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