A Hands-On Look At The Wide-Bottom Pop-Up Ice Shelter by Eskimo
We're at the tail end of a heat wave that's swept through MN the past couple of weeks so we haven't gotten a chance to take it out on the ice yet, but I was able to pull our new shelter, set it up, and make some initial observations.
- Quick and easy setup
- Highly portable
- Relatively large interior and fishing surface
The Bottom Line:
- Backpack isn't durable
- Limited reflective strips
- This is a good unit for the fisherman looking for easy setup and high portability. The quick setup time means you will have no problem moving around the ice to stay on top of the fish.
The first thing I noticed as I pulled it out of the box was the weight of the unit, all packed up. Coming in at just under 30lbs, it's not going to be a huge burden to carry out on the ice depending on how much other gear you're carrying. The shelter comes with a carrying backpack for portability, but I'm a little suspect of its durability. The straps are double-stitched to the outside surface of the bag at a precarious angle, and the material of the bag seems pretty thin. UPDATE: Sure enough, after just three short trips from the office to the truck and back, the bag has already ripped at one of the end seams. Luckily we plan on usually throwing it on a sled with the rest of our gear.
[caption id="attachment_444" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="View from inside one of the "A-Frame" Windows"]
Setup was a breeze, once I got the shelter out the backpack I didn't even bother looking at the instructions sewn to the inside flap. It doesn't get any easier than this. Just pull the center of the roof and each wall outwards and the unit takes shape. At first glance I thought it would be awkward, especially having to reach in for the center strap to pop-out the roof, but no... my first time seeing this shelter in person and I had it set up in about 30 seconds. I then proceeded to have my buddy time me, and managed to take the shelter down, bag it, unpack it, and have it set back up in less than 90 seconds. I suspect the majority of setup time will be spent driving the anchors and securing the tie-downs.
Once the unit was set up I was a little surprised at the overall size... the model boasts about having "up to 80% more fishable area", but what really made the difference for me was the extra elbow room at the widest part of the shelter, at about chest-height. It's only a few extra inches, but it really goes a long way to making it feel a lot bigger when you're standing inside. The FatFish features two zip-up doors on opposite corners of the shelter, which I think is going to be really nice both for getting gear in and out and when fishing with multiple guys. All the openings: doors, windows, and vents seem to be well-made and of durable construction. The inside walls feature large mesh pockets for storing gear, but I'm thinking there's only so much gear I would even want to store in this style of pockets. Most of the time it's just easier to have the gear sitting there on the ice next to you or in your bucket.
If you're looking for a highly portable unit with an easy setup, then the FatFish 949 by Eskimo
is a great choice.