When you think of ice fishing, what comes to mind?
A red-faced, furry hooded guy hunched over a hole holding a twig with a line disappearing into the chilly depths below, right?!
That might be what ice angling was like in yesteryear, but these days we have the luxury of portable sheds to keep us protected from the bitter elements.
So, if you want to be able to feel your face when you get back home, take a look at our review of the best ice fishing shelters in 2023.
You’ll never want the stuff to melt!
Table of Contents
- Ice Fishing Shelters At-a-Glance
- TOP 9 Best Ice Fishing Shelters for 2023
- Eskimo QuickFish Series Ice Fishing Shelter
- Clam Nanook XT Thermal Ice Fishing Shelter
- Thunderbay Ice Cube Portable Ice Shelter
- Otter Outdoors XT Pro X-Over Lodge Ice Shelter
- Pexmor Pop-Up Ice Fishing Shelter
- Frabill Hub Ice Fishing Shelter
- Eskimo Eskape 2800 Ice Fishing Shelter
- Nordic Legend Aurora Ice Fishing Shelter
- Bass Pro Shops Angler Hub Ice Shelter
- A Quick Guide to Ice Fishing Shelters
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Ice Fishing Shelters At-a-Glance
Before searching for and investing in your new home away from home on the ice, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some features and factors to look out for.
- Shelter size – perhaps the most important consideration, the larger the shelter, the more people/heaters/coolers/fish finders/tackle/equipment/beer you can fit in.
- Insulation – adequate protection is essential in sub-zero temperatures. Is your choice of shelter up to the task?
- Ventilation – staying warm is all very well and good – but can you breathe?!
- Weather/waterproofing – an ice fishing shelter needs to stand up to the elements.
- Portability – how easy is it to get to and from your favorite fishing spot? You’ll probably need a quality ice fishing sled to help you, if there isn’t one already built-in.
- Extra features – does the shelter come with any other features you would find useful? Seats, for example. Maybe a widescreen TV…?
- Cost – buy the best you can afford, in relation to how often you’re going to use it, and the type of conditions you’re using it in.
Are you ready for the reviews?
Of course you are!
Let’s dive right in.
TOP 9 Best Ice Fishing Shelters for 2023
A Quick Guide to Ice Fishing Shelters
If you haven’t used an ice fishing shelter before then it can be quite daunting.
But fear not!
I’m going to go through a few pointers that you may want to consider to help you make the best possible choice.
Big Enough or Too Close for Comfort? Consider the Size
What this boils down to is how many people are likely to be using it? This is important for a few reasons. If you pick a shelter that is too large it’s not going to be good.
Want to know why?
First, you’ll have a bigger area to heat. One of the primary functions you’ll want in the best ice fishing tent is that it keeps your warm, why make it harder?
Second, you are going to have to transport it alone. Around 40lbs is my limit, and then I’ll need someone to help. Remember that it’s not only the shelter you’ll be carrying, and you’ll likely be packing other equipment.
It’s a Wrap! Consider the Insulation
Insulation can be important, especially if you are fishing in really cold weather. The tent trapping air isn’t quite enough, especially in bigger shelters. Over time the ‘skin’ of the tent will chill. This in turn will cool the air inside. Insulation prevents this.
With one-man shelters, it isn’t so crucial as they tend to heat quite quickly. For a larger tent, the more insulation you can get the better – otherwise you are going to be cold.
If you are someone who feels the cold, but reluctant to splash out on an insulated ice fishing shelter, why not consider some toasty ice fishing gloves instead? If you check out my guide to the best ice fishing gloves here you can ensure that you’ll never have cold hands ever again.
A Breath of Fresh Air? Consider Ventilation
This is important for a few reasons. First, condensation can be a real nuisance. Your ice fishing shelter can end up wet even on a dry day if it isn’t properly ventilated.
Here is something that is really important…
If you are using a heater in your tent, specifically any that burns fuel, you MUST have ventilation. Carbon monoxide is nasty stuff. It is insidious and fatal.
By ensuring that fresh air can circulate you eliminate the possibility of being poisoned. Don’t take the chance. Either have good ventilation or don’t use a fuel burning heater.
The main function of your ice fishing shelter will be to keep you dry. Some shelters are more suited to challenging conditions than others.
When considering material look for shelters that boast a denser body fabric as they are generally the best at keeping out moisture, even during the heaviest deluge.
Ice fishing shouldn’t involve a 100-meter sprint. If it does you’ve done something wrong.
What do I mean?
If it’s a windy day and your shelter becomes detached, you are going to have to chase it down.
Or, you could just prevent this from happening by ensuring that it is pegged down from the get-go. What you really, really, need is a set of strong pegs and reinforced points on the shelter.
The thicker and the easier to screw in the better. Look for wide handles and self-tapping style ice screws to seal the deal.
How do you pick an ice shelter?
It’s a good question! There’s a lot to think about before you invest in a quality ice fishing shelter, that’s for sure!
You need to consider things like size (how many people can fish comfortably inside), materials and insulation, exterior protection, cost, and more.
To help you out, take a look at our full buyer’s guide above, which will arm you with all the information you need when it comes to choosing the right ice shelter for you.
What is the best ice fishing shelter?
Bearing in mind all that I have said above, when I look at an ice fishing shelter, the main thing I want is that it keeps me warm and dry.
Without those two qualities I am just hauling weight that I don’t need. I look at insulation and material. Once I’ve found a few I then look at secondary considerations like weight and extra features.
For the money and bearing these things in mind I really like the Eskimo Quick Flip shelter. It’s small enough to be easy to transport, I can fit a lot of extra gear in there and set-up is super-fast meaning I can spend more time fishing and less time ‘camping’. For me it is certainly the best flip over ice fishing shelter.
But, there’s a but…
I don’t always fish alone. If I have company, I find that I want a shelter offering room and warmth. In these instances, I prefer to bring out the Frabill Citadel ice fishing shelter. For the money, and the weight it really is the best insulated ice fishing shelter.
Are ice fishing tents waterproof?
You would like to think so. The problem tends to come during more challenging conditions. Snow has a tendency to melt.
While shelters are designed to protect against rain from above, some fare poorly if water is allowed to stand – particularly on seams.
The best way to guard against this is to pick a shelter that has a shape that allows snow and melted water to run off easily.
How do you insulate an ice fishing tent?
Look, I’m going to be honest with you. For the hassle it will cause you might be better just going for an insulated shelter to start with.
By adding layers to a tent, you are increasing the weight and maybe even reducing the waterproofing capabilities.
If you want your shelter to be warmer you could always consider an ice fishing heater.
How do you set up an ice fishing shelter?
Quickly and carefully!
No, joking aside there are a few golden rules that you should consider. Here’s my number one tip…
Don’t ask me how I learned the hard way…
In particular for pop-up ice fishing shelters… Ensure that you put your pegs in and the tent is secured before you allow it to pop-up.
This is especially true in strong winds. Once the shelter is up it occupies a massive surface area, which is easily taken by the wind. By securing it before you set it up, you can make sure that it doesn’t disappear into the distance.
In my product review I mentioned Eskimo Ice shelters. I really love shelters that are easy to set up, and the Eskimo is one of the best pop-up ice fishing shelters around. You can see how easy it is in this video.
What are ice fishing houses called?
There are actually many names for ice fishing houses, and the moniker you use will likely depend on where in the world you come from!
Names include ice shanty, ice shack, ice shelter, fish coop, ice hut, ice tent, and even “dark house.”
But they essentially all mean the same thing – a portable cabin/shed that protects keen ice anglers against the chills of a winter’s day (or night) on exposed frozen waters.
What is the warmest ice fishing tent?
That’s a difficult question to answer, as we would need to test every single shelter in order to know for sure!
Look for ice fishing shelters that have the best insulation – thick walls lined with materials that are designed for improved heat retention. Walls that look not too dissimilar to a quilt are a dead giveaway.
In this particular review, I would suggest the Eskimo Eskape 2800, the Clam Nanook XT, and the Nordic Legend Aurora all have a good chance at being the warmest ice fishing tent out there.
Do I need an ice fishing shelter?
That depends – do you regularly like to venture out onto a frozen lake or river and sit for hours on end with a fishing rod and line lowered into a hole cut into the ice?
If the answer is yes, then there’s a good chance you will seriously benefit from an ice fishing shelter!
Joking aside, ice fishing can be pretty dangerous if you’re not well protected and prepared, and a good shelter is going to help keep you safe from exposure.
Remember, even sitting out there for a few minutes in sub-zero temperatures can be lethal at worst, and extremely uncomfortable at best.
If you love ice fishing at the hole (rather than relying on tip-ups and hiding in a warm house), then an ice shelter is a highly recommended investment.
And anything that keeps us fishing for longer is fine by me!
By choosing the best ice fishing shelter you can ensure you have a fantastic day.
You’ll be warm, dry and feel like you have your own personal corner of the lake. As long as you choose wisely.
Hopefully, my guide has given you some food for thought. I try my best to give you the best information and ideas.