The 7 Best Ice Fishing Chairs: Can Comfort and Portability Meet in Harmony on the Ice? 

Last Updated on April 28, 2022

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The best ice fishing chair will be both comfortable and portable. The problem is, it’s not easy to find a chair that offers both of those features. While my favorite, the Browning Camping Directors Chair boasts maximum comfort, I know it’s not the most portable option out there. 

It’s up to you to decide whether you want to go all-in on portability or all-in on comfort. Years ago, my grandfather and I used to sit on buckets and fish for hours. We never complained, never whined, and never thought anything of it. 

Oh, how things have changed! Keep reading below for complete reviews of the best ice fishing chairs on the market right now.

Comparison Table – Best Ice Fishing Chair

ImageProductRatingPrice
Best Overall
Browning Camping Directors Chair
Browning Camping Directors Chair

Style: Directors Chair
Weight: 10lbs
Storage/Cooler: No
Standout Feature: Maximum Comfort and Back Support 

9.2
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Best Runner-Up
LEADALLWAY Foldable Camping Chair with Cooler Bag
LEADALLWAY Foldable Camping Chair with Cooler Bag

Style: Folding Cooler Chair
Weight: 2.9lbs
Storage/Cooler: Yes
Standout Feature: Built-in Cooler

8.7
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Best With Cooler
Wise Outdoors Super Sport Hunting Seat
Wise Outdoors Super Sport Hunting Seat

Style: Cooler Chair
Weight: 12.4lbs
Storage/Cooler: Yes
Standout Feature: 10 Gallon Cooler 

8.9
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Most Portable
Eskimo Folding XL Ice Fishing Chair
Eskimo Folding XL Ice Fishing Chair

Style: Folding Ice Chair
Weight: 8lbs
Storage/Cooler: Storage Pocket
Standout Feature: Fully Collapsible

9
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Editor's Choice
Frabill Sit-N-Fish Insulated Bait Bucket
Frabill Sit-N-Fish Insulated Bait Bucket

Style: Bucket
Weight: 3lbs
Storage/Cooler: Yes
Standout Feature: 6 Gallon Bucket

8.6
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Best Premium
Nemo Equipment Stargaze Recliner
Nemo Equipment Stargaze Recliner

Style: Recliner
Weight: 7lbs
Storage/Cooler: No
Standout Feature: Reclining

8.4
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Best Collapsible
Sportneer Lightweight Collapsible Stools
Sportneer Lightweight Collapsible Stools

Style: Telescopic Stools
Weight: 2lbs
Storage/Cooler: No
Standout Feature: Best Portable Option

8.2
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The Best Ice Fishing Chairs: My Personal Favorites 

Browning Camping Directors Chair 

Browning Camping Directors Chair

BEST OVERALL

Specs

  • Style: Directors Chair
  • Weight: 10lbs
  • Storage/Cooler: No
  • Standout Feature: Maximum Comfort and Support 

Pros

  • Folds almost completely flat
  • Portable for a larger chair
  • Comes with a side table
  • Fast drying material

Cons

  • Limited grip and base on the ice
  • A little bit heavy

Why We Chose It 

The Browning Directors Chair was picked as the top ice fishing seat for a few reasons. It checks enough boxes in comfort, portability, and functionality for me to comfortably say it’s the best option out there right now. 

The main reason I chose it is because of the comfort. Ice fishing chairs are synonymously known for being uncomfortable, small, and a little rough on the rear end. You won’t find that problem with this chair. But, with that comes sacrifices. 

It’s a bit bulkier than some of you might like and even when it’s folded up, it still weighs ten pounds. If you’re bringing a few of these on the ice you’ll quickly realize that you’re adding a lot of extra weight to the ice fishing sled

I also like the durability factor here. This chair won’t fall apart on you like some of the other options and the material dries nice and quick to help keep you dry and warm. Overall, an incredibly solid option with a 325-pound weight capacity. 

LEADALLWAY Foldable Camping Chair with Cooler Bag 

LEADALLWAY Foldable Camping Chair with Cooler Bag

BEST RUNNER UP

Specs

  • Style: Folding Cooler Chair
  • Weight: 2.9lbs
  • Storage/Cooler: Yes
  • Standout Feature: Built-in Cooler

Pros

  • Made using strong and durable Oxford fabric
  • Rated for 280lbs
  • Lightweight and incredibly portable
  • Built-in cooler

Cons

  • Much smaller than you’d think
  • Low backrest

Why We Chose It 

First things first, let’s cover what this chair is not. This chair is not the Browning Directors Chair. It doesn’t offer the same level of comfort, durability, or capacity. What is this chair you ask? The chair is portable, lightweight, and easy to haul around and that’s what a lot of people are looking for in the best ice fishing chair. 

Ice fishing wasn’t designed for comfort so neither are the best chairs. It only weighs 2.9 pounds but it’s still rated for 280 which should be good enough to support most people. The biggest downside is the fact that the chair only extends 22 inches high in the back.

Bear in mind… that measurement is less than two feet in total height. That means that the backrest is only about one foot high or less. 

I’d say this chair is best used inside of an ice fishing shelter because you’ll stay low to the ground and you’ll barely even know you’re lugging a chair on the ice.

The dimensions of the cooler are approximately 10 x 7 x 10 so again, it’s small. The goal here is portability and ease of use, it’s not always going to be about maximum comfort. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll want a different chair. 

Wise Outdoors Super Sport Hunting Seat

Wise Outdoors Super Sport Hunting Seat

BEST WITH COOLER

Specs

  • Style: Cooler Chair
  • Weight: 12.4lbs
  • Storage/Cooler: Yes
  • Standout Feature: 10 Gallon Cooler 

Pros

  • Built-in 10 gallon cooler
  • Surprisingly portable
  • Padded camo seat
  • 350lb weight capacity

Cons

  • Cooler leaves a bit to be desired
  • Not completely collapsible

Why We Chose It 

Whether you plan on stocking the cooler full of live bait or beer, you’ll have ten gallons worth filling up with this ice fishing chair. It’s a great multifunctional chair that comes with a padded seat attached to a cooler underneath. 

You can remove the seat portion of the chair and fold that up but you’ll still need to carry the cooler separately. In terms of sturdiness, this is about as good as you can get for a chair this small. You won’t have to worry about it collapsing from underneath you. The reason is that it doesn’t collapse so it’s also a downside. 

The Super Sport Hunting Seat is not the most portable chair on this list at 12.4 lbs, that’s for sure. But, if you find yourself constantly having to stand up with your ice fishing rod because you’re not comfortable in your chair, this one should solve that problem. 

Eskimo Folding XL Ice Fishing Chair 

Eskimo Folding XL Ice Fishing Chair

MOST PORTABLE 

Specs

  • Style: Folding Chair
  • Weight: 8lbs
  • Storage/Cooler: Storage Pocket
  • Standout Feature: Fully Collapsible

Pros

  • Large chair with a high back
  • Fully collapsible
  • High off the ground
  • Made with 600 denier fabric

Cons

  • Minimal storage

Why We Chose It 

The Eskimo is definitely one of my favorite chairs for a few reasons. First, it has an oversized design so you get extra room for your rear end and a higher back for more support. This means you don’t have to sit hunched over and when you’re wearing your bulky ice fishing bibs, you won’t be hanging off the edge of the chair. 

It’s also high off the ground which is ideal for taller people and those with limited mobility. I can just see my dad trying to sit on some of the other chairs I’ve recommended so far. He’d never be able to get up out of them because they’re so low to the ground. The Eskimo chair puts you in a more natural sitting position. 

Best of all, this chair is entirely collapsible and comes with a carry bag with a carry strap to make transport easier. It has a small side pocket storage pouch where you can put your phone or some lures but I wish it had a little more storage. Overall, easily one of the best ice fishing chairs ever made. 

Frabill Sit-N-Fish Insulated Bait Bucket

Frabill Sit-N-Fish Insulated Bait Bucket

EDITORS CHOICE 

Specs

  • Style: Bucket
  • Weight: 3lbs
  • Storage/Cooler: Yes
  • Standout Feature: 6 Gallon Bucket

Pros

  • Simple “old school” design
  • Multipurpose
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Not collapsible

Why We Chose It 

If you’re looking for an old-school, budget-friendly option – go with the Frabill bucket. Is it a chair? That’s up for debate but I’m a big fan of this choice. It reminds me of going ice fishing with my grandfather. We never had chairs, we sat on the buckets we planned on using for the fish we caught.

We’d basically fish until we ran out of buckets to sit on and that’s when we knew it was time to go home. 

Think about it this way folks, you’re going to need a bucket anyway, right? Why not repurpose it with a little padding instead of bringing a chair on the ice? The bucket itself is also taller than your typical bucket so you’re not sitting too close to the ground. 

Best of all, this one comes with an internal insulated cooler with a beverage holder. You’re getting comfort, functionality, and purpose all in the form of a bucket. How can you go wrong? 

Nemo Equipment Stargaze Recliner

Nemo Equipment Stargaze Recliner

BEST PREMIUM

Specs

  • Style: Recliner
  • Weight: 7lbs
  • Storage/Cooler: No
  • Standout Feature: Reclining

Pros

  • Recline feature
  • Maximum comfort padding and polyester fabric
  • Heavy duty aluminum frame
  • Surprisingly lightweight

Cons

  • Overpriced

Why We Chose It 

Who said ice fishing means roughing it? The Stargaze Recliner is anything but roughing it out on the ice. It comes with a ton of padding, a huge bucket seat, and a reclining feature that allows you to kick back and stare up into space while you wait for your tip ups

The chair features a cup holder, a wide base, and plenty of padding to ensure it’s both stable and comfortable. I think the thing that surprised me the most here was that it only weighs seven pounds. For such a durable chair, the lightweight and portable nature of it must be the reason for the extreme price tag.

Paying over $200 for a camp chair sounds a little ridiculous to me but hey, it might be worth it! 

Sportneer Lightweight Collapsible Stools

Sportneer Lightweight Collapsible Stools

BEST COLLAPSIBLE 

Specs

  • Style: Telescopic Stools
  • Weight: 2lbs
  • Storage/Cooler: No
  • Standout Feature: Best Portable Option

Pros

  • Completely collapsible down to 2.5-inches
  • Lightweight
  • Multi-purpose and ergonomic

Cons

  • Not a very comfortable chair

Why We Chose It 

I highly recommend picking up a couple of these and keeping them with your ice fishing gear. Having at least one should be about as important as bringing your ice fishing boots. You never know when you’re going to forget your chair and end up having to stand or kneel on the ice and that’s not something you want to do. 

These telescopic stools are completely collapsible and they barely take up any space at all. What I like most about them is the fact that you can use them for other things as well. They’re great for camping, on long trips, or even if you’re gardening in the backyard. 

Even though they’re small they still have a capacity of 330lbs but keep in mind that comfort is not exactly something you’re going to get here. They’re only 17.7-inches tall so you’re low to the ground and the seat portion is around 9-inches wide so there’s not a lot of space to park your butt.

These reasons are why I think these stools are best used as emergency backups or extras if you bring someone along with you.  

Types of Ice Fishing Chairs 

Types of Ice Fishing Chairs 

One of the first things you’ll want to understand when choosing the best ice fishing chair is the difference between the various chairs. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of each and how the different styles will impact your comfort and portability. 

Foldable Chairs 

Chairs that offer maximum foldability and portability will likely sacrifice in the area of comfort. These chairs may only weigh a few pounds and fold down to almost nothing, but they don’t usually have a lot of surface area. 

This means that they might begin to hurt your butt after a while. They’re also usually low to the ground with the exception of the Eskimo Folding Ice Chair. When they’re low to the ground it makes it difficult to get in and out of them, especially for larger people and those with limited mobility. 

Director Chairs

In most cases, director’s chairs offer the best comfort. They have a fully supportive seat, high back, and padded armrests. This means that you can sit back when you’re not actively fishing. 

The main downside of these chairs is that they’re typically larger and heavier and they don’t fold up entirely. Many of them come with built-in coolers as well which is nice but definitely takes away from the portability factor. 

Swivel Chairs

Swivel seats are great for using inside ice fishing shelters when you’re cramped in tight quarters. You might have to turn around and access the tackle box behind you but then flip back around to face the fishing hole again. If you have to get up and move around the chair, it’s not only a pain but it can sometimes be impossible if the shelter is very small. 

These chairs offer a range of portability and lightweight features. Some are more portable than others but many of them offer plenty of padding and a wide base so you have a large surface area to park your rump. 

Buckets 

Buckets have been the go-to option for most ice fishermen for decades. Bucket chairs provide you with a place to sit and they also offer storage for whatever it is you want to take. 

These aren’t the most portable option because they don’t fold up but they generally weigh less than a few pounds and you have one less thing you need to bring with you. The buckets don’t provide much padding or comfort and they don’t usually come with a backrest either.

Overall, not the best option for comfort or durability but they’re an economical option for the rustic ice angler. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Ice Fishing Chair 

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Ice Fishing Chair 

Once you understand what type of chair you want, you’ll want to narrow it down a little more and consider some of the specifics. There are so many options to choose from, only you can decide which factors are most important to you. Let’s take a look at some of them.  

Size and Weight

It’s always going to be a battle to find an ice fishing chair that is both small and comfortable. You need something that is lightweight and portable but you also don’t want to sit on a chair that hurts your rear end. 

If you go too heavy and large, you’ll end up struggling to get it to your hole when you’re lugging your augers, fish finders, and whatever else you bring. If you go too light you might end up with a crappy chair that breaks easily. 

All of the chairs recommended in this guide marry both comfort and portability so I think you’ll be good with any of them. 

Storage

Storage is always a nice bonus feature in an ice fishing chair because it gives you a place to put your drinks, phones, lures, or whatever else you want. You need to determine how much storage you want.

Do you want a chair with a full blown 10-gallon bucket? Or, could you work with nothing more than a little side pouch for your phone? It’s up to you!

Comfort and Height

Ice fishing can sometimes lead to a long and boring day. The only thing that can make it worse is if you have to spend the whole day sitting on an uncomfortable chair. Look for chairs with at least a little bit of padding and try to find ones that are at least two feet off the ground. 

Sitting in an unnatural position in the cold will make you feel stiff and it could make it difficult to get in and out of the chair especially if you’re a little bit older. 

Durability 

The materials your chair is made of are important too. You want to make sure it’s made with durable fabric and that the steel frame is sturdy enough to hold you. 

Corrosion resistance is another feature that we didn’t discuss much but it’s something you want to think about. Weather is unpredictable and snowdrift will create moisture on the frame of the chair. From there you’ll take the chair and likely stuff it in a bag or throw it in the back of your vehicle.

That moisture can sit on the frame and cause it to corrode if you’re not careful. Be sure that the chair is made with corrosion-resistant metal. 

Final Thoughts 

I think the overall theme of this guide is that “not all chairs are created equal.” Choosing the best ice fishing chair requires you to think hard about something that usually doesn’t require critical thinking. If you don’t weigh the pros and cons of each chair, you might find yourself with a sore bum and a bad attitude after a long day of ice fishing. 

I’d still go with the Browning Camping Directors Chair. I’m personally willing to lug a few extra pounds onto the ice if it means I can have the comfort I’m looking for. If you’re fishing inside of a shelter you might need something smaller though. The Eskimo Folding XL Ice Fishing Chair is a great option in that case. 

Go through, check out each chair a little more, and settle on the one you think works best for you!

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