It takes a rare and special individual to venture out into the freezing cold on an ice fishing expedition. While your average Joe may see ice fishing as outright crazy, there are those for whom it is the ultimate in outdoor activities.
If you’re one of these brave-hearts who can’t get enough of ice fishing, you know how important it is to have the best ice shanty. Call it an ice tent, shelter, or shack if you will. Regardless of what you choose to call your ice shanty, it’s vital to your comfort, and even your survival, when you’re out in cold for extended periods of time. Of all the gear that you need on an ice fishing adventure, your ice shanty may be the most important.
This article is going to help you in your search for the best ice shanty for ice fishing. As both a review and buyer’s guide in one article, you should end up with a good idea as to which ice shanty is going to the best for you. Whether it’s the price, comfort, or quality of your ice tent that concerns you most, we’ve tried to find something for everyone.
Having the best shack for icy conditions is one of the important items you’ll need, but there’s a whole lot of gear that could be essential or maybe just make things easier, better, or more comfortable. So, apart from reviewing the best ice shelters, we’ll end off with a quick review of some of the other stuff that may interest you. So we’ll also take a look at an ice fishing sled and an ice tent heater that are bound to make your ice fishing trip a more pleasurable experience.
2-Person Ice Shanty
We’ve chosen two fantastic 2-person ice shanties to review. The Eskimo EVO IT can be seen as the ultimate ice fishing tent – the best of the best. This, of course, makes it the more expensive choice. For a much cheaper, yet very reasonable alternative, we recommend the Goplus Popup ice fishing shelter. In my eyes, this is the best value for money ice shanty.
1. Eskimo EVO IT Portable Flip Style Insulated Ice Shelter with Pop Up Hub Sides
The Eskimo EVO 2 Crossover shelter has already made a huge impression with its great size, accessibility and the convenience of a portable sled base. In developing the Eskimo EVO IT, they’ve taken this incredible design a step further by incorporating IQ (Insulated Quiet) fabric for the roof and rear panels. This provides you with even better protection from the harsh elements.
The 600 Denier IQ fabric is a major step forward in ice shanty design. This is not only a highly durable fabric, the increased insulation keeps the tent warmer and blocks out much of the wind noise. This fabric is black which helps absorb and capture the light, keeping it even warmer. The EVO ice shanty has always been a winner in its aerodynamic design. This allows the unique venting system to force the warm air down to the base of the tent.
The clever shape channels wind around the shelter in such a way as to eliminate that annoying flapping noise that can disturb your peace and quiet. The front and sides are made from regular 300 denier material which is pretty much the standard for a durable ice tent.
A sled ice fishing shack is great for its ease and practicality, you can erect the Eskimo EVO IT in five easy steps and it takes just about no time. The drawback here is the extra weight that results from this great design. Add to this, a slightly heavier, insulated and very durable material, and you can expect it to be quite heavy. To help balance this, Eskimo has done quite a lot to make the EVO IT as lightweight as possible. They’ve dumped the old-fashioned heavy steel poles in favor of fiberglass and used a lot of aluminum in frame. This results in a not light, but very acceptable weight of 95-pounds. You’ll probably need an extra hand when loading and off-loading this ice tent. But, once on the ground, it’s really easy to move. The sled base with a tow rope which means that there’s no need to carry the EVO, you can drag it along the ice with ease. Once erected, the EVO is going nowhere, it’s secured with 6 ice anchors.
When it comes to comfort and ergonomics, it’s hard to beat the EVO IT ice shanty. The sled measures 60” X 37” X 10”, this sets up into a really great size of 105” X 105” X 75” with a fishing area of 34.25 feet. At the center, you have a comfortable standing height of 6.5-feet. The almost vertical walls mean that, even when you’re close to the sides, you have a good height of around 6’. The two Swivel Versa seats (included in your purchase) are fantastic. They have a very durable metal frame with a mesh seat and backrest that stay comfortably warm. They provide a good seating position at a height of 19” and they can slide to either side.
The shanty is all black inside, this helps to keep it snug and warm. Now you make think that this would make the EVO dark and dingy. But seven large windows allow you to let as much (or as little) light into the tent as you need. They close with heavy-duty zippers to completely
block the light out – if that’s what you want. Two doors open to the side and you don’t need to cross the fishing area to use the doors – another great practical design trait. A shielded top vent allows for air circulation without causing a freezing draft – all part of the expertly designed aerodynamics. There are also a number of well-positioned mesh pockets to help keep things well-organized.
If you’re not out to buy the cheapest ice shanty, but are rather looking for the very best, your search can end here. This is easily the best shack for ice fishing that you can get. Opinions may vary, but most agree that the Eskimo EVO IT is more than just great – it’s magnificent.
2. Goplus Portable Ice Shelter Pop-up Ice Fishing Tent Shanty
I have little doubt that we would all want the incredible Eskimo EVO IT ice shanty. Though when one looks at the price, it may be out of our reach. If you want something more affordable, the Goplus Pop-up Ice Fishing Tent Shanty might be exactly what you’re looking for. I can’t compare it to the mighty EVO. That would be insane, this is a much cheaper ice fishing tent. Though in the realm of very affordable ice shacks, the Goplus is a real winner.
Even though this is a reasonably cheap ice shanty, it’s made to the highest standard. The 300 denier Oxford fabric is what you’d find on the very best ice tents. This material is perfectly waterproof and can withstand frost down to -30 degrees Fahrenheit.
The box-like shape makes perfect use of the space. The ground area measures 76” X 76”. Of this area 59” X 59” is usable floor space and the rest is open for fishing. I may be wrong about the floor space, the specs aren’t that easy to interpret. But this is how I made sense of the numbers. As a tall guy, I find the height of 67” a little restricting. But the good news is that it doesn’t slope down much from the center of the roof to the walls. So you have most of this height throughout the shack.
The tent folds into a very compact 43.3” X 8” X 8” which packs into a convenient carrying bag. This compact package weighs only 18.5-pounds. You can easily sling the whole lot over your shoulder and take it anywhere with no effort at all.
The windows consist of two layers and you can choose how you install them. A clear PVC layer allows light in, whilst keeping the cold wind out. These can be covered by an additional layer of Oxford fabric to block the light and keep more heat in. Alternatively, you can choose to have one or more windows completely open to let the fresh air in. A D-shaped door gives you access from one side and is easy enough to use.
As far as features and benefits go, the Goplus may not be world-class, it’s fairly basic. When it comes to quality materials, I’d give this ice shanty a big thumbs up. So, although cheap, I feel that you’re getting great quality for your money. It’s wonderfully lightweight and compact.
3-Person Ice Shanty
For the 3-person category, we’re also suggesting options for both affordability and a high level of spec and comfort. This time around, The Eskimo will be the cheaper choice. Though, even here, you can opt for the more expensive insulated version over the uninsulated cheaper ice tent. In a very similar class (and at a similar price) to the luxury insulated Eskimo, we’ll also review the Otter Pro Lodge Thermal Hub – another very comfortable, insulated shanty for ice fishing.
1. Eskimo Quickfish 3i Pop-up Portable Ice Shelter
In its standard uninsulated form, the Eskimo Quickfish is cheap enough to appeal to the budget-minded ice angler. You can get the same ice tent with the remarkable IQ insulated fabric. Though this is going to cost quite a bit more. The additional cost being for the luxury of having extra warmth and a quieter environment. Apart from the choice of material, these ice tents are identical. I’ll, therefore, be reviewing them as one. All the other specs and features remain the same.
The lightweight (26-pound) pop-up design is delightfully practical and easy. It fits snugly into a Cinch Backpack for perfect portability. When you reach your destination, the Quickfish pops up in a flash. It should only take you about a minute to erect this ice shelter. Perfect for windy conditions.
Despite the relatively low weight, this ice shanty is both durable and spacious. I’m immediately struck by the extraordinary height of 80”. The nearly vertical walls and gradual slope of the roof mean that you have well over 6-feet of headroom throughout. It has a fishing area of 34 square feet.
Quality is of the highest standard with a choice of 300 Denier Icetight fabric for the uninsulated tent, or 600 Denier IQ material for the more expensive model. A metal hub and solid fiberglass poles provide a tough, rigid frame and they’ve used YKK zippers for the doors and windows. This is one of my tell-all signs with any type of tent. When they use zippers of this standard, it’s clear that attention has been given to every detail, ensuring the highest quality standard.
The D-shaped door provides easy access but I feel that the windows are a bit on the small side. This is great for keeping the tent warm, but they don’t allow too much light in. Then again, no one wants too much light when ice fishing. The windows can be completely sealed to prevent any cold air from entering or you can have them open to the light. Mesh pockets provide good storage places.
For portability and easy use, this is one of the best ice shanty fishing tents. Quality can compare to the very best and you have the option of a reasonably well insulated cheaper Eskimo or a more expensive model with really great insulation.
2. Otter 201111 XTH Pro Lodge Thermal Hub
The Otter Pro Lodge Thermal Hub makes the grade as one the very best 3-person ice fishing shanties. It’s super-well insulated, huge, and is packed full of handy extras that any ice fisherman will greatly appreciate. For such an amazing ice shack, it comes at a very reasonable price.
High-end products like this are usually quite expensive.
In providing the best insulation possible, the guys at Otter have used a triple layer 600 Denier material that they have trademarked as Thermaltec. It’s basically the same concept as the Eskimo IQ fabric. An external waterproof layer blocks light out light and wind. The quilted inner layers keep the heat in and reduces condensation, providing you with the best comfort possible. Apart from its excellent insulation properties, this material is highly durable.
You access the Otter via a wide D-shaped door with exceptional dual coil zippers. Once inside, you’re aware of the very spacious interior, a width of 99” (hub to hub) and a good height of 76”. Dimensions at the bottom are 96” X 96” with a fishing area of 64 square feet. It collapses into a manageable size of 68” X 12” X 12” and weighs 42 LBS. As far as portability goes, the Otter is great. It comes with an ultra-durable 900 Denier carrying bag.
Apart from a very spacious interior, you also have a bunch of extras, offering a lot of convenience. There are two rod/tool holders and wide bottom storage pockets. It also has 2 spacious cargo nets and exterior tie-down strap pockets. Few ice shacks have this much practical storage solutions and it has a removable license holder. Another great little extra are the 2 hose ports for your propane tank and these have hook and loop flaps. The tent is secured by a really great ice-lock anchor system.
I’m really impressed with the level of design brilliance that has gone into making the Otter XTH Pro Lodge one of the very best 3-person ice shanties on the market. It’s not just about the rugged design and perfect insulation, but all the small details (like rod holders and extra storage) that are really appealing. What a great ice shack.
4-Person Ice Shanty
As with the other ice shelters in this review, we’re suggesting two 4-person options. A cheaper uninsulated version, in the form of the Elkton Outdoors Fishing Tent and the well-insulated Eskimo FatFish FF949i. The Eskimo, like any insulated ice fishing shack is going to cost more.
1. Eskimo FF949I FatFish Insulated Pop-up Portable Ice Shelter
Like all the high-end Eskimo ice fishing tents, the FatFish FF949i utilizes super insulated, triple layer 600 Denier IQ material. So it’s comfortably warm and the overall design offers a lot of usable space. As one would expect from this brand, the FatFish is an extremely well-made, very durable ice shanty.
The FatFish FF949i combines all the aspects that we’ve come to expect from Eskimo. So it goes without saying that top-quality materials are used throughout. This is clearly evident in the YKK zippers, excellent steel hub and solid fiberglass poles. As I’ve already mentioned, the IQ 600 Denier material is not just durable, but adds a lot of comfort due its excellent insulation properties.
There’s certainly no shortage of space with a huge 94” X 94” setup size and walls with a very gradual slope, offering 99” X 99” “elbow room” and a huge 61 square feet of fishing area. The 80-inch height is also really great. Despite the heavy-duty materials and large size of this ice shanty, it weighs only 34 LBS.
Two doors offer easy access and it has 6 windows that are reasonably large. The windows have the ability to seal completely against the elements or they can be opened, allowing the circulation of fresh air.
The FatFish FF949i is, in true Eskimo fashion, a superb ice shanty for ice fishing. With great insulation and a very practical design for up to four people, it has everything one could hope for. The fact that it’s perfectly portable and really simple to set up is added bonus.
2. Elkton Outdoors Portable 3-4 Person Ice Fishing Tent
The wonderfully priced Elkton Outdoors ice shanty may not have the extra insulation like the expensive tents but is, none the less, a good product. It’s incredibly easy to setup, well-designed for optimum space usage and is of a high quality standard.
At 70” X 70”, it doesn’t have the floor space to rival the big boys and may be more comfortable as a 3-person ice fishing tent. This size is, however, considered to be reasonable for four people. Height is uncompromised at 80”. Weighing in at a little over 20-pounds, portability is certainly no issue and it comes with carrying bag.
They say you can set this tent up in about 30-seconds. This may be a little optimistic, especially if there’s a wind blowing. But you should definitely be able to achieve this in under a minute. It has all the practicalities that you could want. The walls are nearly vertical, making perfect use of the available space. Four roof vents provide ventilation and the two large windows can be sealed for extra warmth or left completely open for extra airflow. The door is large enough with easy access. It also has good storage with several pockets and an overhead storage
Affordability is the name of the game when looking at the Elkton Outdoors ice fishing tent. It’s not exactly the biggest, but quite adequate in terms of size. Protection from the cold and wind is pretty good for an uninsulated ice fishing shanty. So, in the end, you’re getting quite a bit for very little money.
6-Person Ice Shanty
1. Clam Corporation CLAM Stealth Spearfisher Thermal 5 sided hub 10947
The black, incredibly tough, 900 Denier material is not only more durable than most, it provides a lot of insulation and low condensation. It’s a warm and comfortable ice shanty with a good deal of space – 63.5 square feet of fishing area. The base length and width is 9-feet – so it’s big and it’s tall enough with an 82” height in the center. The very square design, with not much height reduction on the roofline, means you can make perfect use of every square inch.
Even in gusting wind, it’s easy enough to set up and makes for a very strong structure, thanks to the 11 mm poles and excellent hub. At 50-pounds, it’s not the lightest. But considering its large size and the ultra-heavy-duty materials used in the construction of this ice shack, this weight is to be expected. The triple layer corner pockets will give you an idea of how committed these guys are to providing you with tough durability. Not to mention that they also provide a great deal of storage.
There isn’t any other way to put it. The CALM Stealth Spearfisher makes perfect sense. It’s not often that one can say that a product is both excellent in terms of price and the level of quality and comfort that you’re getting. This is an ice fishing shanty that combines all of this, making it somewhat irresistible to the seasoned ice angler looking for a large ice shanty.
Ice Fishing Sled
Shappell 54" JET SLED-MULTI-PURPOSE SLED
Although it’s a very useful item to the ice angler, an ice fishing sled can often be overlooked. These are, after all, just a tub that we drag around with all our gear. It’s understandable that most people don’t want to spend too much on an ice fishing sled. So we’ve looked for a very affordable ice fishing sled that has a good deal of space for your gear and is tough enough to handle the conditions in which it’s designed to work.
The Shappell Jet Sled JS1 is a sled that you pull by hand. It is, therefore, not the biggest that you can get. While it may not be all that large, the JS1 is deceptively spacious. With a length of 54-inches, a width of 25-inches and pretty high side walls (10”), you can pack quite a lot of fishing gear, your ice shanty, and many other essentials into the Jet.
It’s made from very durable polyethylene with molded runners to give it extra strength. The hull design is excellent for durability and easy gliding over ice, snow, and sand. It has a standard rope that loops across the front that you use to pull the sled. The clever design and lightweight materials combine perfectly, offering tough go-anywhere dependability with easy operation and portability, the Jet1 weighs only 12-pounds.
Ice anglers and hunters alike have found the Shappell 54” Jet Sled to be a wonderful aid. Although one of the smaller models in the Jet lineup of practical ice sleds, it provides you with a good volume of practical usable space. Best of all, you can expect to pay less than fifty bucks for this Jet model. That’s great for a high-quality, ultra-durable ice fishing sled.
Ice Fishing Heater
Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy
Whether you’re camping in the winter months or want to remain comfortable in your ice shanty when ice fishing, a powerful propane heater is sort of a must-have item. It takes the chill out of the air and allows you to enjoy the environment you’re in. As an ice angler, you may have a reputation as being a rugged outdoors type, but there’s no reason why you can’t be comfortable doing it.
The Mr. Heater MH9BX Buddy is designed and purpose-built as a rugged portable heater. With a compact size, impact resistant housing, and a fold down handle, it certainly is both portable and able to take the inevitable knocks and bumps that come with the territory. Capable of heating a large ice shanty, the Mr. Heater packs quite a punch. It’s adjustable, delivering between 4,000 BTU up to 9000 BTU. This gives it a rating of up 225 sq. ft. – more than adequate for the largest ice shanty.
You might you use the high setting to get the shack warm, but then you’ll probably be turning it right down and won’t burn through much propane in the process.
Approved for both indoor and outdoor use, the Mr. Heater Buddy has all the safety features one needs on a propane heater. It has an auto-shutoff feature should the heater tip over or if low oxygen levels are detected. As one of the cleanest burning propane heaters, it’s about as close to 100% efficient as one can get.
The heater comes equipped with a swivel regulator, so you only need to buy the propane tank. As the heater doesn’t cost too much at all, this isn’t going to be an expensive exercise.
The Mr. Heater Buddy series has earned its stripes and one of the most loved heaters by outdoor enthusiasts. It’s not hard to see why. This heater is as tough as nails, easy to transport and, most importantly, it does the job of heating a relatively large area in a short space of time. As an ultra-efficient propane heater, it won’t cost a lot to run.