An easy-to-assemble dome tent, ideal for the whole family
Our tent. So happy with it! It doesn’t look like much but it’s a cracker. It’s sturdy, waterproof, provides good shelter, is plenty big and the oh so important factor, is fast and easy to erect. Because that’s the number one thing we wanted from a tent.
Why we chose the Coleman sundome
So…we started camping again last summer. We’d done a ton of it back in our child-free days…that had been 7 years prior! Obviously our still caked with mud from the 2007 Electric Picnic two person tent would no longer cut the mustard, so we took a trip to an outdoor store in Malaga to get a feel for what we should be looking for.
By the way, tent shopping with kids is NOT recommended. They were having a whale of a time ducking in doors and peeking out windows. But it was very hard to focus. Tents have got seriously groovy since the last century. We were very nearly wooed by a funky orange tent with separate room pods and a communal porch area – and the kids were begging us to get it – but thankfully we decided to sleep on it before we slept IN it.
So we came home, settled the heads and got down on paper (my husband’s an accountant, old habits die hard) a prioritised wish list for our new tent.
Must-haves for a family tent
1. Easy to erect . It finally hit me what was up with the funky orange tent – it would take forever to assemble! NOT what we wanted.
2. Effective shelter. From sun as well as rain.
3. Spaciousness. Enough for 2 adults, 3 kids and a few bags.
4. Compact size in the bag. Don’t want it taking up the whole trunk.
5. Lightweight. Don’t want it weighing a ton.
So with a clear idea of what we wanted we hit the internet for personal reviews and it soon became obvious the Coleman Sundome
was our man.
A cinch to erect
I have to say when the kids first saw this erected they were massively disappointed. Compared to the orange multi-roomed “house” they had played hide-and-seek in at the shop this was just a… well, tent!
That’s the beauty of it though. The structure is simple – a giant dome supported by bendable poles mounted at the 4 corners. So you can have this baby up in no time..like it says on the tin!
The very first time we got it out of the bag, instructions read and up in a half hour. Now we can have it up in ten minutes. You could even put it up on your own, though it is easier to manoeuvre the poles with two people.
We live in Spain so our main worry is the sun. Very simple but surprisingly effective is this simple “porch” area over both the front and back doors. You create this via a bendable pole that attaches to the outer fly sheet with hook-and-grommets. These simple porches really help keep the main glare of the sun off the interior.
The interior shell has a breathable mesh on the upper part of two of the walls so there is good airflow through the tent.
Though from reading reviews on Amazon it seems this amount of mesh means it’s not suitable for very cold weather. Not something we have to deal with here thankfully but keep in mind if you’re looking for a winter tent.
As regards rain… yes it rains in Spain on occasion! We’ve been rained on and had quite a lot of wind whilst camping and managed to stay dry and tight, thanks to the Coleman developed WeatherTec system with inverted protected seams which helps insulate the tent from the elements. You can read more about this on the Coleman web site
Plenty of space
We are 2 adults and the kids are now 8, 6 and 3 years old and this tent is still plenty roomy for us all. We can fit 3 double blow-up mattresses, a few bags plus standing room.
The center point of the tent reaches 6 feet / 1.83 metres so plenty of room to stand up and move stuff around.
Compact packed size
Here it is packed up measuring 76 x 21 x 22 cm. There are separate bags for the poles and stakes. The carry bag is waterproof with good durable handles. I like also that the instructions are sewn into the bag so you can’t lose them.
At 20lbs (9 kilos) this is the lightest family size tent we found, less than half the weight of the multi-roomed tents at the outdoor store. Still 20lbs… you’re not going to be hiking too far in to the backwoods with this on your shoulder. Or if that’s your plan, you’ll need someone else to carry most of the rest of your gear. Really this is ideal for car camping.
The hinge door
I was gushing to a friend about the joy of the hinge door but her face was blank. You have to see it in action to understand. You don’t realise what a pain it is unzipping the door every time until you don’t have to do it anymore.
Picture this: It’s summertime. There are flies and bugs buzzing about that you really don’t want getting inside the tent. You’re getting ready for the day, in and out of the tent packing up everyone’s bits and pieces. You can’t leave the door unzipped for even a minute or the tent will be infested. The hinged door swings closed behind you each time and is just as easy to swing open with no annoying “Dzzzzzzz” sound.
It’s extremely handy with small children who are constantly in and out of the tent, they can open and close the door unaided.
So overall, we’re very happy with the Coleman Sundome Elite. It ticks all our boxes and more. We like to be mobile and explore, spending a few nights here and there rather than settling in one spot, so the fact that it’s so easy to get up and down is the main attraction for us.
I haven’t even mentioned the built-in lights which we haven’t gotten round to using yet.
This is the type of product I like – simple but good quality, with minimal bells and whistles. Currently it’s $152.78 on Amazon so the price is right too!
Sleeps: Up to 6 people
Dimensions: 12 x 10 feet / 3.65 x 3 metres
Packed: 30 x 8 x 8.5 inches / 76 x 21 x 22 centimetres
Weight: 20 lbs / 9 kilos
Center height: 72 inches
Features: Built-in LED lights (100 lumens), hinge door, self-rolling windows, electric accessibility port, interior gear pockets.
Here’s a short video (not mine) showing you round the tent:
Read more reviews of the Coleman Sundome on Amazon
Read more on the Coleman web site
Read my essential list of What to pack on a family camping trip
6 Comments Add yours
Is this tent suitable for winter camping?
Not really. Because of the mesh opening on the top half I wouldn’t use this in really cold temperatures. But I believe Coleman have a range of tents for different seasons. Have a look on Amazon.
Hi, thanks for the detailed review. We are a family of five and are just starting to think about camping with the kids (our youngest is 8 mths) so, now to find the perfect tent. Your review has convinced me to look into a Coleman but it looks a little light for an Irish summer. The Colman Cortex 6 looks similar to your tent and I’m wondering are they the same product sold under a different name in the UK? Thanks for your help.
The Cortex 6 is a different tent. Whereas the Sundome has just one “space” or chamber supported by two flexible poles, the Cortex has a tunnel structure, supported by 3 flexible poles with an inner sleeping chamber and an outer porch area. I’ve never seen this model in person, but I just watched the video and I think it looks good!
We love the Sundome for road trips and one night stops because it is easy and fast to erect and dismantle. However for long term camping, if you want to stay a few days or a week somewhere, the Sundome isn’t ideal because there is no porch area to put your stove, kitchen equipment etc. You have to have your car nearby and keep taking things in and out of the boot. Or in Spain where we live, we can leave stuff outside the tent, but then it looks really messy. In Ireland you couldn’t do that with the threat of rain.
With a baby on board I’m guessing you wont be road tripping but bedding down somewhere for a few nights at a time. And with all the baby paraphernalia…I’d say def go for something with a porch.
And yes you’re right! The Sundome is very light for the Irish weather. It’s got a half mesh wall, great for sweaty Spain, and we’ve used it in Ireland during the summer, but on a cold night you’d be cursing that mesh wall.
Best of luck with your search Clodagh. Fair play camping with an 8 month old! Happy Paddy’s day tomorrow xxx
Thanks for the great reply, it has really helped in my search for that perfect tent.
You’re more than welcome Clodagh x