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Coleman Skydome XL 8 Review

An extra large shelter that cleans up well, even after several days of kids, spills, and pets
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Coleman Skydome XL 8 Review
Credit: Jason Wanlass
Price:  $290 List
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Manufacturer:   Coleman
By Jason Wanlass ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 14, 2024
75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 19
  • Space and Comfort - 35% 9.0
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 6.0
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6.0
  • Family Friendliness - 15% 9.0
  • Quality - 10% 6.0

Our Verdict

The Skydome XL 8 is simply massive. It's the largest camping tent we've ever tested, making it an excellent choice for large adventurous families who enjoy spending time in the outdoors. Even better, this behemoth shelter is reasonably durable, weatherproof, and very affordable. Its sprawling 114.5 square feet interior can sleep eight fairly comfortably, and is complemented by a super durable, seamless, tarp-style floor that is waterproof and can handle even the biggest messes or spills. We love this tent's incredible mesh rooftop. It runs the entire length of the tent and is perfect for stargazing during warm weather camp outs. The Skydome has tons of thoughtful features, including interior string lights that create a nice bedtime ambiance for young campers. This shelter certainly has its limits, but if you've been looking for a decent family-size tent for basic camping, look no further.
REASONS TO BUY
Massive
Reasonably weatherproof
Attractive price tag
Durable tarp floor
Fully meshed rooftop
Built-in electrical port
Fun string lighting
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavy and bulky
Not free-standing
Thin rainfly
Lengthy setup
Cheap ground stakes
Requires larger camp space

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Bottom Line You may have to sacrifice a little on quality, but this tent is fairly solid, cleans easily, and can sleep a platoon of kids and petsThis is a value tent from a trusted brand that delivers on both quality and sizeA spacious, high-quality, six-person budget tent ready for large family adventuresA no-frills shelter that will fit the budget, but may not stand up to the harshest weatherA 4-person budget tent that is simple, quick to pitch, and can handle a little bad weather
Rating Categories Coleman Skydome XL 8 REI Co-op Skyward 4 Kelty Wireless 6 Coleman Sundome 6 Kelty Tallboy 4
Space and Comfort (35%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Weather Resistance (25%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Ease of Use (15%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Family Friendliness (15%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
5.0
5.0
Quality (10%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Coleman Skydome XL 8 REI Co-op Skyward 4 Kelty Wireless 6 Coleman Sundome 6 Kelty Tallboy 4
Measured Weight 20.3 lbs 11.0 lbs 17.2 lbs 14.8 lbs 11.0 lbs
Max Inside Height 6' 1" 6' 6" 6' 4" 6' 2" 5' 10"
Floor Dimensions 16' 2" x 7' 1" 8' 4" x 7' 3" 9' 10" x 8' 10" 10' 1" x 10' 1" 7' 1" x 8'
Floor Area 114.5 sq ft 60 sq ft 86.9 sq ft 101.5 sq ft 57 sq ft
Seasons 3-season 3-season 3-season 3-season 3-season
Windows 2 1 Mesh top 2 Mesh top
Pockets 6 4 6 2 4
Number of Doors 1 1 2 1 1
Room Divider Yes No No No No
Vestibules 0 1 2 0 0
Vestibule Area (total) N/A 19.5 sq ft 28 sq ft N/A N/A
Packed Size 28" x 11" x 11" 9.8" x 27.5" 27" x 8" x 8" 28" x 9" x 9" 24" x 7" x 10"
Floor Materials Polyester 150D Polyester 68D poly 1800mm Polyester 68D Poly 1200mm
Main Tent Materials Polyester 75D polyester 68D poly 1200mm, 40D No-see-um mesh Polyester 68D Poly 1200mm, 40D No-see-um mesh
Rainfly Materials Polyester 75D polyester 68D poly 1200mm Polyester 68D Poly 1200mm
Number of Poles 4 7 3 2 3
Pole Material Fibergblass Aluminum Fiberglass Fiberglass Fiberglass
Extras Integrated string lighting system Pole-repair sleeve Pole pockets for easy setup E-port for electirical power Lightweight

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Skydome XL 8 is our favorite tent for families or large groups. Its most unique feature is its sheer size, measuring a whopping 201 inches from end to end, this tent takes up space, so you best have a decent sized campsite.

Performance Comparison



coleman skydome xl 8 - the tent is pitched. rainfly is attached. now time to check out the...
The tent is pitched. Rainfly is attached. Now time to check out the interior.
Credit: Jason Wanlass


Space and Comfort


The Skydome XL 8 earned some of its best scores in this metric. Not only is this tent super spacious, it also boasts some key features that make it comfortable to use. Although it can sleep eight (on basic sleeping pads), we like that this tent can also sleep six more comfortably on three queen-sized air mattresses.


At more than 16 feet wide, the Skydome takes up more real estate than any tent we've studied. However, during our testing, we also liked that its head-to-toe depth is more than seven feet, so even taller campers can sleep comfortably without having to sleep on an angle.

Getting the measurements on this massive tent. We almost didn't believe our tape measure.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Despite its lower cost, we were impressed at the comfort features that Coleman was able to incorporate into the Skydome XL 8. This tent is well-vented, has six large mesh pockets for gear, several gear hooks, string lighting, and a small electrical port which makes it easy to bring electrical cords into the tent without having to keep the main door unzipped. The manufacturer's website also makes claims of a room divider; however, our tent did not ship with one, and we saw no evidence on the interior of where a divider would attach.

The Skydome's E-port makes it easy to run generator electricity to the tent.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Although this tent's durable tarp flooring is super tough, it's also super loud. It magnifies the sound of every nighttime twist, roll, or pillow replacement, creating quite the symphony crackling and crinkling. On the plus side, no one will be sneaking out of this tent at night without being heard.

Makin' some noise. The tarp-style flooring is super durable and waterproof. It can also be annoying to listen to all night long. (Sound up).
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Our favorite comfort feature is this shelter's massive mesh rooftop. It runs the full length of the tent, making warm-weather camping a literal breeze. On clear nights, we loved sleeping without the rainfly. The mesh top allowed cooler nighttime air to pass easily into the tent's interior, and it also is thin enough to enjoy a fair amount of stargazing.

Nearly 16 linear feet of mesh makes for a heck of a see-through rooftop. During good weather camping, drop the rainfly and enjoy the breeze and the view.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Weather Resistance


The Skydome XL 8 is perfect for basic fair-weather camping. It could even do battle with short term wind and rain from a passing mountain thunderstorm. However, after weeks of examining our Skydome, we weren't convinced that it could really hold its own against more severe weather. Our doubts resulted in lower scores for this metric.


We doused the Skydome XL 8 with gallons of hose water for more than five minutes, and were pleased that none of it made its way into the Skydome's interior. Basic rainstorms were never much of a concern to us, but the rainfly isn't full length so we don't think it would perform as well against blowing rain or snow.

Trying to drown our Skydome in hose water. After more than five minutes of abuse, it was still nice and dry inside.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Our testers felt the rainfly is also a little too thin, and they collectively didn't like the bungee-and-hook system that secures the fly to the tent. The consensus was this system isn't as reliable or secure as staked or buckled options on other tents, and it also lacks the ability to adjust or tighten the rainfly when its time to batten down the hatches.

Studying the rainfly attachment straps. The hook-and-bungee system is weaker, less reliable, and non-adjustable.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Our biggest concern with the rainfly is its small awning over the door. We felt the awning worked perfectly if rain or snow was falling vertically. However, we didn't like this design during blowing precipitation because the awning directly exposes the tent's mesh rooftop. Wind-swept rain or snow could easily penetrate under the awning and instantly make its way to the interior of the tent.

The reinforced awning directs rain water away from the front door. However, wind-swept rain could also enter under the awning and find its way through the mesh rooftop.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Finally, due to its size and design, the Skydome XL 8 isn't very sturdy and is heavily dependent on ground stakes for its stability. During our wind tests we noticed the tent bowing and moving when exposed to very moderate winds. Performance improved greatly when all stakes and guylines were anchored properly, but at its core, we felt the Skydome had a lot of room for improvement at being more wind resistant and more sturdy.

Testing the Skydome's stability. Even when staked to the ground, the tent's sheer size causes it to sway and wobble. Firmly anchored guylines are recommended to keep the tent firmly in place.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Ease of Use


A lengthy setup process, catchy zippers, and a very annoying rainfly were some of the key reasons we awarded the Skydome XL 8 lower scores for this metric. It's also a little more difficult and time consuming to roll up and stow into its stuff sack.


We did not like this tent's setup process. The poles are very long and awkward to manage, and the tent itself is large and tends to bow and twist out of place throughout the entire process. During our timed tests, most of our reviewers required between 6 to 10 minutes to complete the task (not including the rainfly). All four of the lengthy poles are permanently attached to the tent on one end. Although this design feature is supposed to streamline the setup, we actually felt it did the opposite, and we feel the process would be easier if the poles were unattached.

Attachment issues. We don't like the pre-attached pole system. It's awkward and cumbersome, and it makes setup -- and especially repacking the tent -- an unnecessarily complicated process.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

We loved all of the zippers on the Skydome. All are constructed from quality materials and they have a smoother glide than those on many of the more expensive models in our lineup. However despite their buttery zip, we did have consistent trouble with the main door. Regardless of our efforts, the zipper slider routinely bound in the storm flap fabric, creating a stop-and-go pattern every time we opened or closed the tent. We didn't feel this was a huge construction flaw, but it was annoying.

Start and stop. Although the main door zippers are incredibly smooth, they often catch on the storm flap,
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Family Friendliness


An unmatched ability to sleep several people resulted in top marks for the Skydome XL 8 for this metric. This gargantuan shelter is perfect for families and their pets. It also is a great choice for organized youth camps or any other event with a lot of campers.


When it comes to meeting basic criteria for family use, there was a lot that we loved about the Skydome XL 8. Although loud and crinkly, we loved this model's tub-style tarp flooring (flooring that continues up the sides of the tent). It's super durable, waterproof, and it cleans easily, making it ideal for spills, messy kids, or even a muddy paw print or two. As stated, the Skydome can sleep eight on regular sleeping pads, but it's also large enough to accommodate three queen-sized air mattresses. This lowers its sleeping bandwidth to about six snoozers, but you'll be sleeping in luxury. Our favorite feature of this metric is the Skydome's interior string lights. They aren't overly necessary, but they're a fun accessory that kids love, especially when night falls and the monsters come out of the forest.

Super lit. We loved the fun addition of attachable string lights. They run on three AA batteries and aren't very powerful, but they provide enough light to create comfort.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Quality


After weeks of testing and use, we awarded the Skydome XL 8 so-so scores for quality. This tent is well-made, and with proper care, we feel it's tough enough to withstand years of basic use. However, we just don't feel it has grit to do battle with on-the-go campers who like to be outdoors on a very regular basis. Our consensus was that intense use by large families, or similar groups, could prove to be more than the Skydome can handle. However, we still love this tent and feel it performs very well in the lane it was built to ride in.


Both the tent and rainfly of the Skydome are double stitched, reinforced, and sealed with seam tape. The tarp flooring is very rugged and all of the connection points (clips, loops, zippers) are solid enough to stand the test of time, if used with care. This tent's skeleton (four long tent poles) are fiberglass, not aluminum, so they are a bit heavier, but still very strong. In fact, we feel fiberglass poles may be a better option for families because they can handle more abuse without denting, bending, or breaking. Another quality feature we loved was a thoughtfully placed exterior awning that shields the Skydome's floor vent from rain and snow.

Testing out the function of the Skydome's floor vent awning. It allows air in and keeps rain out.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

This tent is built like a free-standing shelter, but its size and weight make this virtually impossible. Our testers discovered very quickly that without ground stakes the Skydome will not stand on its own, especially in breezy conditions. Considering this fact, we were very disappointed in the quality of the stakes. They are thin, cheap, and average at best.

coleman skydome xl 8 - huge tent. itty bitty ground stakes. a tent this size, that is...
Huge tent. Itty bitty ground stakes. A tent this size, that is heavily dependent on staking, should rely on stakes that are a little more robust.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

We highly recommend using this tent's included guylines and weighing down the guyline ground stakes with a large rock or two. This tent's size requires all the support it can get to remain sturdy during unexpected inclement weather.


Should You Buy the Coleman Skydome XL 8?


If you camp in large groups or like to enjoy the great outdoors as a family, the Skydome XL 8 is a great less-expensive option that offers the space you need for rows of sleeping bags. This tent has a lot of thoughtful features and it is resilient enough to handle an occasional storm or wind gust. However, everything has its price, so don't expect the Skydome to perform like a $600 tent. It certainly has its limitations, but for basic family camping on a budget, you simply can't go wrong with this mega shelter.

coleman skydome xl 8 - we just loaded the string lights with three aa batteries, and are...
We just loaded the string lights with three AA batteries, and are headed for installation.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

What Other Camping Tents Should You Consider?


The Skydome is the only eight-person tent in our lineup — tents this size aren't very plentiful. However, we have several tents that can sleep six. Our favorites are the The North Face Wawona 6 and REI Co-op Base Camp 6. For families, we also highly recommend the Gazelle T4 Hub because it's super durable, self-contained, and literally pops into place in less than a minute.

coleman skydome xl 8 - nighttime glow of the skydome's interior string lights.
Nighttime glow of the Skydome's interior string lights.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Jason Wanlass