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Grand Shelters Icebox Igloo Building Tool REVIEW
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Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Grand Shelters Icebox Igloo Building Tool REVIEW on 11/29/2006 06:25:35 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Grand Shelters Icebox Igloo Building Tool REVIEW

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Grand Shelters Icebox Igloo Building Tool REVIEW on 11/29/2006 06:52:34 MST Print View

Hi Will and Janet-

Nice article! I've often wondered if those things worked in the real world.

A few questions:

1) On average, how long does it take to build an Igloo?

2) What's the diameter of the finished shelter?

3) How many people will it fit?



Patrick Dotterweich
(pdotterw) - F

Locale: Northern California
Grand Shelters on 11/29/2006 07:59:50 MST Print View

Very Cool (no pun intended) - great review. I want to echo same questions - especially length of time for 2 adults to constuct shelter.

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Half an igloo? on 12/01/2006 10:12:25 MST Print View

I wonder how well this machine would build half an igloo, no dome, with an UL tarp strung a foot above the top of the "snow fort"? A bit like the cook tents often used on Denali. This would breathe better than an igloo, with less weight looming above. I'm thinking of buying the machine, going out on a route I usually do more than once a season, and pre-building a hut system of one or more of these forts, to allow snow camping with only a tarp.

Will Rietveld
(WilliWabbit) - MLife

Locale: Southwest Colorado
Igloo Building on 12/01/2006 13:04:26 MST Print View

Hi everyone,
Janet and I will be coming out with an article in January on "Igloo Building for Fun and Shelter" that article will answer all your questions. Sorry to keep you in suspense, but BPL's policy is not to release any of the content until the article is published.

The idea of building a half-height igloo sounds intriguing. It would certainly be easier to build, and be better vented, but not as warm as a regular igloo. Also, it would not support very much snow.

Happy holidays!! Will

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: Grand Shelters Icebox Igloo Building Tool REVIEW on 12/01/2006 16:18:31 MST Print View

I've a couple of thoughts about this product. I haven't used this product myself, and only made igloos a couple of times (which I suspect is more often than many people here on this list).

One thought is that the "classic" igloo construction procedure I learned worked like so:

(1) Pack a bunch of snow down.
(2) Wait and let it set up.
(3) Cut blocks.
(4) Assemble the igloo from the blocks.

With this tool, it looks like you pack and set one block at a time. Do you need to wait to let each block set up? This might be a big problem depending on the snow conditions. To me, igloos really shine in those cold, dry snow conditions. Those are also the times when you need the most wait time to get the snow properly set up.

It really does seem like a two-person device. Without one of these gadgets it is easier to put three or four people to work building the igloo.

Honestly, for the weight I've got to wonder if this product has an acceptable utility-to-weight ration. It is pretty cool. It also would be very useful for learning how to build an igloo.

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Igloo on 12/01/2006 17:53:02 MST Print View

Re Will's: "Also, it would not support very much snow." Very true for a flat tarp. On Denali they use pyramid tarps for better snow shedding. However, they don't really trust them, since they sleep in VE-25s and MH geodesic dome tents. The only time I tried to build an igloo, I ended up with a single course of blooks in a circle 15 feet in diameter, a veritable football stadium.

Will Rietveld
(WilliWabbit) - MLife

Locale: Southwest Colorado
Icebox Igloo Building Tool on 12/02/2006 06:16:19 MST Print View

The Icebox is indeed a 2-person operation, one person inside the igloo to handle the slip-form and one person outside to shovel snow. Extra people can help to collect snow or swap in. But, you are right, it mainly occupies 2 people, while a conventional igloo can utilize several people.

One important difference is that blocks are made in place from loose snow, so you don't have to pack an area of snow, let it set up, cut blocks, carry them to the igloo, and shape them to fit. Its like casting concrete to build a structue.

One alternative I would like to try sometime is to build a log lean-to in the late fall and cover it with a tarp. The snow would cover it, and viola - you get a snow shelter. You would have to peek in the first time you use it to make sure a bear hasn't taken residence!

A good construction method would be to tie a ridgepole between 2 trees, and lay side purlins against that, keeping the ridge as smooth as possible so the tarp can be laid over it without puncturing. And of course, you need to go back in the spring and take it down and pack out your tarp so you don't leave a mess.

Food for thought. I think the lean-to + tarp would be a lot easier than digging a snow cave or building an igloo, but would be a lot less aesthetic. Digging a snow cave or building an igloo by the conventional method is also a very wet process.

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Log lean-to on 12/02/2006 08:43:49 MST Print View

If you did without the tarp, and made the lean-to very stealthy and hidden away, perhaps you could build a permanent private hut system. I often channel the spirit of "Lucy," the Australopithicus afarensis from Hadar, Ethiopia, and her suggestion is to cover the lean-to with brush and dead branches, making it look like a natural wind-blown brush pile.

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
lean-to on 12/05/2006 14:57:16 MST Print View

The thing about a lean-to is that it's not a catenary structure, so it would have a limited ability to bear snow load. Also, if you don't pack the snow it offers no strength -- only weight on your tarp.

In BC we walk on 10-20 feet of snow by the end of winter; you would have to dig down a long way to find your lean-to! Also when you don't build your structure "above" ground level, you create a cold air well effect so that the coldest air sinks down to where you're sleeping.

The Ice Box seems like it could be used to build a hut system as well... it would take a few weekends but eventually you could have enough huts for a 4+ night out-and-back or loop trail; now that sounds like fun! Just bring a GPS so you can set your hut back into the trees a bit and still find it again. :)

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Icebox Igloo Building Tool on 12/10/2006 14:24:21 MST Print View

It's nice to see a review of this tool. Having looked at this product on the company Web site a few years ago I found it to be at least a nifty tool that would allow for the building of nearly perfectly engineered structures.

In response to the slightly off topic notion of building log lean-tos that fill in with snow. I built something of this nature at my local ski resort a few years ago that filled in with snow nicely and was relatively warm in the winters.Back Door to Evan's Heaven Shack, The Big Mountain, Whitefish, MT

Edited by sharalds on 12/10/2006 14:28:11 MST.

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Re: Igloos and lean-tos on 12/10/2006 16:40:19 MST Print View

Re: "In BC we walk on 10-20 feet of snow by the end of winter; you would have to dig down a long way to find your lean-to!" For areas of the world that get a super amount of snow, you could take a dozen chain-saw handlers with saws, and build a watch tower 12' wide, by 12' deep, and 30' high. When the snow is 10' deep, use the exterior door that leads into the 2nd floor, when it is 20' deep use the door to the 3ed floor. When the snow is really deep, dig down to the trap door on the roof. Then rent it out to owners of a meth lab to defray expenses. (Get all rent in advance.)

Kevin Denlinger
(ktdenlinger) - F

Locale: Great Lakes Region
Grand Shelters Icebox Igloo Building Tool on 01/05/2007 18:44:16 MST Print View

My hiking buddy and I have been using (or at least attempting to use) this tool for at least 5 years. Only once, we have completed and ingloo in the field. We do this annually ( not including at home). Generally, it is a nice concept, but this bulky and clumsy item is no longer on our packing list for winter trips. We have spent several quality hours on numerous occasions slaving to build an igloo ( good guy time ), but we generally give up about 2/3 of the way. Finally, he has aggreed not to bring it on this years trip.

James Pitts
(jjpitts) - F

Locale: Midwest US
re: Grand Shelters Icebox Igloo Building Tool on 01/05/2007 18:58:48 MST Print View

I have one of these... let me tell you. If you want to be the A-#1 most popular dad on the block wait for a big snowstorm and then go build an igloo in the backyard of all kids in the neighborhood. This year no snow = no igloos. That said, I enjoy the heck out of this thing. I can't make blocks from "sugar snow", probably a lack of patience on my part, but we don't get a lot of that good stuff here in the midwest. My advice, try one out before you sink the cash but it can be a LOT of fun.

Michael McMillan
build one early in the year, then use it the rest of the year on 06/10/2012 13:33:52 MDT Print View

I looked these up on youtube. The general consensus is that it takes 4 hours for a pair of in shape adults to build a small igloo, and 8 hours for a pair of adults (don't know if they were in shape) to build a large igloo.

Because of the shape, it is quite strong. It is not a hemisphere, it is taller, and quite strong.

One of the reviewers on youtube Said that they go out every year in the fall once there was enough snow down, and spend all day building one at each of their favorite snow camping sites, then use them the rest of the year.

It will make igloos of a diameters of 7, 8, or 11 feet.

Edited by mikegrok on 06/10/2012 13:35:52 MDT.