Rapala Sherpa M2 Pop-Up Portable Shelter
I spend anywhere from 70 to 100 days each winter on the ice, fishing in some of the harshest conditions imaginable, in temperatures down to -40 C degrees, and yet, surprisingly, it is relatively rare for my buddies and I to fish from a shelter.
It is not that we are masochists or anything, but rather, our particular style of running-and-gunning on the ice, hitting a dozen or more different locations over the course of a day, and boring more holes than a colony of carpenter ants isn't suited to staying long in one place.
Shelters, no matter how portable they are said to be, take time to put up, take down and haul around, both in your vehicle and behind your snowmachine and quad.
That could all change this winter, however, now that I've had a chance to field test Rapala's new Sherpa Pop Up Portable Shelter. It is pretty slick and I am quickly becoming a convert.
I field tested the two person Sherpa Shelter (Rapala makes 2, 3 and 6 person Sherpa pop ups) because I wanted what I suspected to be the optimal size for one ice angler and all of his (or her) gear, in the kind of run-and-gun approach we employ.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of floor space the two man Sherpa offers - especially the head space. You can easily stand up and walk around inside the shelter, as well as drill two holes, spread far enough apart to fish effortlessly.
Alternatively, if one of my partners wanted to come inside, we could easily fish without tangling our lines or getting in each others way.
Something else that impressed me: the two man Sherpa weighs only 18 pounds and folds up into a small compact bundle that is easy to throw into the back of my truck, as well as the sleighs behind my snowmachine and 4x4.
That light weight, by the way, means it is a breeze to pick up and carry around on the ice, as well, if I just want to relocate a feet to another hole. You don't have to take it down and pop it back up every time you shift to a different hole.
On the other hand, I suspect if the wind gusts strongly, you could encounter a Wizard of Oz moment and have the hut blow away. Rapala gives you giant hand size screws to anchor down the corners, which is great if you plan to stay put. I suspect I'll simply pile snow on the outside skirt, though, to weigh in down and keep me in mobility mode.
And speaking of mobility, I confess, when I read the advertising that says you can pop up the Sherpa in a minute and take it down just as quickly, I was skeptical. But it is true. As a matter of fact, I am sure I can pop it up and take it down in 30 seconds flat! How's that for portability.
I like the fact too, that the UV resistant 300 Denier fabric feels strong. Not only does that mean I am less likely to rip it, but the shelter is built to last. Plus, it is double stitched on the wear points, especially the corners that take most of the pressure and strain. You need to check for these kinds of small details, that a year or two from now, will make all the difference in the world in terms of your investment.
Like a lot of ice anglers, I like fishing in a dark ice hut. That way the water under the hut and the holes are illuminated. So I keep the window flaps down. But for folks who are afraid of the dark, there are 4 Velcro attached flaps you can open and have the sun light come streaming inside.
I'll tell you something else I really like and that is the design of the zippered door. Nothing gets my blood boiling more than a snow clogged, iced up, frozen zipper which happens when manufacturers design the door to their portable huts and shelters to go all the way down to the ice. As far as I am concerned, it is a sign they don't spend much time ice fishing! Either that, or they're fair weather ice anglers who only go fishing when the weather is nice and warm - in which case you don't need a shelter!
The bottom of the door on the Sherpa is smartly placed above the ice and snow level and thus, designed not to freeze up. And I am told they are YKK zippers. I have no idea what that means, but I do know they feel plenty strong and sturdy. 'Nuff said.
Okay, what else?
Oh, yes, there is a dual venting system that means you're not going to die of carbon monoxide poisoning when the outside air temperature plummets to 40 below and you crank up the propane heater.
When it is so cold outside that your skin freezes in 20 or 30 seconds of being exposed to the frigid air, how a portable shelter looks, is the last thing on your mind ... and as far as I'm concerned, the least important thing you need to concern yourself about. Having said that, however, the first thing my wife said when she saw the Sherpa after I popped it up was .... "Wow, that looks nice."So there you have it.
Strong, functional, portable ... and it looks "nice" to boot.
In all honesty, I may not be the best person to field test a portable ice shelter, because I am such a compulsive runner and gunner. On the other hand, if you can impress me, it is really saying something. And, I am suitably impressed with the Sherpa.
Indeed, while I may not actually fish inside it as much as many other folks, I will use it in some very different ways.
For example, when we're trolling on ice, hole hopping every two or three minutes, I can see huge value in setting up the Sherpa and using it as a command centre. In other words, putting it in the centre of our zone of activity, turning on the propane heater and using the shelter to warm up, eat lunch and prepare tackle.
Indeed, I often feel coldest, first thing in the early morning, after we have snowmachined into the backwoods, crossed over two or three windblown lakes and portages and have finally arrived at our fishing spot. Now, it is time to set up a half a dozen tip ups, untie Quick Strike Rigs and thaw out a bunch of dead baits. I am already looking forward to popping up the shelter and doing all this previously finger freezing labour in the cozy confines of my Sherpa Shelter.
My only complaint about the Sherpa Pop Up Portable Shelter is that the carrying case is a little too small. It is great when you're stuffing the shelter back inside and it is warm out, but it is a tad too small and tight when you're trying to do it in - 40 C temperatures. That being said, the Rapala Sherpa pop Up Portable shelter is a super well built hut and a great investment for anyone who enjoys ice fishing.
|Manufacturer ||Rapala |
|Model ||Sherpa M2 |
|Type ||Pop-up Portable Ice Hut |
|Dimensions ||76" x 76" |
|Weight ||18 lb |
|MSRP ||$229.99 |