Saturday, May 25, 2013

Review: The Coleman 8 Person Screened Bristol Tent




The first weekend of May the Midwest Regional Burning Man event known as Interfuse 2013 was held here in Missouri giving me all the excuse I needed to go out and buy that new tent I've been wanting.  While in my younger years I carried everything I needed for a campout, including my lightweight backpacking tent, on my back.  Those days of me carrying everything into a campsite on my back are over unfortunately.

 A two burner stove has replaced my backpacking stove.  A full size chair has replaced my camping stool.  And a queen size mattress has replaced my sleeping pad.  It was only fitting that a new tent providing me more room be added to my gear.

What were my criteria by which I made my choice for this new tent?  First, I wanted more room.  I'm tired of laying on my back while trying to change pants like I had to do in the backpacking tent.  I want to be able to stand up in the tent for a change.  It would also be nice to have little room for my gear in the tent with me.

The second criteria was one-person set up.  Even though I was going to be taking a bigger tent, most of the time it was still going to just be me going so even with my bad arm and leg I still needed to be able to set it up and take it down all by myself.

The third criteria was that I wanted a screened area in front where I could take off my wet rain gear and boots without having to take them into the tent. 

The fourth criteria was that it needed to be a name brand.  I wanted something that I could count on the company that made it to stand behind.

Finally, the fifth criteria was that it needed to cost less than two hundred dollars.  I didn't want this new tent to break the bank.

I began my research both online and in person and finally choose the Coleman 8 Person Screened Bristol Tent.  The tent is sixteen feet wide and seven foot deep with six foot two inch standing room.  Part of the rainfly provides a screened porch that covers the doorway.  The tent includes an electrical port, two accessory bags inside the tent, and a light tie on the roof from which to hang your lamp.  The advertisements for the tent suggest that three queen size mattresses can be laid on the floor inside.  It also claims to sleep eight adults.

First, forget their claims.  The only way eight people are going to fit in that tent are if they are small adults and they are packed in like sardines.  And three queen mattresses might fit in it but, as with eight adults, you won't have anywhere to walk.  Also, everywhere those mattresses touch the sides of the tent, if it rains, it's going to leak so the inside of the tent is going to get wet.  I would be willing to use this tent with two adults and two children, two queen mattresses, with no problem.  As for my first criteria, it fills my needs.

Most of the time it's just me in the tent so I put my queen mattress with the head of the mattress toward one side or the other and the foot of the mattress near the door in the middle.  This prevented any part of the mattress from touching the tent walls and therefore no leaks what-so-ever.  On the other side of the tent is a chair or two along with my clothes bag.  I hang my electric lamp from the top of the tent and am quite comfortable.

My second criteria was it being able to be set up by me by myself.  Just to make sure I set it up in my yard before the campout where I could make sure all the parts were there and could follow the instructions carefully.  Even taking my time and reading the instructions carefully (which are conveniently attached to the inside of carry case for the tent), it only took me between thirty and forty-five minutes by myself to get it set up.  At the camp site, in the rain, I was able to do it in twenty to thirty minutes.  Take down was just as easy and just as quick.  One important thing, the tent and all that goes with it went back into the carry case with no problems.

The third criteria was the screened porch area.  I set a chair out there and was able to take off my rain gear and muddy boots outside of the living quarters of the tent which remained dry.  The screen area has no floor but I put down a tarp that helped keep things drier inside that they might have otherwise.

The fourth criteria was name brand.  Coleman is a name brand that my dad used when he took me camping in the 1960's.  I feel very comfortable that should I need to contact Coleman about the tent during the time of the limited support that they will stand behind their product.

Finally, the tent didn't cost me an arm and a leg.  I picked it up at Target for right at $180.

So if you are looking for a tent and have similar criteria to mine, I whole heartedly recommend the Coleman 8 Person Screened Bristol Tent.  I'll be posting about Interfuse 2013 soon so until then, may the miles float gently below your feet as you continue life's journey.

paul

30 comments:

  1. Paul ... thanks for the review. My son is a Webelo Scout and I am his Den Leader. We "car camp" 4-5 times a year and we have been using a 4 person tent, but it has gotten a little tight for the two of us and our gear, especially when the gear is wet or muddy. Target has the Coleman Bristol on sale for $140 and I have a 15% coupon, so it's $120 plus tax, but I was unsure about the quality. This answered all my questions! Thanks again, Tony

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    1. Thanks for the comments Tony. I hope you and your son have as much enjoyment out of yours as I am having out of mine. Take care and may the miles float gently below your feet as you continue life's journey.

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  2. Paul, I just got this tent for my wife and I and 3 young kids. Thanks for the detailed review, I have a question for you. The rain fly does not cover the two side vesitbules, is that a concern? Wondering if I should spray those areas or cover them with tarps. Thanks!

    Andy

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  3. Andy, I'm not sure what to say. The rain fly, that also includes the front door vestibule, that came with my tent does cover the two side compartments as can be seen in the image above. The rain fly is the gray. Now if you are referring to the red side walls, I have not water treated the walls. Some people do but I don't. As long as you don't touch the inside of the tent during the rain it won't leak. The surface tension of the tent itself prevents it. Water treatment prevents the tent from breathing properly in my opinion although many do it. I think it is a personal preference. I've never needed to except with old canvas tents that I needed to water treat the seams again. Hope this helps.

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  4. Thanks Paul, I was referring to the red side walls that I suppose are for storage in which case there is a good chance something (or someone with 3 little kids) will touch those walls during a rain. I will likely spray, hopefully it won't cause any other issues. I appreciate your response!

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  5. Paul,

    I there any internal division? I am looking for one that doesn't has one, but I have sean bid tents usually have them.

    Diego

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  6. Diego;

    Mine has no internal separation or division of the tent. It's all one space. I hope that answers your question.

    paul

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  7. Paul,
    Excellent review. It's very helpful. Im curious about ventilation and privacy. How are the windows? Does it has good ventilation? Are windows have covers that you can zip up for privacy or you use the rain fly to cover it up?
    Jason

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  8. Jason

    Without the rain fly (and associated screen enclosure at the door) the screen top of the tent is completely see through. The windows at each end of the tent do have covers that can be zipped up. I hope this answers your question.

    paul

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  9. Hi Paul,
    Thanks for the wonderful and detailed review.
    Does the tent come with all the parts ? Do we need anything else to set it up? Like the thing to secure it to the ground.
    We want to purchased the same exact one and we have never done camping before. We were just wordering before we buy it and start the process.
    Thanks in advance .
    Meg

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  10. Meg

    Thanks for your comments. Yes, it comes with everything you need to set it up. I would advise a tarp to place under it but it comes with stakes and ropes to tie it down. I would also suggest a rubber hammer to drive the stakes in with. Happy Camping. Let me know how it goes.

    paul

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  11. Just got this tent online and the tent poles were not there. I have the replacement poles, but now just don't know the lengths they need to be. Could you possibly give me those measurements.

    Thanks Steve ellisor

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  12. Sorry for the delay in response, Steve. Here's what came with mine. I haven't put it up in a while due to medical issues so here goes:

    1 (one) three section quarter inch diameter black pole with two sections 18 inches long and one section 17 inches long. If I remember correctly, this goes in the door.

    1 (one) five section quarter inch diameter black pole with four sections 18 inches long and one section 17 inches long. Again, I seem to remember this being part of the door.

    2 (two) nine section 3/8 inch diameter grey poles with all sections being 20 3/4 inches long.

    1 (one) nine section 3/8 inch diameter black pole with all sections being 22 3/4 inches long.

    2 (two) eleven section 3/8 inch diameter black poles with all sections being 21 1/2 inches long.

    I hope this helps and is not too late. Happy Camping!

    paul

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    1. Hi Paul,
      Thanks for all the info, I have the same problem as Steven. The info you provided is excellent, but is there anyway you could provide the total length of each pole once assembled including the metal tips at each end?
      Thank you!
      Matthew

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  13. Hi Paul,

    Does the tent have one of the hinged doors? I'm concerned the hinged doors will make it too easy to let bugs in.

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    1. The hinged door can be zipped closed which is what I do when not going in and out of the tent.

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  14. Hi Paul,

    Thank you for this excellent review. Is this tent enough big for a family of 5? We are 2 adults with 3 kids. Thank you. Ariane Pepin-Bergeron

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    1. Depending on the size of the kids, I would say yes. As the kids grew I would suggest moving them out into smaller tents to increase their self image.

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  15. Paul, your page has been very helpful. I just bought one that should arrive this Thursday. Planning to setup in the backyard for the rain to come. This is for a family of 5 trip to Yellowstone this June. I think the wife and I will be on a queen and the kids either on a queen or a queen and a twin. Not much information online for this tent, so again your page here has been very helpful.

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  16. Thanks Paul. I bought this tent based on your review, as this was the only review I came across :) We went camping this past weekend and love the tent, however, I'm disappointed that the openings don't close completely, there's still some ventilation on the back of the tent, alongside the length. the side windows zip up as you mention, but not the openings. it was rather chilly night so we definitely felt the cold air coming through.

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    1. No, depending on how snug the rain cover is on the tent, there can be a gap along the back side through which wind can blow. I used the tent in below freezing weather with a Big Buddy Heater (which I'll be reviewing in the next month or so) and managed to get through three nights. I realize that cold is subjective and what I dealt with may have been easier for me than what you dealt with and you probably had no heater. I hope you had blankets. Hope you are enjoying using it during the warmer weather. Happy Camping.

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  17. how many seasons is this tent?
    it loos EXACTLY like the green coleman "Montana" 8 person tent (except for the front porch screen)
    and that tent is a 3 season tent
    so i guess this tent is too??

    also..

    how does it handle in hard rains and big winds?

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    1. Zona,

      I would assume it would be a three season tent. You might want to read my response to Jarmi above regarding the gap in the back of the tent that can allow cool air in if not adjusted just so. It handled pretty good in May of 2013 with rain and snow. Have lucked out and not had any big winds with it so far.

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    2. Zona:

      It rained and the wind blew almost the entire campout described in http://hikemo.blogspot.com/2014/08/orphanarium-7-burner-mode-2014.html. I stayed dry and comfortable.

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  18. While I didn't say very much about the tent specifically, there are several pictures in my review of Crowley's Ridge State Park (http://hikemo.blogspot.com/2014_08_01_archive.html). My son and his family slept in it during our family vacation there recently.

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  19. Sorry if this gets posted twice, I couldn't tell that my first time got posted. I was wondering about the back of this tent with the rain fly. Does the rainfly cover any back windows (if there are any) such that they can be left open during a rainstorm for ventilation. My family has the Coleman Tucana which we dearly love, but have worn it out with lots of use over the past 7 or so years. It's rainfly was such that it was off the windows and all of them could be left open in a rainstorm with fairly high-winds and not get water in the tent. The circulation was fantastic...but, it could also be shut up pretty well if the wind was cold. We are looking for a replacement tent with that quality as well. Thanks for the great review.

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  20. The rain fly covers the open screen top of this tent. If put on properly and tied down correctly, wind and rain are little problem and the circulation is excellent. As I discussed in my post regarding Orphanarium 2014 (http://hikemo.blogspot.com/2014/08/orphanarium-7-burner-mode-2014.html), despite two days of rain and wind I stayed dry. Interfuse May 2013, the temperatures were cold. It actually snowed on us that year along with lots of rain. Despite that, with the assistance of a Big Buddy Heater I stayed reasonably warm and survived the camp out despite many other campers leaving and going home. I plan on writing up a review of the Big Buddy soon. I'm not going to suggest that it's the best for cold weather, though. Without some sort of heat, you are going to get very cold.

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