14 November 2019
The Free Spirit Reaction (FSR) M60 Adventure Series is our second roof top tent, after having previously had a James Baroud Explorer hard-shell. We got the tent second hand, with a trailer purchased this past spring. In that time we've used it on a dozen short trips, and the tent has impressed!
I previously put together a Grount tent vs. RTT comparison, and shared our motivations for going back to an OZ Tent ground tent. After using the M60 on a few trips, in a bittersweet moment, I sold the OZ Tent.
Coming from a hardshell RTT that was very quick to setup, I never considered traditional, flip-over RTTs as an option, simply due to the level of effort needed for setup & takedown. The M60 (along with the rest of FSR's Adventure Series tents) falls in an interesting middle-ground between the two RTT styles.
On one hand, you've got a cover to deal with, but on the other hand, there are no zippers to fight and no spring poles to wrangle into place. Timing myself on the very first setup, I had the tent up single-handedly in 2:15m. Packing it away took me 6:15m, again, single-handledly and taking my time. I have since gotten considerably faster at both tasks, and with a second pair of hands, takedown time halves.
The JB Explorer had countless quality/manufacturing issues, but as far as usability went, I only really had three complaints:
The M60 addresses all these issues.
The built-in awning is surprisingly large and provides excellent coverage. I can sit in the door in pouring, sideways rain and not get wet. I can similarly take off wet or snow-covered clothing, and prevent these elements from getting inside.
There are four, roll-up shoe pockets on the tent (one pocket in each corner). Each pocket has holes in the bottom for dirt & water to escape, as well as cinch on the shoe-entry side, and velcro flap cover overtop. There are even separate compartments for socks! And best of all, the pockets are easy to reach from a seated position in the tent's entryway. No more climbing the ladder barefoot!
Where the tent really shines is the mattress size. At 60"x80", it is a proper queen-size bed, and at my 6' height, I can comfortably stretch out. Conversely, the JB Explorer had an interior length of 76", and I frequently found my head butting up against fabric on one side, and toes butting up against the other. The 60" width may not sound like a big change from the more frequently-found 55" width of other tents, but the difference in room is instantly noticeable, and very welcome.
The Adventure Series tents have an interesting design element in that they do not have a solid floor, but instead a series of aluminum cross-bars, similar to a traditional mattress support found in many home beds. The fabric tent sits on top of these cross-bars, and has a built-in, mattress-like floor, which, along with the rest of the tent, is completely sealed and water/dust proof.
An upside of this design is that it allowed me to (very easily) slide in 1"-thick, pink, rigid insulation (with an insulation value of R5) between the cross-bars and the tent's bottom. This does not affect the tent in any measurable way, and provides significant insulation to help minimize heat loss (due to cold air) in cold-weather camping. Meanwhile, the interior of the tent is completely unaffected by this addition!
In addition to the mattress that is built-in to the floor, the tent comes with another, easily removable "main" mattress. This provides a good amount of support, but I frequently found it stiffer than I'd like. I added a queen-sized, 2"-thick memory foam topper, and with the topper in place, I sleep better than I do at home.
Inside you'll find plenty of room for two adults and a child, numerous hooks for hanging your clothing, and two pockets on the far-side wall. The one gripe I have is that such pockets are not found on the near wall, where they would be quite welcome.
The windows are large, easily accessible, and well-designed. An interior, waterproof layer easily unzips to expose a bug-net layer, which can also be unzipped should you need to pass something through.
The near wall also has two ventillation openings, with semi-rigid, velcro-attached supports that give the opening shape and allow it to stay open.
The cover wraps around the tent and provides good coverage. I regularly take the trailer & tent through the car wash, and thoroughly blast both with the pressure washer; I've yet to find any water ingress in the tent.
All things considered, I'm confident this is one of the best tents on the market, especially in this (unfortunately no longer available) M60 size. The FSR M60 hits a home run in achieving a comfortable middle-ground of features, convenience and price that seems to elude most other tents.