Rare is the small-boat enthusiast who has all the storage room needed for their boats and gear. Outside storage can be detrimental even with tarps or covers, particularly for wooden craft. When my daily routine of moving boats in and out of the workshop grew tiresome, I investigated fabric-covered “portable” garages as an auxiliary storage solution.

The ShelterLogic ShelterTube line is a step above the lightweight shelters sold in big-box stores. The framework is heavy-gauge 2″ × 2″ square steel tubing, powder-coated for corrosion resistance. I opted for the mid-grade heavy-duty shed, which has a 14.5-oz cover and roll-up zippered doors at both ends. This grade is not sold in retail stores and is only available directly from the manufacturer. Each unit is built to order, with a variety of sizes available up to 99′ long. For my space I chose a 12′ × 18′ shed with a 10′ height.

Photographs by the author

The assembled frame is made of 2″ × 2″ steel tubing and is considerably sturdier than designs with round-tubing. A flat and level surface is critical to a successful assembly.

Four weeks after I placed an order with ShelterLogic, my unit arrived by truck, neatly and efficiently packaged, with all the tube ends protected by plastic caps. As I unboxed it the quality of the components was impressive; this is a well-thought-out design. The standard of construction and the organization of the kit are excellent.

A solid and level foundation is recommended, and unless one already has a suitable location, the importance and time required to create one should not be underestimated. ShelterLogic recommends a concrete pad as the optimum base; however, that wasn’t an option for me and I instead used a base of crushed stone with carefully leveled solid concrete blocks under each of the 10 legs.

The IKEA-esque assembly instructions were almost entirely pictorial but proved comprehensive and easy to follow. Each connection is secured by eight self-tapping screws (hundreds are needed in total), so both a drill for pilot holes and a second drill or impact driver for the screws are a must. Several stages of the assembly, such as attaching the overhead beams and securing the cover, require one or more helpers. Otherwise, the assembly was straightforward with no surprises. Apart from tools, everything needed is provided, including ground anchors and a kit to roll up the doors with a pulley system. The manufacturer recommends a weekly check on the cover tension to snug it up as needed. I added LED shop lights to make the interior more functional at night or when the doors are closed.

Roll-up doors at both ends provide easy access to the interior. LED lighting (not included in kit) together with the white interior provides a functional workspace.

The real test would be how the shelter held up to extreme weather. Here in New England, I did not have to wait long for the shelter to be put to that test. Within the span of several weeks we had two winter storms with 50-mph wind gusts; sandwiched in between was a 15″ snowfall. The shelter has handled everything that a Massachusetts winter could subject it to without any issues.

The ShelterTube structure has met all my expectations, and I continue to be impressed by its strength and stability. I now have room for several canoes and a paddleboard stacked vertically on a rack, space for some storage shelves, and even a small workbench on the opposite side, and enough room left over to roll my 18′ Annapolis Wherry into the center before closing everything up.

Walter Gotham operates Chadwick Pond Boats, a small shop in Haverhill, Massachusetts, specializing in lapstrake plywood small craft.

The ShelterTube garage is available direct from ShelterLogic, 1–800–563–8383. Prices start at $1,599.99; the unit described was $2,399.99.

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