Freespirit Recreation (FSR) – 55” Evolution Issues

Shadow Overland

New member
Received my FSR 55" Evolution on Dec 9, 2021, and mounted it to the Front Runner load bars on my DiamondBack HD cover. It road around with me until Feb 12, 2022, when I had the opportunity to take my first overnight camping trip with the rig and RTT.

First issue. Upon arriving at camp and trying to set up the ladder, I noticed that one set of nuts in the aluminum track were installed wrong. I could only connect one ladder hook. The fix is to remove the bottom bolts from one hinge and slide two of the nuts around, but I didn't have all the tools with me to remove and reinstall a hinge (see pic Ladder Nuts Correct and Ladder Nuts Wrong).

Second issue. The next morning, I noticed that the silver metal corners have all started to rust. This is after only 67 days of ownership. FSR made the excuse that I left some protective plastic film over the corners that is trapping moisture. I verified there is no plastic film. This has also been verified by three independent reviews of the tent by different companies. One a national outfitter of outdoor gear, one a FSR Dealer, and one a local franchise of a national body shop chain.

Third issue. This is the most concerning issue as the tent does not seal properly on one corner when closed (see pic Tent Gap 01, Tent Gap 02, Tent Gap 03). If you are not familiar with the Evolution, it is a hardshell tent with top and bottom sections connected by a metal ring in the center that the hinges attach to. Three corners of the tent seal correctly when closed and look great (see pic Tent Rear 01). I also have a walk-around video of the tent starting at the first good corner and working around to the corner with the issue.

Notified FSR of the issues on Feb 14, 2022, and went back and forth over 17 days where FSR went from stating I had minor issues to the issue at the corner is so bad I should have noticed it upon unboxing. Maybe so, but that doesn't take away from the fact that the issue still exists and is a quality control issue. As previously noted, FSR stated the rusting corner issues are due to me leaving a protective film on the corners and trapping moisture. (??) Isn't the idea of a "protective" film to protect? In any event, there was no plastic film. The response with the incorrectly placed ladder nuts was "sorry, but that's an easy fix". Again, maybe so, but not for the price they fetch for a RTT.

The defective corner is obviously the most concerning issue since the corner doesn't seal properly. FSR's first response was that I didn't close the tent properly. I verified by opening and closing the tent again. FSR then stated that this model sometimes gets out of alignment and I just needed to shift it around and close it. Then it went to, unclip the metal latches but don't open the tent. Shift it around on my truck and it will align. FSR then took the position that the corner was so bad that I should have noticed it when I received it. Again, maybe so, but that doesn't take away from the defect and the fact that the tent has zero user damage.

FSR finally notified me on March 3, 2022, that they "are willing to go above and beyond and replace the tent", but ONLY if I cover all shipping costs of the new tent to me and the defective tent back to them. Shipping costs currently quoted at over $900. I fail to see why the customer should pay any shipping costs to replace a defective product. I now have three independent reviews of the RTT. All three companies have confirmed the issues and the corner defect in signed letters. I attempted to resolve the shipping charges with FSR, dealing with Katie (FSR Warranty Mgr.) via a phone call on March 3. Katie refused to discuss her email or the RTT any further when I asked why FSR felt that I should pay shipping when there is no user damage to the RTT. Katie instructed me to dispute the charge on my credit card and she would take it from there and she ended the call.

I have since done as Katie requested. I provided all documents to my CC including the 3 second opinions from independent companies and the charge has been disputed. I'll keep you posted on the outcome, but wanted anyone in the market for a RTT to know about my experience with FSR.
 

Attachments

ttengineer

Adventurer
The rust on the corner pieces is not an issue IMO. It appears some iron based material was probably used to “clean” them at some point and left remnants behind. ie a grinding wheel. An iron removal spray found at detail shops would probably take care of the issue for around $5-$10.

I use it on my truck paint all the time. You’d be surprised how much the car picks up down the road.


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Shadow Overland

New member
Thanks @ttengineer . I can assure you that I've never used a grinding wheel to clean the tent. If it was as easy a fix as you state, then surely the FSR dealer near me would have just taken care of it when they reviewed the issues with the tent and prior to putting their findings in writing.
 

NatersXJ6

Explorer
Do you know what metal the corner trim is made of? It appears to be aluminum, and the “rust” in your photos appears to be iron oxide… as noted most likely from the brushing process used to texture the aluminum. Your location tag says West Palm Beach, so probably reasonable to think you are parked within a few miles of the ocean? I would think that most local marine shops would have a polish/product to help you with this issue.
 

Shadow Overland

New member
Thanks @NatersXJ6 . It doesn't specifically state on the FSR website what the trim is and in my conversations with them, they have never told me. They appear to be aluminum. As I previously noted, if the fix was that easy then why wasn't it taken care of at the factory prior to the "protective film" being installed. Why hasn't FSR stated that to me? Why didn't the local FSR dealer take care of it when the tent was in front of them? If that was the only issue with the tent, then I wouldn't have posted.
 

Shadow Overland

New member
UPDATE: It's been almost a month since I initiated the dispute with my CC and 2.5 weeks since FSR received the documents from my CC company. No response from FSR. I do see that FSR has been running a sale on all their RTT's when other RTT vendors are getting full price. Interesting....
 

ttengineer

Adventurer
I honestly don’t see the problem. Do you have photos of how the tent “should” close, in your opinion.

Not trying to start anything, just curious really.


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Shadow Overland

New member
@ttengineer The photos are attached to this post. See Tent Rear for how three corners look and close properly vs. any of the Tent Gap photos. Three independent companies looked at the issue and put their findings in a signed letter when they had no skin in the game and didn’t need to.
 

dmulk

Member
It sounds like you feel wronged in your purchase and want FSR to "do the right thing" and pay for everything to replace the tent you purchased.

Did you purchase from the local FSR dealer near you? Wonder why they aren't helping you more than just giving you a letter...🤔 I would ask the dealer to work with FSR to repair the tent and let them deal with it.

If that's not an option, I'd suggest looking at the tent and trying to work with FSR to attempt to figure out exactly what is wrong with it and see if a field repair can be made. I guess if you're not capable of polishing the cosmetic rust from the manufacturing process that was noted you may not be able to work the problem of the tent. Maybe ask a mechanically inclined friend?

I had an FSR tent and have a good friend that still has his and I have to say, dealing with FSR was exactly opposite of your experience. They were fantastic to work with.

They are a relatively small company and they bent over backwards to help us get situated with our gear, didn't nickel and dime either of us and also didn't charge anything to get the tents mounted on our vehicles (actually their sales guy came out and did it himself at their site in Bend) like other resellers do.

They went the extra mile to give it a personal touch for sure.

Now that I'm thinking back, I was a couple months out from one of their normal holiday sales (yes, they discount multiple times a year and have for years....so the idea that they are selling the same tent you have on sale isn't necessarily significant to what you may be attempting to imply). I mentioned that I would like to purchase the tent I was looking at sooner but would be willing to wait for a sale. They went the extra mile to send me a special discount code. They even referred me to a local outfitter to get the racks I needed installed on our jeep tops. I pulled the trigger, drove up over a weekend and camped on the alvord desert on the way home. It was fantastic experience.

After my experience I guess I'm just surprised that you weren't able to work with them to solve the issue in the field.

I'd still be using their tents if I didn't pull the trigger on a Ursa Minor J30.

The other two issues you mention just aren't real issues. It *is* a good reminder to check your equipment before heading out on a camping trip. Especially something you've never used before. You can choose to chalk it up as a lesson learned (there are many when overlanding and camping) or remain bitter about it..that's the wonderful thing about having choices in life I suppose...🤷🏻‍♂️

I am surprised your CC company allowed you to dispute something after 60 days. You likely won't hear anything from FSR now that you've gone that route. You'll submit your info, they will submit theirs and a ruling will be made.

On the flip side, if you win the dispute lottery it should be the whole charge refunded so there's a chance you'll get a "free" tent out of this instead of just shipping charges. This will mean you will have plenty of money to ship the old one back to them to take them up on their offer.... because that would be the *right* thing to do...right?

Best of luck. It will be interesting to hear what happens if you choose to post an update.
 

Shadow Overland

New member
Hey @dmulk I appreciate your input. I did not purchase from the local FSR dealer. I purchased directly from the FSR website. The local FSR dealer did offer an option to try and fix the RTT, but FSR has not accepted his offer. I have also looked at the tent and had calls with Logan and Abraham at FSR to try and sort the issue out. When it came to a point that they were asking me to start disassembling the RTT, I had to stop. I live in a large downtown area in an 800 s.f. apartment. I don't have the space or a garage to start that kind of work. That is exactly what the local FSR dealer offered to do in his letter.

As for my ability to "polish cosmetic rust". That's something I shouldn't need to do after only 67 days of ownership. I have several people from Canada who have reached out to me. They leave their tents on their vehicles year round in a freezing snow and road salt environment that don't have a rust issue. Also, I work in construction so I've had my structural engineer, my miscellaneous metals subcontractor, and a carpenter look at the RTT. All agree the top panel is out of square. I'd say they qualify as "mechanically inclined".

I believe I know the sales guy you reference. A FSR dealer in the mid-west gave me his contact information and I reached out to him to explain the RTT situation. The mid-west FSR dealer swore up and down that this sales guy was a problem solver. During our call, the sales guy said he would talk to the owners and get back to me. Silence. He's never called back or responded to my text message. As you can clearly see, my experience with FSR is night and day different from yours unless you consider backpedaling the extra mile means giving it the personal touch.

Its awesome how you've decided my issues aren't real issues. I guess you don't expect quality control and a sense of pride in a product someone provides. As for your "on the flip side" comment, you should maybe not expect you know everything or that I've even posted everything here. I have no interest in keeping the RTT. I've offered to deliver it at no charge to the local FSR dealer and let the local FSR dealer and FSR work out whatever arrangement they chose. Again, no response from FSR. I guess as a FSR fanboy, you most likely feel that's the *right* thing for them to do.... right?
 

eatSleepWoof

Do it for the 'gram
Disappointing to hear about these issues and worse yet, how FSR is handling it. Definitely not acceptable on a two month old tent. I was very happy with my FSR M60 when I had it, but it was a non-hardshell design.

Good luck w/ the credit card dispute process - they should take care of you and get your money refunded. Vendors that don't stand behind their products have no business producing said products!
 

ttengineer

Adventurer
The rust really isn’t an “issue”. Iron contamination could have come from anywhere. Including the roads you drive on. Go get some of that sulfur based cleaner described above and put it on your car truck paint. You’ll be shocked. Any detail shop will have some.


I get it though. Kind of adds insult to injury. Same with the ladder nuts. Not really an issue. Especially since these things are made in China. But again, just adds to the frustration.

Here’s my take:

No roof top tent brand, yes even the James Baroud tents, are worth even half the cost people pay. They’re all junk. Every. Last. One. Sure some may last longer than others but that’s pretty dependent on location environment and how the end user treats them. I’m honestly not impressed with any I’ve owned or seen.

Pair these issues with crappy shipping companies and it’s a recipe for disaster.

I’m willing to bet if you take some time to remove it from the truck, and then take it apart, you’ll probably be able to bend it back into shape.

It sucks FSR won’t warranty it without you paying shipping especially if a dealer stepped up to the plate to help out. But when I see these issues I’m honestly not surprised.


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Lemsteraak

Adventurer
No roof top tent brand, yes even the James Baroud tents, are worth even half the cost people pay. They’re all junk. Every. Last. One. Sure some may last longer than others but that’s pretty dependent on location environment and how the end user treats them. I’m honestly not impressed with any I’ve owned or seen.
Good point, high end manufacturers have to lower their quality to compete with the prices of knock offs. A few brands have held their quality and raised prices. I was surprised by how expensive some of the tents are now.

I worked with an car manufacturer to develop a roof tent for them to sell as an accessory. It was amazing to me the tests they perform. Two crash tests, flammability tests, loads of structural tests of both the tent and the ladder. They even had their chassis engineers use them out in the field to test durability. They explained to me if they put their name on it then they stand behind it and have to make sure it meets their quality standards. All their accessories had to meet their standards.

Tent manufacturers that meet OEM specs and quality may be what you are looking for. Don't expect to get a "deal".
 

Shadow Overland

New member
UPDATE: My CC company called on Saturday (04/16/2022). We have a response from FSR and my CC company requested a couple of additional documents before they make a final decision on the dispute. I was also sent the response from FSR. Sad response at best but speaks volumes to the type of business FSR truly is.

FSR’s defense of the issue: “Unfortunately, sometimes customers can cause the tent to become misaligned if they do not deploy the tent correctly, drop it while mounting it, or try to open the cover to the bed of their truck without removing the tent first.” Sad.

“if they do not deploy the tent correctly”??? You unclip the latches around the tent. Push up the back, then push up the front.

“drop it while mounting it” If I had dropped the tent, it would have scuffs and scratches from hitting the pavement or ground and most likely dents. The only damage to the tent as verified by three independent reviews is the defective corner.

“or try to open the cover to the bed of their truck without removing the tent first”. I have a DiamondBack HD cover on my truck. Anyone familiar with the DB HD knows it opens in a front section and a rear section. The tent is mounted on Front Runner load bars. If I had attempted to open the DB with the tent mounted, the tent would be damaged in the middle as I attempted to fold it in half. Ridiculous!

BUYER BEWARE! Here’s the real testament to FSR’s quality as a company. As I noted in one of my posts above, FSR runs multiple sales per year. Many more than other RTT suppliers. I thought it was odd until now. I purchased my Evolution during one of the FSR sales. The reason FSR states they will not offer a full refund, “We do not offer refunds for sale items.” Anyone thinking of purchasing from FSR during a sale or at one of the upcoming Overland Expos, if a discount is offered, should think again. If you sign for the delivery, IT’S YOURS NO MATTER WHAT. “We do not offer refunds for sale items.” The only thing missing from the FSR response is: We do not stand behind our products.
 

Shadow Overland

New member
UPDATE: My CC company called on Wednesday (05/18/2022) to inform me the dispute was resolved in my favor. I have a full refund of my purchase price and the Evolution has been turned over to the local dealer. I was under no obligation to turn the RTT over, but I want nothing more to do with FSR. FSR has updated their “Shipping and Returns” policies on the FSR website and no longer list “Exchanges” or “Exceptions”. Curious?? So glad to have this behind me. I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone reading this post that I would not recommend FSR for any product, EVER! Everyone have a GREAT holiday weekend.
 

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