When choosing between a hub or flip-over ice fishing shelter, there are some important things to think about. I have both types of shelters, and they serve different purposes. Now, let’s figure out which one might be best for you.
The flip-over shelter is great for 1-2 people and is easy to carry your fishing gear onto the ice. It’s also simple to keep warm, and you can move it around easily on the ice. On the other hand, the hub shelter is not as easy to move, but it’s better if you want to stay in one place. It can accommodate 4-6+ people, but it takes more effort to keep it warm.
Every season, many companies release high-quality ice fishing shelters, giving you plenty of options to choose from. Let’s quickly see which one suits you better:
- 1-2 Persons
- 3-5+ Persons
- Easy Heating
- Easy Setup/Takedown
- Hauling Your Gear
- Interior Space
- Should be Anchored
- Varied Setup
Now, we need to decide which style, flip-over or hub style, would be best for you. Let’s explore each style below.
“I think it’s great to have two kinds of portable ice fishing shelters. One is a flip-over for fishing alone, and the other is a thermal hub popup, which can accommodate a few friends and me. If I had to pick one, I would choose the flip-over first.”
What is a Shelter for Ice Fishing that Flips Over?
A flip-over shelter is a portable structure made of aluminum tubes that can be extended to hold up the tent material when in use and folded down for easy transportation. The tubing is attached to a plastic tub, often insulated with a durable fabric. Usually, there are one or two openings for getting inside the shelter.
Having owned many ice shelters in the past, my top choice is the one-person flip-over shelter when I go ice fishing.
You can place your fishing equipment and electronics in the tub and place the auger on top of the flip-over shelter, making it easy to pull by hand.
The flip-over shelter also attaches smoothly to my four-wheeler and sled, providing enough space to carry extra gear.
What Does “Hub Shelter for Ice Fishing” Mean?
A hub-style shelter is a type of tent made with a strong pole frame and covered with durable material. It’s easy to set up – you just lift the center hub and pull out the sides to make the tent tight. This kind of tent can accommodate up to 6 or more people and is often used for overnight fishing trips.
I don’t use the hub-style shelter very often, but it’s great for fishing! I usually use it when a few of my friends want to fish with me, or when one of them brings their kids along.
The hub-style popup tent is also useful as a “base camp.” I have the Jason Mitchell 5000 model, and we set it up for lunch breaks or to get out of bad weather. There’s plenty of space inside to cook too!
11 Things to Think About When Deciding Between a Flip-Over and a Hub-Style Ice Fishing Shelter
If you’re buying your first ice fishing tent, replacing an old one, or thinking of getting an extra tent to have more options, think about these things carefully:
For One to Two People – Flip-Over
If you usually fish alone or with one other person who has their own ice shelter, a one-person flip-over shelter should be enough for you.
I am a bit larger than average, measuring 6’1″ tall and weighing 240 lbs. So, I prefer having more space inside my flip-over shelter. The Legend XL Thermal fits me well, and it also has a large space to keep my fishing gear. It’s easy to pull by hand too!
If you have a regular fishing partner, you might enjoy using a two-seater flip-over shelter. They are heavier than the one-person ones but provide a fun fishing experience!
I am thinking about getting the Voyager X Thermal, a two-person shelter, which I can easily pull behind my four-wheeler or snowmobile when I go on out-of-state fishing trips.
Popup Tent for Three to Five or More People – Easy-to-Use Design
Fishing with friends is so much fun, and having a nice popup shelter makes it even better! It’s especially great when you’re catching lots of panfish or crappie.
I’ve had the Jason Mitchell 5000 Thermal (shown above) for more than six years, and it still looks brand new despite using it many times. We cook lots of delicious food, like bratwursts and eggs, inside the shelter!
Most popup shelters have many windows, which makes it easy to keep an eye on your fishing gear and equipment outside. Some models even have more than one door, so getting in and out is super convenient.
Simple Heating (Flip-Over)
Smaller areas heat up faster than larger spaces. You can easily heat a flip-over ice fishing shelter using a small Mr. Heater Buddy Jr.
If you want to know how to heat your ice fishing shack safely, check out my article on the topic.
In the past, ice shelters were made of thin fabric and had no insulation. Nowadays, portable ice shanties typically come with a nice layer of Thinsulate insulation.
Modern hubs and flips are much easier to heat compared to those from years ago! Deciding between an insulated or non-insulated ice fishing tent is now simpler.
Even the bigger two-person flip-over will warm up nicely with this setup, while a larger popup requires larger heaters and more propane to fuel.
Remember, the more items like heaters and propane you bring, the heavier and bulkier your load will be. So, choose whether to travel light or heavy based on your preference!
Simple Assembly and Folding (Flip-Over and Hub-Style)
Setting up the flip-style tent is the easiest and quickest option. It has a frame made of aluminum tubes that you lift up and over your head to close it quickly. Some tube frames may need to be extended and snapped into place while flipping the tent up.
For taking it down, you just drop the frame back into place, and you’re ready to move on to the next spot.
The hub-style tent, on the other hand, takes a bit longer to set up. You have to take it out of its carrying bag and open it up on the ice. Once it’s open, you raise the ceiling and pull out all the sides to snap them into place.
Taking down the hub-style tent is a little more involved. First, you drop down the ceiling, then push in the sides, roll it back up, and finally, stuff it into the carrying bag.
Throughout the day, when I’m using my JM 5000 tent, I fold it up, place it on my Jet Sled, and pull it to the next spot. The popup tent requires more effort to move, but it’s still relatively easy.
Carrying Your Stuff (Turnover)
When you travel and fish with less equipment, the flip-over shelter is the best option. You can put your fishing gear inside the shelter and place the auger on top of it. Then, you can easily pull the shelter wherever you want to go.
Usually, I don’t need to set up my Legend XL shelter fully. I mainly use it to carry my fishing gear and Vexilar flasher.
When using the JM 5000 popup shelter, it can be difficult to haul it by hand along with the rest of the equipment in my Jet Sled. However, if you have an ATV or sled, it’s much easier to pull the gear.
If the ice on the lakes is thick enough for vehicles, it doesn’t matter much. You can simply load all your equipment and shelters into the back of a pickup truck, and you’re ready to go!
Inside Room (Tent-Shaped)
If you need more space and want the best value, choose a nice popup shelter. It will give you plenty of room.
If you plan to use folding chairs, tables, and do some cooking inside your shelter, the hub-style shelter is the best choice.
The one and two-man flip-over shelters can feel cramped, especially if you are a larger person like me. Some one-man flip-over shelters like the Clam Legend XL have more room than others.
You can read my article about the biggest ice fishing tents and shelters. I’ve listed the popups and flip-overs from the largest to the smallest from the top three ice fishing companies.
Easily Moving (Flipping Over)
In ice fishing nowadays, it’s important to keep moving. Fish are always moving too, and the noise on the ice can scare them away from their usual spots.
To be successful at ice fishing, you need to be able to move easily. A flip-over tent is perfect for that. You can quickly flip it up or down, so you can start fishing or change to a new spot easily!
On the other hand, the popup tent takes more time to set up and pack away, which can slow you down on your fishing day.
Versatile Shelters (Hub-Style)
Do you want to use your ice fishing shelter for other purposes? Then, the hub-style popup is the right choice!
I have put my Jason Mitchell 5000 into the back of my pickup truck when going to the mountains and used it as a quick setup tent for sleeping.
If you already have a camping tent, a hub popup can be a great extra sleeping area for kids or a place to relax and stretch out.
You can fit a couple of beds, a few chairs, and a small folding table inside. There’s enough space for a few people to spend the night in the hub next to the trout stream!
How to Securely Attach (Hub-Style)
When you use your popup shelter, make sure to secure it properly with anchor straps; otherwise, it might be blown across the lake like a tumbleweed. I’ve witnessed this happening multiple times.
High-quality hub-style shelters usually come with straps to secure the tent to 3-4 ice anchor screws. In strong winds that keep changing direction, I’ve used six ice anchors to ensure my shelter stays secure.
If there’s a light breeze, you might be fine with just one or two anchors, placing them on the side where the wind is coming from. However, if the wind changes significantly, it’s best to anchor the tent from all sides.
You can use a strap anchor to secure a flip-over shelter, and I’ve only needed to do this a few times during extremely high winds. Without snow on the ice and while inside the flip-over, the wind has blown me away from my fishing spot!
When there’s a thin layer of snow on the ice, the snow acts like an anchor and keeps the flip-over shelter solidly in place, even during strong winds.
Different arrangements (Flip-Over)
A flip tent and a hub tent are different, and one advantage of the flip tent is that you can use it in three ways:
- You can set it up completely and sit inside, protected from the weather, with or without a heater.
- You can set it up partially and use it as a shield against the wind.
- You can leave it unset and sit on the cushioned seat while accessing your fishing gear.
Normally, when I go fishing, I prefer standing and moving around to different spots. If it’s windy but still nice outside, I use the flip tent as a windbreak.
Moving the flip tent to a different location is easy. You can just pull it with a rope without taking it down. It’s a convenient way to fish while staying sheltered from the wind.
On the other hand, a hub shelter can only be used when it’s fully set up. The flip tent provides more options that the hub tent doesn’t have.
Which Type of Tent Blocks Wind Better: Flip-Over or Hub-Style?
Both types of ice shelters can withstand wind and resist water. The larger hub shelters tend to catch more wind and can be blown across the ice.
Flip shelters are shorter in height, but some allow you to stand up if you’re not too tall. You might need to bend over a bit, but they are less affected by strong winds.
The weight of the flip-over shelter and the gear inside it helps keep it anchored. Placing it on some snow makes it hard for the wind to move it far away.
Is it okay to keep a portable ice fishing shelter outside overnight?
You can usually leave your portable ice fishing tent overnight in most states. It’s a good idea to put your name and contact number on the outside of the tent where people can easily see it. Some states may require you to have your name on the shelter. However, it’s not recommended to leave your fishing gear overnight.
I haven’t left my portable ice shelter or thermal flip shelter on the ice overnight yet, but I’ve seen other people do it!
Most of the time, if there are tents on the ice, there are fishermen inside them or nearby. One thing I would never do is leave my fishing gear and electronics on the ice!
Nowadays, portable ice fishing tents have good insulation and can withstand various weather conditions. People are increasingly using them for overnight camping, sleeping, and fishing on the ice.
Having a good insulated tent when it’s cold or bad weather will definitely make your day much better than not having one at all.
When buying a portable shelter, it’s better to spend more money upfront on a high-quality one. These shelters can range from a couple of hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars, especially the large ones with various options and accessories.
If you have the budget, try to add an extra hundred dollars to get a slightly better tent. You’ll appreciate it, especially on extremely cold and windy days.
Both popups and flip-overs are great options for tents, and I own both styles in different models. Choose the style that suits your needs the best.