I’ve been fishing out of portable ice shelters for many years now and in the last several years, I’ve spent many great hours in pop-ups. While I like the convenience on the ice that pull-behinds bring with the whole flip-over concept and the one-package storage of the sled hauling your shelter and cargo in one neat, but heavy bundle, I’ve really been influenced but the conveniences that pop-up shelter can give. In a flip over, they all weigh a ton and when you put gear in them they weigh a heavier ton. You can’t make them a lot lighter by unloading gear because the gear is usually buried inside and you can’t remove the ice shelter which is bolted right to the sled that makes the flip-over house. With a pop-up shelter in your cargo sled, you have all the pieces ala carte. You gotta bring chairs, but all the other gear like your rods, flasher, camera, auger, skimmer, etc., remain the same. When, you need to load the sled into the back of the truck, you can throw the parts that are heavy on the ground and quickly reload the sled on the truck. WAY less grunting.
Then, there is the floor space of the pop-up ice shelter. You have tons of it and depending on size, you may need to plan out where you put the holes and the heater, but that’s not hard. If you have big pop-up shelter, you can fish both sides of the same reef and never leave the shack. I love the floor space possibilities. When it comes time to move spots, however, you have to knock your pop-up down, stuff it in a sled, move and reset up. It really is not that difficult and takes us 10 to 15 minutes to re-set-up a location when my dad and I are out fishing. A flip over style house is a bit quicker as you simply flip it up, set your gear on the seats and in the sled, and drive it to the new spot. Drill your holes, skim them, and flip the shelter back down. Re-set-up time takes about 8 minutes in that situation.
From a warmth standpoint, I always found every flipover hard to seal up for wind. You can shovel all the snow you want and there is always a breeze sneaking through it. Pop-up ice fishing shelters, when you shovel a little bit of snow on the flap (takes under a minute with even a huge house), seal up like a zip lock bag. I think even the uninsulated pop-ups are warmer than flip overs. I’ve spent a lot of time in both. Wind does not howl through the pop-up and my Buddy heater likes to conk out after about 4 hours due to low oxygen. I highly recommend ONLY using heaters that have low-oxygen sensors in them. If you like to imbibe while ice fishing, should you conk out with your sunflower roaring, you may not be getting up for good. First you fall asleep, then the heater runs out of fuel and your carcass is a frozen lump by morning. If you didn’t lay down in a straight line, you’ll be sticking out of the cargo sled in an awkward way for the ride home.
Setting up a flipover is easier than a pop-up in the wind to some degree, so long as it remains hitched to your Skidoo. Unhitch it, don’t anchor it, and watch what the wind will do to it in the blink of an eye. Really hard on all of your gear. Been there, done that. “They roll like a tumbleweed,” Joe said from experience. Pop-ups shelters that aren’t anchored down are more susceptible to this occurring than flip-overs, but don’t be fooled by your 145 lb. pull-behind flip-over shelter. Not only will it roll, it can even take you for a wild ride while seated in it down an icy lake at 30 mph. Sounds fun, but I’ve been told it was rather terrifying. Long story short – anchor everything like you mean it. Don’t for one second believe that the minute of calm you are experiencing on the ice will remain as such for the next five minutes.
That brings me to setting up the Clam Sixpack 1660 Mag Thermal ice shelter all by myself. I did it mainly to show that it can be done, easily with a little bit of planning. It was a fairly calm day on the ice and I’ve set up pop-ups solo a bunch of times and once in 20 mph. That was a tricky one. I’ve never lost a pop-up ice shelter, but I know a lot of people who have. They relied on the snow-covered snow flap on the bottom to hold it there and then the tent was gone. That oversized bumbershoot screams down the lake at the current wind speed. You can’t catch it until it wraps around the birch trees on the far shore. You may also find yourself in a predicament of your ice fishing shelter blowing over dangerous ice with yourself in hot pursuit, focused on catching the tent. Anchors man, anchors. Heck get a 40 inch bungee cord and tie it to your snowmobile. If the wind moves your snowmobile, it’s gonna be a really bad day. My Skidoo doesn’t budge and makes a great anchor – said a Polaris owner, once. It’s also true for a fishing with portable ice shelters.
So, I made these videos to show how one guy can set up a huge tent in the wind. Little bit of planning and you are good to go.
After your main anchor is in place, this is how you set up a Clam Sixpack 1660 Mag Thermal pop-up ice shelter – and every last pop-up ice fishing shelter known to mankind. They all set up exactly the same way. There is zero difference in the set-up technique across ALL BRANDS of ice fishing pop-ups. I don’t know how to make that any clearer.
This Clam tent is nicely made and quite manageable for one guy. LOTS of space!