Once bulky and challenging to transport, contemporary ice fishing shelters are light, portable and extremely functional, keeping anglers and their equipment in the game and on fish—even when the snow flies, the winds howl, and the temperature plummets.
Pop-up ice fishing shelters are often referred to as hub shelters. These are generally lightweight, portable shelters that fold down into a compact package and fit into a convenient transport and storage bag. A framework of poles inserted into rigid hubs provide rigidity to the structure. Once inside, anglers enjoy access to considerably more fishable area than might be available in a flip-over shanty or ice fishing tent.
The best ice fishing shelters have a durable, waterproof exterior to keep the cold, snow, and sleet at bay, and often a quilted, insulated interior to retain heat. A quality ice fishing hub shelter has abundant ventilation to allow moisture to escape and allow anglers to safely use portable propane-powered heaters. On the outside, large flaps that extend away from the shelter allow anglers to bank snow along the sides, while robust anchoring systems prevent the shelter from being carried away by a strong gust of wind. Abundant creature comforts on the interior, including coat hangers, rod holders, lights, and even insulated floors make it easy to fish while remaining warm and dry.
- Best Basic Ice Fishing Shelter: Eskimo Quickfish2
- Best Ice Fishing Shelter for Two People: Frabill Fortress 260
- Best Ice Fishing Shelter for Four People: Eskimo Outbreak 450i
- Best Ice Fishing Shelter for a Big Group: Clam C890 Thermal Shelter
- Best Hybrid Ice Fishing Shelter: Eskimo Evo Series
- Best Cheap Ice Fishing Shelter: Frabill HQ 200
Are you looking for a basic ice fishing shelter?
A basic ice fishing shelter should have a waterproof finish on the outside and provide sufficient ventilation to remain comfortable and safe on the inside. Many basic ice fishing shelters won’t be insulated, but that makes them lighter and easier to carry by one person. Typically, these shelters will have a smaller footprint, accommodating two to perhaps three anglers. Look for windows on all four sides of the shelter to provide good natural light and help you monitor tip-ups while inside. It should come with a storage bag and the tools needed to anchor it to the ice.
Best Basic Ice Fishing Shelter: Eskimo Quickfish2
This pop-up ice fishing shelter can be set up in 60 seconds and fits into the included carrying bag. The shelter has a durable, tightly-woven fabric exterior and is not insulated, which makes it very light and portable. It has 25 square feet of fishing space. Self-tapping ice anchors and in-skirt ice anchor grommets make it easy to secure this shelter to the ice.
Do you need a two-person ice fishing shelter?
A two-person shelter should have enough room for each angler to fish two holes, with space to accommodate electronics, tackle, and a portable heater. Insulation will help keep the heat inside, but it should be well-ventilated and breathable to ensure that moisture and condensation can escape. Look for robust zippers or other closures to facilitate getting into and out of the shelter.
Best Ice Fishing Shelter for Two People: Frabill Fortress 260
The Frabill Fortress 260 provides 69 square feet of fishable space, and the aerodynamic design fights off wintry winds. This shelter is insulated on top for heat retention, has windows on all four sides, and features an extra-wide, full-zipper entry. The Fortress 260 weighs in at 33 pounds and includes a convenient backpack-style transport case.
Do you need a four-person ice fishing shelter?
A four-person ice fishing shelter is the perfect choice for a larger group of anglers, for families, or even just a pair of anglers that need a little more elbow room. A larger shelter also makes it easy to enter or exit the shelter without walking right through another angler’s fishing area.
As shelters get larger, they will also get heavier and bulkier when collapsed down for transport, so look for a well-designed transport bag to hold the shelter when moving to a new spot or packing up for the day.
Best Ice Fishing Shelter for Four People: Eskimo Outbreak 450i
The Eskimo Outbreak 450i is a fully-insulated pop-up ice fishing shelter that provides 75 square feet of fishing space. An oversized, trip-proof door means no more catching your foot on the door framework and stumbling with your gear. Removable window panels and mesh storage pockets add to this hub ice fishing shelter’s versatility. Included ice anchors and in-skirt anchor grommets make it easy to secure the hub against the wind.
Do you need an ice fishing shelter for more than four people?
A large pop up ice fishing shelter is a great choice for those holiday trips when all of your friends and relatives want to chase walleyes and crappies, or for when you want to use your shelter as a base camp for a multi-day adventure on hardwater. These shelters offer abundant fishable space for six to eight anglers, or allow you to use a portion of the shelter as a field kitchen or even as a sleeping area equipped with cots and sleeping bags.
The best ice fishing shelters for a large group will offer abundant interior space while still collapsing down to a portable, compact package for transport and storage. Look for full thermal insulation, abundant ventilation, and numerous windows and anchor points.
Best Ice Fishing Shelter for a Big Group: Clam C890 Thermal Shelter
The Clam C890 is an extra-large shelter that provides plenty of space for a big group. This insulated and well-ventilated shelter has a unique six-sided design and offers 89 square feet of interior fishing space, yet weighs only 58 pounds. Made of strong 600 total denier fabric and full thermal skin that retains heat and reduces condensation, the Clam C890 keeps large groups warm and dry and is easy to set up and take down.
Are You Bringing a Lot of Gear onto the Ice?
A sled-based shelter allows you to haul lots of ice fishing equipment—and ice anglers need plenty of it—because you simply tow the collapsed shelter on a sled onto the ice. A hybrid ice fishing shelter blends together the benefits of a sled shelter with a pop up design that maximizes fishable space while minimizing weight. These shelters feature an expandable hub design that collapses down into a robust molded sled, rather than packing into a bag.
Hybrid or crossover ice fishing shelters are available in sizes to accommodate one or two anglers, and generally provide features associated with tents and shanties based on sleds, including chairs, one or more zippered doors, and windows to light up the interior. Most hybrid ice fishing shelters offer thermal insulation, well-designed ventilation systems, and anchors to keep the shelter in place on the ice.
Best Hybrid Ice Fishing Shelter: Eskimo Evo Series
The Eskimo Evo Series shelters seamlessly blend the benefits of a sled-based, flip over shelter with the convenience of a pop up shelter. Available in sizes to accommodate one or two anglers, the Evo Series shelters combine insulated top and back panels with fiberglass poles and hubs to reduce weight. Oversized side doors and abundant windows enhance their convenience and fishability.
Best budget ice fishing shelter: What you get for under $150
Budget-minded anglers can still find a quality ice fishing shelter. It probably won’t have thermal insulation, but it will block the wind generally be large enough to accommodate two or three anglers. Because of their smaller size, these shelters are often very light and easy to transport and store.
Best Cheap Ice Fishing Shelter: Frabill HQ 200
A quality, portable pop up shelter, the Frabill HQ 200 has room for two or three anglers and features a durable 300D polyester exterior that can withstand the wind and elements. This shelter is incredibly lightweight at only 23 pounds, and packs and stores quickly in the included storage bag.
Ice Fishing Shelter FAQ: People Also Ask
Who makes the best ice fishing shelters?
Several prominent manufacturers based in the ice belt have a long history of manufacturing ice fishing shelters. Clam, Frabill, and Eskimo produce high-quality ice fishing shelters packed with the features and durability that ice anglers demand.
How long does an ice fishing shelter last?
An ice fishing shelter can provide many seasons of use and enjoyment. To get the most years out of your shelter, dry it completely after every trip to prevent mold and mildew. When using a portable heat source inside your shelter, keep it away from the walls to prevent burns and holes. During the summer, keep your ice fishing shelter stored off the ground to reduce the chances that a family of mice might move in and chew the shelter to bits.
What should I look for when buying an ice fishing shelter?
Key features to consider when buying an ice fishing shelter include enough fishable space, windows to let in light and allow you to monitor tip-ups, and a weight that you can transport easily. Many ice fishing shelters offer an array of accessories including rod holders, interior lights, coat hangers, and storage areas that make fishing inside a shelter more convenient and fun.
A Final Word on Shopping For Ice Fishing Shelters
An ice fishing shelter is a necessity if you plan to fish on cold, windy, or snowy days. The warm and dry fishing area provided by a contemporary ice fishing shelter will let you fish longer and in comfort.