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gspman

Flip over shack questions

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Hi folks,
I've been trying to gleen info from the board on the flip over style ice shacks like the Otter. I'd like to hear from you guys what the basics are that you look for in a shelter. Here is what I've picked up so far...
Sled durability
Thick fabric for the covering
Square tubing for stength
Vents
Windows on each side
relatively light weight for pulling/towing

Seems like the Otter, Polar Sport, and Eskimo are the top choices.

Am I missing anything else you look for in a portable. Fill me in please. Thanks.
gspman

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Unless you are planning to only pull it out with an ATV or snowmobile I would put light weight on top of the list of things to look for.
Then you have to decide how big of a unit you want, 1,2 or 3 man size.
I chose the fish trap guide last year because I thought it was a durable yet light unit in the size class that I wanted. I am not impressed with the new FT guides because of the new seat arrangement. You cant get bigger items like an auger into the sled anymore, at least not very easily.
If I were buying one this year I think I would look hard at the eskimo. Looks like a decent unit but I think I heard that they are kind of on the heavy side. But the price seems reasonable.You probably cant go wrong with whatever you choose, as long as you like it.
Dave

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The new Polar Sports are nice and cheaper than a Otter. Otter does have the best tub though. My Fishtrap Guide is nice but sled is thin. I recomend Hyfax runners on any sled. Improves tracking and extends the life of your tub greatly.

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I have not seen the eskimo up close, but I just purchased the Nordic two man this year and love it. Weight is only a small factor. I don't know how it compares to the others, but it is really easy to pull. Now when I load it down with a 50 quart cooler with bait and another with beverages smile.gif and auger and buckets with gear etc etc the difference between the weight of the nordic comapared to eskimo etc and other sled weight differences is nothing to even worry about. But if you only pull small gear out, then it might be.

I actualy have a sled that I made out of old downhill skis that I put my portable on top of when I am pulling it long distances.

You can make something just like it for the price difference in portables.

The reason I went with the nordic is because it is SOOOO similar to the Otter but comes with seats, and a rest for the auger. I have used it about 10 times so far this year and I have to say that I would not exchange it for anything.

I have heard bad things about the square tubing as well... I can't see how the round tubing in my portable isn't going to be strong enough unless I have a few too many bevies smile.gif and fall over into my shak smile.gif

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I've done lots of digging on this and just ordered a Frabill Tripelex. I'll report back in after I've used it a time or two. There's lots of good options these days, isn't there? Ice houses, flashers, rods and reels, etc. Nice to have options.
Scoot

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My first year with the Otter Cabin and so far am very happy. Strong and easy to set up and take down, even in windy conditions. Was very easy to assemble as well. The new square tubing slides easily as long as it is lubricated. You won't be dissappointed if you go this route.

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I bought the two man Nordic, which is new this year (made by Polar) and I really like it a lot. Heavy duty canvas, durable sled, four windows, pulls nice, reflectors on 4 corners, two nice swivel seats included (seats can easy be moved around or taken out) This is the first flip over I have owned, but I went off of recommondations from several Gander Mtn. people and they say they are very popular this year.

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Do the new Otters and the Polar Sports have flaps for the windows so you can make it dark in the house. Also how many holes can you manage in these things? I would guess the Otter Mag Lodge might do 4 but it would be cramped. How about the Nordic or the Otter Cabin? I am tempted to get a Otter Lodge or Nordic even though they may be harder to pull than a Otter Cabin just for the roominess. Anyone feel cramped in the Med Cabin with 2 guys

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I have the new otter magnum lodge and sled and it is by far the best outfit i have been in. I had a fishtrap guide before but it isnt even in the same class as the otter. Three year warranty on the otter sleds is hard to beat! Iceman out>

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GSPMAN...

"relatively light weight for pulling/towing"

and "the Otter" does not belong in the same sentence, as it's about the heaviest portable made. As for the Polar and Eskimo, I do not know...however, I do vouch for the USL Fish Traps, since I bought them for those very reasons: weight & durability...

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really comes down to personal preferance as i had a voyager, i have a otter cabin and a lodge also an eskimo one man. the otter would be my bet. tony

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gspman-

to answer your question about the window flaps, yes the Otters do have velcro window flaps. On the cabin there are 4 windows - 2 sides, 1 front, 1 back. 2 guys is plenty in this unit. I only like to drill 2 holes in the house and then set a couple tip-ups. You could do three, but that's just too close together for me. If you usually are fishing with someone, you may want to look at a 3 man - the extra room is nice. Good Luck.

------------------
fish smarter, not harder

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I just got a FT Guide. The post about the new style sliding seats is true. You don't have full access to the tub, but I find I really don't need to carry buckets anymore. All my gear, (except heater,lantern,flasher and auger) now fits into the gear storage holders that mount underneath the sliding seats. Fish go into the tub. Perfect for me.

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I went with Otter.In my opinion they have the toughest sled and in my case durability is important as I am not easy on equipment.
I use a snomobile most times so the lightest weight was not a factor.I also bring soo much gear that getting light weight shak would just be a waste.
Good quality canvas is improtant.There are some shak manufactureres that are useing different fabrics and I am not sure of the durabilty of those.I fear they might melt if your heater gets anywhere near it.Canvas can get pretty warm before doing any damage.
ONe thing that is really important to me is a quick set up.You need to be able to get her up quick and break her down quickly and easily.I tend to stay in one spot if it ends up being too much work to set up.You have to remain mobile.I am prettyhappy with how fast I can set up the Otter.
I have the Lodge and I can get 5 holes in it.Two on each side and one in the middle for the camera.When I do drill that hole for the camera I have to be a little carefull getting in and out.The heater goes in one corner(I made a heater gaurd out of a cake cooling rack that I wired to the sunflower.It keeps the canvas away about five to six inches and does not burn it.)One hole close and one hole just to one side of the door on each side.

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We beat the heck out of our Polar Sports and they take it all. I am very impressed with these houses. We run both the 3 mans and 4 mans for our guide clients and they are slick. I also recommend the Hifax runners for any house.

And, yes, they have window covers. If you are looking for a durable house that you will have a long time I recommend the Polar Sport.

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

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Thanks guys. Great info and very helpful.

It looks to me like the Magnum or the 3-man Polar Sport would be a good roomy setup for 2 men. All indications are that the Mag and the PS 3-man are too much to pull by hand for any lenghty distances.

Sounds like the Cabin and the 2 man Polar Sport or even the Nordic might get a little crowded for 2 men and four holes. It sounds like it would be easier to pull these by hand but could still a lot of work.

I guess for me it boils down to more room or ease of pulling. My inclination is for more room. I've got a 4 yr old boy & a 6 yr old girl who love fishing and I'd love to get them into ice fishing too. The extra room would help alot for the kids. I'll just drive my truck to where I want to be and just unload and pull it a short distance. If I can't drive on the ice 'cuz it's too thin then I'll just tough it out and drag it or find a lake with good fishing nearer to the shore.

Anyone know of a good shoulder pulling harness set up? I saw some strong man contest harnesses on the net but they cost way too much. I would think it would make pulling these beasts a bit easier and less tiring than just grabbing the rope and pulling.

Thanks again. Very helpful info.
gspman

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I use my tree stand safety harness. It helps distribute the weight better. I've pulled my Otter Lodge loaded with gear, and didn't think it was to bad.

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We pull the Polar 4 man by hand right now without a problem, but if there was a good layer of snow on the ice it would be a problem no doubt.

You are doing the right thing by checking out all the options. I think you would really like the new Polar 3 man.

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

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i just got a quickflip II. i wanted a frabil ranger xl but for the money i couldn't resist the eskimo. Had no problem pulling it by myself fully loaded, i would recommend some good ice cleats though that made a big difference. It has a bench seat rather than the single seats so i could easily fish three out of it. and the seat does not take away room in the sled as i can still fit my auger in it. plenty of room too. I had five holes drilled, two buckets on the ice, a lantern a heater, and a mat for my feet yet. there is a good apron on it so you can seal in the heat and it is dark enough you can use it for a darkhouse which is a huge bonus for site fishing suspened crappies.

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this the way you should look at it. Otter is going to be the best quality, but will cost you cost you more( you have to buy everything seperatly, it adds up, Fish trap is a good choice, lighter weight, good quality fabric, Eskimo has gotten better also. If you are going to pull it by hand I would not recomend the otter, to much heavyier then others. If you want you can come into gander I work in the fishing department. Ask for AJ

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I purchased an amish made 2 man. Long Prairie fleet supply carries them or they can tell you where the amish farm is at the Fleet store. Best quality and guarantee for the money. Window on each side, hi fax runners, thick canvas(black canvas which absorbs heat from the sun very well), and they will make repairs at little to no cost if you should ever need. This is my second one and I love them.

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Thanks for all your input guys.

I'm planning on picking up a Polar Sport 3-person house this weekend. It was between the Lodge and the PS 3-man and the PS won. The info from the Mille Lacs Guide Service boys (Scott Steil in particular) was a big influence. Thanks Scott. If it can take that kind of beating then it certainly can take anything I'll do to it. The square tubing on the Otter had me slightly concerned because of the number of posts on the board talking about the burrs, lubrication, and jamming issues. The Polar is just a little lighter. Not a huge factor but 10 pounds is 10 pounds when your pulling it. I also talked to a Polar Sport person, (the owner I think) and got all my questions answered. I'll be getting a Lazer Mag Express to drill holes as well. I have a hand auger but let's be honest. Drilling by hand sucks.

I'm wondering what I should get to heat this thing. Remember a post by Scott Steil saying a Mr. Buddy was heating his 3-man. Is that enough heater for something that size or do I need something with more output? Thanks again.
gspman

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I am not a big fan of the buddy heater unless you are going to have more than 1 heater. The buddys only put out on the high setting what a sunflower puts out on the low setting. On a cold day like we have seen the past week, I dont think it would be enough, and if you want to take those little fisherpeople of yours with you then you are going to need to keep them toasty warm.

I really like the Mr. Heater cooker/heater.
They are still small in size, put out lots of heat, are almost half the price of the buddy and you can cook your lunch on it!

Plus you have the same option of using the 1lb propane cylinders or buying a hose with the proper fittings and taking along your bigger refillable propane tank.

Just my 2-bit opinion,
Dave

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Get a Mr.Heater cooker and put the tank outside and run the hose into the house. Unless you have extra room then just mount the heater on top of the 20# in your house. More than enough heat for when it gets real cold.

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