Review: Coleman 5-Person Instant Dome Tent

By Darren

Another camping season, another tent…

Heather and I have been camping now just shy of five years, and in that time, we’ve owned four tents.

Steve donated the first one to us. It was a Coleman… um… blue tent? There was some white on it and zippers and a floor and some poles? Okay, I don’t know what the model was, but it looked like this:


That gently used hand-me-down held up really well under all kinds of conditions. But eventually, the years and the mileage caught up with Ol’ Blue, and she provided her last night of cover to us sometime in the summer of 2014.

Then there was the Coleman Weathermaster II. I detailed its short life in an earlier post.

After that came another even more gently used tent from Steve, the Coleman Evanston 4-person tent:


This one was probably my favorite one that we’ve owned. It came with a screened-in front section (I called it “the mud room”) that was perfect for storing gear when it was just the two of us or for providing a sleeping compartment for Nabby and our niece when she was visiting us.

Unfortunately, this tent’s life was also short lived. The front zipper came off track from almost the get go and never did zip up right after repeated attempts to fix it. About halfway through the brief year and a half that we owned it, one of the tent stake rings started to tear loose from the seam, followed by another a few months later. It seems like something else went wrong with it that I can’t remember now. At any rate, we left it behind in a dumpster at Indian Cove Campground in Joshua Tree last year.

Now, you might be thinking, “Why don’t you just put some real money toward a tent that you won’t have to replace every 18 months?”

Hey, slow down there, Mitt Romney! Not everyone has $500 to spend on a fancy REI tent with a gold leaf rainfly, screens made of spun diamond dust and built-in speakers that hypnotize woodland creatures into singing you softly to sleep at night. Heather and I are blue collar, working-class Coleman people.

No, actually, I agree with you. However, we’re Costco members, and Costco sells a different, affordable Coleman tent every year. Costco will also take back nearly anything without question. Therefore, we decided we’d just keep buyin’ ‘em, wreckin’ ‘em and tradin’ ‘em in until Costco wises up and changes its return policy.

Which brings me to our 2016-2017 tent, the

Coleman 5-Person Instant Dome Tent


That’s her the one and only time we’ve used her. If you want to see prettier, more varied photos, visit the tent’s page on the Coleman website.

In a nutshell, here’s what you get:

  • 10 x 7 ft.
  • 5 ft. 4 in. center height
  • Carry bag included
  • One-year limited warranty

The features that caught our eye included:

  • Instant setup in about 60 seconds
  • Pre-attached poles for quicker, simpler setup – just extend and secure
  • Integrated rainfly doesn’t require separate assembly

We’ve envied our friends Kim and Kent’s instant setup tent the last couple of times we’ve camped with them. While instant setup feels like cheating, Heather and I have lost so much time to unfolding, threading and securing poles in fading light that we thought it was time we pampered ourselves.

But we’ve been burned by this “instant setup in about 60 seconds” claim of Coleman’s before. If the tent (or canopy) has been properly folded and zipped up in the bag then, sure, you can put it up pretty quickly. But if the item has been crammed in there willy-nilly, it’s like trying to untangle a ball of Christmas tree lights.

Guess how Coleman packed our tent.

There were two main problems with this tent upon freeing it from the bag: 1) One of the pre-attached poles had either been installed backward or had become twisted. Either way, I had to unscrew the joint with my pocketknife and put it back together the right way.

2) The poles came free of the center “hub” at the top of the tent and had to be forced into place several times.

Oh! And!

Let’s compare and contrast the Coleman version of how this should have gone with the reality:



The Outdoor Types:




The Outdoor Types:




The Outdoor Types:




The Outdoor Types:




The Outdoor Types:



  • Reasonably priced at $79.99
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to pack
  • Comfortable interior
  • Take down was considerably easier than putting up


  • Setup produces spontaneous bleeding of the eyes