inexpensive and, more importantly, practical.

A Coleman 2-person tent is roughly 7.5 pounds and may cost around 50 bucks. On the other hand, a Big Agnes tent of a similar dimension and capacity weighs less than 4 pounds on the high end, but the cost may run upwards of $300, depending on the material.

Now, I want to clarify; it would be a misnomer to call Coleman a low-end brand. Instead, the brand is all about personal preferences and giving you the option to choose, especially on a budget.

Coleman Tent Pricing: Why So Cheap?

Coleman might be the brand to go for if you're a little gun-shy about spending an extra $100 or $200 on your next tent purchase.

See, Coleman tents are generally inexpensive compared to other brands.

And don't mistake Coleman as an off-brand or anything. 

On the contrary, it's a well-established camping gear manufacturer, and its tents hold well at a reasonable price.

If you're just getting into camping, Coleman is a good brand. It'll get you into camping without breaking the bank while deciding the type of camping you want and the kind of product that will work best for you.

And if you decide camping isn't for you, you don't have to worry about a 1,000-dollar purchase sitting in your garage.

If you're just starting out or on a budget, you could use the extra money saved from a Coleman tent purchase to get some underappreciated camping accessories like a nice RV rug, camp stove, frame pack, etc. To me, these are some of the things I would prioritize over a super-expensive tent.

And when it comes to performance, you could overcompensate your Coleman tent with a hardy tarp and guy lines.

The thing is, you don't have to overthink too much about a camping tent.

Coleman tent wet rainfly

Coleman Tent Material and Weatherproofing

I've had the opportunity to camp in different Coleman tents, and their performance in different weather conditions is incredible.

The tent walls on Coleman tents are thick, treated, and fully taped. Better yet, if you get a rainfly for any Coleman tent, you don't have to worry about leaks.

As I mentioned, Coleman tents are like the Corollas of camping tents. They're not fancy or expensive, but they work.

For example, I've used my Coleman SunDome in -a 17c blizzard and in thru-hiking in Colorado, and it stood up to the conditions.

Now, is it the best tent for such conditions? Not by a long shot. But it chugs along and takes the abuse.

A signature feature of the Coleman tent's performance is the WeatherTec Technology. It's a proprietary technology consisting of corner welds and tub floors, which resist water getting through.

It's a similar material to tarps, so you should worry about water leakages or water running through.

Read also: Best Tent Waterproofing Sprays & How to Use It the Right Way

Coleman Tent Designs

One of the best things about Coleman tents is that they offer a huge variety of tent designs. As a result, they ensure that just about any camper can always find a tent fitting their specific needs.

For example, if you need a nice family-size tent that can comfortably accommodate six and with an easy set-up, there's an eight-person Coleman SunDome tent.

On the other hand, if you need something small but still high quality and won't break the bank, you could go with the Coleman Red Canyon tent.

Coleman's instant tents sacrifice a small amount of structural integrity but are easy to set up in under a minute.

In short, whether you need a tent for tall people, bad weather, easy to set up, or budget option, there's always something that will satiate your discerning palate with the impressive Coleman tent options.

A small blue Coleman tent

Weight (Backpacking Vs. Car Camping with a Coleman Tent)

My biggest concern with Coleman tents is their bulk and weight. I agree, they're well made, reasonably inexpensive, and last or long, but they're cumbersome. It's the aptest description of Coleman gear.

The Coleman tents are fine if you're car camping or on a kayak trip where carry-weight isn't an issue. Their tents are super bulky but well made for the price, and this goes for anything Coleman makes.

Their tents are not perfect for those who want to go backpacking because they tend to be heavier and bulkier than the high-quality lightweight high-end gear.

Most upgrades or high-end tents usually look more at the weight and extreme weather durability. 

And therefore, the Coleman tents are awesome if you're willing to change plans if a hurricane is in the forecast.


Coleman tents might be bulky and inexpensive, but worth the price, and if you treat them right, they can last you a good while.

I grew up camping in Coleman tents, and besides the occasional leaky seams, I've never had any issues. And that's something you can easily address on your own.

Construction-wise, Coleman tents are made of fiberglass, which is considered inferior to aluminum.

But the thing is, aluminum isn't better, and it may sound great to have on your tent until it breaks. 

On the other hand, fiberglass is cheap but ridiculously strong. It's just really heavy.

And when the time comes to replace a link in the tent, fiberglass is ridiculously cheap. It's also easy to cook some fiberglass repairs at home.

The Coleman's poles may splinter, but they're equally easy to tape. Fixing aluminum is difficult, if not impossible.

Ease of Use

Coleman tents might be heavy and bulky to transport, but they're easy to set up.

For example, the Coleman Instant Cabin 6-person tent takes 60 secs to set up and 120 secs to take down, including stuffing it in the bag.

You can set up most Coleman tents in a few minutes, which is nice when you're dead tired.

My Favorite Coleman Tent

I've had a few Coleman tents over the past few years, but the Coleman SunDome 6 has been my favorite. To me, it's the best bang for the buck in tents.

Coleman Tent Sundome Dome
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One thing I like about the Coleman SunDome 6 is that it's spacious and provides plenty of room for my family and all my gear to go in it, should I want to.

It's a bit heavy, but considering I trail-side camp out of an RV, the extra weight and space are not a big concern.

Performance-wise it's not waterproof, but you can always seal the seams yourself. While I wouldn't recommend it for cold-weather camping, it's not impossible to use, especially if you've high-quality sleeping bags to get you through the cold.

Wrap Up

Coleman may not be a high-end brand, but in my experience, it's more than sufficient for the casual camper.

Unless you're a backpacker or need a specialty tent, the Coleman tent will hold up well and serve you fine.

Campers will recommend the $1,000 ultralight tents and whatever, but unless you're hitchhiking across America and climbing Everest, those are, in my opinion, luxuries. A Coleman tent is enough.

A Coleman tent is sufficient if you're also getting started camping, and don't set a tent in the extremes. You can always upgrade to a near gear as necessary.

Remember, sometimes, just camping burners, RV rugs, or any camping gear, you usually pay for materials, features, and branding and less about functionality. That's all my two cents.

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