Pros: Cheap enough to be a good deal, strong enough for windy days, rain resistant.
Cons: Lousy included tent stakes, carry bag is too small, not a 4-season tent.
----- Introduction -----
The Coleman Crestline 9 10 x 7 is the first tent Ive ever purchased. Usually Id just use the old boxy family tent which took 90 minutes to set up and leaked in the rain. I finally was forced to go tent shopping when I was invited to a 3 day camping trip on a small island. I decided I didnt want to wake up with a dew-covered sleeping bag and be completely soaked if it rained. Not knowing anything about tents, I decided to go to my local camping/hunting/fishing store and look around.
I was looking mostly at a low price point and easy setup capabilities, so when I set eyes on the Coleman Crestline model my interest was piqued. At only $49.99 it was a good value, and the size was more than what I needed at least I thought so. After talking to a salesman I decided this was the tent for me, and walked out the door with my new Crestline. I also decided to pick up a Coleman 2-burner stove and Coleman florescent camping lantern, which might get their own reviews.
----- Setup, easy or backbreaking? -----
In a stroke of genius, Coleman printed the setup instructions on a nylon flap attached directly to the tent bag. Not only will the instructions last longer than the tent itself, youll never lose them. Once I dumped the bag on the ground, I saw how many parts there were to this tent. First of all youll want to drag the main tent body into a clear, flat area, preferably one with soft grass or at least no rocks and roots underneath. Another Epinions member gave me this great tip about tent setup. Lay a cheap tarp on the ground before placing your tent floor on top. This gives you an extra padded layer and further protection against moisture and rain. After finding your perfect tent spot youll assemble the 6 fiberglass and elastic flexible rods which hold the tents shape. Two rods are black and about 8' long, 2 are grey and 6' long, and the last 2 are black U shaped arches for the rainfly. Now you can begin to stake the tent down. Here is where things get tricky, since the included stakes are junk in my opinion.
Each stake is merely a 1/8 galvanized steel rod with a 180 degree hook at the end. There are no barbs or teeth to prevent the stake from pulling out of the ground, and more often than not when applying tension it will just slide through the earth and pop loose. I've substituted actual tent stakes for my tent, and they work MUCH better. Anyway, youll use these little stakes to tie down all four corners of the tent body.
There are eight tie-down points total for this tent, four at the corners and 2 on each long side of the tent base. Two guywires are also staked to the ground, but those are only to secure the rainfly and we'll get to that later. Now you'll insert the black 8' fiberglass shock rods through the long sleeves in the tent roof. Two people make this next step a lot easier, since you need to arch the 8' long rods and stick each end into a metal peg stationed at each corner. There are two of these metal pegs at each corner, and they are permanently attached to large rings on the tent base. Four pegs are for the black pole ends and four pegs are for the 6' grey poles. Essentially youll have a diagonal X across the tent roof and anchored at each corner. Now you insert the gray 6' side rods at each end of the tent and bend them to match the appropriate pegs. Each grey rod has a short sleeve it must go through first, and after it's arched in a U-shape it pulls the ends of the tent open fully. To visualize the tent so far, consider looking straight down at the tent from above with the door facing North and the window facing South. The 8' black poles form an X in the center, and to the right and left of this X the ends of both grey poles are pointing straight North and South.
Pole positions look something like this: IXI
I= grey pole
X= black poles
The Crestline tent has several built in Quik-Clips on each side that snap onto the gray rods and stretch the tent material to meet the grey rods. With the gray rods installed and Quik-Clips attached the tent is filled out to its full shape and dimension, all that remains is the rain fly installation. This is pretty simple, and consists of draping the rain fly over the tent, attaching four bungie cords, and staking to guylines to hold the rainfly out away from the tent. There is one guyline for each end of the rainfly that helps stretch it out away from the ends of the tent. The last thing to do is slide the curved black rainfly support poles into sleeves built into the fly, when the supports are installed they hold the fly out over the door and window. The ends of each black pole snap into reinforced pockets on the tent wall, and lean outwards giving the fly a larger coverage area. Once all this is done youre ready to move in!
----- Inside the Crestline, cozy or cruel? -----
The only entrance to the Coleman Crestline is a full-zip door on the longer sidewall of the tent. The zipper runs 270 degrees around the door, allowing you to enter easily without tripping over a half-zipped door flap. Opposite the door and on the other side wall is the only window. Both the door and window have built in screens and zip-up panels to keep wind and rain out. Zippers are easy to use and so far havent jammed or stuck on me. Zipper pulls are metal, not plastic like some cheaper models have.
Attached at each end wall of the tent are stuff pockets, which work great for keys, flashlights, wallets, or eyewear. At about 16 off the floor, they are the perfect height for reaching into when lying on a sleeping bag. Speaking of sleeping bags, you can fit three comfortably on the floor and four in a pinch if you dont mind being crowded. There is a little strap in the center of the ceiling for hanging things from, I use it to hang a small LED lantern at night. The 59" center height is plenty high for a tent this small, and allows you to move around easily at night without banging your head.
Ventilation is very good with the window panels rolled down and just the screens in. The small size of this tent means youll have plenty of wind flowing through if the breeze kicks up. Ventilation is also quite good out the small vents on each end, and the rainfly has about 3 of airspace between roof and fly. With the rainfly off the ventilation is very good, and if the night will be hot and muggy I definitely would keep the rainfly off. If the forcast includes rain I leave the rainfly on, it still keeps the tent slightly cooler on days when its calm and hot. If it does decide to rain the fly helps provide an extra barrier against rain saturating the roof.
Lets talk about rain, one of those things thats inevitable if you camp often enough. Ive been in three rainstorms with my Crestline, and overall Id say its done very well. Two storms were very heavy rainfall that only lasted about 45 minutes, and the tent stayed completely dry. The other storm was a soaking rain that drizzled down all day long. After the rain was over, the tent was quite heavy and the material somewhat permeated with water. Inside it was still dry, although the ceiling was damp to the touch. The rainfly was completely soaked and it was dripping on top of the roof panels. If it had continued to rain for much longer Im sure it would have started to leak. The rainfly arches over the door and window, so you can keep them zipped open while its raining. However, if the wind kicks up it will start to blow inside. With the windows zipped up while its raining it does get very humid inside, so keeping them open for ventilation is ideal.
----- Bottom Line -----
This is definitely a 3-season tent, since it's not strong enough to withstand a snow load or heavy storm. If you upgrade the tent stakes with some of MSR's excellent stakes you'll feel much better about sleeping through a windy night. While I haven't been able to compare it to many other tents, the Crestline has done everything I've wanted it to. Durability has been quite good, and it still looks like it did the day I bought it. I have to mention again how Coleman attached the setup instructions to the tent bag to keep them with the tent. Several people have setup this tent and had no problems understanding the instructions. It takes between 15 and 40 minutes to setup depending on how familiar you are with it.
If you want a lower priced tent that will get the job done for occasional camping needs, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Coleman Crestline. Aside from cheap and inferior tent stakes the Crestline includes everything you need to go camping. It's a on the heavy side for a hiking trip, so if weight is a concern I'd look elsewhere.
This tent is $15-$20 cheaper at retail stores such as K-Mart and Gander Mountain when compared with Coleman's website, I'm not sure why. It's still sold under the Coleman Crestline name, but the fabric is grey/blue. The tent on Coleman's site looks the same and has the same specifications, but is green/grey and costs $70.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment!