Frabill Ice Shelter Review – A Very Hot Bargain

Man sitting in a chair on frozen pond holding an ice fishing rod over a hole.

It’s getting cold out there and we anglers are putting our summer clothes back in the closet. Fishing in the winter is often brutal and agonizing even if productive. For those who ice fish, a great way to stay out of the cold is an absolute must. Because an ice shelter is the best way to keep the elements off of you and your fishing spot, it’s essential.

In this Frabill ice shelter review, we are going to cover (no pun intended), what the product offers and how well it keeps the ice off of the angler. Frabill generally makes great products and we are here to determine if this particular one is worth the money or if you should invest it in something else. We will be covering the Frabill Bro Series hub shelter from professional ice fisherman Brian Brosdahl. If this is a case of an item from one ice fisherman to another, we will see. In the meantime, let’s look at it.

Frabill Bro Series Hub Ice Shelter.

Benefits Of The Frabill Ice Shelter

There are quite a few benefits for the average ice-fishing angler. Aside from the obvious of keeping the elements off of you, the main benefit is portability. The product is very easy to set up and collapse. This means you can use all of your precious energy where it should be, to begin with. Tying knots, setting hooks, and catching fish.

The shelter provides an incredibly roomy space to fish for one person or a decent amount of room for two or three. It keeps the cold off of you very well. The insulation built into the fabric is great at wicking cold air and keeping it where you want it. Outside. The question one needs to answer before they buy one is pretty straightforward and that is how well it performs its intended purpose. Of course, it keeps the snow off! Don’t they all?

What makes this one different from others on the market?

The answer lies in the highly advanced insulated material that makes up the entirety of the base. It’s one thing to stop snow, air, and sleet but another to stop you from being cold. This one does stop that but it also goes one step further. The sealed system allows the heat to remain inside and even has the ability to warm you up. Aside from that, the price is such that many people can afford one.

The portability and convenience factor of the unit also make it much more practical for many anglers to budget in as well. No, it may not be the fanciest or the most expensive model of ice shelter on the market but it does serve a niche to many fishermen because it’s versatile, easy to use, and does what it’s designed to do well without draining a person’s bank account.

How To Use A Frabill Ice Shelter

The shelter is very easy to use and set up. It is a pop-up tent. It collapses. Take it to your fishing spot and make a fishing hole. Open it up. Pop all of the sides out of the center until they hold their shape. Pop The sides out first and then finally, the top. Unzip the unit and place the air mat on the bottom and spread it out.

Step inside and bring in a chair and a heater. Plug in your heater to a power supply and turn it on. If it is cold, you can velcro all of the windows up or allow them to breathe by removing the covers. Sit in the chair and drop your ice fishing rod’s line into the hole. Turn the LED lights on. If you must anchor the unit down because it’s windy, just take your time and drive the anchors into the ice sheet by screwing them in.

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Product Description and Features

  • The capacity of 3 people
  • Artic camo coloring
  • Zipper entry
  • Insulated welded sides and top
  • 80″L x 80″W x 80″H
  • Portable
  • 900-denier skirt
  • Built-in LED lights

This shelter can comfortably hold 3 people. It has a full velcro closure to prevent wind from getting in. The entire unit is insulated to provide unmatched weather resistance in sub-zero-degree weather. The unit is portable and collapsible to allow for portability and ease of use. The skirt that connects the bottom of the shelter to the ground is made of insulating material that prevents wind from getting through. It also got built-in LED lights that allow for great visibility in low-light conditions.

Who is the Product for?

The average ice fisherman could get a lot of use out of this shelter as long as you take care of it. It’s for anglers who enjoy fishing the ice and not freezing in the process. It is recommended for everyday Joes, or “bros” that appreciate a portable ice hangout for your fishing trips. Many ice fishermen will find that it is marketed more towards anglers who enjoy fishing the ice recreationally. For guides, it is not recommended.

They may require something a little more “adept”. In addition, a father, a wife, and a child are the perfect family that would find the most benefit from this product. It is for any and every ice fisherman that just wants to keep the cold weather off of them while they fish.

What I like about the Product

  • Great Insulation
  • Portable
  • Holds 3 people
  • Full zipper closure
  • Optional windows
  • Optional ventilation holes

There is a lot to love about the Frabill brand shelter. For one, it is incredibly insulated. The material does a really great job of keeping the cold weather off of you. I wager that it is better than many other tents in this regard. It’s black inside and does a great job of keeping the sun out of your fishing spot which allows for better clarity during sight fishing. We also like that it is portable. The portability ensures that your arms don’t fatigue as you carry around when you move spots.

There are velcro windows included too. It looks very much like a hunting blind with cool colors. The artic camo design paints a very nice look too. It’s for aesthetics but the top is black where it matters. Aside from that, it can comfortably seat 3 “bro” sized people which makes it great when you have a couple of buddies with you.

It’s also very nice to have a skirt on the bottom which prevents the cold air from making its way to the inside of your fort. One of the most important ways to defeat the chill is to prevent it to start with. The skirt does a great job of stopping the cold air in its tracks. The full zipper closure means that you eliminate the chill of the wind from the entrance point.

What I don’t like about the Product

  • Some have claimed problems with the zippers
  • No Seats
  • Doesn’t come in other sizes

If there is one problem I might have with it, it is its durability, questionably. There are quite a few complaints about how well the ice shelter holds up. There are reports from verified purchasers who have complained that the stitches have come apart on the zippers right at the seams. Also, many have said that the zippers are just too delicate. On top of that, other customers have broken poles during regular use. I don’t know how but apparently they did. One complaint here or there is incredibly noteworthy and almost expected but it appears there are many.

As it would seem, every single complaint about it is related to staying together. The shelter itself is fine. It just doesn’t hold up well over the long term according to some. Interestingly though, it seems every single one of these complaints is because there was a misuse of the product.

How Do You Know That The Complaints Were Product Misuse?

Because there are also many who have used it for many years and have had no damage. Also, many other brands around the same price point do provide some of the same quality. Try rubbing chapstick on the teeth of the zipper and work it in to prevent it from tearing. It’s like applying WD-40 to rusty gear.

I have seen people tear apart zippers on tackle bags too. I don’t think for a second that any of the supposed zipper damage is the result of faulty engineering. Another thing to consider is that it doesn’t come with seats. That means you will have to bring your own unless you prefer sitting on the ice. This makes sense from a portability standpoint. Many other shelters have seats but they also lose the portability aspect. In addition, including seats would increase the price significantly anyway. There are other tents for that if you want them. This is not one of those.

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Final Thoughts

To sum up my Frabill ice shelter review, I believe it is an ok product but it has a problem staying together. Because of this, it wouldn’t be my first choice if you want something that will last for years to come. Ultimately, I would choose to go for another shelter around the same price such as an Eskimo.

There is nothing very wrong with the function of the Frabill brand. It does whatever you want it to do. It is just delicate. Since being gentle with a shelter like this makes zero sense in brutally fast and bitterly cold winds, it doesn’t really hold up to regular use which seals the deal for me. I would prefer another shelter that I can be rough with not unlike the wind will on certain days. Still, you need to decide for yourself.


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