Old fashion ice angling without using a shelter may be a heroic act in the eyes of many anglers. However, not all ice anglers like to bundle up in many layers and face the biting wind and freezing temperature.
Ice fishing shelters protect you from the cold and provide a place for your gear and tackles. You won’t have to worry about catching fish as fast as possible to go home and get warm. And the best part is, they allow you to hang out with your fishing buddies in warm shelters, or take your kids to the previously forbidden fishing trips.
We compiled and reviewed the best ice fishing shelters currently on the market. Read on to meet your future ice hut.
Eskimo FF949I FatFish
|61 square feet||34 lbs.||80 in.|
Tangkula Pop-up Ice Shelter
|23.3 square feet||22 lbs.||66 in.||2-3 people|
THUNDERBAY Ice Cube
|34 square feet||21 lbs.||80 in.||3 people|
Eskimo FF6120I FatFish
|80 square feet||52 lbs.||76 in.||5-7 people|
|25 square feet||18 lbs.||67 in.||2 people|
Goplus Portable Ice Shelter
|56.25 square feet||22.4 lbs.||80 in.||3 people|
The 6 Best Ice Fishing Shelters in 2020
1. Eskimo FF949I FatFish – Best Overall
This model from Eskimo FatFish series is definitely a winner. It’s a pop-up ice hut that provides 61 square feet of fishing area, which is more than what you’d expect from a 3 to 4-man ice fishing shelter. Being 80 inches high, it allows you to stand up comfortably, not just crouch or sit.
There are two mesh pockets, two gear lofts, and plenty of elbow room for anglers to arrange their gear and drill more than one ice hole.
The unit weighs 34 pounds and fits well in an included oversized zippered backpack, so you can easily carry it along with your fishing arsenal. Although it’s a hub-style tent, it pops up and folds down quickly.
The IQ fabric piles two layers of 600-denier IceTight material with a layer of insulation in between. This insulation keeps the shelter super warm despite the freezing wind. It also helps cut down the costs of operating an additional heater, which in turn, offsets the extra cost for the insulated version.
For better illumination and configuration, the hut is outfitted with six large detachable windows and dual-side exit doors. You can easily remove the extra windows should you want to block the sunlight for better visibility of the water. In addition, it has air vents, which can be used on warm days with lots of sunlight.
Although Eskimo advertises all-metal hubs and durable fiberglass poles, we wish they were a little beefier. But since they aren’t, it’s better to handle them with care. Other than that, this model is perfect in every aspect.
- Roomy fishing area
- Fully insulated
- Six large removable windows
- Easy set-up
- Reflective trim for better visibility in low-light conditions
- Light for its size
- Bad customer service
- Doesn’t come with enough tie-down straps to anchor all sides
- Complaints about the sturdiness of the supporting poles and hubs
Eskimo FF949I is the best ice fishing shelter for anglers who care the most about the expanse of their fishing area. It’s big enough to comfortably accommodate 3 to 4 big adults with their fishing tools and personal belongings, yet, light enough to be carried on the back without hassle.
2. Tangkula Pop-up Ice Shelter – Best Value for the Price
Tangakula always rises to the expectations of ice anglers. Compared to other big-name brands, this pop-up ice shelter comes at a good price and offers the same high standards.
For starters, it’s built with 300D oxford fabric and solid glass rods, which explains its lightness and sturdiness at the same time. With a weight of 22 pounds, it’s super light, so it won’t exert you when it’s time to move the shelter.
The ceiling is 66 inches tall while the footprint of this ice shanty is 58 by 58 inches, totaling to 23.3 square feet of fishing space. It’s quite roomy for one angler and decent for two. However, it’ll feel cramped for three adults, which contradicts what the company claims. Also, unlike FF949I FatFish, there isn’t plenty of room for excess tackles and chairs.
The shack is ideal for young anglers who are starting their journey on the ice since it can be set up quickly and holds up well against the stormy wind. The black color is a plus since it takes advantage of the sun’s heat and warms the entire hut evenly. For better aeration, it features four detachable windows, which shower the room with sunlight when needed.
At a price point under $120, the tent is fairly good. Yet, there are things that could have been improved. The carry bag doesn’t live up to the tent in quality, and the door is a bit small. It’d be challenging to get in and out of the hut to get quick tip-ups about the weather.
Furthermore, since rain can leak in through the fabric and windows’ fasteners, it’s not nearly as waterproof as they make it sound. Thus, you’ll eventually be compelled to cover it with a waterproof spray.
- Awesome customer service
- Black color attracts heat from the sun
- Fairly spacious for two persons
- Easy set-up
- Extremely lightweight
- Not entirely waterproof
- Needs extra ice screws
- Carry bag straps are poorly attached
- Not enough room for three people
Overall, Tangakula is the best choice for novice ice anglers who want to take it easy and save up money for future upgrades. The hut is fairly spacious, super lightweight, and robust enough to withstand the harsh conditions on the ice.
3. THUNDERBAY Ice Cube – The Easiest to Set up
No angler wants to take an hour or so from his precious fishing time to set-up an ice shack. For this reason, Thunderbay wasted no effort making this pop-up shelter the easiest to set up and take down. The moment you get it out of the box, you’ll figure out how to build it without even glancing at the manual. And the wonders don’t stop here!
Ice Cube is constructed with a 300-D fabric, fiberglass poles, and durable aluminum hubs, which reduces its weight to 21 pounds and enhances its resistance against the wind. The tent is built to last for years of abuse, but never abuses your back while carrying it.
It’s not short on anchors like the FF949I Fatfish shelter. In fact, it comes with eight self-tapping anchors, which is more than what you’ll actually use. We find it nice to have an extra pair in case something goes wrong with the others.
With an area of 34 square feet and a height of 80 inches, the fishing area is huge. You can comfortably fit in with two of your fishing mates without feeling constrained. The height is also suitable for standing up without bumping your head against the roof.
The shack’s coating blacks out really well so you can have a better view of your fishing hole, and the windows are equipped with Velcro fasteners to prevent water leaks. However, its walls lack the thermal insulation needed to block out the cold.
We were surprised by how much the internal pockets can hold. One can stash his entire tackle box or bag tray without them tearing down. Also, the additional backpack comes in a very good condition with intact straps, unlike those of Tangkula.
- Super easy set-up
- Reasonably priced
- Eight ice anchors
- The blackout is on point
- Ample room for three anglers
- Tough backpack straps
- Not entirely waterproof
- Complaints about the windows being too high
Building up ice shelters may be cumbersome for many anglers, but not anymore. With Thunderbay Ice Cube, you can set up your hut in a couple of minutes, and enjoy the ample fishing area and extra gear storage pockets.
4. Eskimo FF6120I FatFish – The Broadest Ice Fishing Shelter
Eskimo states that this model has 23% more space than other units with the same capacity. Believe it or not, they speak the truth!
This pop-up ice shanty may not accommodate up to seven people as the company claims, but still has one of the biggest capacities out there. It’s designed as an 80-square-foot hexagonal room to fit you, and four or five of your fishing mates, all without bumping elbows. Also, setting up has never been easier.
The insulation in this shanty is no joke. It’s crafted from a double-layered IQ insulated fabric to guarantee minimum heat transfer rates. This shanty may be huge, but it won’t consume much fuel for heating because these walls don’t let the heat out.
For easy access, it features two doors that face each other from opposite sides. Moreover, it integrates ten removable hook-and-loop windows that can be replaced easily if they crack.
It’s a bit hefty on the price side, but deserves every penny. The incorporated mesh storage pockets are large to stash the essential gear and keep your precious gadgets away from the water and ice.
It’s worth mentioning that this tent repels the water effectively so that you won’t have to worry about fishing on rainy days. It also comes with self-tapping ice anchors that won’t bend under pressure.
Lastly, it stands 76 inches high and weighs 52 pounds, so unfortunately, you’ll need a sled to haul this out.
- Huge capacity
- Easy set-up
- Equipped with two doors and ten replaceable windows
- Fully insulated
- Ample fishing area
- Mesh storage pockets
- More on the hefty side
- Poorly constructed eyelets
- Flimsy door zippers
- The floor can collapse under heavy weights
Without a doubt, this is the best family-size ice fishing shelter out there. It’s definitely huge to lug out on the ice, and the full insulation keeps the shanty warm even without heaters. If you’re looking for a practical ice house with big capacity and sturdy build, then this is your best choice.
5. Eskimo Quickfish – Budget Choice
Owning a high-class ice house from a revolutionary brand like Eskimo without breaking the bank is quite the dream. The Quickfish series provides many models with various specifications. However, we’ll put our focus on Quickfish 2, as it incorporates groundbreaking features at a cost of less than $100.
First and foremost, the set-up size of this model is 25 square feet. It pops up in under a minute, and taking it down is just as easy. It comes with six anchors and ropes that can be fixed into the ice without drills.
Quickfish 2 integrates extra long skirts to keep the elements out. The 300-denier IceTight fabric used in its construction contains 59% higher thread count and is sewn well over the joints. This hub-style tent stands solid and won’t be shaken or blown away by the strongest wind.
Although it isn’t insulated, the walls retain the heat very well, so you won’t need to run the heater for so long.
It has ample room for two adults or an adult and two kids, including their gear. Given that the roof is only 67 inches high, taller adults may find it difficult to stand up straight or move around without bending.
To avoid condensation of gases, it’s equipped with four removable windows; each one has a shade to block out the light. It also includes a single door with sturdy YKK zippers that won’t fail like other cheap-quality ones.
The entire hut weighs 18 pounds, which is ridiculously light for an ice shelter. It can be packed easily in the included carrying case when it’s time to wrap up your trip. The case is outfitted with tough straps, so you can comfortably hang it on your shoulders.
- Accessible price
- Less than 60-second set-up
- One door, four windows, and two vents for superior ventilation
- High-quality carrying case
- Mesh pockets for ventilation
- Compact and lightweight
- No insulation
- Difficult to stand up inside
- Not entirely waterproof
- The quality of the hubs and supporting poles is questionable
Leave it to Eskimo to come up with the perfect balance between an economical price and top-class quality. Although lacking the insulation in higher-end products, Quickfish 2 offers quick set-up, roomy fishing area, and excellent portability.
6. Goplus Portable Ice Shelter – Best Temperature Rating
What makes Goplus stand out is that it’s got a frost-resistance rating of -30℉. It basically says I’ve got your back whatever the weather is!
It’s crafted out of tough and hermetical 300D oxford fabric with long flaps, which blocks the wind like no other. Say goodbye to the irritating shivers and useless numb hands that stand in the way of you enjoying your fishing time.
With an elbow room of 56.25 square feet, the shack is rated for three people. Yet, we can say it’s got enough space for two anglers with their fishing gear, and a couple of holes for each. Moreover, it stands 80 inches high, so you won’t face any problems standing up and stretching your legs even if you’re more than 6 feet tall.
What we like the most about this shelter is that it’s very well built and goes up and down easily. Weighing 22.4 pounds, you can simply transport it on your shoulders using the duffle bag that comes included. It’s worth mentioning that the bag is made of top-quality materials and uses two large armlets for ease of carrying.
On top of that, it includes four large dual-ply windows made of transparent PVC. They’re detachable, so you can either install them to completely seal the tent or remove them for better ventilation. Nevertheless, we regret to say that the PVC is reported to be of poor quality, and is easy to scratch.
- First-class oxford fabric
- Keeps the cold out efficiently
- Superior temperature rating
- High-quality carrying case
- Lightweight and portable
- Reasonable price
- Poor-quality windows
- A bit tight for three people
This is the type of shelter you can rely on completely. It withstands freezing conditions with minimal effect and provides you with a warm and cozy shelter to spread out your gear and dig fishing holes with company.
How to Pick an Ice Fishing Shelter
It’s a fact that ice shelters have become more affordable than when they were first known, but the price isn’t the only thing that has changed. Before you pull the trigger, check this guide to understand what you should look for in an ice shelter.
Before we dive into the details, it’s important to know that there are four types of ice fishing shelters. Here’s the difference between them:
This is the most common style. It’s widely preferred by anglers who like to hop from a hole to another because it’s the easiest to build and disassemble. The fact that it’s built on a sled base makes it easier to drag on the ice.
Aside from being the most portable type, it traps the heat and keeps you warm without the need for a heater. Nevertheless, compared to the others, it has the smallest storage room.
Hub or Pop-up Style
The hub style, also known as pop-up style, is the closest style to the traditional tent that we all know, with steeper and higher walls. It needs to be anchored to the ground, so it’s not meant to be disassembled after every trip. However, it’s the cheapest and most spacious type.
If you’re the type of a hunter who leaves nothing to chance and likes to be prepared with all kinds of tackles and gear, opt for these roomy huts. Just take care that it’s not so efficient in keeping in the heat like the flip-style, so you might end up buying a tent heater.
Cabin-style ice huts are similar to flip tents in shape, but they’re not as simple to take down. They’re the most durable; thus, they can stay intact in the face of harsh conditions. However, they’re not the best choice for ice anglers who move daily, so choose this type only if you go on long-range trips.
Windbreak ice shelters are made of thin and insulated walls that reduce their overall weight to a great extent. Hence, they’re even easier to be carried around than flip tents. Also, they’re comparable to ice hubs in price. If you prefer one-day fishing trips, you’ll make use of the portability of this type.
Size and Capacity
The size of the fishing shack depends on your gear’s size and the number of your company. Ice shelters run from a one-person shelter to as many as seven and eight. Solitary ice anglers who don’t carry a lot of gear should go for one-man shelters.
Anglers who like to carry many fishing rods and tackle boxes should opt for two-man ice huts. If you like to go fishing in groups or have family members who tag along, look for bigger ones like the six and seven-person shelters to make room for extra chairs and fishing holes.
It’s worth mentioning that you’re not going to sit on a chair or hunker down all day, so the shack’s height should be taken into consideration as well.
There is a lot to consider when choosing the material, so our best advice is to choose the thickest and strongest material. Typically, ice fishing shelters are made of nylon, polyester, or canvas. Any material should be fine in the case that it’s water-resistant and heat-insulating.
Always check the denier number of the material, which is an indication of its durability and thickness. The larger the number, the thicker and pricier the material. For example, a 600 denier tent will have better insulation than a 400 denier one. Yet, it’ll be heavier and more expensive.
Pro tip: opt for tents that use dark-colored materials, as they’ll absorb the sun’s warmth and spare you the extra expenses of artificial heating.
Many anglers overlook the number and height of the tent’s windows when, in fact, they can be their lifesaver.
Proper ventilation is a must to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, resulting from the poisonous gases that come from fuel-burning heaters. These colorless and odorless gases cause mild dizziness at first, but their further accumulation can cause brain damage and death.
An ideal ice shelter should be outfitted with at least two windows. These will guarantee proper aeration and sufficient lighting in your shack. Also, consider their heights. Many anglers fall into the mistake of choosing a shelter with too low or too high windows. Make sure that the windows are on the same level as your eyesight.
As for the seatings, you have two options. Either choose a model that provides built-in padded chairs like flip-style tents or bring along an additional chair.
The latter option may not be the best for transportation, yet it allows you to choose where to place your seat. Built-in chairs limit your choices in where to dig your fishing hole since it should be in close proximity to the seat.
Finally, the weight of your tent matters. Whether you’re going to sling it over your shoulder, pull it on a sled, or transport it on a towing vehicle, make sure that you choose a weight you can deal with.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How Many People Can an Ice Fishing Shelter Fit?
That depends on the style and model you’re choosing. Typical flip tents tend to accommodate two to four people. Other styles can take in more than six anglers.
Are Ice Fishing Shelters Easy to Set up and Use?
Yes! Most types can be set up in a matter of seconds and taken down in the same amount of time. Yet, some tents require to be anchored to the ground, which would require more time. All in all, they’re easy to set up as long as you follow their manual.
At the end of the day, we hope that our list has helped you find the best ice fishing shelter for this winter season. If you’re still contemplating your choices, here is a quick recap:
FF949I Fatfish has made it to the top of our list, thanks to its unmatched insulation, and the optimum materials used in its construction. It’s wide enough for three to four anglers and is equipped with mesh pockets and storage spaces to keep the mess down to a minimum.
We recommend Tangakula for novice ice anglers who want a great bang for their buck. It’s super lightweight that it’ll never burden you. Besides, it offers what other popular brands provide but at a fraction of the price.
If you want to go on a cheaper route, you can get the Eskimo Quickfish 2 ice shelter. Although it costs less than 100 bucks, it’s highly rated for its quick set-up and ample fishing area.