Pop Up vs Flip Over Ice Shelters: Which Is Better & Why?

There is a wide range of ice shelters on the market, and because of this, there is often confusion about the pros and cons of the different styles.

In this article, I am going to give you an insight into the differences between a pop up vs flip over ice shelters.

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The difference between Pop-up and Flip-over Shelters

Pop up shelters are designed to quickly assemble and take down (similar to a tent), and provide protection from the elements in a roomy and portable package. Flip-over shelters are more mobile, and allow anglers to move to different ice holes in a smaller and more sturdy package.

A pop-up is a type of shelter that uses flexible rods that allow the tent to pop up into a very sturdy shelter and also pack down into a portable package.

Pop Up vs Flip Over Ice Shelters: Which Is Better & Why?

A flip-over on the other hand is a tent that is able to flip up and down on a sled. The sled is equipped with a chair that allows you to sit in the sled and flip the shelter over you.

This shelter allows for a very fast setup and take down time, and is ideal for hole hopping on the lake.

Portability

When buying any shelter the very first thing that should be considered is portability. Portability is essential both while bringing the shelter out on the ice and also storing it during the off-season.

Pop-ups come in a variety of different sizes and styles. Generally, a small non-insulated pop-up can be as light as 10 pounds whilst some of the bigger-sized insulated pop-ups can be over 80 pounds!

Pop-ups are very easy to store in the off-season because they break down into a nice neat package. Flip-overs on the other hand do not.

Flip-overs are very convenient when ice fishing because the shelter is mounted on a sled which allows for moving quickly on the ice and fast setup and take down time. 

However, flip-overs have the downside of being big and bulky. They also take up space in both your vehicle and garage. 

Insulated vs Non-insulated

Both flip-overs and pop-ups come in both insulated and non-insulated models. Deciding on which kind fits your style of fishing comes down to the amount of money you want to spend and the weight. 

Non-insulated shelters are lighter weight and work great when paired with a Mr. Buddy Heater. But once the heater goes out the tent won’t retain the heat and the cold will quickly return.

Insulated shelters on the other hand are heavier but do a much better job of keeping you warm. On some days having a heater might even be overkill due to how much the insulation keeps the warmth inside!

Size

Size is a very important aspect of any shelter. 

Flip-over shelters come in one, two, and three-person configurations. But keep in mind as the size increases both the price and weight substantially increase.

Typically a one or two-person flip-over will fit in the back of most SUVs but if you need a three-person you will also need a truck to transport it. 

Pop-up style shelters typically come in one to eight-person configurations, significantly dwarfing the size of flip-overs!

The biggest shelter currently on the market is the Otter Vortex Pro Monster Lodge which has 136 sq ft of fishing space!

Price

For many anglers, the price of a shelter can be a huge swinging factor when choosing the one that suits their style.

Flip-overs are definitely more expensive than pop-ups. A good high-quality two-person insulated flip-over can run you over $800 whilst a high-quality insulated four-person pop-up can run you about $400. 

It’s quite a huge price gap but you’re paying for quality, portability, and comfort that comes along with most flip-over style shelters.

Weather Tolerance 

When buying any shelter it is important that you know how it is going to withstand the elements. 

Typically on calm days both pop-up and flip-over shelters perform very well. Unfortunately, most days on the ice are not calm and the wind is to be expected.

Flip-over shelters take wind like a champ and are very wind-resistant due to their slim profile design. They also allow for a very smooth takedown process in the wind.

Unfortunately, pop-ups aren’t as wind-resistant. If you buy a popup you definitely need ice anchors that keep your shelter pinned to the ice. You also risk having the wind pop the walls inward which is a very common occurrence on windy days. 

My Recommendations

Consider asking yourself a few questions before you decide on what to purchase:

Do you live on the lake you plan to ice fish? Do you have a long commute? What is your budget?

What size is your vehicle, and do you have a lot of storage space at home? Do you prefer to fish alone, or with friends and family?

The answers to these questions can really help determine which type of ice shelter is best for you.

If you go down the route of a flip-over I would recommend getting an Eskimo two-person insulated flip-over.

Although it’s expensive, it’s very high quality and is a shelter that will keep you and a friend warm, and comfortable for many seasons! It’s extremely sturdy and does an excellent job of blocking the wind.

If you go down the route of purchasing a pop-up-style shelter I would recommend an Eskimo 3-person insulated hub shelter

I love this Eskimo shelter because of the amount of space and its rigidity. I feel safe, sheltered from the wind with plenty of room for 2 holes and my gear.

One of the small features I like is that the inside is black colored which allows you to see through the water more clearly!

Lastly, I strongly recommend outfitting either your pop-up or flip-over style shelter with a light bar. This thing is a lifesaver when ice fishing for walleye or crappie at night.

Conclusion

In recent years, pop-up shelters have gained a lot of popularity for their extra space and portability, but flip-up-style shelters are going away any time soon.

Overall both flip-over and pop-ups have different applications depending on the weather and your adventure. 

If the weather is rough or you want to stay mobile, a flip-over is the right choice. But when you’re going out with family and friends or just need the extra space, a pop-up is what you need. 

Having both types of shelters at your disposal is definitely the ideal situation and allows you to fish with whomever and wherever, but the choice ultimately comes down to your fishing style and budget.

Thanks for reading, and good luck this ice season!

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