Coleman Carlsbad 4-Person Dome Dark Room Tent
Size and Comfort9.0/10
Ease of Set Up8.5/10
Durability & Quality7.0/10
- Easy to set up, even with one person
- Contains a screened porch for keep insects out
- Keeps internal temperatures at an optimal level
- Completely dark interior at night makes for a good nights sleep
- Hold up well against heavy downpours
- The rain fly doesn’t cover the front porch
- Carry/storage tent is of poor quality
- A bit tight for its stated occupancy of 4 people
It’s not always easy getting enough sleep on a camping trip, especially if you live in an area where the sun can beat down very hard once it covers the horizon. Coleman has now released an innovation that is long overdue and one that promises a perfect night’s sleep no matter how sensitive you may be to the slighted trace of light.
The Coleman Carlsbad is an affordable 4 man family tent built for warm climates. Patented dark room technology allows it to block out 97.5% of sunlight and reduce heat build-up by 9.5% (compared to a standard Coleman tent). This tent comes in two sizes, a 4-person and 6-person tent. Having just tested out the 4-person version I can attest to its sun blocking ability but it leaves a few things to be desired, which I’ll come to, but first let’s take a close look at some of its features.
Size and Comfort
Weight: 17 pounds
Center Height: 4 ft. 11 in.
Base Size: 9 x 7 feet
This is far from being the biggest or smallest tent but it’s probably enough to suit most campers. Anyone who stands at about 5 ½ feet can walk inside with ease but anywhere beyond that and you will be a little stooped. The same goes for comfort, not bad but you wouldn’t want to be stuck inside it all day. The front-porch provides some extra space to lounge in during the day and an extra sleeping area at night, just don’t try it if you’re expecting rain (more on that later).
The usual rule of thumb with tents is to subtract one from the given occupancy, the same goes for the Carlsbad. With four people, you’ll all be finding things very cramped.
Session and Weather
Let me make it clear. This is a tent designed specifically for warm climates. The whole point of its dark room design is to block out sunlight, allowing for an easier night’s sleep. When I tested it out for the first time I was truly amazed at the difference after nightfall. During the day, it certainly is darker but you can still get around without a flashlight. Once the sun went down though I was left in complete darkness, I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face. By far it was one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had outdoors in a long time. In the morning I awoke feeling refreshed, not as I usually might because the tent was getting too warm. If you enjoy a good sleep-in then the advantages of this tent are pretty obvious.
Now for the opposite side of that. Yes, it’s great in warm climates but not suited at all for cold or wet conditions. The partial fly design will protect you from the most part against a downpour but you wouldn’t want to leave anything valuable in the front-porch area. Although I didn’t experience this scenario I can see it as a problem, made clear by the fact that there’s a mesh panel for drainage on the floor where the vestibule attaches to the tent.
Ease of Set-up
This is a very easy tent to set up. it took me no more than 12 minutes to get it set up. this is thanks to its dome design where the pole hubs connect to two main poles in an x-shape making it a cinch to set up even by one person. The overall weight is 17 pounds which makes it suitable for most people going on a car-camping trip. That said, it will be a lot easier to set up if you have two people.
A major downside comes in repacking it. The storage/carry bag leaves a lot to be desired, enough to make many doubt the quality of the product based on the storage bag. You’ll certainly have a very hard if not impossible time getting it back in the bag as it was when you first bought it. Coleman has designed the bag in a way that will make it look more compact on purchase, but to get the bag back in you have to rip the stitching on the bag so that it expands. This makes it look very bulky and awkward when travelling with it and the straps were already showing wear and tear after just a few days. Fortunately, the tent itself is of far better quality then the bag.
Durability and Quality
This is a slightly mid range tent when it comes to workmanship and durability. Extreme campers may find it going through a lot of wear and tear after a few uses but sessional campers should find it adequate. It also comes with several useful features that make it very user-friendly. These include the awnings over the windows for sun and rain protection. The mesh panel where the vestibule meets the tent allows it to expel any excess rainwater or sand.
The tent poles are not the best quality so if you’re expecting to get a lot of usage out of it you may want to replace them with aluminium if possible. Thankfully, Coleman is very prompt with providing replacements if you need them.
As stated, this is a tent designed for use in sunny temperate climates like California or other southern locations. It is designed specifically to keep you cool so you won’t be woken up unduly and can even sleep in past midday.
Even with that, it will still hold up pretty well in thunderstorms though it has its limits. What I found most enjoyable about it is the open porch which makes it great for social gatherings and camping with friends.
Customer reviews have repeatedly stressed how good this 4 man family tent is for getting a good night’s sleep. The Dark room coating really does work in blocking out sunlight and great ventilation means it won’t get too hot even in a midday sun.
The only complaints I could find were about its level of rain protection, mainly because the rain fly does not cover the front porch.
Coleman has been in the outdoors business for quite a while and continues to surprise people with a new range of products every year. With annual revenues above $1 billion and over 8,000 SKU’s in its catalog, they’ve shown themselves as a trusted brand that makes quality products. The Carlsbad holds up to all the claims they make about its sun protection and makes for another great addition to their product range.
For best protection, it helps to buy a trap to place under the Carlsbad when in use. It will keep it from getting too dirty and provide an extra protective layer against punctures.
Additionally, If you’re looking to splash out on a few camping products then Coleman has a number of products that can make your trip that extra bit more comfortable.
Coleman Comfort-cloud Sleeping Bag
This rectangular sleeping bag is rated to 40° and from my test of it when it fell into the low 30’s I find it very comfortable. A soft fleece around the opening doesn’t cause irritation like some sleeping bags do and just below the opening of the bag is a small pocket for storing items like an iPhone. The best feature of the comfort-cloud is that one side has a layer of memory foam t make sleeping more comfortable. The pad is also removable so you can take it out when dry-cleaning it.
Coleman Comfortsmart Interlock Breeze Suspension Chair
If you’re in need of some high-end seating while camping around the fire then the Coleman Comfortsmart Interlock Breeze Suspension Chair should be your first choice. With a solid frame and durable mesh liner, this chair can stand up to a lot while still providing the best in comfort. It’s rated for up to 300 pounds and with a 22-inch wide seat, an 18-inch high back and a cup holder it’s got everything you’ll need for the best camping trip.
- Rugged, lightweight, 4-person tent with screen room
- Durable Polyguard coated polyester construction
- WeatherTec patented, waterproof, welded floor and inverted seams
- Dark Room Technology blocks 97.5% of light for daytime rest
- Full screen room with attached floor for bug-free relaxing or sleeping
- Patented pin-and-ring keeps poles secured to your tent
- Illumiline reflective guy lines for safety
- Window awnings keep rain out even with open windows
- E-port allows electrical power into the tent
- Included rainfly adds to protection from the elements
- 1-year manufacturer’s limited warranty
- easy to set up, even with one person
- contains a screened porch for keep insects out
- keeps internal temperatures at an optimal level
- completely dark interior at night makes for a good nights sleep
- hold up well against heavy downpours
- the rain fly doesn’t cover the front porch
- carry/storage tent is of poor quality
- a bit tight for its stated occupancy of 4 people
Priced at under $300, the Carlsbad is an affordable 4 man family tent for what you get. The user-friendly design and helpful features make it the go-to tent for any camping in warm climates. Anyone though expecting colder weather or heavy downpours might be better choosing something else but is that’s not a problem for you then don’t worry about it.
If you struggle to get a good night’s sleep or hate waking up to a stifling morning sun then the Carlsbad will soon have you sleeping better then you ever could have imagined. It’s definitely worth the investment for the quality of sleep you can get and it’s also proven very sturdy in rough conditions.