Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Product Review: The new Eskimo "Fatfish" Ice Shelter

Well my friends, here I go at one of my first attempts to review a product to present to you here on the blog!  I'm excited to give this a whirl, and what a better way do it!  I have been in the market for a portable "pop-up" style ice shelter this year and man oh man, was my timing ever good!  This year Eskimo, the leader in ice fishing equipment, has come out with their new "Fatfish" series shelters!

I have always been picky about choosing my ice fishing days, being a fair-weather fisherman most of the time.  I have braved a couple of windy, bitter days on the ice, but this year I said no more!  I've been pretty excited for this year's ice season, I started looking into shelters in August!  So, after nearly 3 months of looking I ended up with the Eskimo Fatfish 949.  Let me break down the specs on this amazing piece of ice fishing equipment for you.

This 4 person tent has a fishable area of 61 square feet!  This is a vast improvement from the 4 person "quickfish" series, which allowed for 48.75 square feet!  The leap forward in square footage is made possible by a re-designed base that gives more fishable room, but doesn't take away from the shoulder and head room up higher.  At a height of 80 inches, you will also enjoy 99 inches of elbow room.  The tent features 2 zipping doors, 2 vents, 2 mesh pockets for storage, 6 windows, 2 storage pockets, and 6 ice anchors.  All this collapses down and fits nicely into a bag equipped with backpack straps, and at 27 pounds is a comfortable load. 

I have been able to use this shelter on 3 occasions now this winter, and let me tell you, it has been put to the test for sure!  I was very impressed with the shelter the first time out of the bag!  We opened it in the living room after letting it adjust to room temperature.  This helps all the fabrics separate without peeling, and I suggest you do this to any tent or ice shelter.  With the help of my kids we had it set up in a good 45 seconds!  And after a few minutes we took it down just as fast.

On our first outing to Panguitch Lake my grandpa and I had it set up again in no time.  The two of us fished in it very comfortably, in fact it was plenty roomy!  We didn't stay in long as it was actually a very nice day and we found the shelter to be too warm.

The next outing the kids enjoyed slipping into the shelter to warm up, and we were able to let the baby stay in it for a while to enjoy a nap.  A week later we headed to Panguitch Lake where it had its true test!  We were welcomed to the lake by strong winds and snow showers.  The tent provided plenty of room for our wives and about 4 kids, even with the ladies fishing.  However my buddy, Jason Pratt and I had to weather the storm outside as there was not enough room for us inside.  Let me tell you, the girls rubbed it in plenty, bragging about how warm and dry they were.  It was a little bit of a test setting it up in the wind, but I don't think it would be very hard even with only 2 people.  One ice anchor gave us fits, other than that the others went easy and the shelter kept it's shape well.

Overall, I am VERY impressed with this product!  I would recommend it to any serious ice fisherman!  I think a lot of the use from mine will be in keeping my wife and little ones comfortable, but that's OK if that's the price I have to pay to be able to get them out to enjoy this sport with me.  I am however very excited to get to use it myself again this Friday!  A bit of advice being this late in the ice fishing season...shop around!  This time of year there are great deals to be had on ice fishing equipment!  Many sporting goods stores will be having close-out sales on their ice gear.  Look for great deals to come, but jump on them before they are gone.  I purchased my Fatfish 949 for $239.00, which included shipping, and at the time was $10 cheaper than I could find in any sporting goods store around here.  Sportsman's Warehouse was the next best deal, at $249.00.  I found my deal from a google search of the shelter, and picked it up from Glen's Army and Navy store, where without shipping it was offered at $199.00!  What a steal!

Looking for something a little bigger, or maybe even smaller?  Eskimo also offers the Fatfish in a two-person model (the 767), a six-person model (the 9416), and an insulated version to the four-person model (the 949i).  Visit the Eskimo web page for more information on these models, and other fine Eskimo products!  http://www.geteskimo.com/home.asp

You can also find Eskimo on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/eskimoicefishinggear


The Reverend Fowl ™ said...

Have you considered a floor for your shelter? Anti-fatigue or yoga mats?

Jason said...

I haven't thought of that yet, but it is a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

The Reverend Fowl ™ said...

Putting people on a mat makes a big difference because there is less heat loss through conduction.

Jason said...

On a follow up note, the Fatfish survived one heck of a wind storm the other day on Fish Lake. One thought I wanted to share, next time I will take a cordless drill in my sled to drill pilot holes for my ice anchors. The first time I used them they went in fairly easy, this day it was not so easy. Other than that, it fared the wind pretty well, I'm still very impressed!

Alexander Coder said...

This was a good suggestion that you put up here...dude…..hope that it benefits all the ones who land up here. 

Fishing Supplies

Jeff Nelson said...

i use what i think was some sort of mat for the bed of a truck or suv. Anyways having your feet above the ice makes one heck of a difference in keeping your feet warm!! Just a tip. I found the stuff at Fleet farm...looks kind of like puzzle pieces. packs up in 24" squares!

Good luck!