- 4 Things to Think About When Buying a 6-Person Tent
- The Coleman Sundome 6-Person Tent
- Alternative Budget 6-Person Tents
- Final thoughts
So, you want a family tent that’s big enough for you and the kids, easy to put up and costs less than a hundred bucks?
Sounds like a tall order, but I may just have the tent for you.
Today, I’m reviewing the Coleman Sundome 6 – a large dome tent that’s perfect for summer camping on a budget.
4 Things to Think About When Buying a 6-Person Tent
The Coleman Sundome 6 claims to be a 6-person tent. (We’ll discuss whether you can actually sleep six people in it in a bit.)
But before we dig into its features, let’s cover a few general points that you may want to consider before buying a tent of this size.
1) What Are You Going to Use It For?
Let’s face it, if you’re looking at 6-person tents, you’re unlikely to be using it for backpacking.
Tents of this size sit firmly in car camping territory which means you don’t have to worry too much about weight and packability unless you’re trying to fit three kids, a dog and your camping kit for a week into a Toyota Yaris.
More important considerations are: how often you’ll be using it, how many people and how much kit you want to be able to fit inside, and what sort of weather you’re likely to be camping in.
2) Size and Layout
For smaller tents, a single compartment is standard, but once you get up to a 6-person tent, you may want a bit more flexibility with your layout.
If you’re camping as a family, it can be helpful to have more than one sleeping compartment. This allows you to put the kids to bed early without worrying about disturbing them when you come to bed.
Alternatively, if you have a very young family or if there are just two of you sharing the tent, a single compartment may suit you better.
3) Do You Need an All-Weather Tent?
When buying a tent, there’s a sliding scale between price and durability. The more you spend on a tent, the more robust it’s likely to be and the better it should stand up to whatever the weather can throw at you.
If you want to be able to camp all year round then spending a bit more on a high-quality, 4-season tent will be a good investment. Having to abandon your tent for the car in the middle of a force ten gale will be a memorable experience, but not necessarily for the right reasons.
But if you only want to camp when the sun is shining, you don’t need a top of the range winter tent.
4) What’s your budget?
I’ve put budget last on the list as what you’ll need to spend to get the tent you want depends entirely on what you want it for.
If budget is a primary consideration in your choice of tents, then you may need to compromise on the durability of your tent and accept that it won’t stand up to regular use in harsh conditions.
The Coleman Sundome 6-Person Tent
The Coleman Sundome 6 is one of the most popular family tents on the market. Part of this is undoubtedly down to its low price, but consistently good reviews mean this is one of the best value tents on the market.
This 6-person tent is the largest in Coleman’s Sundome range. It’s similar to its smaller brothers and sisters with a single large compartment and a simple two-pole design.
If you’re car camping, particularly for more than a day or two, it can be handy to bring along a generator to power lighting inside the tent and charge electronic devices. One nice feature of the Sundome is a small zippered e-Port in one corner which allows you to run a cable into the tent without having to open the main door.
On the downside, it’s worth noting that the rain fly doesn’t extend down this far, so you might want to seam seal the zippered section for added protection against rain.
Size: Not Big Enough For 6!
For a 6-person tent, the Coleman Sundome is pretty compact. It has a single compartment that’s just about big enough for two queen-sized airbeds, with a bit of space at your feet for bags.
By my reckoning, even with two airbeds, that still only adds up to four people. It may be physically possible to squeeze six people in, but you’d be packed in like sardines in a can.
So, for this tent at least, I’d ignore the 6-person rating. If you’re using standard camping mats, you should be able to fit four adults with room to get in and out of the tent. If there’s just two of you, you’ll be able to fit in a couple of cots or a double airbed with plenty of space for all your kit.
The highest part of the dome measures 6 ft so shorter campers won’t have any problem standing upright and moving around the tent. Because of the dome shape, the sides do taper, so if you’re tall and standing up as a priority you may want to go for a tent with more vertical sides.
Season: Good for Mild Weather
Although it’s described as a 3-season tent, I’d be more comfortable categorizing this as a summer or 2-season tent, unless you live in an area with a very mild climate.
There are plenty of ventilation options, with mesh sides and the option to turn the top half of the door and window into mesh screens. This makes it a great tent for camping in hot weather, particularly as you can leave the rain fly off, lie back and watch the stars.
The downside of all this mesh is that in cold weather it’s going to get chilly inside. And despite Coleman’s keep-you-dry-guaranteed WeatherTech system, the lack of a full coverage rain fly makes me wary about camping in this tent in a big storm.
The Sundome’s rain fly only covers the top part of the tent. It’ll protect you if rain is falling directly from above, but strong winds could drive the water under the rain fly and through the mesh part of the inner, or through the zips around the door and window.
The bathtub-style floor extends a good way up the side of the tent, so you don’t have to worry too much about water coming in from below, though as with any tent, it’s worth laying an additional tarp underneath to help protect the base of your tent.
You could suspend a large tarp over the tent to make it a bit more weatherproof. This combination would work well when camping in warm, wet conditions, as you’d have both ventilation and protection from the rain.
Setup: Quick and Easy
Putting up larger tents can sometimes be a chore, but the simple two-pole design of the Sundome makes it a quick and easy job for one person to erect in ten minutes or less.
There’s a shorter third pole which supports the rain fly above the entrance to the tent, kind of like a mini porch.
The Sundome’s as quick to take down as it is to put up. Even better, it actually fits back into is carry bag.
Score one for setup…
Security: Decent Quality for the Money
For a cheap tent, the Sundome 6 seems to be pretty durable. The weakest part of the fabric is likely to be the pole sleeves, but if you treat these gently they should last several years.
The poles are made from fiberglass which is less robust than aluminum, and, as with many cheaper tents, you’ll need to be careful with the zips. Basically, treat it nicely and it should last you a good number of years.
One part of the tent that it’s worth upgrading is the tent stakes. It’s pretty standard for lower budget tents to come with thin hook stakes, but if you’ve ever camped on hard ground, you’ll know that this type of stake bends as easily as a cheap spoon in ice cream.
As an aside, in Coleman’s “how to put up the Sundome” video, I noticed a guy bashing the pegs into the ground with a mallet. This is an easy way to bend your tent pegs fast. If you need a mallet to secure your stakes, the ground will be too hard for this type of stake.
Storage: Very Little
For a tent but supposed to sleep six people, the Sundome has next to no storage. But then, it is a simple tent without the bells and whistles you get (and pay for) with a pricier model.
Inside the main compartment, there are two hand-sized storage pockets at waist height for phones, flashlights, and other bits and bobs. There’s a hook to attach a lantern in the center of the ceiling but no way of attaching a gear loft which is a shame, as this would be an easy way of providing an additional storage option.
As the rain fly only covers the top part of the tent, there’s no porch to store bags or other items, so everything needs to come into the tent with you. If there’s only two or three of you in the tent this won’t be a problem, but if you were trying to squeeze in more people, then you’ll end up having to leave your kit in the car.
This is where the Coleman Sundome 6 really excels. At under $100, this tent is great value. If you’re after a cheap tent for occasional summertime use, it’s a great option.
Alternative Budget 6-Person Tents
If you’re after a sub-$200 6-person tent and you’re still not convinced that the Sundome is for you, check out these alternatives.
Internal Area (sqft)
Summer camping, family camping
Summer camping, mixed weather, bugs!
Wet weather camping
For Family Camping… Wenzel Evergreen
This tent is a similar size to the Sundome 6 (i.e. unlikely to sleep six people in it) but has a couple of useful added features.
Firstly, the rain fly extends much further down the tent giving added weather protection. In addition to the two small storage pockets inside, there’s a gear loft – handy for storing spare clothes off the floor – plus there’s a removable curtain which can divide the tent into two compartments.
It’s a bit pricier than the Sundome but you may decide you prefer the layout of the Wenzel Evergreen. If you go for this tent, be gentle with the poles – some users have found them a little delicate.
For Mosquito-Ridden Campsites… Coleman Everston Screened Tent
While the sleeping compartment of this Coleman tent is slightly smaller than the Sundome, it comes with a large porch giving additional space to lounge undercover in the evenings or to store extra kit.
It’s still a fair-weather tent and the mesh on the front of the porch is designed to keep out bugs not rain, but as someone who’s done a fair bit of camping in mosquito-ridden areas, the benefit of having somewhere to sit without getting eaten alive shouldn’t be underestimated!
If you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of sleeping space inside, the Coleman Everston Screened Tent is a great choice to keep the bugs at bay.
For Wet Weather… NTK Colorado
If your summers typically come with more than their fair share of rain, then the NTK Colorado may be the tent for you.
Like the Sundome, it has a dome-shaped design with a single compartment, but the big difference is that the Colorado comes with a full coverage rain fly. Combined with the bathtub floor, you’ll be drier and more comfortable riding out a storm in this tent than the Sundome.
The top of the inner is still mesh which will give good ventilation in summer but means I wouldn’t recommend it as a 4-season tent. But if you want a 3-season tent that will stand up to some rain, the NTK Colorado is a great budget choice.
I’d be the first to say that money spent on a tent is money well spent. (There’s a tongue twister for you!)
But I also love finding a bargain.
While the Coleman Sundome 6 doesn’t sport the top-spec materials or the long list of features that more expensive tents come with, it will allow you to get out camping and enjoy the great outdoors for most of the year.
And for under $90, you can’t say fairer than that.
About the Author - Ashley
Ashley's a Florida girl that didn't see snow until her twenty's. Andrew initiated her with a January trip to Breckenridge and the rest is history! A flatlander most of her life, Ashley now craves challenging trails but isn't a fan of log crossings over rapidily flowing mountain streams. Click here to learn more about Ashley's outdoorsy background...