Coleman River Gorge vs Sundome

Coleman River Gorge vs Sundome - which is better?

These are two very closely matched Coleman tents, but our favorite has to be the River Gorge. It’s not as popular as the Sundome, and it’s a bit more expensive, but you really do get more for bang-for-your-buck, as it were.

It’s designed in a similar fashion to Coleman’s other Fast-Pitch tents, so setup is incredibly easy. Plus the excellent front awning makes a very useful shelter and hang-out area with friends and family.

One thing to consider is you get a bit more headroom with the Sundome, which can make a difference in a large 6-person tent like these two. Read on for a very thorough examination of both the differences and shared features between the two, and why a third option might be the way to go for some family campers.

Check out the latest prices on Amazon here: River Gorge | Sundome

Want more options? Check out our best family tents  buying guide.

​Quick Comparison

Coleman River Gorge Fast Pitch 6 Person Tent

​Coleman 6-Person Dark Room Sundome Tent

​​RIVER GORGE:

PROS:
  • ​Faster setup
    Great all-rounder
  • ​​Awesome front awning
    Outstanding comfort and weight distribution
  •  Better weather protection
  • ​More expensive

​​​​SUNDOME:

CONS:
PROS:
  • ​​More headroom
  •  Better ventilation
  • ​Only really a summmer tent

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  • The River Gorge features a Fast Pitch system that allows you to set it up in a matter of minutes, whereas the Sundome takes just a little longer to set up
  • The ​Sundome has a maximum interior height of 6 feet, whereas the ​River Gorge has a maximum interior height of 5 feet 8 inches
  • The​ Sundome has a large floor vent for ventilation, whereas the ​River Gorge does not
  • The ​River Gorge has a really well designed front awning which is great for rain and sun protection, whereas the ​Sundome's awning is a little less advanced
  • The rain fly of the ​River Gorge features special ventilation holes, whereas the ​Sundome’s rain fly does not
  • The ​Sundome has more mesh and open space in the upper, thus allowing more sun into the tent than the ​River Gorge

​​​​​Key Differences

​​Size

While both tents are designed to be big and accommodate 6 people, there is a slight size difference between the two; the Coleman Sundome has a slightly larger interior. The height of the middle is 6 feet, whereas the height of the Coleman River Gorge is 5 feet 8 inches. It is not a huge difference, but it can make a difference depending on the size of the people inside the tent. All in all, the Sundome has a little more interior space, thus making it better for more and larger people.

Pitching

When it comes to pitching a tent, you want it to be quick, easy, and efficient. Both the River Gorge and the Sundome feature a fairly easy pitching system, but one is still faster than the other. The Coleman River Gorge features a really easy Fast Pitch tent system that only takes 7 minutes to complete. On the other hand, while the Coleman Sundome is designed to be easy to set up, it takes more like 10 or 12 minutes to complete the job. Remember, both of these tents are fast and easy to set up, but the River Gorge is just a little quicker.

Floor Vents

One of the bigger differences between these two tents has to do with the floor ventilation systems. The Sundome is designed to be used more in the sunlight, and therefore gets quite warm. For this reason, the Coleman features a great floor ventilation system to keep the tent cool and aerated on those hot summer nights. The River Gorge is designed for more all season use. Therefore, it does not have any floor ventilation and can get a little hot and stuffy when used in the summertime.

The Upper

There is a reason why the Sundome has the name that it has – it is meant to be in the sun and let in a lot of sun. The whole upper of the Coleman Sundome features mesh windows that let in both light and air. You can see out of them, no problem, even during the night so you can see the stars. This is also useful in terms of added ventilation. On the other hand, a lot of the River Gorge’s upper is not mesh, and is therefore less ventilated and cannot be seen through as easily, thus obstructing the view of the stars during the night.

Rain Fly

Now, just to be clear, both the Coleman Sundome and the River Gorge have great rain flies, ones that keep wind and rain at bay. However, the rain fly on the River Gorge is a little more waterproof, it is held down a little better, and it also features ventilation holes to let air in. As you can see, the Sundome is designed more for warm and good weather use, while the River Gorge is more ideal for rougher weather.

​​Coleman River Gorge vs Sundome - Shared Features

  • Both of these tents are designed to fit 6 people and can both fit 2 queen size air mattresses. In other words, they are both meant for a lot of people
  • Both the Coleman River Gorge and the Sundome feature great Weathertec rain protection systems.
  • While the shape of the awnings is a little different with both tents, they both do a good job at keeping the entranceway to the tents dry
  • Both tents come with quite a few storage pockets other storage spaces so you and your friends can keep your valuable organized inside of the tents
  • Both of these tents features welded floors and inverted seams to keep moisture and cool air from the ground at bay​

​​​​Coleman River Gorge vs Sundome - How Do They Compare?

​​​​Another leading tent in the family/large group category is the Kelty Acadia Tent (link to Amazon).

​One thing that needs to be said is that the Kelty is a little roomier on the inside. It also has dual doors to make it easier for people to get in and out of. When it comes to weatherproofing, the fly which the Kelty comes with is intended for some harsh weather.

On the other hand, the Kelty is a bit trickier to setup, is heavier and considerably more expensive. But definitely a good option for larger groups and those camping outside of the summer season.

​​​T​rail End

​​​​​​​​Coleman River Gorge vs Sundome: Our verdict

​Summing up, it’s the River Gorge that ticks more boxes in terms of what we look for in a large camping tent. The Sundome’s unique mesh-roofing feature does indeed let in a lot of sunlight - and it is a nice addition - but it doesn’t really make up for some of its basic floors, such as its cumbersome setup.

The River Gorge has a more family friendly design, such as with the well thought out front awning. Furthermore, you should keep in mind that the River Gorge is probably a little better for rough weather, while the Sundome is a good choice for warm weather. And it probably goes without saying, but in reality these tents aren’t big enough for 6 adults! Consider the Kelty Acadia instead. =ZIP=

​Check out the latest prices on Amazon here: River Gorge | Sundome

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  • Fast PitchTM set-up system takes half the set-up time of a conventional Coleman tent Quick, easy...
  • Exclusive WeatherTecTM system features patented welded floors and inverted seams to protect you from...
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