Down 'N Dirty: Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch Darkroom Tent
90%Overall Score
Durability 85%
Versatility 85%
Comfort 95%
Features 95%
Value 90%

 

There are two types of campers in this world: the kind that get a thrill from strapping everything they need to survive in the wilderness for days on end to their back, and the kind that usually make carrying the full cooler of beer the first priority when pulling up to a campsite for the weekend. The Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch tent is definitely made for the latter—not exactly light in weight—but full of features that bring a little bit of comfort to a weekend of car camping with friends and family. I initially broke out the 4-person version of this tent (it’s also sold in a 6-person option) for a late-summer road trip up the Pacific Coast from San Francisco to southern Washington. It was a great idea in theory. Nights camping out under the stars on the beach, with a few spent sleeping among the giants in Redwoods National Park and at other random outdoor accommodations we could find along the way. The days were deceitful of the nights—mostly filled with sunshine and dry weather—while the nights consistently left every piece of gear and clothing I had in my road trip arsenal saturated with moisture. The dampness spread far and wide and left its mark on the majority of the items I carted along on my trip—everything except the tent. The Carlsbad WeatherTec design helped keep the inside of the tent nice and dry at night, easily shedding the lingering nighttime moisture from the exterior each morning before we packed it up and stored it back in the tent bag. The tent boasts a “Fast Pitch” technology, which Coleman says makes assembly 50% easier and faster than other Coleman tents. All together, the Carlsbad uses six components for assembly: four tent poles, the one-piece tent, and a rainfly for extra weather protection. Anyone that’s ever set up a tent can easily put this one up, and with fewer pieces to assemble and insta-clip suspension, the time spent on tent set-up was pretty minimal—which left us with plenty of time to sit back and enjoy the insanely beautiful sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. The tent was spacious, easily fitting two of us with plenty of extra room, and comfortably fitting up to four people complete with sleeping bags, air mattresses, and all of the other convinces of home.

Pros: Although it seems like an unnecessary feature, the Carlsbad’s Dark Room technology is actually really wonderful. From the light of the brightest moon, to those often startling first rays of sun in the morning, the Dark Room technology blocks out 98.4% of it, creating a relaxing place to rest your head, even in the most remote places. And the enclosed 10×5- foot screen room at the front of the tent is very useful in many different ways. It eliminates the issue of where to stash your dirty/muddy hiking boots at night. Instead of bringing the mess inside of the tent, store them in the screen room where they’re still covered from the elements and still safely zipped up inside of the tent. The screen room also provides an additional barrier from pesky bugs. It also provides early risers with a dry enclosed space separate from anyone still trying to catch some zzz’s to get ready for the day and appreciate the sunrise. The tent’s design also includes awnings over the windows of the tent, which provide an extra element of protection from rain or unwanted rays of sun that don’t understand the dent you put in the beer cooler last night…

Cons: Don’t get me wrong, this tent is pretty durable, but while putting it together for the second time, I managed to splinter part of the fiberglass piece of the pole while attempting to lengthen the pieces of the condensed version from the bag. Nothing major, and nothing that affected the assembly during the rest of set up, but I imagine the small issue on one of the most vital parts of the tent could potentially turn into a pretty big problem down the road.

Where I Took It: On a camping road trip up the very wet Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco, CA to southern Washington.