November 27, 2013
By Dan Johnson
Not so long ago, anglers had few choices when it came to seeking shelter on the ice. When conditions turned sour, you either toughed it out in the elements, erected a crude canvas sanctuary, took refuge in a permanent house, or packed it in and went home. Of the options, permanent houses offered the coziest asylum from winter's wrath. But they were about as mobile as Fort Knox. Once set up, you were there for the duration—whether the fish bit, went comatose, or moved on. Fortunately for ice fans, savvy manufacturers now produce a plethora of portable ice fishing shelters capable of fully engendering the highly mobile, comfortable, and efficient styles of fishing we enjoy today. And, thanks to ever-improving materials and features, the latest crop of portables not only keeps us warm and comfortable, but fishing at the top of our games, longer, in the worst weather conditions Old Man Winter throws at us. In celebration of this trend, we compiled a virtual tent city of new and noteworthy houses certain to offer fine shelter on ice this season.
Clam Legend Thermal
Legendary iceman Dave Genz, inventor of the original Fish Trap portable shelter, tweaked this new-for-2014 portable with a full suite of sweet features. To set the mood for a successful ice assault, dual layers of toasty 300-denier thermal fabric retain heat and check condensation, while built-in overhead LED lighting combines with the shelter's soft gray interior to reduce eyestrain. Other features include a deluxe swivel seat, underseat mesh storage hammock, and Clam's Rapid Pole Slide Extreme system, which quickly extends your fishable space to a whopping 16 square feet, with a 67-inch ceiling height. Click Here to View Product!
Eskimo FlipMo 2 Inferno
Designed for day-long comfort in the coldest of conditions, this fully-insulated house is 35 percent warmer than un-insulated portables, thanks to its cozy, quilted IQ Fabric. Notable features include the sturdy, supersized aluminum poles on Eskimo's patented pinch-free Quick Release System — QRS for short — plus a cavernous tub capable of swallowing all the essential gear for a banner day on the ice. Other amenities include generous mesh storage pockets and a pair of rail-mounted, 360-swiveling Versa-Seats. Click Here to View Product!
Frabill Fishouflage Ambush Headquarters
Looking cool with eye-catching Fishouflage highlights, Frabill's six-person, hub-style Headquarters delivers a colossal 140 X 70 inches of fishing space, plus 80 inches of headroom. Hard-fishing features include enhanced tent materials such as rip-stop side panels, 900-denier skirt material, and a thermal top that retains heat and blocks condensation. We also appreciate the MaxVent air-circulation system. Comes with a transport bag and anchor kit. Click Here to View Product!
Frabill Fishouflage Thermal Ambush DLX With SideStep Entry
The Fishouflage stylings are great, but what really sets this shelter apart from the flip-over fleet are its two side doors, which fuel fast exits and easy entries. And if you look close, you'll notice the front wall is upright, not sloped, producing more headroom and fishable space. Other nice features include premium 3-ply quilted, insulated fabric; a thermo-formed sled base with an easy-to-extend 7/8-inch, zero-condensation aluminum frame; and dual deluxe padded swivel seats. Plus, with a 96 X 66-inch footprint and 75 inches of headroom, there's plenty of space for waging attacks on the underwater world. Click Here to View Product!
Jason Mitchell Thermal 5000 Five-Sided Hub
Hub-style houses are hot, thanks in no small part to their light weight, quick setup, and low cost. Just in time for the winter of 2013-14, collaboration between ice icon Clam Outdoors and veteran Devils Lake, North Dakota, guide Jason Mitchell yielded this impressive member of the Jason Mitchell Elite Series. Offering 64 square feet of fishable space, with an 82-inch-high ceiling, the hub shelters six anglers with room to spare. Its 600-denier thermal fabric holds heat and fights condensation, while rugged, 11mm poles and Clam's bulletproof hub mechanism assures years of trouble-free service. Other nice touches include oversized skirting for simplified snow banking, and triple-layered corner pockets that deploy upgraded tie-down straps. Click Here to View Product!
Otter Pro XT1200 Full Thermal Shelter
When Ice Force partner Otter unveiled its Pro XT1200 lineup during the summer of 2013, serious icemen salivated while awaiting their chance to put the new shelters to the test. The series includes four models and one- to three-person options. All are based on a bulletproof, roto-molded Otter Pro sled and feature oversized, square aluminum framework. Hewn from 1,200-denier fabric, the fully-sewn, quilted thermal shell sports extra-long perimeter skirting. Other amenities include exclusive cross-link seating with deluxe padded swivel bucket seats, and crack-resistant windows featuring insulated, sun-blocking covers. Click Here to View Product!
Shappell Bay Runner
Billed as a sled-based cabin, this slick shack is designed for towing from spot to spot while unfurled. There's even a large shelf for electronics, so you can set up your sonar for the day and leave it there while hole hopping. Standard features include solid, one-piece, easy-up frames; a large, padded, sliding bench seat that's high enough to hide five-gallon pails under; twin side-entry doors; four removable windows, with shades; dual fishing holes with hinged, locking covers; and heavy-duty, 600-denier fabric fully attached to the base. Upright and ready for action, it offers 60 X 44 inches of fishing room, and stands 61 inches high. Click Here to View Product!
Cabela's Ice Team Five-Sided 360TC
Cabela's deploys the perfect pentagon for ice fishing forays with this five-sided, hub-style portable. Wrap-around windows provide a 360-degree view of the surrounding icepack, making the shack ideal for tending an array of tip-ups, or plotting your next move onto promising fishing grounds. Designed for three to four anglers, it offers 64 square feet of fishable space and 82 inches of headroom. With 70 grams per square meter of insulation sandwiched between 300-denier polyester fabric, the roof battles condensation, while the black, 600-denier poly sides soak up heat and block menacing winds. Bonus features include an ample snow skirt; double-reinforced stitching in high-stress areas; double-zippered doors; an internal anchoring system; and strategically placed air vents for improved circulation. Includes anchors and an extra-large carrying bag with handy storage pocket. Click Here to View Product!