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Otter vs. Frabill

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Just sold my permanent and am going back to a portable. Can't decide between the Otter Cabin and the Frabill XLTwin. Looking for any additional info. or comments on either one.

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LOVE my Otter. The canvas is of very good quality, the frame is well built and there's no comparison to the Otter tubs by any brand available out there. I know my Otter Den is very light, too. As for the Frabill, I can't speak to their quality. I would do some comparisons based on weight, size if it's an issue (set-up vs. down; how much distance from the front of the tub to the front of the house when set up, etc.) and your perception of relative quality. I can tell you with certainty that I haven't had any problems with my Otter and am mightily pleased with the product BUT it's the only thing I know. Bottom line, go with what you think will work best for YOU, not what any of us know-it-alls think.

Matchman

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I just bought (10 days ago) a Otter Cabin, with the med sled. I picked the Otter for a number of reasons.
First, the Otter has the better fabric. The canvas on the Otter skin is nice a durable and I haven't seen another portable with fabric as thick.
Second, the sled is so much more sturdy than any of the others in the market. This was important. I tow it with an ATV, so the durability was key.
Third, the tubing is square and they claim it to have 4-5 times the tensile strength of similar round poles. I read a post from a person that sounded mad that they switched to this. The claim was that it binds so much more. I haven't had a huge problem. Plus, I guess I will take the strength.
Last, The newer Otter has 4 windows. One on each side of the house. I do not know if the Frabill does or not, but this is huge. I can't stand placing my tip-ups only in front of the house all the time or needing to get out of the house just to see it. It also has two vents, for the times when you need some fresh air or the warmer days, when you want to let some cool air in.
There are a lot of Frabill fans and I don't doubt that they are great houses. I just feel they are over-priced for what you are getting. Don't get me wrong...Otter's aren't cheap either, but I feel you are paying for better components and not Frabill's overhead and name.
I would almost look to Eskimo's new line, before Frabill. They are very well priced. The Eskimo similar to the Otter cabin, is $240 with a bench seat at Fleet Farm. The sled is pretty light duty, but that's a steal!

[This message has been edited by ldwsmith (edited 12-16-2003).]

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I have an otter and I must say that this is a great shelter. I know a guy who had a Frabill, it was heavy and it plowed the snow. Pulling that through even 2 inches of snow really sucked and that made going out less enjoyable.
Here are some things to consider:

Are you going to pull it by hand or pull it by machine?

For the most part, are you going to be fishing solo or with someone?

What size vehicle do you have?

Price is a consideration but if you buy something for $50-75 less but it is a hassle evertime you take it out, you are more likely to fish less. It is worth getting a shelter that fits the way you want to fish.

I took all these things into consideration and this is how I ended up with the Otter Medium sled. I can unload and load it by myself. It fits in the back of my Jeep cherokee. All my gear fits in it. It's fairly easy to pull through the snow. It is durable. Plus it was on sale at the end of the year last year. The only thing is you will need to find a comfy seat/chair for it. Matchman built two butt-bridges for his and I've gotta say, this is the ticket.
Good luck in your decision!


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Right now I am leaning towards the Otter for 2 reasons - I already have the sled and I like the heavy canvas. I like the Frabill because you get the sled, shelter and 2 seats as a package. Buying the Otter cabin and 2 seats is just about the same price as a Frabill. I will be pulling the house behind an ATV - how does the Frabill sled perform - doesn't look as durable as an Otter.

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Theres places where I wouldn't drag a sled other then an otter or polar. Much of my fishing is into remote areas where trails are rocky with little of no snow. My portable/sled is also my primary sled for winter camping trips were it has to haul heavy loads through ruff terrain. I have a voyager this year and I beefed up the bottom with 2x2s and I'm in the process of reinforcing the tub to mount a tow hitch.

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I bought an Otter Magnum Lodge last year after much of the same debate. I can't be any happier with this rig. I have pulled it over rocks on Devils Lake, behind ny truck (fully loaded) on LOW with no signs of wear and tear. The canvas is very sturdy and all hardware is top notch. Go with the Otter, you won't be disappointed.

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I used an Otter Magnum last winter quite a bit and as for comfort and ease of use, you can't go wrong with the otter. My buddy bought a Frabill XLT and he seems to like it a lot, I've never heard him complain. I've never had the chance to fish with him in it (I usually end up out in the cold, on the ice, it must be because of all the extra layers of natural insulation). But the guys who do fish with him say that there's enough room for 4 holes but with the heater, minnows, and whatever else you bring out, it gets really cramped in there, and not enough room for hook setting. I don't like the bench seats either. The Otter has adjustable seats (front, back, side to side), and a little more room. I'll wait one more year to buy one though, to see how well the square tubing thing goes.

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I've used both. I own a Frabill XLT-Twin. It has served me well. It's just the right size to fit in the back of my suburban. The sled is durable, and the black color of the canvas really soaks up the heat. My father owns an Otter Lodge. This is a lot bigger house. The one thing I like about this house is you can stand straight up in it. You can't do that in the Frabill. The otter does have some extra support poles that you have to install when you are setting it up. My father bought a 4 inch wide piece of PVC that's long enough for the tubes to fit in and capped both ends. This makes those extra parts easy to carry and organized. He uses folding chairs, which is ok, but it just something else you have to bring with, which we don't have to with the Frabill.
Which ever one you buy, spend the extra money on a good hitch and the cover. This is money well spent in my opinion.

Good Luck!

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i-man, I would agree with DJ on checking out the Polar line. They make the Nordic. Picked one up this year and love it. It has the heavy duty sled and canvas like the otter. You can get the sled and house with two seats for around $400.00

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Although I've been an otter fan for a long time, I'll have to agree with smile.gifDerek. The polar sport line does have very nice set ups and are comaparable to otter. Although there is much rave about the otter sleds the polar sprt sleds have a couple of advantages. one, I like the low sidewalls and the raised ends and two, the curvature in the belly of the sled allows more flat area in the bottom of the sled allowing better seating. The hitches are quality and the sled is the same material as otter. So before jumping to an otter take a close look at what polar sport has to offer. I know it will be my next portable.
Matt

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My.vote.is.solidly.for.the.Frabill.line.

Built.well.with.the.anglers.needs.and.comfort.in.mind.
No.more.extra.weight.then.need.be.
Modular.seating.offers.increased.flexibility.in.the.XL-Twin.and.Triplex.
The.new.sleds.pull.easier.on.all.snow.conditions.

This new state-of-the-art fabric was designed for sheer durability and maximum protection from the elements. It is lighter weight, sheds water, blocks out wind and snow, yet it remains extra pliable no matter what the temperature.

The big advantage of ARCTIC-ARMOR is its extreme durability and wear resistance. Produced from heavy-duty nylon fabric, its superior strength stands up to the harshest conditions. It resists punctures and tearings.
armorcloseup.jpg
Special solar black color absorbs the suns rays to help warm the interior of the shelter, even on cold days. ARCTIC-ARMOR is available on all Frabill ice shelters beginning 2003.

The.Frabill."Speed.Shak".line.is.very.user.friendly.
SpeedShakCub04.jpg
Floor.space.is.managed.to.optimize.fully.every.inch.for.comfort.and.flexibility.of.use.
Fast,easy,set-up..less.then.1.minute.

Frabill Speed Shak XL 6035
shakxlopen.jpg
Set-Up: 72" L x 72"W x 84"H
Folded: 72" L X 32"W x 9"H
Weight: 98 lbs.

Frabill Speed Shak Cub 6036
shakcubopen.jpg
Set-Up: 72"L x 48"W x 72"H
Folded: 48" L x 32"W x 9"H
Weight: 75 lbs.

www.Frabill.com

------------------
Ed "Backwater Eddy" Carlson

Backwater Guiding
"ED on the RED"
backwtr1@msn.com
><,sUMo,>

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Otter hands down. Some of these other companies skimp a bit to lower cost on their portables. That may be fine for people that don't do a lot of fishing, but if you want a portable that will last and was designed for serious fishermen, take a hard look at the otter line.

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Well, I will put my 2 cents in. I have the frabill ultra lite and I really like it. It doesn't pull the greatest through the deep snow, however because it is so light it kind of equals out. I have to say that the sled is suprisingly durable too. I have had it for four years now and with the places I drag it I can say it is pretty tough. So that is what I think about that!
><>deadeye

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My endorsement goes to Polar. We looked long and hard, comparing everyone this year. This year Mille Lacs Guide Service will be going with the Polar line of houses. After close comparison the Polar line seemed like the best match for us. Great sleds/Canvas and a hitch system that is second to none.

We now have the capability of hitching 3 houses together end to end with stiff hitches. This is a great feature. As I said, we looked at them all before we made our decision.

------------------
Mille Lacs Guide Service
(320)293-3287
www.millelacsguideservice.com

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At the sport show I narrowed my choices down to either the Polar or the Clam. I ended up buying the Clam Voyager, for two reasons. I got a great price on the voyager and I was a little apprehensive of the yellow tops on the polar. The selling point for the yellow fabric was that it let more light into the shack. I don't know about you guys, but I don't want more light in my shack. I like to sight fish when possible and if I need more light I can flip up or open the windows. I will say however, both the Polar and the Otter are great shacks. Can't go wrong with either one.

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Thanks for all of the responses. I ordered the Otter Cabin today. Hopefully it will meet my expectations. It will be tested for the next several weeks on Ottertail. Thanks again.

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