The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Coleman Dark Room Sundome 6 Review

Nothing fancy, but darkness can be a crucial feature for the festival crowd.
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Price:  $180 List | $130.05 at Amazon
Pros:  Dark room technology, easy to set up, good price point.
Cons:  Not as bombproof as higher-end tents, angled walls, pretty basic.
Manufacturer:   Coleman
By Wes Berkshire ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 8, 2019
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67
OVERALL
SCORE


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

Our Verdict

The Coleman 6-Person Dark Room Sundome would be just another value-oriented tent in a very crowded market if it weren't for those two words in the middle of its name. Coleman's Dark Room technology, while not perfect, is a big improvement over any other tent in this category. If you prefer late nights and late mornings, Coleman has your tent. If the rising sun and its sweltering rays have ever roused you from a sound slumber an hour or two before you would have preferred to get up, you should give the Dark Room Sundome a shot. If you're a frequent festival-goer and like those late-night shows, this tent should have your attention.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award  
Price $130.05 at Amazon$469.00 at REI$499.95 at Amazon$398.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$251.15 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Dark room technology, easy to set up, good price point.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 Not as bombproof as higher-end tents, angled walls, pretty basic.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 Nothing fancy, but darkness can be a crucial feature for the festival crowd.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 Dark Room Sundome 6 REI Kingdom 6 Big Agnes Tensleep Station 6 The North Face Wawona 6 Marmot Limestone 4
Comfort (40%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Weather Resistance (25%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Ease Of Set Up (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Workmanship (15%)
10
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6
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
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8
Packed Size (5%)
10
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6
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
Specs Coleman Dark Room... REI Kingdom 6 Big Agnes Tensleep... The North Face... Marmot Limestone 4
Weight 16.8 19.6 lbs 17.8 lbs 20.9 lbs 10.6 lbs
Max Inside Height 6 ft 6 ft 3 in 75 in 6 ft 6 in 8 ft 4 in
Floor Dimension 10' x 10' 10' x 8'4" 10' x 9'5" 5' 3" x 7'
Floor Area 100 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 4 22 4 6 8
Number of Doors 1 2 2 3 2
Room Divider No Yes No Yes No
Vestibules 0 1 2 2 2
Vestibule Area 0 29 sq ft 38.5 sq. feet (front) 10 sq. feet (back) 21 sq ft; 44.7 sq ft 21 sq ft
Packed Size 26.75 x 17.25 x 4.62 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 Coated polyester oxford WP Polyester 75D polyester 150D Polyester
Main Tent Materials Polyester ripstop/mesh Nylon/mesh Breathable polyester & polyester mesh 150D polyester taffeta 40D Polyester/mesh
Rainfly Materials Polyester Coated polyester taffeta Polyester 68D polyester 68D Polyester taffeta
Number of Poles 2 2 Hubbed Sets, 1 Straight 4 4 4
Pole Material Fiberglass 6061/7001 Aluminum Aluminum DAC DA17 14 mm aluminum
Pole Diameter N/A 14.5 / 11 mm 12.8mm x 3, 11 mm x 1 14 mm
Design type Freestanding Freestanding Freestanding Freestanding, dome Freestanding
Extras Internal dry lines, hang loops, Velcro lantern loop

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The Coleman 6-Person Dark Room Sundome.
The Coleman 6-Person Dark Room Sundome.

Comfort


At 100 square feet, the Coleman 6-Person Dark Room Sundome can compete with any tent we reviewed when it comes to floor space. However, angled walls do eat up some of that roominess you find in more high-end, vertical-walled tents. Coleman lists the Dark Room Sundome as a six-person tent. We were comfortable with three, could have squeezed one more in without too much struggle, and any more than that would have resulted in some serious compromise to everyone's personal space. Could you fit six? Sure. Would you want to? Not likely. A mom, dad, and two or three kids would be comfortable in the Dark Room Sundome. It also comes in a four-person version for smaller groups/families. The peak height of 6' should also be sufficient for most campers. You may have to duck slightly on the sides of the tent, but it shouldn't really inhibit your movement.

While the peak height is adequate  the slanted walls lower that height the more you venture out from the center of the tent.
While the peak height is adequate, the slanted walls lower that height the more you venture out from the center of the tent.

Pockets are minimal. Small and compact, there are only four (one on each side) on the interior. If you like to take advantage of storage opportunities on the inside walls of your tent, you're going to be disappointed.

Four pockets  all somewhat small. Storage space is sparce in the Dark Room Sundome.
Four pockets, all somewhat small. Storage space is sparce in the Dark Room Sundome.

Let's get to the big draw, though. The Dark Room Sundome is made of a thick polyester that does an admirable job of blocking light.

The lower section of the tent  as well as the entirety of the fly  is lined with a thick  black  light-blocking polyester to create the dark room effect.
The lower section of the tent, as well as the entirety of the fly, is lined with a thick, black, light-blocking polyester to create the dark room effect.

Coleman claims it blocks 90% of light. We're not exactly sure how that's measured since different conditions (direct sun, shaded light, etc.) would seem to affect the outcome and/or measurement, but it does block a good deal of light. We wanted a pure test, a true battle, tent versus sun, so we purposefully picked a campsite with no trees to block the light. At 9:30-ish the next morning we could still have rolled over for a little more shut-eye.

In direct sun  with the only light from the obviously open door  things stay pretty dark inside.
In direct sun, with the only light from the obviously open door, things stay pretty dark inside.

The other big draw of Coleman's Dark Room technology is that, in addition to blocking light, it also cuts down on temperature. We did find that the tent was cooler than other tents in similar circumstances, but would hesitate to get too carried away with this aspect of things. Sure, the technology kept the temperatures down somewhat — keyword somewhat. In direct sun, there's really only so much you can do. What it did cut down on, that we loved, is that direct sunbeam to the face or sleeping bag that tends to feel like someone in the sky is focusing a giant magnifying glass on your otherwise restful body.

Beyond the size and the Dark Room aspect, there really isn't much more praise to be sung about the Coleman Dark Room Sundome. There's a small inlet in one corner to run cords and such to fuel all of your electronic needs, but no vestibule (there is a small overhang on the door ends of the rainfly, giving you a foot or so of shade depending on where the sun is in the sky), and no features you're going to be bragging to your friends about. That's not necessarily a dig at the tent. What it does have is perfectly adequate, it just isn't going to wow you much beyond its ability to block light.

Weather Resistance


For a budget-friendly tent, the Coleman Dark Room Sundome's rainfly does a decent job. In a light or passing rainstorm, we're confident you'll be dry. If you're looking at a full day of rain or the kind of storm where people start building arks, we'd be a little apprehensive. The fly does come down roughly 2/3 of the way down the sides of the main tent, and when staked out, should provide enough gap between fly and tent to shed water effectively. All seams are taped to prevent any leakage at stitch points. The aforementioned overhangs above each door will keep the majority of rain out of the front and back of the tent, however, should that rain come down anything much beyond vertical it's likely to blow right past any overhang and soak the front or back of the tent. The lower sides and the entire front and back of the tent are made with a polyester that may actually be thicker than the fly itself, but we're always leery when a tentmaker tells us to rely on the main tent for weather protection.

Though the fly doesn't go all the way to the ground  the fabric on the lower section of the tent may actually be even burlier than the fly.
Though the fly doesn't go all the way to the ground, the fabric on the lower section of the tent may actually be even burlier than the fly.

Ease of Setup


It doesn't get much easier than the Coleman Dark Room Sundome when it comes to setup and tear down. The design is the tried and true two-pole, crisscross, dome tent. Each pole has to navigate a small sleeve at the top of the tent, slowing the setup, but only slightly. The rest of the tent pulls out and connects to the poles with hooks. The fly has one more pole that runs front to back and then clips to the corners. While it's not an instant/easy-up tent, it's not far behind. Without reading the instructions or limbering up ahead of time, we had the Dark Room up in under five minutes.

Setup is a quick and easy one-an task.
Setup is a quick and easy one-an task.

Packed Size


When it comes to family tents, packed size is relative. No one is sizing up the Coleman Dark Room Sundome for a thru-hike on the PCT. The main things we look for are the weight, the bulkiness, the ease or awkwardness of carrying it, and the level of difficulty in getting it back into the bag. Like most other categories we've covered here, the Dark Room isn't going to set the camping world ablaze with its storage bag. For a six-person tent, it actually packs down pretty well. Just a long rectangular bag with a couple straps, nothing fancy. We did have to fold and roll everything together to get it back in the bag, but it certainly didn't require a lot of straining, pulling, and stuffing to get it done. Furthermore, the bag has a tear-away flap on the bottom of the bag that serves to expand the overall size of the bag. Like the holes in your belt after a marathon session at the buffet, if you're having a hard time getting everything back together, just pull the strap and voila! You have a little extra room.

The storage bag can be expanded to make getting the genie back in its bottle just a little easier.
The storage bag can be expanded to make getting the genie back in its bottle just a little easier.

Workmanship


We keep harping on this, but it bears repeating. This is a value tent. If it were a top of the line tent, if the price were double or triple what it is, we might be a bit harsher in our critique, but for the price, the quality of the Coleman Dark Room Sundome is good. As an avid camper, will this be the last tent you ever buy? No way. However, as long as you don't punish it too much, store it properly, and maintain even a modicum of cleaning and upkeep, you should have many a dark and restful night's sleep in the Dark Room. All the seams are taped. The polyester floor and sides are thick enough to instill confidence. The poles, while not completely bombproof, are certainly thick enough to stand up to reasonable abuse by both humans and the elements.

Value


For the price and dark room feature  the Sundome is a good value tent.
For the price and dark room feature, the Sundome is a good value tent.

Aside from the draw of the dark room technology, this is where the Dark Room Sundome is going to make some friends. It's certainly one of the best value tents we've reviewed and for those looking to spend a little more money on the things that go with camping (personally we recommend beer), it's a great choice. It doesn't have the features and the long-view durability of higher-end models, but it also doesn't have that higher-end price. For occasional campers or those who always go to the same, sunny, weather-friendly location every year, the Coleman Dark Room Sundome as a great value.

Conclusion


The Coleman 6-Person Dark Room Sundome is your basic dome tent, with one very unique, specific, and effective feature, at a wholly reasonable price.


Wes Berkshire