Which ice fishing shelter is best?
When the weather turns frigid and the wind begins to howl, it’s time for lake freeze-up and ice fishing. This pastime is made much more pleasurable when you can fish in comfort. The best ice fishing shelter keeps the winds at bay and keeps you comfortable when waiting for that telltale tug on the line.
If you’re looking for a sturdy shelter that sets up in seconds and provides excellent protection, the Eskimo QuickFish Pop-Up Portable Ice Fishing Shelter is the best choice.
What to know before you buy an ice fishing shelter
Ice fishing shelter design
Ice fishing shelters come in three types: windbreak, pop-up and flip-over.
- Windbreak: Windbreak shelters are designed for one-person fishing. They are not fully enclosed — three sides surround an attached bench. These can keep the wind off you when fishing, but they are not warm.
- Pop-up: Pop-ups consist of a fabric skin stretched over a rigid structure of poles. These are quick to set up and come in insulated and uninsulated versions. Ranging in size from two- to eight-person shelters, these provide good cover and comfort.
- Flip-over: This type of ice fishing shelter sets up like a pop-up but opens like a windbreak. They’re sturdy but small and usually built for one or two people. These are also designed to be towed across the ice with a snowmobile.
Consider the size and the number of people you want to accommodate when choosing the best ice fishing shelter for you.
- Square footage: The floor area is important, especially if more than two people plan to fish together. Check the dimensions to get the best size for you. If you can’t picture the size, use string to measure it out in your backyard.
- Height: Choose a shelter that lets the tallest person in your fishing party stand straight up. Even if you sit for long periods, it’s nice to have the room to stand up to stretch.
- Weight: Flip-over shelters can be heavy because you tow them to your fishing spot, but others need to be carried or wheeled. Make sure the weight isn’t too much to carry.
Denier is a measure of a fabric’s durability but also of the ability to block the wind. Higher numbers are better but more expensive. A higher denier means a heavier shelter too.
What to look for in a quality ice fishing shelter
Because ice fishing shelters do not have a floor, a wide skirt is important. This extra fabric drapes across the ice where the walls meet it, so extra length means fewer drafts.
Look for ice fishing shelters with interior pockets. These keep important gear close at hand and are great for staying organized while you fish.
Waterproof and seam-sealed
The wind and cold aren’t the only elements you’ll contend with on the ice. Sudden snow squalls and sleet mean an ice fishing shelter that is waterproof and seam-sealed is crucial.
Insulated pop-up and flip-over shelters keep you warmer as you fish. Insulation is not strictly necessary but can make a big difference in your comfort.
Ice anchors attach to the skirt. These self-tapping attachments screw into the ice. Look for shelters with at least four, but six or more keep your shelter more secure.
How much you can expect to spend on an ice fishing shelter
The size of the shelter affects the price as does whether or not it’s insulated. Expect to spend $100-$500.
Ice fishing shelter FAQ
Do ice fishing shelters require specific care?
A. There are a few simple guidelines for caring for an ice fishing shelter:
- Make sure your shelter is completely dry before you store it.
- Whenever you are setting up, taking down or packing it away for the winter, take care to not rip or tear your shelter.
- Spot clean your shelter if needed using warm water and mild detergent.
- Do not dry your shelter in a dryer.
Can you use a heater in an ice shelter?
A. No. You don’t want anything to weaken the ice you are fishing on. Use hand warmers in gloves and boots if needed.
What’s the best ice fishing shelter to buy?
Top ice fishing shelter
Eskimo QuickFish Pop-Up Portable Ice Fishing Shelter
What you need to know: This sets up fast to get you fishing in no time.
What you’ll love: It sets up in 60 seconds. It is over 6 feet tall and has a footprint of 7.5 feet by 7.5 feet. The insulating material is 600D to prevent rips and keep you 35% warmer than uninsulated shelters. Interior mesh storage pockets keep essentials within reach. It’s available in two-, three- and six-person sizes.
What you should consider: Some users recommend using a drill to better secure the ice anchors.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Wayfair
Top ice fishing shelter for the money
Thunderbay Ice Cube Pop-Up Portable Ice Fishing Shelter
What you need to know: Six points of ice contact keep this shelter sturdy and secure as you fish.
What you’ll love: The 300D fabric blocks the wind, and the complete blackout coating blocks the light unless you open the adjustable hook and loop-fastened windows. The center height is 80 inches. It fits three people.
What you should consider: This tent is more affordable, but it is not insulated. Dress accordingly.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
Frabill Bro Series Hub Three-Person Ice Fishing Shelter
What you need to know: It’s small, sturdy and warm with more fishable space than some of the other options in this size range.
What you’ll love: The roof and walls are insulated for protection in the harshest conditions. The walls and roof are 600D insulated nylon, and the footprint is just under 45 square feet. It accommodates three anglers and has a roof height of 80 inches.
What you should consider: The zippers are challenging to close after the shelter is set up.
Where to buy: Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods and Amazon
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Suzannah Kolbeck writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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