Air Conditioned Tents

Late in 2007, Coleman announced its new ‘air conditioned’ tents to a few raised eyebrows, but the theory is based on sensible thinking. The patented design of the tent’s vents adds weight to Coleman’s addition to family camping, too.
Alan Edmondson spoke to SGB about the innovation, how it works and why they think it’s a winner.
SGB: Is the air conditioning feature on the entire 2008 range?
Alan Edmondson: It’s on a selection of our tents, which is the Coleman Exponent Family range. The ranges in full are the Coleman Classic range, the Coleman Exponent Backpacking range, and the Coleman Exponent Family range.
SGB: Why only on family tents?
AE: Like all things in life, there’s a time frame in which things can be introduced, new ideas. We thought as a new concept it would be most suitable for that sector right now. We see it as being a premium addition, and the Coleman Exponent Family tents are premium tents.
SGB: Will it be rolled out to the rest of your lines later?
AE: For backpacking, weight is a factor, and the additional weight of a fan would not suit those small tents. But for a large family tent, having a fan and the integrated vertical vents, together give you a great solution to a problem.
SGB: How does it work?
AE: The air conditioning is based around two main features. The ideal way to ventilate a tent is something called the chimney effect, where you have air flowing at the bottom and coming out at the top. Tents for a long time now, from various manufacturers, have had vents at the top and small vents at the sides. What Coleman Exponent has done in 2008 is come up with two brand new features which improve this effect and maximise the amount of ventilation.
The features are firstly, vertical vents; as the name suggests, they are vents that are straight up and down. It’s a patented design for Coleman now, and it allows the user to be able to vary the amount of airflow into the tent. Because of the vertical design and the placement of these vents, they really do provide excellent ventilation.
The second feature if the Cool Air Port. This is a fan port which fits on to a selection of tents which allows a battery powered fan to be put in place to improve the air flow. Together with the vertical vents, it works brilliantly.
The reason you have the fan is, okay, on a normal day, the vents will provide plenty of ventilation because there will be a breeze or wind. But a hot, still day with no air moving, there’s no way to get air flowing; the fan on the Cool Air Port pulls the air through to give the tent a cool feeling inside.
The fan runs off six D-cell batteries.
SGB: Have you had much retailer feedback?
AE: Yes, it’s been incredibly positive. Because it’s not just one feature, it’s a combination, the feedback has been really strong. They like the fact that it’s unique, and that the vertical vents are patented; it’s a nice idea. It’s one of those ideas where people have said “I can’t believe no-one came up with this earlier”.
In ventilation terms, when you buy a tent it’s not usually something that concerns you; it’s when you’re using the tent and you have a load of condensation on the inside that you wish you’d considered it or known more about it. A consumer may not realise the benefits of this until they actually use it, when they will definitely notice the difference. The trade realises this, which is part of why the feedback has been so positive.
What we also have in the range, in addition to the fan, is another fan. The Cool Port fan only fits the Coleman Exponent Family range at the moment, but we also have a ceiling fan which fits and tent and helps get air flowing throughout.
SGB: Fans don’t generally have a long life – is the fan unit easy to change out?
AE: The fan can stand up on its own and it has a magnetic backing. The magnet is one side, the fan the other side, and it literally just clips into place on the port. It takes seconds to change.
It comes with a standard Coleman warranty.
SGB: Is there the potential to run this off solar power?
AE: Coleman is investigating ways that we can improve the range of products we have currently, but I can’t comment on that directly. We’re always looking to innovate and use alternative energy means wherever possible.