By Jayden Mark
If you’re into your ice fishing, you’re probably serious about the gear that you need. There’s a lot of important stuff that you need and a decent auger for ice fishing is probably top of the list. Doing this the old-fashioned manual way is really time-consuming and a bit of horsepower to help you along will certainly be much appreciated.
When it comes to power ice augers, you have a choice of what to use – gas, propane, or battery-powered electric augers. Which is best? Well that’s entirely up to you. A battery-powered ice auger may be the easiest, but you need to consider how to recharge the batteries. The old-school guys swear by gas, with propane being a more modern and environmentally sound alternative.
To suit everyone, we’ve selected a range of excellent ice augers for fishing as the topic of this review. With the exception of laborious hand-operated augers that require human power, we’ve covered all the bases. As gas-powered ice augers are usually the angler’s first choice, we’ve chosen 3 models that use traditional gas engines. Two of these use very competent 33cc engines and, for those of you who are looking for the extra power, there’s a 55cc ice auger in the mix. To keep things current, we’ve also included a battery-powered ice auger and one that uses propane.
We’ve kept things simple. So there isn’t an endless list of products in this review of ice augers. This means you won’t be spending hours going through lists of specs and features. By doing a good deal of research, we’ve found a couple of great suggestions that come highly recommended and certainly make the grade in terms of value for money and durable quality. The last thing you need is an ice auger that’s going to let you down when you’re miles from nowhere. So don’t take a chance by simply seeking out the cheapest ice auger. We’ve done the work for you and found some very reasonably priced ice augers and some that are more expensive.
The cheaper models may not be up to the heavy-duty work of the more expensive augers. That’s how it goes with anything – you get what you pay for. Though, even when seeking out some of the cheaper ice augers, we’ve made sure that they’re worth their salt. So when we’re talking about cheap ice augers, we’ve eliminated the very cheapest that simply aren’t worth wasting your hard-earned cash on. Of course, when we say that these are the best ice augers for fishing, they are not exclusively built for the ice fisherman. These augers are like any other and can be used for digging holes for posts or any application where one want's an auger that's designed for ice.
Top Ice Augers for Drilling and Digging
1. Eskimo S33Q8 Sting Ray 33cc with 8-Inch Quantum Ice Auger
For more than 50-years, the Eskimo brand has been a trusted name in world of the ice fishing gear. When it comes to providing reliable, user-friendly ice augers, experience counts for a lot. Over the years, the guys at Eskimo have come to realize what’s important to the ice fisherman. So their equipment is as reliable as it gets and they’ve refined the design and features of their products to suit your requirements. The 33cc S33Q8 Sting Ray is the baby in the Eskimo ice auger range. They have a number of models, with the mighty 71cc 10” Shark being their top model. When it comes to affordability, the Sting Ray won’t leave you reeling in agony. It’s not the cheapest ice auger that you can get, but is reasonably priced if you consider the brand’s reputation for quality and design brilliance.
With an 8” cutting diameter and a really great auger length of 42”, you have more than just a basic ice auger. The 2-stroke gas-powered viper engine has been tried and tested as a very dependable piece of machinery. The robust ball bearings and transmission are metal, there’s no cheap plastic that could give up on you.
If you look at the oversized pulling handle for the recoil starter, you can see that their design experience is geared toward the needs of the ice angler. You can easily grip this handle with your mittens on. The engine starts easily in cold weather and that’s important.
Combining rust-free durability with a refreshingly low weight is achieved by using aluminum for the roll cage handle bars and quality, lightweight metals throughout. This gives you great control over an ice auger that weighs only 22-pounds. The handles have a thick foam layer that drastically reduces the vibration on your hands.
The gas tank is transparent, so you always know here you stand in terms of gas level. A primer bubble ensures easy starting, removing air from the gas line and it has a muffler guard to protect you from scalding hot surfaces.
Going by the customer response, this is a fantastic ice auger. It’s lightweight and easy to start. Not to mention that it chews through ice without any hassles. With a great 5-year warranty and customer service that’s been highly praised, you really can’t go wrong.
2. ION 19150 40V 3 amp-hour Electric 8-Inch Ice Auger
The world is moving toward electric powered machines in a big way. In part, this is due to environmental issues, electric machines produce zero carbon and this is the buzz phrase at the moment. Furthermore, efficient, brushless electric motors with sophisticated electronic monitoring provide an excellent power output with a low input. It’s pretty much a win-win situation. With improved lithium ion batteries, providing extended working times, sweetening the deal even more.
So it comes as no surprise that battery-powered ice augers are becoming increasingly popular as a hassle-free tool for the modern ice angler. You will always pay more for a battery-powered machine in any category. For this, you get the ease of electric operation, along with low noise levels, low vibration, and no gas fumes. You don’t need to transport gas cans and you save quite a bit over the lifetime of the machine. Electric ice augers require very little maintenance and you’re not paying for gas. So, in a sense, your battery powerd ice auger is going to pay for itself over time. All you need to concern yourself with is how to charge the batteries when you’re far from an electric outlet.
The solution is to make sure that you have extra batteries, enough to keep you going until you’re able to charge the batteries. So let’s take a look at how well the ION electric ice auger fares against the more traditional gas-powered machines.
Before I review the ION 19250 I would like to clear up some confusion regarding the customer reviews that I’ve read. Many of the customer reviews on the internet seem to be for the previous generation ION ice auger. That model had its problems and wasn’t all that great. I found this to be the case with many of the older design battery products, it takes some time to perfect them and this is relatively new technology. I’m pleased to see that they have worked to improve the machine. The ION 19150 doesn’t seem to have the annoying traits of the older models. It’s a pretty smooth machine to use, is lightweight and has the power to compete with any 33cc gas-powered ice auger.
The 8” X 34” (with the option of a 6” extension) is perfectly in line with what one would expect from this level of ice auger. One of the great advantages of using an electric auger is that you can use it inside your ice shack. There’s no gas fumes and, therefore, no risk of carbon monoxide poising in a confined area with no ventilation. You also won’t have the deafening noise.
How is the Battery Life of the ION Auger?
An area of concern is often that of battery life. this is a general issue that's associated with battery power, not something that's specific to the ION ice auger. The manufacturers claim up to 40 holes on a single charge. But one always has to take into account that manufacturers tend to go for the best case scenario when providing battery working times. So you can bet that this figure will be for light ice and holes that are not too deep. The 40-hole spec is given for ice that’s 2-feet deep.
Realistically, you could expect half the advertised battery working time. The 3AH, 40V battery is pretty good, but maybe not as great as they say. An extra battery will certainly give you peace of mind. Remember to try keep the battery warm when not in use. A lithium ion battery is designed for optimal use and storage at 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit). When in use, the heat of the auger and the electric resistance inside the battery will keep it at an optimum temperature in cold weather. It just takes some effort to keep it at this temperature when the battery is not in use.
The general specs for this ice auger are amongst the best. It weighs a very reasonable 22-pounds and has excellent dual handles with a conveniently placed trigger switch for easy operation. The reverse function allows you to extract the ice from your hole with the flick of a switch, making things really simple and hassle-free.
For all the advantages that an electric auger provides, many are changing over to this power source. Although these ice augers cost more, the ION is not as expensive as many of its competitors and is quite affordable. Even with the cost of an extra battery, your reduced running costs should compensate for the higher purchase price when compared to ice gas-powered augers. The auger has a 2-year warranty and the battery is covered for one year.
3. ThunderBay 33cc 8" Power Ice Auger
Compared to high-end ice augers, the ThunderBay 33cc auger is not at all expensive. It’s in the lower end of the price bracket, making it among the best value machines. Going any cheaper than this, could mean that you’re running the risk of buying an inferior machine. Basically, for a good quality 33cc ice auger, this is about as cheap as it gets.
The two-stroke 33cc engine is purpose designed for cold climates, so it starts effortlessly in cold weather. As one would expect from this size engine, it’s an 8” auger, capable of some pretty deep holes. No auger lengths or recommended depth are provided by the supplier, but you can be assured that you’ll be able cut holes through well over a foot of ice with ease.
The padded handles look big enough and this is an easy machine to use. It weighs only 32-pounds, it’s a bit heavier than most. The gas tank is made from translucent plastic, so it’s easy to see how much is in the tank. The metal gear housing looks to me like it’s of a high quality standard. I get the general sense that this is a durable ice auger and all the customer reviews that I’ve read agree with this statement.
As a fairly basic, yet highly competent ice auger, the ThunderBay certainly makes the grade. It has all you need in terms of power and is of a really sound quality standard. A common sense buy for the budget-minded.
4. Jiffy 44-08-ALL 6013-0223 44 XT Propane Auger
I can definitely see the advantage of using a propane ice auger. For one thing, propane is easier and safer to transport. There are no fumes or worries about spillage. A propane tank is completely sealed, unlike portable gas cans. Because you’re most probably using a propane heater to keep your ice tent warm, it’s a very practical solution. One fuel source for your heating and your ice auger. Propane engines can be a little under powered when compared to the same size gas engine. Though the power loss is usually less than 10% and isn’t always that noticeable. Due to the total lack of specs available anywhere, I can’t provide too much technical information. I really have my observations to rely on. I can start by saying that this looks like an incredibly well made machine.
Judging by the size of the engine (by looking at it), I guess it’s bigger than the 33cc engines of the gas-models that we’ve looked at this far. Maybe in the region of 40-45cc, but that really is just an estimate. It’s an 8” auger and seems to have the power needed to cope with the expectations of an auger of this size. The oversized handle on the recoil starter is great to see. The handles, whilst certainly tough enough, lack the extra padding that helps reduce vibrations. There’s just a rubber coating on the handles – no foam. Though, it really doesn’t take much effort to control this auger that weighs around 25-pounds.
From my observation, which is all is all have to go on, The Jiffy 44 XT looks to be a very well made machine. There’s plenty of metal used and, judging by the weight and appearance, my guess is that they’ve used aluminum or a similar robust, lightweight alloy. If propane power makes sense to you, the Jiffy is an excellent choice.
5. XtremepowerUS V-Type 55CC 2 Stroke Gas Ice Post Hole Digger
For the price that one would expect to pay for a smaller, 33cc machine, the XtremepowerUS 55cc ice auger is a great deal. While this is a good quality product, it lacks some of the refinement of the more expensive options. Okay, it’s really cheap, so this can be forgiven. In the end, it’s very reliable and quite easy to use.
The V-type 55cc, 2-stroke engine is both powerful and easy to start. There can be no complaints in this department. The handles aren’t as comfortable as I’d have liked. They’re coated with rubber and have no padding. This is something I’m prepared to accept when considering the price. Another little design feature that isn’t the best has to be the conventional pull rope for the recoil starter. Most of the best ice augers, have a handle that’s designed for use with mittens. The Xtremepower has a handle that looks like the type you’d find on a regular lawnmower. Again, this is a minor issue and doesn’t detract from the overall quality of the machine.
The 8” X 34” auger is good enough and I believe there are extensions available, but I’m not sure how long they are. With the extra horsepower form the larger engine, it’s a cinch cutting through some pretty heavy ice – up to about 3-feet without a hassle. It weighs only 28-pounds, which is light for an ice auger with this size engine. Some of the weight reduction could be ascribed to the use of more plastic than most. I’m not a big fan of plastic components, though good quality metals have been used in all the areas where it really matters. The working parts (engine, transmission, and auger) all appear to be quite robust.
I’m going to tell it like it is. This is a fantastic ice auger for the price. Maybe the best that you’ll find in this price range. If you’re prepared to overlook some of the (very minor) inadequacies of this machine, you’re getting extremely good value for your buck. As a budget ice auger for fishing, with a good deal of extra power, this is a good choice.
Jayden Mark has gained a wealth of knowledge about safety protocols in industries while working in a steel mill as well as a welder in the construction industry. He is the content editor for comfortworkboots.com where he shares his insights and expertize in his related field.
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