Coleman Dark Room Tent Review

Park of the magic of EAA AirVenture (“Oshkosh”) is camping out next to the light aircraft in which one flew in. We figured that we’d get some good sleep between 8 pm when the airport officially closes via NOTAM (for the event; ordinarily this is a 24-hour airport) and 7 am when it opens again. It turns out that the warbirds go on “dawn patrol” at around 6:00 am, however, and earplugs are no match for the sound of 50 T-6 and P-51 Mustangs departing from a runway that is 500′ away.

Here’s a review of the Coleman Dark Room 6-man tent that we used…

Plus: There was a thunderstorm one night with 40 mph winds and heavy rain. The high profile of the tent makes it vulnerable to the wind, but we stayed inside and braced ourselves against the corners so the tent did not collapse. Only a bit of rain came through the door seams. Exceeded expectations for a $99 Costco purchase ($155 at Amazon).

Minus: there are plastic rings at the four corners of the tent that are critical to pitching. One of these broke in half during the first pitch. They are about 1/5th as strong as they should be (my last tent was LL Bean and lasted for 15+ years). We managed to get things working (sort of) with an extra stake.

Additional minus: Coleman was not easy to reach by phone for support. After 15 minutes of hold time and a 5-minute conversation, they sent an email demanding various photos, including one of the receipt (but who keeps paper receipts from Costco when the Costco computer stores them?). I responded to this asking “Do you really need a receipt?” and they didn’t reply. So I contacted them again via chat. They actually do demand the receipt before sending out any components. So now it is time to take the entire mess and dump it at Costco because it is basically useless without the 25-cent ring that broke and that Coleman won’t replace.

25 Comments »

  1. Bill

    August 8, 2018 @ 12:18 pm

    1

    I bet you’ll get a better response if you share this story with Coleman’s 12,000+ twitter followers here:

    https://twitter.com/colemanusa

    In my experience, twitter is the best way to get the attention of customer service these days.

  2. superMike

    August 8, 2018 @ 1:18 pm

    2

    If these were tougher, they’d be big with the burning man crowd. Nothing is worse than waking up at 8:30 roasting in a tent after staying up until 4. (People are buying these really expensive reflective tents for this reason)

  3. gotbikes

    August 8, 2018 @ 1:39 pm

    3

    Brand noted, thanks.

  4. philg

    August 8, 2018 @ 3:09 pm

    4

    Bill: Thanks for the tip, but there is no need to get the attention of Coleman because it was purchased at Costco and they will refund the $99 (I’m not that passionate about the $99, but don’t want the hangar cluttered with half-broken stuff).

  5. TimB

    August 8, 2018 @ 4:36 pm

    5

    Well, Bill’s right. You blogged a crtical review – expand your audience to warn them off of Coleman.

  6. philg

    August 8, 2018 @ 4:51 pm

    6

    TimB: Okay, this will be the dumbest question of the week (or month?), but I don’t use Twitter except to have an automatic link from this weblog to Twitter running. I’m not in control of the Coleman account. How could I do something on Twitter that would result in Coleman’s 12,000+ followers seeing it? Somehow tagging my own post with Coleman’s Twitter account shouldn’t do it, should it? One can’t put something out to all of Donald Trump’s loyal followers (in case the Massachusetts thought police are reading… I’m not one of them!) just by tagging Trump in a post, right?

  7. TimB

    August 8, 2018 @ 5:02 pm

    7

    I believe the Twitter term is “mentions” – and anyone can see them if you include the Twitter handle (if they follow the target account). So if you create a new tweet from your account (e.g. “Hey @ColemanUSA – I’m not happy with the tent….”. They will definitely see it and anyone who follows their Twitter account will as well.

    Bill is correct – I’ve seen people get resolution on issues across many brands via Twitter when other avenues didn’t work.

  8. philg

    August 8, 2018 @ 5:05 pm

    8

    But this is kind of nuts, isn’t it? Why would 12,000 people who wanted to follow Coleman also end up seeing everything posting by any random Coleman customer? (Even a bigger question for Trump. Why would the people who follow him want to see postings from my outraged Facebook friends, e.g., “Hey @realDonaldTrump , please abdicate your kingship in favor of Hillary”?)

  9. philg

    August 8, 2018 @ 5:09 pm

    9

    I experimented per your suggestions. Here’s my tweet:

    Thanks, @ColemanUSA, for keeping us dry during the big Oshkosh fly-in. My review of the 6-man Dark Room Tent is at [this URL]

    https://twitter.com/PhilipGreenspun/status/1027300367640551425

    Thought on logging into the Twitter site: Whoa that portrait of me is crazy old. I need to replace it with a picture of Mindy the Crippler.

  10. philg

    August 8, 2018 @ 5:12 pm

    10

    I updated the profile (I think one of my readers actually created it years ago) and changed the picture to one from a couple of weeks ago (half as much hair).

  11. TimB

    August 8, 2018 @ 5:27 pm

    11

    Well, you’re right. You can’t hijack their feed – but there is more than one stream: “tweets” and “tweets & replies” – so if they reply to you, everyone will see it in *that* stream. Also if I just search their Twitter handle on the twitter website – I can see your mention right now (*with* the newer than “Travelling with Samantha” pic 😉

  12. anon

    August 8, 2018 @ 6:10 pm

    12

    Tweet out a concise but not-too-nasty complaint (rather than a complaint buried at the end of a positive review). In my experience such complaints quickly get a response (much to my surprise) from otherwise non-responsive mega-corps.

  13. toucan sam

    August 8, 2018 @ 6:54 pm

    13

    Protip for your next oshkosh! Don’t bother bringing a tent. Go to costco right near the airport and buy a tent (or walmart). Feel free to store your new tent in the hangar my group rents all year. Alternatively you are welcome to join us next year in our group camping area and we can probably even loan you a tent. About 30 years ago the founder of our group figured out it was cheaper and easier for about 40 people to split the cost of a hangar year round rather than trying to fly supplies in light aircraft all the way from California. We also have a few people from the Boston area so you won’t be too lonely.

  14. philg

    August 8, 2018 @ 7:12 pm

    14

    anon: If you check https://twitter.com/ColemanUSA/with_replies you’ll see that they mostly respond with a form “please give us a call at 1-800-835-3278 and a member of our team will address this issue!” (but of course, I already did talk to them and it was a waste of time compared to spending 2 minutes returning the tent at Costco).

    Toucan: Thanks for the offer! Yours is a brilliant idea! Your “group camping area” is part of the general airplane camping area? Or somewhere else?

  15. toucan sam

    August 8, 2018 @ 7:42 pm

    15

    There are only 2 groups allowed so far and the EAA has no interest in creating more. Both groups are at the end of the North 40 near the fire station. This year both groups sprang for large wedding type tent as our “communal areas”, you may have seen them. An interesting history about the groups… For 30 years our group ignored the EAA flagman and just wrote “tenant” on our sign and taxied wherever we wanted to. The other group met at a close airport and flew in a line and would not let anybody cut in the fiske arrival procedure. Finally the EAA got sick and tired of battling with both of us and created the group areas which are as far away from everyone as possible. For the last 2 years the EAA has more or less left us alone. Immediately upon shutdown each pilot is handed a cold beer. This prevents our planes from being moved by the EAA for at least 8 hours! The only real trouble we got in this year was by one of our pilots conducting a field survey of turbine inlet temperatures after landing. Apparently the EAA felt our “show us your tits” sign was not family friendly. The misunderstanding was corrected.

  16. Jack D

    August 9, 2018 @ 7:57 am

    16

    Wouldn’t be easier just to improvise some sort of ring or find a hardware store item that would work – a key ring, some bailing wire or something like that?

  17. philg

    August 9, 2018 @ 10:18 am

    17

    Jack: That’s a good point. I think it might be possible to reengineer this using metal rings (but maybe do that at all four corners because if this one snapped the rest are sure to go). One issue is that it would have to be a pretty thick ring so as to avoid cutting through the webbing. It takes a lot of tension.

  18. superMike

    August 9, 2018 @ 3:26 pm

    18

    @toucan sam: if they allow a bunch a groups Oshkosh will degenerate into “Flying Man” with theme camps and nudity.

  19. philg

    August 9, 2018 @ 3:42 pm

    19

    superMike: Considering the typical Oshkosh demographic, nudity is indeed a frighteningly degenerate prospect!

  20. Raleigh

    August 9, 2018 @ 7:33 pm

    20

    Coleman tent? Never appropriate, not nowhere, no time, not under no circumstances. Delete the tent, burn this thread, and never mention it again.

  21. Jack D

    August 9, 2018 @ 7:49 pm

    21

    Thick? Shower curtain ring?

  22. philg

    August 9, 2018 @ 9:29 pm

    22

    Jack: A plastic shower ring designed to hold up a 2 lb. plastic shower curtain? This would be a solution for holding a 6′ tall tent against a 40 mph wind? And for dealing with the stresses of up to 6 adult humans pressing up against various points inside? I think that you have a job waiting for you at Coleman!

  23. Senorpablo

    August 10, 2018 @ 3:24 am

    23

    Does the ring need to be perfectly round? Would a carabiner work?

  24. philg

    August 10, 2018 @ 12:13 pm

    24

    A biner would be strong enough. When I grabbed the tent from the hangar for its trip back to Costco I noticed that the ring was integral to the pole receptacle. So there wouldn’t have been any easy way to fix without a custom part from Coleman.

  25. District Cliff

    August 10, 2018 @ 7:59 pm

    25

    My last trip to Oshkosh was 2008. I slept in a green Eureka A frame tent that still had its 1978 EAA Camp Scholler sticker on the rain fly. When my mother bought a new tent for our trip in 1994, she based it on walking around Camp Scholler and noting which tents looked dry after heavy rains. Back in the early 90s, it was the Eureka tents, so she got an 8 man Eureka dome tent (which comfortably sleeps 4).

    Coleman Xtreme coolers work well, but their tents? I wouldn’t want to rely on one.

Leave a Comment

Log in