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IR - ICEBOX Igloo Tool - Andy H

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  • a_henrichs
    Hello, Here is my IR for the ICEBOX Igloo too. As a bonus, it s been snowing a lot recently! The html version can be found at http://tinyurl.com/6avhda
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 4, 2008
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      Here is my IR for the ICEBOX Igloo too. As a bonus, it's been snowing a
      lot recently! The html version can be found at
      http://tinyurl.com/6avhda <http://tinyurl.com/6avhda> . Thanks for the


      HTML clipboard
      Grand Shelters ICEBOX Igloo Tool

      Test Series by Andy Henrichs

      December 4, 2008

      Initial Report - 12-4-08 <#Initial%20Report>

      Biographical Information

      Name: Andy Henrichs
      Age: 27
      Gender: Male
      Height: 6' 2" (1.88 m)
      Weight: 185 lb (83.9 kg)

      Email address: a_henrichs@...
      City, State, Country: Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA

      Backpacking Background

      Most of my backpacking has been in the mountains of Colorado and the
      deserts in the southwestern US. I've gone winter camping several
      times, but I still prefer backpacking in the warmer months. Most of my
      trips are 2-3 days, but I have taken several trips of 5-6 days. In the
      summer of 2004, I was fortunate enough to have thru-hiked the 476 mile
      Colorado Trail over 35 days. Recently, I have been leaning towards the
      lightweight side of the spectrum.

      [ICEBOX packed up]

      The ICEBOX Igloo Tool packed up

      Initial Report

      Product Information

      Manufacturer: Grand Shelters (www.grandshelters.com)

      Year of Manufacture: 2008

      Manufacturers Stated Weight (7 foot igloo): 4 lb 12.8 oz (2.18 kg)

      Manufacturers Stated Weight (8 or 10 foot igloo): 4 lb 14 oz (2.22 kg)

      Manufacturers Stated Weight (9 or 11 foot igloo): 4 lb 14.7 oz (2.23 kg)

      Testers Measured Weight (7 foot igloo): 4 lb 12 oz (2.15 kg)

      Testers Measured Weight (8 or 10 foot igloo): 4 lb 12.5 oz (2.17 kg)

      Testers Measured Weight (9 or 11 foot igloo): 4 lb 13 oz 2.18 g)

      Packed Size: 24.5 in by 3.5 in by 14 in (62.2 cm by 8.9 cm by 35.6 cm)

      Block Width: 8 in (20.3 cm)

      Block Length (outer edge): 23 in (58.4 cm)

      Block Length (inner edge): 20 in (50.8 cm)

      Block Height: 14 in (35.6 cm)

      MSRP: $179.95 US

      Product Description

      [ICEBOX pieces stored in sides]

      The ICEBOX Igloo Tool pieces stored for transport

      The Grand Shelters ICEBOX Igloo Tool is a plastic form that allows the
      user to construct an igloo. The tool can be adjusted to build igloos
      with diameters of 7 ft (2.13 m), 8 ft (2.44 m), 9 ft (2.74 m), 10 ft
      (3.05 m), or 11 ft (3.35 m). These igloos sleep 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5
      people, respectively. The tool allows the user to build an igloo with
      walls that follow a catenary curve. According to the Grand Shelters
      website, the catenary curve is the arc used in the flying buttresses
      found on cathedrals throughout Europe. This curve allows the snow to
      support its own weight and significantly reduces the chance of
      collapse. The ICEBOX Igloo Tool appears fairly complex initially. It
      comes with 14 parts, 4 straps and buckles, a 23 page instruction
      manual, and instructional DVD. The parts include an outer panel, and
      inner panel, a U Bar, an end panel, 2 stakes (one for shallow snow, one
      for deep snow), a small diameter pole, 4 large diameter poles, a toggle
      handle, a toggle link, and a socket pole. I will briefly summarize the
      basic assembly here. Those seeking more detailed information should
      download the instruction manual from the Grand Shelters website.

      After unpacking the ICEBOX, the form itself is constructed by snapping
      the end panel onto both the outer and inner panel. The U Bar is then
      slid into the appropriate slots. The pole assembly is slightly more
      complicated. Different poles will be needed depending on the size
      igloo the user will be building. This is the reason for the slight
      difference in the weight of the ICEBOX tool between igloo sizes.
      Regardless of the size igloo being built, a stake, socket pole, toggle
      handle, toggle link, and small diameter pole are mandatory. In
      addition to these mandatory parts, two additional poles are required.
      If building a 7 ft (2.13 m) igloo, the poles labeled "IGLOO SIZE 10 ft"
      and "7' IGLOO" are used. If building a 8 ft (2.44 m) or 10 ft (3.05 m)
      igloo, the poles labeled "IGLOO SIZE 10 ft" and "IGLOO SIZE 8 or 9 ft"
      are used. If building a 9 ft (2.74 m) or 11 ft (3.35 m) igloo, the
      poles labeled "IGLOO SIZE 8 or 9 ft" and "IGLOO SIZE 11 ft" are used.
      Each length of pole (except for the small diameter pole) has several
      other labeled holes. These labeled holes are used to adjust the pole
      to its required length, which varies depending on which row of the
      igloo is being constructed. The instruction manual can clarify this
      much better than I can. After the poles are assembled, one end is
      snapped into the socket pole, which in turn is snapped into the
      appropriate stake. The other end of the pole is inserted into the
      toggle handle. The handle is then lifted away from the pole and the
      toggle link is snapped into the appropriate holes.

      [ICEBOX poles]
      [ICEBOX pieces]
      The ICEBOX Igloo Tool poles
      The ICEBOX Igloo Tool pieces

      According to the manufacturer, the ICEBOX igloo tool can be used to make
      an igloo in any type or consistency of snow. This tool is designed to
      be used with 2 or more people. One person serves as the shoveler and
      shovels snow into the form. The other person is the form handler.
      This person lightly packs the snow into the form and moves the form
      forward once a block is complete. With the tool completely assembled,
      a platform must first be packed down. For maximum durability, the
      manufacturers recommend packing the platform with boots only. This is
      significantly more work but supposedly results in an extremely strong
      foundation. In most cases, this platform will be packed while wearing
      skis or snowshoes. Once the ski or snowshoe-packed platform begins to
      harden, it can be packed further with boots. The platform should be
      solid enough that the form handler can move about the platform in boots
      without sinking in or disturbing the platform. The platform should be
      of a larger diameter than the igloo being built. This will provide a
      solid outer ledge that the shoveler can walk on during construction.
      Once the platform is packed, the stake should be inserted into the snow
      in the center of the platform. The first 3 blocks of the first row of
      the igloo form a ramp. The form should be filled 1/3 full against the
      end panel for the first block, 2/3 full for the second block, and to
      the top of the end panel for the third block. For all blocks of the
      first row, it's important to make sure that the form is aligned to the
      ground correctly. The end panel has 2 plumb lines. One is marked "8,
      9 FT" and the other is marked "7, 10, 11 FT." Aligning the form
      correctly ensures that the proper catenary curve is kept throughout the
      igloo. After the first row is complete, it is no longer necessary to
      heed these plumb lines. The form is simply aligned with the previous
      row. After a block is completed, the form handler raises the U Bar,
      lifts the toggle handle and gently slides the form out of the way.
      Once clear of the completed block, the U Bar is dropped back into place
      and the toggle handle is snapped back down.

      [ICEBOX form]
      [form connected to the tool]
      The ICEBOX Igloo Tool form assembled
      The ICEBOX Igloo Tool form connected to the pole

      Once the igloo reaches a certain height, depending on the size being
      built, the U Bar and outer panel can be removed. This makes it easier
      for the shoveler to pour snow into the form. For the last block, the
      end panel is removed and the form handler positions the pole straight
      up so the inner panel is parallel to the ground. Snow is then gently
      poured onto the form and gently packed. The manufacturer stresses that
      the form should be removed as soon as the final block is in place. If
      it is not removed, settling snow can bend the pole.

      [ICEBOX poles assembled]

      The ICEBOX Igloo Tool poles assembled

      The interior of the igloo is accessed by building a door. Ideally, the
      top of the door is at or below floor level. This helps to keep the
      igloo warmer by trapping in heat. The manufacturer recommends building
      a door slightly wider than shoulder width and tall enough so that one
      can walk through it when stooped over. They also recommend building a
      trough measuring 18 in (45.7 cm) deep part of the way across the igloo.
      This creates a more comfortable seating area for occupants and also
      allows most people to stand inside the igloo. One question that
      appears to have been asked repeatedly of the manufacturer concerns
      ventilation. The manufacturer recommends creating a 1 in (2.5 cm)
      diameter ventilation hole in the ceiling and states that carbon
      monoxide levels are well within the allowable standard as determined by
      the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), even while
      using a candle and stove inside the igloo.

      For those interested in more details regarding assembly of the Grand
      Shelters ICEBOX Igloo Tool, I strongly recommend downloading the
      instruction manual from the Grand Shelters website. It's a great
      resource and covers the topic in much more detail than I've been able
      to provide here. In addition to assembly, it also provides great
      detail on snow gathering, igloo construction, and ventilation concerns.
      It also contains information on how one can construct a solo igloo.

      Initial Impressions

      I was fairly overwhelmed when I first opened the ICEBOX. There are a
      lot of pieces and while I could intuit how some of them would assemble
      upon first glance, the instruction manual is vital. I had spent a fair
      amount of time perusing the instruction manual online before the ICEBOX
      arrived, so I had some idea of what was to be expected. It was with
      great relief that I discovered that the instructions (particularly
      relating to pole assembly and adjustment) made much more sense once I
      actually had the ICEBOX in my hands. Still, I had to read sections of
      the instructions 2 or 3 times before I felt like I completely
      understood them. I was also relieved to discover that not all of the
      pieces are required for every igloo. I will get to leave the shallow
      snow stake and 2 large-diameter poles at home on every trip. After
      assembling and disassembling the ICEBOX several times, I feel quite
      confident in my ability to assemble it correctly in the field. Still, I
      plan on bringing the instruction manual along on my first couple of uses
      to ensure that nothing goes wrong.

      I watched the instructional DVD last night and was pleased to find that
      it clarified construction even more than the instruction manual. While
      the manual is well written, some of the nuances are difficult to put
      on paper. It was quite beneficial to see the ICEBOX in action. The
      instructional DVD is available for free download on the Grand Shelters
      website, but my computer would only download the audio for some reason.
      The plumb lines and plumb line labels I mentioned previously are simply
      raised plastic. As the plastic is yellow, it can be difficult to see
      them clearly. According to the instructional DVD, the manufacturer has
      highlighted their plumb lines and labels with a black marker. I will
      probably do the same, as any misalignment of the first row results in
      an unstable igloo.

      The yellow straps on the ICEBOX serve to secure the two halves together
      during transport and also serve as a way to attach the tool to a pack.
      I typically pack heavier items close to my back for stability, so I'm
      not thrilled with the idea of having it strapped on the outside of my
      pack while skiing. I'm anxious to see if this bothers me at all.
      Another concern I have is that of noise. One of my favorite things
      about traveling in the backcountry in winter is the silence. With all
      those parts stowed inside the ICEBOX, they seem to rattle a fair amount
      when it's moved. I'm wondering if I'll have to wrap any of the poles
      in cloth to keep them quiet.

      One extremely useful feature found on the Grand Shelters website is the
      Forum. Most of the entries in the forum are from the inventor of the
      ICEBOX. He uses them to clarify certain aspects of igloo construction
      and also adds some useful tips. Again, I've found that the information
      found on the Forum page makes much more sense when I actually have the
      ICEBOX tool in front of me. In addition to the entries by the
      inventor, several other individuals have added their thoughts,
      experiences, and questions to the board. As I begin to actually
      construct igloos, I believe I will refer to the Forum page fairly

      This concludes my Initial Report. I will append this report with my
      Field Report in approximately two months.

      Thank you to Grand Shelters and BackpackGearTest.org for giving me the
      opportunity to test this tool.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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