Sunday, August 27, 2006

My Coleman Forester Tent

My Various Hobbies...

Coleman Forrester TentSeveral years ago, I gave a winning eBay bid of about $100 for a new 9x13', 2-room, Coleman Forester tent. It's been a great tent. It's spacious , it has enough headroom that I can stand (always a handy feature in a tent) and it has never leaked even while tents around us became wading pools.

I am sad that two segments of the center tent pole have cracked. The pole has 9 segments, connected by shockcord, and it has to bend 180° in about 17 feet. The third segment on each end is damaged. Apparently, it endures more stress in that position. Two other segments are a bit bent, but not cracked.

Coleman Forester tent Tenting at Kentucky Lake, 2003
I've tried to find a replacement pole because the tent body is still in pretty good shape. I couldn't find any replacement parts on the Coleman website so I called the customer service line. After all, Coleman is famous for offering replacement parts for their products.

The Coleman CSR confirmed that they have no parts for the Forester. She gave me the specifications of the pole and the telephone number of a firm that makes custom tent poles. I've tried calling but my every attempt ends with the error message, "Your call cannot be completed as dialed."

I've continued searching the internet hoping to find a replacement pole but so far, I haven't found anything that will work. While googling around, I've come across other accounts of cracked poles for the Coleman Forester. Those stories weren't around when I did a lot of research before buying the tent. I guess their pole problems developed over time, just as mine did.

Coleman Forester TentFun in the Forester
at Cumberland Falls, 2006

Today, I took out the shockcord in the broken pole and rearranged the segments so that the damaged ones are in a place where they won't have to bend as much. Then I wrapped them very well in duct tape. I also reinforced the segments that have been moved to the location that caused the cracking.

I don't know how long the repair will last, but it should be good for a few more trips. Maybe the body of the tent will eventually develop a zipper problem or something so I won't feel bad about junking it.

This evening, I found a promising website for replacement tent poles and I sent an inquiry. I also learned this evening that there are inexpensive pole splints for repairing broken tent poles. I may order several of them for the unlikely circumstance that the duct tape doesn't hold. I find myself unwilling to invest much money now that I have done a redneck repair job that will probably last a while.

I'm just guessing, but I wonder if problems with the center pole might be the reason that Coleman no longer has this particular tent. Next time I buy a tent, it won't have a pole that has to bend completely double like this one does. I might as well say that I won't buy a dome style tent because I think the 180° bend is the basis of their poling system.

I'm not complaining about the tent. Over the last four summers, I've used it quite a lot, and Keely has borrowed it several times for SCA as well. It's seen a lot of set-ups. We've definitely had $100 of use and enjoyment from it. Just a night or two spent in the tent instead of a motel made up the price. All in all, it's been a great tent, and if I didn't love it so much, I wouldn't be trying to fix it.

Coleman Forester TentThe Forester at the Niobrara River, 2004

Coleman Forester TentThe Forester at an SCA event, 2006

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Just everyone is doing torture in a tent -- An amusing read about the joys of pitching a tent.

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Sarabeth said...

We just recently bought a three room North Face tent for our family. We figure that with five of us we will save plenty of money on hotel rooms when we travel. And, I am completely impressed with the tent poles. These things won't break for a very long time.

Genevieve said...

North Face is a much respected brand. It should be a great tent for you.

Rachel said...

We have the same experience you've had. We've had a Forester for about 6 years now and have camped on the beach through two tropical storms. That tent never leaked a bit. The tent poles are a different story though. I'll do your suggestion of putting the weak sections at the end and duct tape the heck out of it.

Anonymous said...

This page is really old, but I too have a Coleman Forrester which I love. My poles eventually broke too. Just bring a section of your poles to any camping/hunting/outdoors store like Cabellas, REI, Gander Mountain, maybe even Dicks or Dunhams and they should have generic replacement poles.

Genevieve Netz said...

Good idea. Thank you. (The page is old, but the tent is still going, believe it or not!)

Teresa Barbuzinski said...

I cannot seem to figure out how to put the forester tent together. Is it necessary to have more than one person? Any help which direction the poles go would help!!!!

Genevieve Netz said...

Here are some instructions that might help. It's a large tent that is a lot easier to set up with two people.

Genevieve Netz said...

I think this document is the official Coleman Forrester instructions from the Coleman company.

Libby Lind said...

I know it's a long shot at this point, but by any chance do you still have this tent? I just won one in an auction for $10, but it doesn't have any poles at all. I'm old hat at repairing broken poles, but without the originals to work off of, I don't know what diameter or length to make them. I found your blog post, and I'm hoping you still have the tent and could measure the poles for me.

Genevieve Netz said...

I'm sorry, but I donated my Forrester to the Salvation Army last summer. I hope you can find the specifications somewhere.

Unknown said...

So, ten years after the fact, I am going through the same dilemma. My tent and I have endured some rough weather and some beautiful nights. I think I might just go get a new Coleman. Thanks for the read!

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