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  #1  
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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Old 11-12-2023, 03:57 PM
AlbertanGP AlbertanGP is offline
 
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6. Interior Color

No points to score here as all three hubs compared came with a similar gray interior color. I personally prefer gray to black, but others may prefer black. Eskimo introduced a Special Edition Outbreak 450XD Blackout for 2023/24. This hub includes not only a solid black interior fabric, but also zippered window covers to completely blackout the inside if you’re into sight fishing or spearfishing where legal. I suspect it may take a bit of work to find one around here though.

The Clam X-400 here is the Ice Team model. This model has unique exterior graphics, Aurora lighting inside, and the gray interior. You can get a normal X-400 at The Fishin’ Hole. It will have a more plain exterior, no Aurora lighting, and most importantly (for better or worse) a black interior.

Otters only come with the gray interior.
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Old 11-12-2023, 04:08 PM
AlbertanGP AlbertanGP is offline
 
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7. Hub Tie Downs
  • Clam X-400 - 7 points
  • Eskimo Outbreak 450XD - 9 points
  • Otter Vortex Pro Lodge - 10 points

Tie downs are the straps that run from the ice anchors you screw into the ice up to the eyebolt on the hub in the middle of each wall. These are what keep the hub walls from collapsing in on a windy day. Each panel on every hub has an eyebolt and a pouch below it to hold the tie downs (except for the wall on the Clam X-400 with the door), so there are four potential anchor points on each hub. Both Otters provide a tiedown for each wall…four in total. Clam also provides a tiedown for each wall with a hub…three in total. The biggest problem with the Clam X-400 is the inability to stabilize the wall with the door effectively due to the lack of a hub. With the Eskimo hubs, only two tie downs are provided. While you’re less likely to overnight in these than the larger hubs, the wind can still change through the day and there should really be a minimum of three ties downs for the walls contacting the wind. And if you do three you might as well do it right and provide one for every hub like everyone else.

I was going to dock the Eskimo a single point for being too cheap to include two extra tie downs. But then I remembered they cheekily sell their Deluxe Tie Down Kit for $40, so I took another half point off. And it will likely affect them in the price category as well.

I hit the Clam fairly hard here because as someone who ice camps fairly regularly I think not being able to properly secure the wall with the door in it is a severe issue with this hub.
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Old 11-12-2023, 04:13 PM
AlbertanGP AlbertanGP is offline
 
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8. Skirt and Skirt Tie Downs
  • Clam X-400 - 8 points
  • Eskimo Outbreak 450XD - 9 points
  • Otter Vortex Pro Lodge - 10 points

In my opinion, only Otter gets it right in this category. All the hubs have a skirt around the bottom that allows you to bank snow and prevent drafts. With the Clam X-400 it’s 10”, with the Eskimo Outbreak 450XD it’s 8”, and with the Otter Vortex Pro Lodge and Cabin its 12”. The 8” provided by the Eskimo is too little IMO… you must be careful banking snow around the Eskimo so that you don't get it under the skirt. Eskimo and Otter place grommets in their skirts to allow further anchoring of the shelter to compliment the tie downs. Eskimo places their grommets in the middle of the skirt. You might have to dig a bit to find the anchor to get it out when you're leaving. Otter has their exclusive Ice-Lock Anchor System and the grommet is separate from the skirt to help keep the skirt "stretched out".

Here’s where Clam tries to get cute again, and I’m not sure I agree with their reasoning. They have no grommets in their skirt at all, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why not. Instead, they have something similar to Otter’s Ice-Lock anchors inside the tent to hold the tent down to the ice. I know what their logic is…they won’t get buried in snow/frozen outside. Will their system work? Meh. Here’s the problem. There are two of these anchors on each side wall, one in the middle of the wall with the door, and nothing on the back wall that you absolutely must face into the wind with this tent. The four on the side walls will help hold the tent down to the ice but will do a relatively poor job of preventing snow or wind from getting under the back wall faced into the wind unless you have a lot of snow to bank your hub. The one in the middle of the front wall with the door is just a sad attempt at a band-aid when some sort of external fixation is required. If you plan to run an X-400 hub, I would strongly recommend placing grommets in the skirt on the front and back walls at a minimum. I called Clam and talked to them and that’s the way they designed it. The pictures below in order are the Otter, the Eskimo, and finally the last three are the Clam.











I gave the Eskimo a half point deduction for having an 8" skirt to the Otter's 12", and put Otter another half point ahead for their Ice Lock Anchor System. It works well.

I think the 10" skirt on the Clam is fine. But it needs grommets in the skirt, and loses a full point for that. It also loses another full point for not being able to secure the tent at the bottom along the side you *must* point into the wind. I was going to take another half point off for not having an Ice Lock Anchor System like Otter, but they sort of do. Once you add grommets to the skirt of the X-400, you should be able to secure it to the ice even better than the Outbreak 450XD.

Last edited by AlbertanGP; 11-12-2023 at 04:23 PM.
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Old 11-12-2023, 04:29 PM
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9. Ice Anchors
  • Clam X-400 - 9 points
  • Eskimo Outbreak 450XD - 9 points
  • Otter Vortex Pro Lodge - 10 points

Chaulk up another win for Otter when it comes to ice anchors. They give you enough to secure everything down and they are beefy. The other two can only make one of those claims. The picture below is an Eskimo and an Otter anchor flanking one of Clam’s.



On the one hand I kinda like that the Clam units are smaller and stow in their own little pouch on the outside of the carry bag. You’re not always fishing around the bag looking for the anchors or having them fall out of the bag and spilling all over the ice. On the other hand, I’m 100% confident they will get bent at some point. And while they give you enough for the hub as delivered, you're going to need to buy more once you put grommets in the skirt.

Eskimo, on the other hand, cheaps out and gives you beefy anchors like Otter, but only six when you need nine…or at least you would need nine if they gave you the proper number of hub tie downs as well…
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Old 11-12-2023, 04:31 PM
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10. Vents

There’s not much to say about the vents. All the manufacturers give you two, even Otter in the smaller Cabin. The ones in the X-400 are substantially larger than the others. Perhaps because Clam refuses to put removable windows in their hubs for some reason...
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Old 11-12-2023, 05:06 PM
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11. Windows
  • Clam X-400 - 8.5 points
  • Eskimo Outbreak 450XD - 10 points
  • Otter Vortex Pro Lodge - 7.5 points

Easy come easy go for Otter. Just like with the double hubs I compared last year, Eskimo trumps Otter decisively with the number and placement of windows on their hubs. Clam is also superior to Otter, although Eskimo has them beat as well.

The hub forms an “X” on every wall of the Eskimo and Otter hub shelter. Eskimo places a window on the left and right side of every “X”. Not only does that give them the most windows, but they also place them at 42” high. That means you can be sitting down and actually see out of them. This is *THE* shelter in the group for tip up fishing, as it allows you to see out in all directions (when they aren’t frosted up). Eskimo even gives you window cover retaining Velcro on the inner walls to hold the covers against the side of the tent when the windows are “open”.



Clam comes in second with five windows, including a wide one on the Max Entry door to give a good view on the door-side 180* of the shelter. They also place all of their windows at 43” high so you can see out of them while sitting. And they use more Velcro to make sure there isn’t a lot of light leakage when the covers are on.

For some reason though, Clam has refused to make their TPU windows removable over the years. Realistically, I don't think I've ever taken them out on the ice, as it gets really cold really quick even on a relatively nice day in March. But I do sometimes crack them open for ventilation or to peak out checking tip ups when they are frosted up. In not being able to take them out, there is also the issue of not being able to replace them if they crack or go cloudy over time.



Bringing up the rear in a distant third place is Otter. They have only four windows set up in pairs in opposite corners of the shelter, leaving a lot of real estate outside unviewable. To make things worse, one window of each “pair” is 51” off the ice. This means it can provide light into the shelter but won’t be useful to see anything outside without standing up. They should just shamelessly copy Eskimo and fix one of the glaring problems with their hubs.

There are two other problems with Otter's windows I have come across recently. Last year when i bought my Otter Vortex Pro Monster Lodge, the TPU windows were all cloudy. After spending hours and hours polishing them clear, they became cloudy again the first trip out. Sure Otter replaced all 13 for free, but what a pain and waste of my time. The second problem applies to pretty much every Otter I have...they cannot seem to match the velcro on the hub wall to the velcro on the window or window cover. Every Otter hub I have has at least a couple of windows that I cannot get to window to seal great with the wall or the window cover to seal out light properly because the window cover has to be kinked somehow to get it to stay attached to the velcro on the wall. This is typical Otter build quality in recent years and something that will come up again later.



I think windows are quite important in a hub. Some types of fishing require you to be able to see outside, and light just makes the shelter feel less claustrophobic and gloomy. So much the better if you're also able to seal out the light when you want/need to.

With that in mind, I took half a point off the Clam for having only slightly less windows and light than the Eskimo. But I also took a full point off for not being removable, as they become useless for fishing when frosted up (most of the time up here) and incur unnecessary expense to have replaced down the road.

I deducted a point from Otter for having the fewest windows and another full point for their poor placement. I also took another half point off as the windows are where their poor quality control typically manifests.
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Old 11-12-2023, 05:27 PM
AlbertanGP AlbertanGP is offline
 
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12. Gear Nets
  • Clam X-400 - 9.5 points
  • Eskimo Outbreak 450XD - 10 points
  • Otter Vortex Pro Lodge - 8 points

The photos below show the X-400, the Outbreak 450 XD, and the Vortex Pro Lodge in order.







I'm going to give the top score to the Eskimo in this category. It holds a jacket fairly easily and it holds it out of the way thanks in part to the larger bow in its side walls. Its the lowest of the three and higher is generally better for drying things out, but I'm not focused on overnighting in these smaller tents.

I deducted only a half a point from the Clam. It's the smallest of the three, but it's in the roof perimeter and out of the way. The mesh on it is tight and well supported against the roof so it doesn't get in the way like Otter's. It's a bit of a job to get a Striker jacket in there, but that's what hooks are for. For smaller items like gloves and hats, it's perfect.

I'm taking a point off the Otter for their design conflict and another point for how it actually works. The design conflict comes from putting the gear net in the tent with the shortest maximum roof height in...you guessed it...the roof. Right off the bat, this is a bad idea that takes away from what is already limited headroom for me at 6'0". But wait it gets better, the nets are very loose and sag badly with even small items in them. Put a Striker jacket in one (especially a wet one after a day of fishing) and the Otter's Gear nets will sag the better part of a foot. I've also had the roof on my Resort collapse ice camping with a Striker suit in each gear net. It's really just a poor design with even poorer execution.
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Old 11-12-2023, 05:34 PM
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13. Mesh Pockets
  • Clam X-400 - 10 points
  • Eskimo Outbreak 450XD - 9 points
  • Otter Vortex Pro Lodge - 9 points

I’m going to give this category to Clam for a couple of reasons. First, they have three pockets to the other manufacturers’ two. More importantly, their pockets have Velcro closures to keep them closed. I don’t use these pockets for much normally when I’m out on the ice unless I tuck a small 10A Dakota Lithium in one to power my lights. But I run Otter Pro Universal LED light kits in all my hubs and I like to store the cables in the pockets when I put the tent away. For those who don’t know, when you fold a hub up, those pockets suddenly become upside down and everything in the Otter pockets falls out…sometimes right away if you're lucky, other times later on to be unknowing lost while packing up in the dark. Eskimos do the same. Being able to reliably store small items in those pockets and know they will still be there the next time I open the tent has a lot of value for me personally.

I don’t have a preference between the Otters and the Eskimos. I’ll give the nod to Otter for including rod holders which are useless when used as such, but can be useful to hold pliers or other small objects. The Otter is also bigger and pleated to hold more. The pictures below are the pockets on the X-400, the Outreach 450XD, and the Vortex Pro Lodge in order.





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Old 11-12-2023, 05:35 PM
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Still more to come...
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Old 11-12-2023, 08:56 PM
AlbertanGP AlbertanGP is offline
 
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15. Storage Bags
  • Clam X-400 - 10 points
  • Eskimo Outbreak 450XD - 8 points
  • Otter Vortex Pro Lodge - 9.5 points

Clam and Otter use a top-loading bag to hold their tents. Think of them like a duffel bag that unzips across the top and down one side. Eskimo uses what is called a cinch end-load bag. Think of it like a tubular dry bag open on one end to accept the tent and then it closes with a drawstring.

The top-loading bags used by Otter and Clam are hugely easier to use than Eskimo's offering. I've had this conversation with many Eskimo fans over the years and my response is the same as Aaron Wiebe's would be. Get over it. I can load an Otter by myself in at least half the time it will take you to get your Eskimo in the bag, if you even can. Many, many Eskimo hubs have been taken off the ice at the end of the day loose in a sled because they simply wouldn't go in the bag.

Clam gets full marks for having a zippered pouch on the outside of their bag to hold their ice anchors. Otter is right behind and Eskimo is a ways back because its super annoying to fight with a half frozen hub shelter in the dark at -30*C after a long day on the ice. Many Eskimo users get a different bag for their shelters. Just like Clam and their non-removable windows, Eskimo refuses to change their bags for some reason.
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Old 11-12-2023, 09:05 PM
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16. Setting Up & Taking Down
  • Clam X-400 - 8 points
  • Eskimo Outbreak 450XD - 9 points
  • Otter Vortex Pro Lodge - 9 points

One of the things I hated most going from the old hubs with two D-doors to the new walkout doors was how frail the shelters felt when packing and unpacking them. Because they aren't attached at all four corners, they always feel to me like something is going to break. At first I thought the Clam would fix this, as it remains attached all around the bottom. But once I realized one wall had no hub all bets were off. The X-400 is the most frail, delicate hub shelter I have ever used. It doesn't want to go up without a fight because it constantly wants to collapse onto the unsupported wall with the door that gets set up last. Having an 8' unsupported wall is harder to manage by yourself than a little 30" door. And despite the Clam's fantastic build quality, it still makes me question it's durability.

Nobody gets full marks here because they are all inferior to the old hubs without walkout doors. But the Clam loses an additional point for the extra nuisance in setting it up and taking it down. As soon as you pull those three vertical poles in the front wall to stow them, it's on to see who is the boss. I can't imagine the fun in the dark on windy lake...
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Old 11-12-2023, 09:18 PM
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17. Price
  • Clam X-400 - 9 points
  • Eskimo Outbreak 450XD - 8 points
  • Otter Vortex Pro Lodge - 10 points

In USD MSRP, these tents are all fairly close in price, ranging from $519 for the Otter up to $579 for the Clam. But the spread in Western Canada is considerably larger, due largely to availability. The Otter Vortex Pro Lodge was $649 at Cabela's while the Eskimo Outbreak 450XD was $779 also at Cabela's. The Clam X-400 Ice Team was considerably harder to come by and I paid $839 from Pokey's Tackle in Regina. Unlike the Clam, you'll almost certainly see the Otter and Eskimo on sale throughout the season.

One thing to keep in mind with the Eskimo are those tie downs and ice anchors mentioned earlier. To have all that you need, you'll need to buy Eskimo's Deluxe Tie Down Kit and Ice Anchor 2-Pack. Figure another $60 or so for that, bringing the effective price of the Eskimo up to the $839 of the Clam. Of course the Clam still needs grommets and more ice anchors itself. But this Ice Team Edition comes with Clam's Aurora Lighting system. I haven't set them up yet, but a comparable number of Otter Pro Universal LED lights (you'll need two sets) will run you over $200. Remember the Otter is $650 and goes on sale. Also remember the old saying you get what you pay for.

Last edited by AlbertanGP; 11-12-2023 at 09:31 PM.
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Old 11-13-2023, 09:11 AM
AlbertanGP AlbertanGP is offline
 
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Conclusion - Clam X-400 vs Eskimo Outbreak 450XD vs Otter Vortex Pro Lodge



Just adding up the raw scores gives the proper outcome in my opinion. To be honest though, you should weight each of these categories according to your own personal priorities to get a more accurate reflection for your planned usage.

I think for most people the Eskimo Outbreak 450XD is going to be the clear winner. Choke down the price and buy it with additional tie downs and ice anchors and your biggest issues will be a slightly smaller though still functional door and some inconvenience putting it away at the end of the day. Find a top loading bag for it on Amazon (look for Christmas tree storage bags) and it's almost faultless. You'll get a hub with excellent build quality that will reward you with an excellent view outside and a bright interior inside.

I agree with the final score putting the Clam X-400 ahead of the Otter. If Clam had just copied the design of the other two and opened up a corner to add their door, they might have wound up with the winner. When I do a quick scroll through the scores and envision the X-400 with that configuration I come up with a score of 124 points....well ahead of the other two. Their build quality is outstanding, they give you all the tie downs and ice anchors you need, set up and take down would be a relative breeze, and you'd even have a free set of lights with the Ice Team model. As it is though, the X-400 is a bit of an enigma. That poorly-supported wall with the door could be a complete deal breaker on the ice. Set up and take down is a bit of a fight for one person, the durability of the parts for the support rods is questionable, and I really worry about the whole experience on the ice with this hub. This is likely the hub I'll keep for the season out of morbid curiosity to try it on the ice. But I can't in good conscience recommended it to a weekend warrior looking for something reliable to take the kids out in.

Finally we have the Otter Vortex Pro Lodge in last place. One category...build quality...and it's all over for this shelter compared to the Outbreak 450XD. Add in the poor window quantity and placement and it can't even beat the X-400 with one flimsy wall. Honestly I'm done with Otter. It's sad to see where they were and where they are now. They have some innovative features (think the propane hose pass-thru or their Ice Lock Anchor System). But they just don't seem to give a $%^& how its all put together and seem to be happy to deal with problems in warranty at the customer's inconvenience.




I'll do the Otter Vortex Pro Lodge vs. Otter Vortex Pro Cabin comparison later and have a mod insert it below this post. Post away if you want.

Last edited by AlbertanGP; 11-13-2023 at 09:23 AM.
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Old 11-13-2023, 11:04 AM
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JohninAB JohninAB is offline
 
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Thank you for the excellent detailed review of these ice fishing tents.

I checked out an Otter hub last winter at Cabelas and was surprised at the poor quality of the build. The reviews on the Cabelas webpage were accurate and reinforced by your review.

The prevalent pinholes (for lack of better terminology), in the wall fabric of a Clam hub, that let the light shine thru has always turned me off. Sure it is not an issue but just makes me question durability.

Eskimo, been a faithful user since the ice fishing bug bit me in 2014. Never had an issue with them but do concur a redesigned, larger bag be nice. Eskimo is upping their accessory game as well which is one area where Otter and Clam leave them in the dust.

Interesting to note, Clayton Schick is now an Eskimo pro-staffer. Says he will address the change in a video later this year. I assume discounts/equipment perks the reason.
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Old 11-13-2023, 04:31 PM
AlbertanGP AlbertanGP is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohninAB View Post
The prevalent pinholes (for lack of better terminology), in the wall fabric of a Clam hub, that let the light shine thru has always turned me off. Sure it is not an issue but just makes me question durability.
It's interesting you bring this up, as I contemplated doing a separate category for the fabrics. Through-seaming, or what is often referred to as pinholes, are an artifact from the old manufacturing process whereby stitches were passed from the interior completely through to the exterior of the fabric. Then when the tent was set up and stretched out, there would be tiny pinholes of space next to the thread. It definitely affected heat retention in older shelters, not to mention the annoying light penetration when trying to sight fish. Fortunately I don't think anyone uses that method of stitching anymore.

Several manufacturers spot weld the layers of their fabric together, and this is what you see in the current generation of Clams as well as in the IQ Fabric of some Eskimo products. Although it may allow for slightly higher heat transfer, I personally suspect it's negligible as there is no continuous airspace connecting the interior and exterior of the tent. What it does definitely allow for though is greater light penetration at the spot welds which I think looks worse for potential heat loss than it really is. But I totally understand why someone would balk at the fabric when Eskimo's StormShield and Otter's ThermalTec aren't spot welded and don't have this appearance. Myself, as I said in last year's comparison of the double hubs, I prefer the look of the spot-welded fabrics. I think they look sharp. If you showed the tents I compared here to someone not familiar with our sport at all, I suspect many would say the X-400 looks the most premium...not only is the hexagonal pattern of the spot welding premium-looking, but their fabric colors are also very vibrant.

While I had the tents set up in the dark, I held my Rigid light cannon about a foot from each tent and took a picture. Below are the photos of the X-400, the Outbreak 450XD and the Vortex Pro Lodge in order.







I have to point out that the Otter in the last photo is a real anomaly. When I took the picture I couldn't see any light at all. It looked like the Otter was blocking out the light completely. So I was surprised to review the photo and see what is pictured. Also note the yard light on my shop was shining into the X-400 in the top photo. The light cannon was not penetrating enough to light the inside up that much.

And one final note on this subject. Clam uses 900 denier (higher is better) fabric with 90g of insulation per square meter. Otter and Eskimo both use 600 denier fabric (Otter uses 900 denier on their bag to make it more durable). Eskimo for sure uses 80g of insulation per square meter in their StormShield fabric. And I'm quite sure, although I couldn't confirm it online, that Otter also uses 80g of insulation per square meter in their ThermalTec fabric.
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Old 11-13-2023, 04:36 PM
AlbertanGP AlbertanGP is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohninAB View Post
Interesting to note, Clayton Schick is now an Eskimo pro-staffer. Says he will address the change in a video later this year. I assume discounts/equipment perks the reason.
I heard him mention in his first ice video recently that he had received a bunch of suits from Eskimo, and I was scratching my head. He seems like a nice enough guy, but I don't trust the motives of any social media influencers...they're called influencers for a reason. And Eskimo has been hitting the marketing hard the past few seasons. Still, if he was to come out and say Otter's quality control is lacking and he can't support this company because of it he would sure earn a lot of credibility in my books.
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Old 11-13-2023, 09:45 PM
Hunter Trav Hunter Trav is offline
 
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Another well done review, much appreciated!

I always wondered what the newer Clam product quality was like but when no one really carries it around here its hard to justify buying it sight unseen online somewhere based on name recognition alone...
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Old 11-14-2023, 08:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlbertanGP View Post
I heard him mention in his first ice video recently that he had received a bunch of suits from Eskimo, and I was scratching my head. He seems like a nice enough guy, but I don't trust the motives of any social media influencers...they're called influencers for a reason. And Eskimo has been hitting the marketing hard the past few seasons. Still, if he was to come out and say Otter's quality control is lacking and he can't support this company because of it he would sure earn a lot of credibility in my books.
Great thread, as discussed I like the Eskimo 450 just but wish it had larger skirting on the bottom like 12 inches or more plus a oversized hockey type bag to put the tent in, zip up and then 3 Velcro straps on the outside to cinch up.
I would also like to see more anchors and straps included too....would pay more but save me time hunting down parts that to me are a must have.

Sometimes I wonder if the developers of these products actually spend 3-4 days a week out ice fishing in all types of weather?

More sound decisions would be made through these outdoors experiences verses sitting in a room sipping a coffee....
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Old 11-14-2023, 10:24 AM
AlbertanGP AlbertanGP is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 58thecat View Post
Great thread, as discussed I like the Eskimo 450 just but wish it had larger skirting on the bottom like 12 inches or more plus a oversized hockey type bag to put the tent in, zip up and then 3 Velcro straps on the outside to cinch up.
I would also like to see more anchors and straps included too....would pay more but save me time hunting down parts that to me are a must have.
Do yourself a favor and buy a pack or two of Otter's Cinch Straps. This is the strap their hubs come with (only one). Having two or three is a game changer for compressing the hub and making it easier to put in the bag. The only problem is they can be a bit hard to find and are notorious for being forgotten on the ice at the end of the day.

Quote:
Sometimes I wonder if the developers of these products actually spend 3-4 days a week out ice fishing in all types of weather?

More sound decisions would be made through these outdoors experiences verses sitting in a room sipping a coffee....
I suspect a lot of management at these companies doesn't actually ice fish. My question is what kind of value are they getting from their Pro Staff? These are the people who are supposed to be making the recommendations to R&D.
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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, 04:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlbertanGP View Post
Do yourself a favor and buy a pack or two of Otter's Cinch Straps. This is the strap their hubs come with (only one). Having two or three is a game changer for compressing the hub and making it easier to put in the bag. The only problem is they can be a bit hard to find and are notorious for being forgotten on the ice at the end of the day.



I suspect a lot of management at these companies doesn't actually ice fish. My question is what kind of value are they getting from their Pro Staff? These are the people who are supposed to be making the recommendations to R&D.

So true, hard to find a person in amongst the so called influencers who doesn’t see dollar signs when a company takes them on to some degree.

I tend to be from the school of one size, make, model doesn’t fit all so really shop around and take all you can gather into consideration because it’s an investment not only in an activity outdoors but possibly in saving your life.

Great thread.


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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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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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