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When it comes to ice fishing shelters, ice anglers are spoiled for choice.
We all have different demands for weather protection, and we all vary in terms of our capacity to handle the elements.
Even the most hardened ice angler needs good shelter when the snow and wind melt us into a frozen feature of a blinding white landscape.
Do you fish alone or in a pack? Are you planning a week on the ice, or a fast and furious afternoon dusk session?
And what sort of gear carrying capacity do you have? A sled? A snowmobile?
All of these factors should be considered when you’re purchasing the best ice fishing shelter. There are plenty of brilliant designs on the market, but what’s the right hut for you?
Let’s check out 5 good ice fishing shelters to cover a diverse range of needs and budgets.
Best Ice Fishing Shelters Reviewed
Last update on 2024-02-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
5 Best Ice Fishing Shelters
1. CLAM Portable Pop-Up Tent – Best for Multiple Anglers
The big Clam offers shelter for up to 6 anglers. However, most tent users will know that while it is possible to fit the specified number of people inside, it is usually better suited for one or two fewer people than suggested.
There are 89 square feet of fishable space, which is just a guide and should be considered based on how you intend to use it.
Sure, you can jam 6 people inside, but where will your gear go? And are you really going to drill 6 holes in a circle with a diameter of 12 feet?
Bottom line is that this is a spacious, insulated pop-up that’s particularly durable and resistant to wind and ugly weather.
The snow banking skirts are oversize, and multiple anchoring options ensure you can keep her grounded in a big blow.
All huts, tents, and shelters will be advertised as ‘tough construction,’ but it’s fair to say the big Clam is true to its promise.
600 denier is pretty standard for serious ice fishing tents, so are oversized poles (11mm). However, overall, the clam is indeed robust and designed for the rigors of life on the ice.
Most importantly, the insulated Clam will keep all inhabitants nice and warm and safe from frostbite.
There’s 60 grams of insulation per square meter, a full thermal trap for heat retention and condensation mitigation. A black roof absorbs the sun’s rays, providing a natural heat source.
I like the big Clam for a couple of anglers spending a long weekend out on the ice.
You can set up cots, cooking stations, and drill a few holes inside without tripping over each other.
When packed the tent weighs in at just shy of 60 pounds, and measures 72 inches long and 12 inches x 12 inches tall. No, you won’t carry it on your back, but it will fit nicely with the rest of your kit in a decent sled.
Setup is straightforward if a little tricky in the wind, but manageable for 2 with little fuss.
Ideal for 6 friends, or an ice fishing family, the C890 isn’t cheap, but it’s quality gear and value for money.
- 600 total denier fabric
- 60 grams of insulation per square meter
- Full thermal skin retains heat & burns less propane
- Flex-tested, extra-large 11mm poles
- Oversized skirt for ample snow banking
- Carry bag included
- Triple layer corner pockets
- Anchors and tie ropes included
2. CLAM Legend Ice Fishing Tent – Best 1 Person Shelter
Built for genuine sub-zero conditions, the flip-over Legend XL Thermal has everything you need for long-session comfort on the ice.
It’s difficult to criticize any part of this brilliant solo angler’s dream hut. Some might find the 60 pounds a little tough on a long sled haul, but that’s a small point and it’s not much of an issue.
- 1-PERSON SHELTER: Lightweight, 1-person shelter measures 7.7 feet long, 3.7 feet wide, and 5.6 feet at center height when set up; Packed size measures 44 inches long, 36 inches wide, and 24 inches tall; Weight: 60 pounds
- DELUXE SWIVEL SEAT: Deluxe padded swivel seat slides back and forth and left to right; Comes pre-assembled and supports up to 300 pounds
- TOUGH CONSTRUCTION: Made of strong 900 total denier fabric and full thermal skin that retains heat; 90 grams of insulation per square meter
- EASILY FIND YOUR GEAR: Co-extruded gray plastic for lighter color inside tub makes it easier to locate gear; Hammock underneath seat provides for convenient storage
Last update on 2024-02-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
When packed, the Legend measures in at L 44” x W 36” x H 24”. It hooks up easily to the back of a snowmobile or ATV, and when on the ice, pulls along easily with the supplied tow rope.
The fishing area is L 55” x W 42”, or 16 square feet. You have enough room for all of your gear, and then some.
There’s convenient built-in storage beside the swivel sliding chair, meaning you don’t have to fuss with packing up and moving gear around if you want to move a few yards to a new hole.
Set up is very simple, and after a few practices, you’ll be able to set up in 60 seconds or less, which is great for those really cold days when all you want to do is get out of the wind.
The RPSX Rapid Pole Slide Extreme system is child’s play to set up and adjust, even when your hands are freezing after the trek out to your favorite spot
Select your spot, drill your hole, and place the Legend behind the hole and simply flip it. On extreme days, you could probably set up the tent, then drill once erected.
Insulation is excellent with90 grams of insulation per square meter and is encased in tough 900 total Denier fabric which offers exceptional durability and outstanding wind protection.
Such is the insulation from the cold, it is more than possible to do without a heating system.
There are 4 windows, 4 vents, offering outstanding airflow for thermal and condensation management, and 2 doors delivering convenient access, one front, and one behind the chair.
The padded chair swivels as well as moves back to front and left to right.
Gear storage is at your fingertips, with a generous tub and hammock underneath you, and a tray beside. Ergonomics have been thoughtfully considered and applied.
The price may take your breath away, yes, But this is one of the best ice fishing shelters out there, and worth saving for.
There are two, three, and four-person models available also.
- Super-tough 900 total Denier fabric
- Full thermal skin
- 90 grams of insulation per square meter
- Deluxe swivel seat that slides back-and-forth, left-to-right
- RPSX Rapid Pole Slide Extreme system
- Hammock under the seat for gear storage
- Tub design increases usable space by 23%
- Co-extruded grey plastic for lighter color inside tub – easier to locate gear
- Seat system comes pre-assembled
- Tub and poles made in the USA
3. Otter XT Pro Ice Fishing Shelter – Editor’s Choice
If you’ve just been convinced to go with the Legend, you might want to wait until you’ve discovered the Otter.
The Otter XT pro ice fishing shelter will cost you more than the Legend, but the extra money will get you better insulation, more space, and a unique pole system.
At 16.8 square feet of space, the Otter will comfortably seat two anglers.
At this price, I think Otter should have supplied two seats. Unfortunately, a second seat will cost you extra.
Nonetheless, this is an outstanding piece of ice fishing kit and will suit the solo ice angler or the dynamic ice duo.
The Otter sets up like a traditional flip shelter, yet has a unique pole structure that allows you to convert its side access in seconds while maintaining front door access.
The EZ lock assembly featuring the ultra-glide system significantly reduces assembly time. It’s also easy with your gloves on.
Access options such as this unique configuration seriously enhance versatility.
A rear access door further enhances access allowing anglers to access their gear quickly without having to enter the tent.
The cold is tough enough on a still day, but it’s the wind that cuts through to destroy our fishing joy.
The Otter has a Thermal-Tec Triple Layer Insulated Shell 1,200-denier layering system that blocks wind, keeping occupants cozy warm inside.
The quilted thermal inner ensures the warmth remains inside and mitigates condensation.
Ventilation options also contribute to the reduction of condensation and the replenishment of fresh air – a must with two people heavy breathing, combined with the emissions of an artificial heat source.
The Rotomolded Otter Pro Sled includes integral hitch pockets. This provides outstanding towing strength.
The sled’s high entry angle keeps the front end clear of the snow allowing for towing over rugged terrain.
Inside the Otter, a padded seat with a capacity to hold 275 pounds provides plenty of comfort for big men over long sessions.
They are multi-directional, sliding effortlessly side to side on aluminum rails.
Beneath the seats, equipment heavy anglers will find more than enough at-hand storage for all tackle, ice rods, and electronics.
Ergonomics and seamless operation are a feature of the Otter, and testament to the hours of consideration apparent in the design.
At 82 pounds, you won’t be slinging this tent over your shoulder. This is perhaps the only drawback, along with the second seat costing extra.
The price might hurt, but all that pain will drain away the moment you flip it up and get out of the freeze within seconds. Awesome ice fishing shelter for one angler, pretty good for two.
- up to three anglers (with optional 3rd seat)
- Patented Otter Thermal-Tec Triple Layer Insulated Shell
- 1,200-denier layering system blocks wind
- Quilted thermal inner shell
- Rear access door
- 100% RotoMolded Otter Pro Sled with Molded-in Hitch Pockets
- Cross-Link Seating System
- Aluminum Seat Rail with top-mounted seats
- Includes 2 Deluxe Padded Swivel Seats with multi-directional adjustments
4.Thunderbay Ice Cube Series – Best Budget Shelter
For a touch over a couple of hundred dollars range, the Thunderbay Ice Cube delivers light-traveling, easy-carry weather protection for up to three ice fishing anglers.
The Ice Cubes are not insulated and lack the bells and whistles of the top-shelf huts. It’s not an extreme weather hut, but nor does it make that promise.
The beauty of the Thunderbay is that it is affordable, effective, and easy to erect and carry.
This is the sort of tent that’s ideal for those traveling on foot, and those who prefer to travel light as a rule.
The 300 denier fabric will block the wind, and hold its ground firmly when pegged securely.
For colder days, a heater will be best, with convenient ventilation provided in the form of windows, for managing airflow, temperature, and condensation.
For days when the sun shines the black roof absorbs the sun’s rays for natural warmth to a degree where artificial heating is likely unnecessary.
The Ice Cube provides a generous 34 Sq Ft fishable area.
Tall anglers will appreciate the 80″ Ceiling height, as bending your neck when standing can become annoying and uncomfortable over a long session of busy fishing.
A decent-sized skirt allows for decent snow banking to keep the drafts out and the shelter stable.
As with any tent, manufacturers tend to exaggerate the numbers it can accommodate comfortably.
If I was consistently fishing with a buddy, I’d select the three-man hut, as it will provide ample room for two plus gear and comfortable chairs.
The two-man will accommodate two in relative comfort, but two anglers, two full kits plus holes and chairs, can be a bit of a squeeze.
Yes, togetherness is all well and good when the temperature drops, but a little bit of wiggle room goes a long way when you’re two hefty anglers with a lot of gear.
The Ice Cube is Thunderbay’s first venture into ice fishing huts, but it’s certainly in keeping with their hunting expertise.
Anglers will appreciate the lightweight fabric, lightweight fiberglass poles, and lightning fast set-up.
They’ll also appreciate the warmth on the ice for a very small financial outlay.
- 34 Sq Ft fishable area!
- 90″x90″ hub to hub width!
- 80″ Ceiling height!
- Heavy-duty, replaceable fiberglass poles
- Durable cast aluminum hubs
- Rugged 300 denier fabric
- Extra heavy-duty zippers
- Fast, easy setup and pull down
- Compact storage
5. Frabill HQ 200 2-3 Man Shelter – Best Lightweight Hub
Frabill is well known among ice anglers and is regarded as a reliable brand with exceptional durability.
Again, we find ourselves quibbling at 2 man versus 3 man, and while the HQ 200 suggests plenty of room for three, I’d call it functional for two, and a little too tight for three.
This is more a criticism of marketing teams than design and construction.
The tent industry is well known for this, and “three-man” is more an indication of size and volume as opposed to how many people can be functionally accommodated.
At 70″L X 70″W X 80″H, two tall men will fit nicely with holes and kit. And with storage dimensions of 52.25″L X 8.5″W X 8.5″H, the HQ fits firmly in the compact and easily portable hub category.
The shelter isn’t insulated and the 300 denier polyester does require condensation management.
But this is anticipated in a hut of this type, and there is enough ventilation to manage condensation and fresh air.
Despite its lightweight construction, the Frabill is robust enough to handle the rugged ice environment and will take a pretty reasonable breeze before you feel you might be blow away.
The supplied anchoring does a fine job of keeping the shelter firmly planted to terra firma, with heavy-duty zips and strong seams keeping the shelter intact in a blow.
The dominant black coloring is ideal for collecting warmth from the sun, but an artificial heat source might be wise for the colder days.
While it might lack the features of the top-shelf flips and hobs, it provides shelter and an effective windbreak.
And this it does while remaining highly affordable, easy to set up (a couple of minutes), and easy to carry at only 23 pounds.
A great ice fishing shelter, for a standard level of winter protection out on the ice.
- Durable construction
- Exceptional portability
- Holds up to 3 anglers
- Incredibly lightweight
- Storage dimensions 52.25″L x 8.5″W x 8.5″H
- 300D Polyester
- Strategically-placed windows and vents
Benefits of an Ice Fishing Shelter
The main benefit of an ice shelter is the protection it offers from the freezing winds. Even on the colder days, a windless session can be enjoyed out in the open.
But it doesn’t take much of a breeze to cut through the best of winter clothing making your session very uncomfortable, and even dangerous.
It protects you, your buddies, your fishing gear, and your enjoyment of fishing.
While they can be expensive, and add to the gear haul, it’s a small price to pay for fishing comfort and safety over extended sessions in poor weather.
What is the Best Ice Fishing Flasher
Does Barometric Pressure Affect Ice Fishing
Our Criteria for Buying the Best Portable Ice Shelter
Protection From the Elements
What is the most crucial factor for an ice fishing shelter? Does it keep out the wind and draft?
Is it waterproof? The best protection is offered by shelter fabric of 600 denier and higher.
When you’re paying top dollar, you want it to last and endure the rugged ice conditions.
Pay particular attention to seams, zippers, poles, and hubs. They must be robust to ensure longevity.
Probably the most interesting criteria, as portability will always be at the expense of protection and durability.
Often, portability is a feature people seek over high level protection, thermal control, and durability.
The lighter, more portable an ice fishing shelter, the more compromise has been made with insulation and heavy-duty construction components.
Keep this in mind and try to get a good balance between portability and durability.
Set up and Take Down
Tent manufacturers always make a big deal about ease of setup and take down.
Most people seek fast erection and fast breakdown. The quicker you’re sheltered from the elements and fishing the better.
Most will set up between 1 and 3 minutes anyway, so it’s not really a big deal with modern shelters. Ease of setup for one person in a wind is a feature to look for.
Hub vs Flip Over Style
It’s a personal choice, with each style having compelling features. Expect to pay significantly more for a flip over, as they are usually equipped with more features
Probably the third most important consideration? Is there enough room to fish in comfort, without compromise?
Be aware that tent manufacturers are notorious for stating greater capacity than is actually practical.
Insulated vs Non-Insulated
Warmth is a critical factor. While insulated shelters provide the best thermal protection by far, anglers should ask themselves if they really need such protection if they don’t intend to fish in the worst of winter conditions.
Strong insulation increases the price significantly.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Do You Use as the Floor for an Ice Fishing Shelter?
Anglers will use whatever material is lightweight and portable for hubs and flip overs. From custom foam and rubber to interlocking camping foam floors.
For most anglers in flips and pops, no floor is probably the best option.
Sitting your heater on some sort of insulated mat or piece of ply can help keep your floor from degrading over the session.
Are Ice Fishing Tents Warm?
This is very difficult to answer accurately, as it can be quite subjective. In short, any insulated shelter with a heater will keep you toasty warm, so long as you are dressed appropriately.
Ultimately, anything that gets you out of the wind provides significantly increased warmth.
When Should you buy an Ice Fishing Shelter?
Once upon a time, I’d say wait till the end of the season for runout sales. While this still applies, shop around online as bargains are available all year round.
If you’re looking to save cash, go for runout models, and avoid the first release of the latest models.
These shelters always come at a premium.
Why are ice Fishing Shelters Black on the Inside?
Black interiors allow you to see into your hole better, and generally see better inside.
On the outside, black is excellent for storing the heat of the sun’s rays.
How do you Secure an Ice Fishing Shelter?
Ice shelters are secured via anchors that screw into the ice. Snow banking skirts also provide a level of stability, and reduce flapping in a wind, yet are more about managing drafts.