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Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6 Review

Affordable tent that lives up to its marketing claims, staying cool and dark in the sun.
Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $280 List | $189.01 at Amazon
Pros:  Blocks more UV than most tents, stays cool and dark, good ventilation, easy and fast setup, affordable.
Cons:  Partial fly and mesh "front porch" less ideal for rain, sloppy carrying bag design, not easy to seal against blowing dust/sand.
Manufacturer:   Coleman
By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 1, 2016
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 17
  • Comfort - 40% 8
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 7
  • Ease of Set Up - 15% 8
  • Workmanship - 15% 7
  • Packed Size - 5% 6

Our Verdict

The Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6 lives up to all of our hopes and dreams… Or at least the marketing claims of the manufacturer. It is an affordable tent designed for warmer climates. It blocks more sunlight than most tents we have used, indeed reducing the greenhouse effect of the midday sun. This is a tent that will let you sleep in late, staying cooler and darker under the big bright sun — exactly as promised. It will do well enough in a short rainstorm but is not designed for rainy climates. The "front porch" with zippered mesh doors provides a fun extra hang out space.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award  
Price $189.01 at Amazon$469.00 at REI$499.95 at Amazon$398.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$252.58 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
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Pros Blocks more UV than most tents, stays cool and dark, good ventilation, easy and fast setup, affordable.Tall and long, barn-shaped, versatile front vestibule, adjustable room divider.Easy, quick set-up, expansive vestibule, spectacular storage designFast set up, built-in large vestibule, lots of ventilation, tall ceiling heightRoomy, large vestibule, simple, classic design.
Cons Partial fly and mesh "front porch" less ideal for rain, sloppy carrying bag design, not easy to seal against blowing dust/sand.Only one vestibule, back door is more exposed to the elements, more poles than most.Odd placement of interior pockets, more expensive than many of its contemporariesCan't stand in vestibule, limited views when laying or sitting, poor duffel/stuff sackNot overly innovative, could use more storage.
Bottom Line Affordable tent that lives up to its marketing claims, staying cool and dark in the sun.A top-notch tent with tons of room and tons of versatility.One of the best tents on the market, the Tensleep has great features that are done well.This one of the best family camping tents we have ever seen at a reasonable price.The Marmot Limestone 4P is great at keeping it simple. A high-quality tent, with a design that will be familiar to experienced campers.
Rating Categories Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6 REI Kingdom 6 Big Agnes Tensleep Station 6 The North Face Wawona 6 Marmot Limestone 4
Comfort (40%)
10
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8
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Weather Resistance (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
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8
10
0
8
10
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8
Ease Of Set Up (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
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8
Workmanship (15%)
10
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7
10
0
8
10
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9
10
0
8
10
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8
Packed Size (5%)
10
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6
10
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9
10
0
9
10
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9
10
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7
Specs Coleman Carlsbad... REI Kingdom 6 Big Agnes Tensleep... The North Face... Marmot Limestone 4
Weight 20.9 lbs 19.6 lbs 17.8 lbs 20.9 lbs 10.6 lbs
Max Inside Height 5 ft 8 in 6 ft 3 in 75 in 6 ft 6 in 8 ft 4 in
Floor Dimension 10' x 9' 10' x 8'4" 10' x 9'5" 5' 3" x 7'
Floor Area 90 sq ft 83.3 sq ft 90 sq ft 86 sq ft 59.7 sq ft
Seasons 3-season 3-season 3-season 3-season 3-season
Windows 4 1 2 2 1
Pockets 2 22 4 6 8
Number of Doors 1 2 2 3 2
Room Divider No Yes No Yes No
Vestibules 1 1 2 2 2
Vestibule Area 50 sq ft 29 sq ft 38.5 sq. feet (front) 10 sq. feet (back) 21 sq ft; 44.7 sq ft 21 sq ft
Packed Size 26.5 x 8.5 x 8.5 in 9.5 x 16.5 x 25.5 in 5 x 15 x 27 in 9.5 x 16.5 x 25.5 in 27.5 x 10 in
Floor Materials Polyethylene Sheet Coated polyester oxford WP Polyester 75D polyester 150D Polyester
Main Tent Materials Polyester Taffeta Nylon/mesh Breathable polyester & polyester mesh 150D polyester taffeta 40D Polyester/mesh
Rainfly Materials Polyester Taffeta Coated polyester taffeta Polyester 68D polyester 68D Polyester taffeta
Number of Poles 2 Hubbed Sets, 1 Straight 2 Hubbed Sets, 1 Straight 4 4 4
Pole Material Fiberglass 6061/7001 Aluminum Aluminum DAC DA17 14 mm aluminum
Pole Diameter 9.5mm/11mm 14.5 / 11 mm 12.8mm x 3, 11 mm x 1 14 mm
Design type Freestanding, dome Freestanding Freestanding Freestanding, dome Freestanding
Extras Internal dry lines, hang loops, Velcro lantern loop

Our Analysis and Test Results

This award-winning contender is a tent that lives up to its marketing claims. It is fast and relatively easy to pitch, and the darkroom feature lets you sleep in, and keeps you cooler in the heat.

Performance Comparison


The Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6 will keep you cool in the sun.
The Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6 will keep you cool in the sun.

Comfort


This is not the biggest or the tallest tent, but Goldilocks would say it is probably just right for most campers. Someone who stands about 5 1/2 feet tall can comfortably walk inside. It is not as spacious as the Nemo Wagontop 6 or the REI Kingdom 6, our two most livable tents, but it is pretty darn close. If you expect good weather, such that you won't be tent-bound for most of the day, this tent will keep you quite happy. The "front porch" increases the usable space, and provides a bug-proof lounging area. It also provides more sleeping space for pleasant evenings.


That said, sleeping six without using this extra "front porch" would be pretty tight If they're all adults. Milder temperatures, sleeping on the front porch gives the effect of sleeping out under the stars — but keeps biting insects from ruining your peaceful slumber.

It's a relief to step in the shade of the Carlsbad.
It's a relief to step in the shade of the Carlsbad.

Weather Resistance


Coleman pitches its Carlsbad Fast Pitch tent as your answer to the greenhouse effect of tents in the sun: this tent, they say, will stay cooler than other tents in the sun. And our testers found this to be impeccably true. One tester was even startled, late one July morning in the sunny Napa Valley, to realize she was the last one to wake up in the morning among a group of friends camping out for a wedding.


The Carlsbad, which shares its name with a beach town in Southern California, is clearly designed for mellower climates, with the focus on sun protection and ventilation. It surprised us, however, with how well the partial fly design protected it from rain. The over-the-top pole pushes the fly out over the windows, creating an awning that shields it from rain, and the entryway, while not a proper vestibule, provided some shelter from the storm while entering the tent.

The Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6 stays dark and cool in the midday sun.
The Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6 stays dark and cool in the midday sun.

Ease of Setup


One tester put this tent up for the first time in a mere 12 minutes — in the dark (well, with smartphone flashlights, of course). This dome-style tent was one of the easiest to set up, similar to the Mountain Hardwear Optic 6. The pole "hubs" connect the two main poles, so they are pre-set in an X and very easy to set up solo.


The chart above details where each tent ranked in our Ease of Setup metric. The Carlsbad was one of our clear winners in this category, falling just behind the Mountain Hardwear Optic 6 and tying with the Marmot Limestone 6.

We didn't love having to tie the awning to the hub on the Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6  but at least it was easy to reach.
We didn't love having to tie the awning to the hub on the Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6, but at least it was easy to reach.

The "front porch" and the pole that provides its cover do require you to stake out the front corners. That's not necessarily a negative thing, but if you're camping on sand you may want to have at least a couple of those fabric snow/sand anchors for the front corners (we advise them for most situations camping on sand).

The fun "front porch" on the Fast Pitch 6.
The fun "front porch" on the Fast Pitch 6.

Workmanship


The Carlsbad is certainly no Kodiak Canvas 6-Person Flex-Bow in the ruggedness and durability department, but the design is very user-friendly with several details that will help it withstand the wear of active users.


Several thoughtful design features include awnings over the windows for sun and rain protection, a mesh "gutter" to expel unwanted rain and sand from the entryway, a partial fly crafted for maximum coverage while still allowing for excellent ventilation, and materials that genuinely block out more of the sun's light and warmth.

Guy lines keep the tent secure on windy days.
Guy lines keep the tent secure on windy days.

The tent poles are not our favorite style, with the sleeve connecting the segments external to the poles (see images). This is not as smooth to handle when you're setting up the tent, but since there are no sleeves to pass the poles through, it's not a big problem, just a detail.

Fiberglass poles with external metal joint connectors  not our favorite because they don't seem to snap as easily in place. But for the price of this tent  it's hard to complain too loudly.
Fiberglass poles with external metal joint connectors, not our favorite because they don't seem to snap as easily in place. But for the price of this tent, it's hard to complain too loudly.

For all of the tent's positive attributes, the carrying/storage bag leaves much to be desired. The Carlsbad is sold in a nice, tightly rolled package — a shape and size you will never be able to return it to, no matter your level of tent-folding mastery. Coleman has devised a clever way to make the tent look small on the shelf and still make it easy to cram the tent back in it once you've used it: you just rip the stitching on the bag so that it expands, making the bag bigger! This was a very cheesy and disappointing feature which, as your first introduction to the tent, does not inspire confidence in the quality of the tent. The carrying strap stitching is already ripping apart, and we're pretty sure that part is not supposed to have a special ripping feature.

The Fast Pitch 6 tent  all packed up  showing the sloppy storage bag.
The Fast Pitch 6 tent, all packed up, showing the sloppy storage bag.

Fortunately, the tent is of much higher quality than the bag might imply. But we still don't like how bulgy and awkward the bag is, or that it looks like it is ripping apart.

Packed Size


This tent packs down relatively small for a car camping tent, and is on the lighter side of the tents in this review. It is not as small as some, but it is nice to have the extra space and features of the tent, so that's a good tradeoff in this category.


Value


The Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6 is very affordable for tents in this category, coming in under $300. This tent is a great buy for your warm weather camping needs.

The Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6.
The Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6.

Conclusion


The Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6 tent is our Best Buy Award winner. It is very affordable without compromising much in terms of durability, design features, and ease of use. It is not your best choice for cooler weather, but it is one of the best for warm weather and sunny destinations. This is a fun family tent with space to sleep and a "patio" for hanging out out of the sun, with mesh to keep bugs out.


Lyra Pierotti