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Old 11-12-2023, 12:14 PM
AlbertanGP AlbertanGP is offline
 
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Default Clam X-400 vs Eskimo Outbreak 450XD vs Otter Vortex Pro Lodge vs Otter Vortex Pro Cabin

Last year I did a comparison of Otter and Eskimo double hubs. it seemed to be well received here and also wound up being at the top of any organic Google search for a comparison of the hubs involved. It helped me decide which hub to go with for a large overnighting tent. And I put that tent to good use last season.

This season I got the itch to get a new single hub with the release of the new Clam X-series hubs with the new Max Entry door. So I sold my Vortex Lodge to a nice fellow on this forum, tracked down one of only two X-400 Ice Team hubs brought into Western Canada this season (Pokey's has/had the other one), and picked up the comparable Eskimo and Otter product from Cabela's to compare them. I also set up my Otter Vortex Pro Cabin which I use for running and gunning in my Ranger when I want a hub instead of a flip. I'll compare the Lodge and the Cabin...which is primarily a size comparison...directly later on in the thread. So if you're here for that, scroll down until you find it.

I have a lot of information to include over several posts here. I might not even get it done until tomorrow as I am still running outside to double check the hubs set up on my driveway, and my son has talked about coming out to go ice fishing this afternoon. If you can hold off on any posts until I indicate that I've done my part, it would be greatly appreciated. You'll have plenty of chance to tell me how your tent is the greatest and I don't have a clue what I'm talking about. Until then...Cheers.



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Old 11-12-2023, 12:17 PM
AlbertanGP AlbertanGP is offline
 
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Old 11-12-2023, 12:34 PM
AlbertanGP AlbertanGP is offline
 
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1. Set-Up Size & 2. Fishable Area
  • Clam X-400 - 9 points
  • Eskimo Outbreak 450XD - 10 points
  • Otter Vortex Pro Lodge - 10 points

The Clam retains the conventional square shape with walls that are slightly larger than the other two. The Eskimo and the Otter simply insert the door into one corner to effectively give them five sides. The last photo is the Otter Vortex Pro Lodge.







I think there is some marketing going on here with Eskimo and Otter. I’m too lazy to calculate the fishable areas of pentagons. But if the 450XD and the Vortex Pro Lodge are both 91’X91” with a door inserted, and the Otter has a substantially larger door, then the Eskimo can’t possibly have a larger fishable area. With the Vortex Pro Cabin, 72”X72” is 36 sq.ft. of fishable area. I can’t see adding a door giving you 33% more room. But again I’m too lazy to do the math…

In the real world standing in all three, the Clam doesn't feel any smaller than the other two. They are all incredibly spacious for one person...bordering on too much unless you have a lot of gear or plan to overnight in it. Still, the Eskimo and the Otter should be slightly larger by virtue of inserting their doors, so I gave them a slightly higher score than the otter. This is one area though where intended use could flip those scores around, as I'll discuss when comparing the Lodge and Cabin later.
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Old 11-12-2023, 12:37 PM
AlbertanGP AlbertanGP is offline
 
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3. Weight
  • Clam X-400 - 9.5 points
  • Eskimo Outbreak 450XD - 10 points
  • Otter Vortex Pro Lodge - 10 points

The advertised weights also didn’t seem to match what I felt lugging these hubs around to compare them. I'm going to come back later and weigh all of them if I remember to. For now, I have scored them on their advertised weights. But it was actually the Clam that felt the lightest of the three. They are all very similar regardless.

Last edited by AlbertanGP; 11-12-2023 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 11-12-2023, 12:52 PM
AlbertanGP AlbertanGP is offline
 
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4. Wall Height & Maximum Height
  • Clam X-400 - 10 points
  • Eskimo Outbreak 450XD - 9 points
  • Otter Vortex Pro Lodge - 8.5 points

The Clam is noticeably taller than the other hubs, both at the wall and in the center. The walls in the Clam are also noticeably more upright, giving it more usable space inside. The Vortex Pro Cabin’s walls are similarly upright. But the Vortex Pro Lodge and particularly the Outbreak 450XD have walls that bulge out more and lean in more at the top. In basic terms, the square footage of the roof is less than the square footage on the ice. So it makes sense you have to stay near the center of them to stand up fully. The pictures below show, in order, the X-400, Outbreak 450XDE, Vortex Pro Lodge, and Vortex Pro Cabin.









Pickling one to compare against, there are pros and cons to the shape of the Clam. The two main benefits are that it feels less claustrophobic, and you can move around easier. I’m 6’0” and I can stand upright everywhere in the X-400 without my head rubbing on the roof, even up against the walls. In the 450XD and the Vortex Pro Lodge, I can only stand fully in about a one-foot radius around the center roof hub. And I know from experience last season that if I want to stand and stretch in the Vortex Pro Cabin, I have to stand dead center under the roof hub to do it.

The main disadvantage of the taller roof is it’s more space to heat. But then maybe you’re wasting as much heat on the bulge-outs in the walls…something to consider. A taller roof should also add some weight to the hub, but that doesn’t really seem to bear out.

One thing to keep in mind with the Eskimo is that that leaning wall works well with their gear nets, helping to keep things out of the way by tucking them into the bulge in the wall. The Lodge has the lowest roof and they put their gear nets in the roof as well, so I am going to score them slightly below Eskimo for this section.

Last edited by Twisted Canuck; 11-13-2023 at 09:32 AM.
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Old 11-12-2023, 03:51 PM
AlbertanGP AlbertanGP is offline
 
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5. Door Size
  • Clam X-400 - 10 points
  • Eskimo Outbreak 450XD - 8 points
  • Otter Vortex Pro Lodge - 8.5 points

We all owe Eskimo a debt of gratitude for bringing the No Trip Door to market a few seasons back. Anyone who has spent any time tip up fishing in cold weather has doubtless done a bender trying to rush out a hub through a D-door.

In adding a separate panel to their hubs to install a door, Otter and Eskimo wind up with a tapered door which is much narrower at the top than it is at the bottom. The numbers they list for width are always at the widest point along the ice. But they are typically six inches narrower up top, leaving just 24” for the Eskimo and 29” for the Otters. This is why I mentioned in last year’s review of double hubs that I still had to duck and rotate my shoulders to get out of Eskimo’s door, making the Otter door feel much more like a proper door with its extra width. Eskimo uses two vertical poles to support their door which are the same 11mm poles as the rest of the hub and should prove quite durable. Otter adds a third pole across the top of the door and makes them orange so they are easier to locate in the bag. Otter’s are quite thin though and I heard the fiberglass creaking just setting the hubs up for this comparison. The bungee in one of the Lodge's poles is also getting ready to let go and it's brand new. In both cases, the poles are kept loose in the bag. Many people don’t bother putting the poles in to reinforce the doors if they are moving regularly. The pockets for the poles on the Otter Vortex Pro Lodge in this test were so tight that I almost had to go get a screwdriver to open the pocket so the pole would go in. But they were better the second time I set it up after sitting assembled for a few hours.





Clam has finally arrived to the party this season with their hub shelters. They’ve introduced their Max Entry door system, and they’ve taken a different path from the other two in fitting a door in their hubs. Where Eskimo and Otter open one corner of the hub to insert the door in a separate panel, Clam chose to put theirs right into one of the four walls. This was done to yield some significant benefits over the other two, as well as some very significant drawbacks.



The biggest advantage of the door is that it’s huge…much, much bigger than the doors in the other hubs compared. It also doesn’t taper at the top where it remains almost twice as wide as the door in the Outbreak 450XD. If the door is the be all to end all on your must have list, look no further than the X-400. Someone could walk out of the hub while someone else is walking in with this door.

But alas, it does come at a price. The panel that has the door has no hub in it. Instead, it has three permanently attached vertical rods that drop down to the floor and insert into pockets like Eskimo’s and Otter’s door reinforcements. Only these rods aren’t reinforcing a small door…they’re responsible for the integrity of the entire eight-foot wall. There’s no tie down on the wall either because there is no hub. So, if you have the misfortune of the wind changing to blow on the wall with the door after you’ve set it up, you’ll at best have to listen to wall flapping in the wind all day and at worst fight not to have it blow in. Without any grommets in the snow skirt and only one internally along this wall, you couldn’t pay me to overnight in this tent as delivered.





One nice feature with Clam’s poles compared to the other two though is that they are permanently attached to the shelter, velcroing out of the way for storage so you don’t have to worry about fishing for them in the bottom of the bag or losing them. And you will need these poles installed all the time. It won’t be an option like the door support poles for Eskimo and Otter...the wall will simply flop down without the poles installed. The attachment of the poles to the hub does seem underbuilt and prone to failure to me, given that we’ll open and close these things in -40*C up here. But that’s probably just a good opportunity to mention that Clam has a 3 year warranty where Eskimo and Otter both have a single year.





One last note on the D-doors on these tents. Clam and Otter have a door that comes to point and closed by zipping an upper and lower zipper towards the hub in the middle of the wall. The Eskimo has a radiused D-door that can be closed with a single pull of a zipper around the door, or by bringing the top and bottom zipper together anywhere along its length. It sounds like Eskimo has a winner here. Unfortunately, the fabric tends to easily become too tight on the Eskimo making it harder to close. This can happen on the other two as well but is much more of a problem with Eskimo’s design. The pictures below are the X-400, Outbreak 450XD, and Vortex Pro Lodge.







This is a hard category to score. On the one hand, the Clam has the best door by a country mile. On the other hand, the door may have irreparably harmed the integrity to the entire hub. In the end I decided to just score the doors on their merits as actual doors...the Clam's design will cost it points in several other categories.

Last edited by AlbertanGP; 11-12-2023 at 03:58 PM.
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  #7  
Old 11-14-2023, 11:55 AM
ragweed ragweed is offline
 
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I use basic bungee cords for this. Works great and I’m not too heart broken when I lose them.


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Old 11-14-2023, 05:03 PM
AlbertanGP AlbertanGP is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ragweed View Post
I use basic bungee cords for this. Works great and I’m not too heart broken when I lose them.


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Bungees work reasonably well...I've used them in a pinch on the ice. Those Otter straps really let you crank down on a frozen tent, which can make all the difference trying to get it back in it's bag at the end of the day.
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Old 11-14-2023, 10:27 PM
Curtsyneil Curtsyneil is offline
 
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Nothing is worse at the end of the day and trying to get these insulated hubs back in the bag in -20 weather.
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Old 11-15-2023, 06:58 PM
Sitkaspruce Sitkaspruce is offline
 
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Default Carry bag

Great post and comparison GP! Thanks for posting this up

I bought the Eskimo 450 XD Limited this spring from LOTW.

Even in the summer, it has been a bit of a fun struggle to get the hub back in the bag. My BIL works in a mine and gets me these hose cinch straps for many different things and they are are awesome for cinching the hub down.....but still not the easiest thing to get back in the bag. Reminds of putting frozen, snow covered ground blinds back in the bag.

So I have been looking around and found these at Cabelas.

https://www.cabelas.ca/product/15860...hoC4JQQAvD_BwE

Or grab an Otter bag instead....

https://www.otteroutdoors.com/product/carrying-bag-2/

Cheers

SS
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  #11  
Old 11-16-2023, 07:10 AM
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58thecat 58thecat is online now
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sitkaspruce View Post
Great post and comparison GP! Thanks for posting this up

I bought the Eskimo 450 XD Limited this spring from LOTW.

Even in the summer, it has been a bit of a fun struggle to get the hub back in the bag. My BIL works in a mine and gets me these hose cinch straps for many different things and they are are awesome for cinching the hub down.....but still not the easiest thing to get back in the bag. Reminds of putting frozen, snow covered ground blinds back in the bag.

So I have been looking around and found these at Cabelas.

https://www.cabelas.ca/product/15860...hoC4JQQAvD_BwE

Or grab an Otter bag instead....

https://www.otteroutdoors.com/product/carrying-bag-2/

Cheers

SS


Thx for this, will make my struggles easier
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  #12  
Old 11-16-2023, 08:05 AM
AlbertanGP AlbertanGP is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: North of Redmonton
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sitkaspruce View Post
Great post and comparison GP! Thanks for posting this up

I bought the Eskimo 450 XD Limited this spring from LOTW.

Even in the summer, it has been a bit of a fun struggle to get the hub back in the bag. My BIL works in a mine and gets me these hose cinch straps for many different things and they are are awesome for cinching the hub down.....but still not the easiest thing to get back in the bag. Reminds of putting frozen, snow covered ground blinds back in the bag.

So I have been looking around and found these at Cabelas.

https://www.cabelas.ca/product/15860...hoC4JQQAvD_BwE

Or grab an Otter bag instead....

https://www.otteroutdoors.com/product/carrying-bag-2/

Cheers

SS
Get the Otter bag. It zips open across the entire top and also down one side. Once you have the hubs in at one end you can just stand it up and zip it shut. It works well.
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