It’s time to turn a hobby into a party with the best ice fishing shelters on the market. Whether you’re bringing along a party of four, or you’ve just found yourself hooked on ice fishing (it’s an addictive lifestyle), you’re going to need a quality ice fishing shelter to serve a plethora of functions. We’ve taken everything into account, broken down each type of ice fishing shelter, and laid out the details that define a top-of-the-line ice fishing shelter. Before we dig into the specifics, let’s take a look at the top six ice fishing shelters.
The Best Ice Fishing Shelters
Eskimo took the top spot for solving a ton of problems that the solo ice fisher often faces. For one, lugging this over one shoulder isn’t going to kill your back. Weighing a total of twenty-seven pounds, this ice fishing shanty weighs about 15% less than average brands and models. Beyond being easy to physically move, it also folds up rather small, allowing you to stash it in most sedan trunks.
While it’s solving most problems that ice fishers run into, it’s not an almighty shelter. It advertises interior mesh pockets to help keep fishing essentials nearby, but they’re fairly weak and tear easily. While we’d bet you have enough of your own storage solutions in your fishing backpack, it’s still a bit disheartening. Apart from that, and you’ll have encountered this with just about every tent-style product you’ve ever owned, the fiberglass poles are very fragile. Handle and transport with care.
61 sq ft of interior space
Includes six ice anchors
Maximum height of six and a half feet
- Weight27 pounds
Six windows allow perfect ventilation or heat retention based on your needs
Easy to set up, easy to store; a great option for a single user
Mesh storage pockets on the interior are a bit weak
Thin fiberglass poles require fragile handling
This one almost took our top spot, because Tangkula really understands what ice fishers are looking for, and carried out most of those expectations fairly well. First and foremost, this is super lightweight on your back, and the entire thing is crafted of 300D oxford fabric. It’s completely waterproof without requiring waterproofing sprays for a “tune-up” in the future. The fabric itself holds up, so you can sling this over your shoulder and head to your favorite spot without a second thought.
They did fall short on actually helping you get it from point A to point B: the carry bag is fairly poor quality. Based on the price, we expected that there would be a few cut corners here and there. The strap on the bag is poorly attached to the rest of the bag, and isn’t expected to last for all too long. We recommend grabbing an additional bag to hold your ice fishing shelter. That being said, the only other issue is the size. It’s great for a single user, but Tangkula marketed this as being applicable for up to three people, and that’s a stretch.
Highly durable 300D oxford fabric construction
Resistant up to -22 F
Four detachable windows
Waterproof finish prevents damage and mildew from melted ice and snow
Extremely lightweight and portable at a meager 22 lbs
Carry bag handle isn’t expected to hold up for long
Marketed to fit up to 3 people, but that’s far from the truth
ThunderBay didn’t waste a single square foot of space here. This three-man ice fishing shelter is designed to perfectly fit you and your mates, all without bumping elbows. Notice the extended sides where you’ll find yourself sitting, accompanied by the six and a half foot tall ceiling for easy maneuvering. Everything is crafted out of 300D fabric for superior wind resistance and insulation, but there are a few shortcomings that you need to know about.
One of the main features that ThunderBay promotes is the light-blocking blackout shield. Truth be told, it’s not nearly as powerful as they make it sound. While it’s going to block out more light than a cheap model, you’re still going to get some reflections off the ice and surrounding snow. Apart from that, ventilation is lacking with these small windows, so opening up the flap occasionally might be required.
Primary 300D fabric construction
Six and a half foot tall ceiling
Replaceable hook and loop windows
- Weight21 pounds
High-end self tapping ice anchors work beautifully
Comfortable room for up to three people
Ventilation control could be improved
Blackout light filter is subpar
We were a bit skeptical of Goplus, but after propping this up on the ice, we couldn’t be happier. Crafted out of 300D oxford fabric, this entire ice fishing tent is completely waterproof from top to bottom. Setting it up is simple, especially when utilizing the included six ice anchors. Goplus spared no expense at ensuring they hold well, and are visibly crafted out of high-end materials. There’s also a carrying bag included, which is crafted from ripstop fabric for a hassle-free time transporting it from your car to the ice, and back again.
However, it’s simple to be confused by Goplus and their attempts at marketing this portable ice fishing tent. They contradict themselves numerous times, but most notably, they state that this is a three-person tent when it will snugly fit two. That, and the big feature that they put on their PVC dual-ply windows made them appear much more high-end than they actually are. The PVC is poor quality, and the windows are small and easy to scratch or damage.
300D oxford fabric design
Includes six excellent ice anchors
High-quality ripstop carrying bag
Superior -30 F temperature rating
Extremely lightweight and portable
Windows are small and crafted of low-grade PVC
Marketed as a three-person tent, will snugly fit two
If this isn’t your first rodeo, you’re going to realize that Elkton Outdoors put in everything you could ever want in an ice fishing hub. You can comfortably fit up to four people in here while still having room for all your essentials, and enough hub height to ensure nobody’s going to feel cramped. While this tent is larger than most, it still remains fully waterproof and holds heat extremely well. Usually, when you get into these large tents, you find that they’re not all they were cracked up to be: Elkton delivers.
They deliver on almost everything. While the insulation is great, that’s only within their specific temperature range. It has far less capabilities than many of their competitors, and on average, users found that around -7 F is when it became a problem. That’s not the worst, but you have to factor the wind into the equation. That being said, it’s also going to be one of the heaviest ice fishing hubs you’ve ever transported, weighing in at just over thirty-six pounds.
Includes large and high-end ice anchors
Insulated and waterproof from top to bottom
Six and a half feet tall interior
- BrandElkton Outdoors
- Weight36.2 pounds
Ample interior storage capabilities
Fast and simple assembly
Very heavy during transit (over 36 lbs)
Low temperature range for the price
Last on our list is another ice fishing shelter rendition by Eskimo, with one of the largest capacities you’ll ever see. This model can fit up to seven people if you’re snug in there, but they also have larger tents available for up to nine people. We don’t know how big your ice fishing party is, but if it’s just four or five of you, you’ll have ample room for all your gear and then some. You get an excellent cross system of windows, as well as two doors to not only provide great ventilation, but also give you more angles to fish from.
They compromised on horizontal space for vertical space: you’re going to have a “fun” time scooting around in here until you find your seat. That being said, you’ll still be able to maneuver fairly well, but when you have larger parties it becomes an issue. As you might imagine, larger tents have more fabric, and that makes them heavier. We’re contradicting ourselves here, but even though the metal hub and doubly insulated fabric is great, it makes this weigh nearly sixty pounds. It’s a two-man job to carry it from place to place.
Plenty of windows for proper ventilation
Reflective trim for maximum lighting and visibility
Multiple doors for various fishing angles
- Weight59.5 pounds
Massive space for five people (roomy), up to seven people (snug)
All-metal hubs provide a more sturdy, wind-resistant shelter
Massively heavy to carry at 59.50 lbs
They compromised on height; rather low ceiling
Ice Fishing Shelter Buying Guide
So what goes into a good ice fishing shelter? Keep your eyes peeled, and look for these aspects to get the best bang for your buck. At the end of the day, you have to want to spend hours on hours worth of time in your fishing shelters, so aesthetics, comfort.
Brand – Any time you’re dealing with products that are designed to be used in extreme weather, the brand will define the quality, and quickly show (usually in user reviews and articles) whether or not it’s a trustworthy product to go with. You can’t fake quality when you’re looking to hold up in subzero temperatures. We’ve done our best to only choose the most trusted brands with years of outstanding quality under their belt.
Reviews – User reviews help us determine our shortlist of ice fishing shelters that we’re going to test for ourselves. While a hefty majority of user reviews are inarticulate and unhelpful, there’s one in every ten that provides noteworthy information. There’s no better way to determine what works and what’s hyperbole, than looking at user reviews.
Prices – Price will always be a factor, and believe us when we say that there are plenty of overpriced “luxury” ice fishing shelters. You’re not heading out on the ice for a tea party; you’re going out to fish, and your ice fishing shelter should provide necessity and a few added benefits. We stuck to a fairly structured pricing guideline to keep everything affordable, without compromising on quality.
Features to Look for in Ice Fishing Shelters
Capacity – Who’s going, and how much room do they need? Ice fishing can be a solitary experience, but it’s also a good bit of fun to bring two friends, and use the frozen ground as the cooler for a few cold brews. Most ice fishing shelters are designed to hold between one and three people. Take your needs into consideration, and understand that while more is merrier, it’s also going to hit you on the price tag when you jump up to a new tier.
Temperature Range – You know when the weather report says it feels like it’s ten degrees colder than their readings indicate? If it feels that cold, then guess what: it is that cold. Look at ice fishing shelters with lower temperature ranges than you might need, so you can account for harsher conditions than the forecast foretold.
Material – The primary thing you need to be on the lookout for is temperature range, but that’s going to be heavily influenced by what material is used, and how thick it is. Look for nylon and similar materials for help cut down on wind resistance, while also taking the overall design into consideration. Winter winds should hit the side of your shelter, and not penetrate it (unless the windows are detached).
Number of Detachable Windows – Ventilation is important. When there’s three of you in the shanty, between body heat, breathing and the insulated walls, heat builds quickly. You don’t want to start thawing the ice that you’re all relying on for support (also, nobody likes a small, stuffy space). Detachable windows help with your comfort, but also ensure proper function of the ice fishing shelter itself.
Weight – You’re slinging this over your shoulder to the ice spot, so don’t kill yourself and wreck your joints. The total weight usually reflects the total user capacity, material thickness, and larger ice fishing shelters also come with more added benefits on average, such as internal storage.
Types of Ice Fishing Shelters
Hub – Generally lightweight and easy to move from one spot to another, these include more room for you to move around, but offer a shorter height than cabins. Hubs give you some extra room to pull back your elbows, pull your line out of the water, and perform other tasks besides just ice fishing while you’re waiting for the line to bite.
Hubs have also been known to hold onto heat far better, so if you’re going to an area with subzero temperatures and wind chill factors, a hub will protect you against wind and extreme temperatures. HAs a result, hubs also need to have more ventilation to ensure you don’t start melting the ice with a bubble of body heat floating around.
Cabin – Cabins are your taller option. For taller gents, this is going to be the difference between function and comfort. While you’ll be sitting down for the most part, this higher height does have its advantages, but is also a bit more difficult to carry. Cabins generally offer less square footage, but with the higher heights, the carry bag will be a bit longer.
Windbreaks – These are designed solely to help protect you from the dry, scratching of the wind. They offer little in terms of insulation, but you’re going to be ecstatic when you take a gander at your wallet. Windbreaks are the most simplistic form of an ice fishing shelter you can find.
Flip-Style – This fishing tent style is one of the most portable fishing shelter types you can find. You’re going to encounter heavier weights when carrying, but you’ll also have more components and dimensions to your shelter.