Let us be the first to admit we were a bit skeptical about the premise: adding power and lighting to a pop-up canopy? Sounds like tryharderism. And yet… we're intrigued, tell us more about this Coleman OneSource shelter idea.
So after trying out the shelter on a recent weekend family car camping trip we have to admit, the OneSource shelter was a big hit with adults and children. We adults appreciated the spacious usable covered area, a true 10×10 space that easily allowed eight of us to get out of the rain and extended the evening for a few hours that we would otherwise have been confined to tent and trailer.
Setup was a breeze, just pull it out of the wheeled soft case, extend the monolithic accordion-style frame and pop the cover on. It was quick and even doable by one person with a little patience and creativity (hint: pick up one corner while balancing on opposite corner to expand/contract. There are easily operated large red buttons to lock/unlock the upper frame and legs, and holes in the feet to stake it out if needed. If things get really gusty you can guy it out as well, but for shedding rain the cover is more than taut enough without any modification needed.
The children – OK, adults too – also like the built-in light bars on the ceiling. After charging and inserting the OneSource battery in one corner you can use an easily operated dial to adjust brightness with a push and color with a twist. It's really a neat feature and provided much entertainment for the kids. The OneSource battery lasted easily for two nights of operation, and bonus: the battery has a USB out too, so it can function as a power bank to recharge your smartphone in a pinch. There is a range of OneSource compatible gear available including fans, lights, tents and a pump. The only downside is that the cable, while USB on the charger side, is a proprietary connection on the battery side. Micro USB or even USB C would have been much more convenient for when you lose the cable or it malfunctions.
Overall we came away impressed with the utility and thoughtful design of the OneSource shelter. It's weight at 38 pounds and size – think small bag of golf clubs – relegates it to car camping, but we do a lot of that with young kids and we have it available for home and event use as well. Come rain or shine, the OneSource shelter does the job.