I have an old pine river coleman tent. first edition. Ive had it for about 7 years. I use it about 4 trips each year. I dont back pack tent but camp ground, 3 to 4 days at a time. Ive used it in the middle of some serious rain storms that lasted the night and stayed bone dry, have not had to replace any of it. It has a nice mesh windows for lack of better word that allows me to almost see the entire sky and if it gets cold or if it rains has "window" so to speak that lets me zip it closed. rain fly is easy to set up.
is this the norm for a coleman tent? what would I expect out of a more expensive tent that this doesnt do? this coming spring I plan on doing a small camping trip involving a 3 day hike. I know wieght could be an issue, but I want to give it a shot.
I have found Coleman equipment to be pretty dependable, so I am not surprised by you experience.
But once you start carrying everything you need on your back, weight becomes a key issue. That Coleman tent probably weighs something like 8-10 pounds. For a three day trip, it will still work fine.
But when you leave for a week, and carry all of your food with you, that ten pounds is a lot to carry on your back. And that's why most of us carry tents that weight something under five pounds, and often much less.
Most "car camping" tents of the Walmart variety, Coleman included, preform very well. In fact, Walmart sells a one and two man knockoff tent that is almost an exact copy of an REI tent, except for the fiberglass hoops. My daughter has one and it's works beautifully for the low price of $42. Problem is weight and size. Most of those tents are in the 6-10 lb. category. You can cut weight by replacing the hoops with aluminum. Still, you'd be in the 6-7 lb. range which is still too heavy. Hammocks will get you down to 1.5-2.5 lbs. For backpacking, I use either a hammock or a 10 oz. tarp setup.
If it is a good dependable tent for you and you don't mind carrying then its a great idea. Don't let equipment stand in the way of getting out into the wilderness!
Is this the norm for a Coleman tent? I would say no (though it looks like others have had good experiences with them). Every time I go to a campground I see many Coleman tents and most seem to be in various states of disrepair. I've come across many examples of broken poles and tents that were not water tight.
I usually recommend Kelty as a nice step up from Coleman in terms of quality without a significant increase in price. Though I will say, one thing you can get, when you pay more for a tent, is lower weight.... and that does not necessarily translate into a more robust tent. The saying is: weight, durability, cost.... pick two!