Author Topic: Review: Freespirit Adventure Series M55 Rooftop tent  (Read 3227 times)

PajEvo

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Review: Freespirit Adventure Series M55 Rooftop tent
« on: August 26, 2017, 07:49:04 PM »
Put the ARB RTT on the pickup roof with crossbars and took it out for a quick getaway in lieu of the gen3/trailer combo we usually take. It was great but a few things became apparent...

1. Setup and takedown was not as fast or as easy as you'd think it would be with a RTT. Undo straps. Unzip and flip cover. Undo more straps. Slide ladder together (wouldn't fit out of garage with two halves together). Flip tent out. Unfold mattress that never seems to open with tent. Dig sleeping bags and pillows out of pickup and set up (won't fold down properly without removal). Deploy all six spring bar poles after unclipping fly corners.

Okay I'm whining. It doesn't take more than about six or seven minutes. Longer in reverse because you have to tuck things in. But... Not instant. And in the rain it seems more irritating...

2. Everything in the back of the pickup is exposed to the elements. Did I mention it rained?

3. Sandwich style tents are HIGH. Mine was 16 inches. That's a wall for the wind, and worse still it hardly (actually doesn't quite) fit out of the garage.

So... We wanted to find a tent that would be faster to set up and could possibly cover the truck bed at the same time. But also one that sat lower when not set up.

We settled on the Freespirit M55. This thread will serve as a review. I'll follow up with further impressions as we use it...
« Last Edit: July 25, 2018, 07:47:27 PM by PajEvo »

RXIN HED

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Re: Review: Freespirit Adventure Series M55 Rooftop tent
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2017, 08:01:59 PM »
How would a RTT do for nearly everyday living? Thinking more like the Autohome
.
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ThePug

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Re: Review: Freespirit Adventure Series M55 Rooftop tent
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2017, 07:48:11 AM »
Paj is the folding RTT for sale now that you have the M55?

PajEvo

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Re: Review: Freespirit Adventure Series M55 Rooftop tent
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2017, 08:36:05 AM »
Already sold. :(

PajEvo

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Re: Review: Freespirit Adventure Series M55 Rooftop tent
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2017, 08:39:21 AM »
How would a RTT do for nearly everyday living? Thinking more like the Autohome
.

Well, in terms of sleeping, as long as its a comfortable mattress, I'd say as good or better than a ground tent. The hardtop ones are as convenient as they are expensive. Setup is literally seconds, and no messing about with poles, rock, pegs, etc. Just pick one that allows you to keep your bed set up when folded down. That really ices the convenience cake.

Are you needing a doghouse Russ? ;)

RXIN HED

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Re: Review: Freespirit Adventure Series M55 Rooftop tent
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2017, 11:43:52 AM »
In truth, and among our friends here, our family is changing territories. My wife and son are already in Klamath Falls, OR, where Austin will be attending college and Melinda is out of the heat. In the short term, my daughter and I remain at Ranch V2, but the long term is about the relocation from crazy Cali for the family, a few animals and whatever possessions we keep. That said, I intend to be somewhat portable around my work and projects, and have been gathering supplies to make Pearl into those living quarters. The Autohome, or similar, RTT is rated for all the normal weather I'd expect in my area and would not leave me for lack of comfort or general security.
1988 Max SPX Extended Cab 4wd with Service Body & Starion Power
1980 Dodge W400 service truck

For Sale: 1983 Montero #277, 1989 Power Ram 50 extended cab
Sundry Gen 1 Montero and Gen 1 & 2 Mighty Max parts and vehicles for sale

PajEvo

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Re: Review: Freespirit Adventure Series M55 Rooftop tent
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2017, 08:27:45 PM »
Quote
long term is about the relocation from crazy Cali for the family

Best of luck buddy. That'd put you a lot closer to me. Which is a good thing!

I've run the tent on the truck for a few weeks now, although I've yet to sleep in it. A few observations to start. Because it doesn't fold over, its way lower profile than the sandwich style. With a large queen sleeping bag stowed in it, the max height overall is 10 inches. Even lower for the most part. In terms of handling it makes a lot less difference in the wind than the last setup. Anecdotally anyway.

The other nice thing is the expandibility.  They were thoughtful enough to use a sail track for the main frame that has a slot on all four sides. This means if you have the right sized nut and bolt you can attach things anywhere along the length of the tent, along its underframe. So that awning you've been putting on separately suddenly has a quick attachment point. Wind Curtain? No prob.

PajEvo

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Re: Review: Freespirit Adventure Series M55 Rooftop tent
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2017, 05:59:58 PM »
So I FINALLY got a chance to spend a few nights in this bad boy. Impressions so far?

Mattress: Very comfortable, compared to previous tents. The structure of this tent is memory foam over dense foam, with an aluminum spine under that, so no actual hard bottom. This gives a very supple, yet leaning towards firm, sleep surface. To my mind - about as good as it gets.

Venting: The two nights I spent were cold (-3 Celsius, which when winter camping is good, but it was still summer damnit!). I made the mistake of completely zipping it tight the first night, and even though there are two decent triangle vents, it wasn't enough. Woke up to heavy moisture over almost every tent surface. And this was a solo trip. My bad. The fabric is water tight, but this comes at a cost - breathability. Second night saw every window unzipped just a little, and no issues with dampness the next morn. Lesson learned.

Setup: Once the cover is removed (I put a roof basket right in front of the tent, so cover rolls right into it), setup is as fast as advertised. Put telescoping ladder in situ. Raise first pole, lock in place. Second pole raises it the rest of the way. Switch sides, erect the door-awning pole, and you're done. (Yes, I think I just used the word "erect in the same paragraph where I described pitching a tent - call me thorough).



Further details - shoe bags are a nice touch, and will be very handy when there are two of us, with even less room inside. The four way sail tracks are super handy for attaching all kinds of things underneath, and my ARB awning goes on in under ten seconds. Lovely. The lower profile of this tent affects driving a lot less than the quadruple pizza box stack associated with other RTT's I've had. But forget putting it on your Chevy Sonic. You need a lot more roofline than the sandwich style tent does. Although it would be handy to hide behind if you actually are camping with a Chevy Sonic. Oh I kid!!

As an added bonus, after leaving it on for my commute the last few weeks, my wife helped me take it off the roof last night. She's a good 7 inches and 60 pounds less than me, and she was able to hold one side. So this thing is not a featherweight, but manageable with two adults.

« Last Edit: September 22, 2017, 06:02:05 PM by PajEvo »

PajEvo

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Re: Review: Freespirit Adventure Series M55 Rooftop tent
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2017, 10:20:24 PM »
This is now off the roof, and won't be used frequently now until next spring, but I have a "practicality" update. RTT storage is almost always a major detriment to ownership,  so a tent that's seven feet long would be even worse right? Not necessarily - because of its lower profile, I was able to store it along the garage wall, on edge. My previous RTTs were always stored in the ceiling, after a series of pulleys lifted them up. And while I may use this method sometimes when putting the tent off by myself, it really is easy for two to lift it off the roof and put it against the wall.

Depending on your setup, the height may not be a factor, but for my purposes it makes a difference in the areas that matter.

TOASTY

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Re: Review: Freespirit Adventure Series M55 Rooftop tent
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2017, 08:44:34 PM »
 I want to build a Camptero one day.

PajEvo

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Re: Review: Freespirit Adventure Series M55 Rooftop tent
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2018, 01:26:27 PM »
If I sell the pickup in favour of a shorty gen3, then the seven feet of length is going to be interesting on this tent. I'm hoping it'll amount to a little overhang over the back door, and level with the top of the windshield at the front. The gen3 shorty is a little longer than the gen2, so I don't have anything to measure off of yet.

It's another case of "solve a problem to create a new one". Or maybe there was no problem to solve? LOL. Updates on this situation in the spring.

In the meantime, the storage aspect of this tent, which was always the worst part of RTT ownership for me, is a non-issue. If your garage has a little room on the sides, or you have an alley of covered storage, then this tent, using 10" of space when stored on its side, is a good fit for you as long as you can deal with the length.

One other point, in terms of durability - I noticed some cracks in the corners of the plastic baseboard of my previous RTT, where I assume the PO must have dropped it at some point. This new RTT has no actual hard floor, but simply layers of dense foam, and an aluminum spine, as I mentioned before. So long term durability will be increased, as long as you aren't keeping it in a constantly wet environment. The foam base has a nylon outer shell, but expectations should be reasonable for its waterproofing.

PajEvo

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Re: Review: Freespirit Adventure Series M55 Rooftop tent
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2018, 07:52:37 PM »
I've had this mounted on the shorty paj for a month or so now, and it's been absolutely awesome!! Loving it so far!


TOASTY

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Re: Review: Freespirit Adventure Series M55 Rooftop tent
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2018, 04:10:16 PM »
 Pretty schmick!