Eskimo Fatfish 949 Portable Ice House Product Review
I've been keeping my eye out for a good deal on a portable ice house for a while. This last weekend provided me a chance to get to see some ice houses first hand at the Ice Fishing Show at the DECC. After looking around, and weighing options and price, I purchased a Fatfish 949. I'm not completely new to Eskimo portable fish houses. I've fished with friends who have had them, and set up my share. It has an easy design that literally allows you to "pop it up." Basically with the Fatfish, you pull it out of the carrying bag, lay it on the ice, and pull the handles on each side and it's up in seconds. (Important note, put the stakes in first if it's windy.) It has 6 stakes included, 4 for the corners and 2 extra ones you can tie off the house too if it's windy. The stakes easily screw into the ice, and it doesn't take much time. It's lightweight enough that you can carry it like a backpack (a large one, that is.) I throw it in my sled and haul it on and off the ice rather easily.
Another helpful tip is to clear off excess snow on the ice where you are going to put your shelter, it helps it stay less slushy if you're running a heater in there.
Total time for setting up the house was 7 minutes with 2 people. (I timed it.) We cleared the snow, drilled the holes, popped up the house, staked in the corners, covered the apron with snow on the outside, and fished.
It says it can fish 3-4, but I would say only 3 comfortably with room for a heater. The "fatfish" design gives you more floor space, and there's plenty of room for holes.
Also a noted improvement with this design is the carrying bag. It has a zipper now which makes putting away the sometimes cold and rigid material much easier. Instead of trying to cram it in a bag, you can easily zip it up and compress it with the included straps. Thanks for correcting this problem, Eskimo.
I ended up paying a special show price of $189.99. Normal retail price is around $229.99. There also is an insulated version of this house called the Fatfish 949i. I've heard good things about it, but for the price being about $100 more, I decided to give this one a go first. I was plenty warm with a heater running and it was 0 degress F outside.
Overall, I'm very happy with my Eskimo Fatfish.