December 23, 2021 | By Nicole Qualtieri
Call it an ice shanty, an ice fishing tent, an ice shelter, or an ice fishing hut. Whatever your preference, these are the best for filling your freezer with fish this year.
When the lakes freeze over, you’ll find some of the most passionate anglers walking on water in search of fish. And these days, the level of comfort that anyone can bring to the ice is *chef’s kiss* impressive.
You want heat? You got it. Electricity? You betcha. A swath of cool devices to see what’s swimming underneath you? Yeah, you’ve got that too.
But your biggest protection from the elements is your shelter. Some folks get wildly elaborate and build actual huts. Others are simply looking for a bit of protection.
The following shelters offer something for everyone, from budget to extravagant, basic to extreme. Note that most ice fishing shelters are offered in a series, meaning that the shelters share the same features but are offered in different size options.
Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for:
Eskimo is a well-known brand in the world of ice fishing, and its Outbreak Series is the newest of its portable pop-up shelter offerings. Stormshield fabric levels up previously insulated shelters by adding 80g of high loft insulation to protect against even the nastiest weather.
A wider footprint at the bottom of the tent provides more room to fish and hang out, while also creating a stronger base for holding your shelter to the ice. It’s tall enough to accommodate standing folks up to 6’2″.
Storage pockets, reinforced grommets, heavy-duty structural components, and more upgrade this shelter to be the best on the market. And 600-denier nylon adds an even more heavy-duty structure to this beast.
Eskimo offers the Outbreak in six options that range from $400 to $670, so it ain’t cheap. But if you’re looking for a long-term, warm, durable, weather-beating shelter, the Outbreak is it.
Check Price at Bass Pro
ThunderBay is better known for hunting blinds, but it did a great job with this foray into portable ice fishing tents. At $130 for a two-person and $200 for a three-person, it doesn’t break the bank either.
Though these shelters aren’t insulated, they can certainly hold heat really well with a Buddy Heater or simply keep the weather at bay on warmer days. Anglers rave about its ease of setup and take-down, and how durable it feels.
One reviewer noted they had a zipper issue that was easily fixed. Another added that the windows were too high to see out of when seated. But overall, anglers find this ice shelter to be worth every penny, as minimal as those pennies are.
The concept for flip-over or pop-up ice shelters is thus: It’s a self-contained sled you can pull onto the ice, and then flip up quickly as needed. One of the more popular flip-overs on the market is the Clam Nanook, and it’s got a lot of bells and whistles in addition to being a great shelter.
Two built-in chairs offer immediate seating, and an increased tub size allows for a lot of fishing equipment and gear to safely store and then access when on the ice. Smart access side symmetry doors allow for easy in and out for both anglers, and windows offer both ventilation and views.
And 90g of insulation per square meter offers more warmth than many shelters, and reviewers rave about how warm it is with or without a heater. You will have to assemble it upon buying, but once it’s assembled, you’re good to go with the easy flip-up-and-set-up shelter model.
Check Price at Cabela’s
Just one cent shy of $1,000, this two-person ice fishing shelter is not cheap. But, it is a favorite shelter among those who have made the purchase.
The XT Pro is overkill in a lot of ways. A ThermalTec 1,200D triple-layer insulated shell is the highest-rated denier we’ve been able to find. The footprint is very wide for a two-person shelter, at 84″ x 66″.
The seats come padded and can be adjusted four ways. The setup system is designed for especially quick deployment, with ultrastrong hardware and materials to beat back wind, snow, and ice.
It’s just a dang nice shelter. If you’re serious about ice fishing in wipeout weather, then this is the one you’re looking for.
Check Price at Cabela’s
This pop-up ice fishing shelter doesn’t drown your wallet, but luckily, it still performs. You can find the two-person shelter for just $115 on Amazon and a four-person for only $190.
And while these tents are budget, they still have a lot of features that make them a great option for the angler who only ice fishes occasionally or is just starting out. Its 300-denier fabric gets the job done, but doesn’t overdo it. And zippered doors and Velcro windows allow for in-and-out as well as ventilation.
The shelter itself is uninsulated, but it holds heat from a Buddy Heater just fine. One reviewer said it stayed upright easily in 30mph winds! Pretty impressive for a shanty that stays under $200.
For some, ice fishing is the crux of their winter. For others, it’s a casual weekend or two once the ice arrives. Read on for which ice fishing tent is the right one for you.
In reading through our picks, you’ll notice that not only are some shelters insulated, but they’re also padded with grams of synthetic insulation. This is similar to what you’d find in outerwear, with the beefiest tents on our list containing up to 90g of insulation per meter.
Depending on what you’re doing and where you’re doing it, this can obviously be overkill. But when temps hit in the single or negative digits and the wind kicks up, a heavily insulated fishing tent can keep you on the water much longer than a single-walled uninsulated tent.
And that feature is also going to cost more, plain and simple. For some, the difference in buying comes down to a budget decision. For others who spend a lot of time on the ice, the extra comfort is worth the extra cash.
If you go to your local hot spot for ice fishing, you’ll probably see a lot more pop-ups than flip-overs. They’re just really versatile. Plus, it’s a basic floorless tent that can serve multiple purposes.
Some folks use them as outdoor tents for kids; others fashion them as meat smokers. But they’re simple, they’re roomy, and they’re perfect for a day with multiple folks on the ice. In these larger spaces, it’s even possible to bring your sleeping bags and spend a night on the ice if you so dare.
For a solo angler or a duo, flip-overs make for a great choice. The ease of having most of your gear in the ready-to-rock sled makes for a simple outing with minimal packing to get to the lake.
If the weather’s nice, no need to flip up the tent. If the weather changes, you’re in so quickly and with minimal effort that you’re good to go.
Are you a fair-weather ice angler? Or are you an ultimate ice warrior?
It’s worth it to strongly consider a few things prior to purchase. One of these might be to consider whether ice fishing is something you want to pursue if you’re unfamiliar with the sport.
In that case, an uninsulated budget shanty will not only provide a sheltered space, but it can also be a backup for other activities. This would keep your purchase in the wheelhouse of personal utility and allow you to figure out whether ice fishing is a lifelong pursuit or not.
Ice fishing is, obviously, a cold-weather sport. And it’s often one that is more communal than singular. Spending an extra hundred bucks or two on a bigger, heavier-duty tent might convince loved ones, friends, and kiddos to stay longer on the ice rather than complaining about their frozen toes and noses.
And if you live in an area prone to wind, consider the heavier flip-overs or the ice fishing shelters with wider footprints for broader stability. No one wants to chase their ice fishing tent across the ice on a cold, windy day.
Based in Montana, Nicole Qualtieri is GearJunkie's Hunt + Fish Editor. She also serves as a Board Director for Orion the Hunters Insititute, a non-profit promoting fair chase and hunting ethics nationwide. A DIY hunter, she comes from a non-traditional hunting background and began hunting and fishing in her 30s. She's been a voice for hunting, fishing, and conservation since 2014, when she got started working on the television show MeatEater. She's an avid horsewoman, bird dog aficionado, snowboarder, hiker/backpacker, food nerd, and all-around outdoorswoman. Find her online at @nkqualtieri.
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