Dome (temporary) home
Let’s start with the dome. On the shelf, their first plus is obvious: They pack up more compactly than their cabin or Instant Tent cousins. They also stand up well to the wind and are easy to set up. Just lay the tent out, feed the two poles into the tent, crossing like an “X,” clip the poles to the corners and you’re basically done. (Except for the important steps of hammering in the stakes and guying out the lines, but that’s pretty much the same on any model you choose.)
Still, a dome is a dome. While Coleman® dome tents are designed to allow more people to sit comfortably inside, as any high school geometry teacher will tell you, the whole family probably isn’t going to be able to stand—comfortably or not—because the center height, at its highest point, is usually not more than 5 ft. tall.
So, if you’re just going to the lake or the mountains for the weekend, a dome will likely suit you just fine. But, if you plan to spend any amount of time—other than sleeping—inside the tent, it’s going to be a tight fit.
If you’re looking for room to stand, move around and do somersaults, you may want to look at buying a cabin-style tent. They’re roomy with straight walls and continuous center heights that tower more than 6 ft., making it easy to find your own space inside. They’re great for extended-stay campouts when the last thing you want to do is violate the personal space of the people you’ll be sharing a room with for the next week or so.
Setting one up is a little more time-consuming and involves more pieces and poles. However, it’s like riding a bike: Once you get it, you will remember how it’s done. To build confidence, plan to set it up and tear it down three or four times in the backyard before you go. That way, if at first your patience runs out faster than the tent pieces go into the tent, you can grab a soda and collect your thoughts in the relaxation of your own air-conditioned living room. Soon you will be an expert, and by the time you’re done setting up the tent at the campsite, other campers will be coming to you for help.
The instant tent answer
If you like the ease of setting up a dome tent, the roominess of a cabin tent, and you wish there was a way to combine it all together, you’re in luck! The Coleman® Instant Tent goes up easier and faster than a cabin or even a traditional dome. You’ll have it up and ready to guy out in a minute or less. It also has the straight, tall walls that allow you to stand, move and—in the bigger models—do somersaults. If you’re looking for instant technology in a dome design, check out the Coleman® Instant Dome™ Tent; it goes up in under a minute, just like its Instant Tent brother, but it packs away more compactly.
Pack the backpacking tent?
Generally, backpacking tents aren’t great for family camping. They’re designed to be carried long distances with other gear, so they’re lightweight and smaller.