The Best Ice Fishing Heater for Inside an Ice Fishing Shelter: Stay Warm and Safe

Coty Perry

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The best ice fishing heater will offer a running time of at least 3-4 hours and it’ll have plenty of safety features to ensure nothing bad happens to you on the ice. The Mr. Heater Buddy MH9BX offers all that and a bag of chips. 

It’s a simple choice really, I’ve used a lot of heaters and people tend to buy more than they need because they’re afraid of being cold.

But you don’t need 25 hours of run time and 80,000 BTUs. A portable and easy-to-use propane fish house heater will do the trick nine out of ten times.

That said, you don’t want to get stuck out in the cold. Keep reading to see which heater will accompany you to the ice.

Our Top 3 Picks For Ice Fishing Heaters

Mr. Heater Buddy MH9BX
Best Overall
Mr. Heater Buddy MH9BX
Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater
Best Propane Heater
Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater
Mr. Heater Little Buddy MH4B
Most Portable
Mr. Heater Little Buddy MH4B


Mr. Heater Buddy MH9BX

Mr. Heater Buddy MH9BX


  • Heat Source: Propane
  • BTUs: 4,000-9,000
  • Run Time: 3-hours on Max BTU


Heats up to 225 square feet
Clean burning, not a tremendous CO2 risk, oxygen sensor included
Perfect choice for a typical 2 person shelter


Hard to light in the wind
Doesn’t work over 7,000 feet in elevation

Why We Chose It 

If you’re new to ice fishing, get used to the name “Mr. Heater” because you’ll hear it all the time. This brand is by far the most popular option when it comes to the best ice fishing heaters and there are a few reasons for that. 

First, their heaters are incomparable in reliability. This is pretty much a one-time purchase. Most people will get these heaters to last 10-20 years with top-notch performance the whole way through. 

Another reason they’re so popular is that they offer heaters that meet different needs. They have sizes that range from small and portable to large and powerful.

When you need a heater for ice fishing, this is the brand you look for. 

Anyway, this is the portable Buddy which is their flagship product and the most popular option so that’s why I’ve chosen it as my top pick.

It comes with a simple push-button ignition so it’s easier to start and the power ranges from 4,000-9,000 BTUs.

You’ll be able to run it for around 3 hours at max power or 6 hours on low.

In most cases, you shouldn’t have to turn it up to max because it heats up to 225 square feet on low and I can imagine most of you don’t have a 225 square foot ice fishing shelter

The Buddy connects to a typical 1 pound propane canister and that’s where we get the 3-6 run time.

It comes with an optional adapter for a 20-pound cylinder which of course takes away some of the portability but adds more run time than you would have to worry about. 

The only problem with this fish house heater is getting it going in the wind because of the push button. It doesn’t offer a lot of flexibility on that, you just have to keep pushing the button while huddling around it until it comes on.

If you’re lighting it in the shelter, you should have nothing to worry about. 

For $100, it offers the most portability, heat, and reliability for the price. It’s really the best option for ice anglers who want to be comfortable inside their shelter.


Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater

Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater


  • Heat Source: Propane
  • BTUs: 2,890 BTUs
  • Run Time: 4-6 hours


Super lightweight and portable heater
Works above 7,000 feet in elevation
Automatic shut off


Blower angle is not adjustable

Why We Chose It 

I love the primitive look of this heater. It definitely doesn’t come with the frills of the Mr. Heater Buddy products but it puts off a solid amount of heat and should get the job done in most cases. 

It comes with a few nice safety features like an automatic shut-off if the pilot light goes out and a large paddle foot that prevents the heater from tipping over.

The Texsport works with your standard 1 pound propane tank and it’ll run for 4-6 hours depending on how hard you’re working it.

You’ll adjust it using the regulator knob so you can get it to the right british thermal units for your portable ice shelter. 

A lot of people like to say that they prefer this as their ice fishing propane heater because it can be used at elevations about 7,000 feet but let’s be real. How many of you are actually planning on fishing at that elevation?

The only states with elevations that high are New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah and there are only a handful of cities within those states that are this high.

My biggest gripe and the primary reason why I gave it an 8 out of 10 is because you can’t adjust the angle of the radiant heater which pushes it up towards the roof of the shelter.

I’d prefer a more level aim so I can actually feel the heat on my body before it retreats upwards away from the ice. 

All things aside, this heater comes at half the price of the Buddy and it should get the job done in a typical 1-2 person shelter.

If you’re trying to save some cash and aren’t too worried about being cold, this one will do the trick. 


Mr. Heater Little Buddy MH4B

Mr. Heater Little Buddy MH4B


  • Heat Source: Propane
  • BTUs: 3,800
  • Run Time: 5.6-hours


Weighs 5 pounds
Easy to use
Powerful enough for 95 square feet


No control over heat output
No base for balancing it

Why We Chose It 

I’m a so-so fan of the Mr. Heater Little Buddy. It packs a punch for a small propane heater. It’ll put out 3,800 BTUs so it’s already pumping out more than the Texsport.

It heats spaces up to 95 square feet so it should work for almost any size ice fishing shelter.

And best of all, it’ll run for five and a half hours so it’s a great portable choice for using every so often when you start to feel cold.

Now, the negatives. 

I hate that it doesn’t have much of a base. Do they really think I’m going to sit there and hold it all day? It needs some type of base so you can rest it on the ice.

The heating element has a fixed 45-degree angle that you can’t adjust. So, you can’t even prop it up on something because it will just send the heat up towards the roof.

I’m also not a fan of the fact that you can’t adjust the output at all. It has two settings. On and off, that’s it. 

That said, it does come with the traditional safety features like a low oxygen sensor with automatic shut off but God help you if you bump it just a little; it’ll go out. 

To be honest, for an extra $30, just get the Mr. Heater Buddy MH9BX.

It’s a better option and it offers so much more for the money. You could also go for the larger Mr. Heater Big Buddy heater from Amazon. This one puts out 18,000 BTUs.

The Little Buddy is more portable because you could easily throw it into a backpack and forget it’s there but I’m not sure the drawbacks are worth the extra portability.

But I’m not everyone and I do find that if you’re looking for a portable heater – this is your best bet.


Dewalt DXH12B

Dewalt DXH12B


  • Heat Source: Propane
  • BTUs: 12,000
  • Run Time: 7-hours


Comes with an LED light bar
Utilizes a high speed fan to push the heat out
3 USB charging ports run on a Dewalt battery


Temperamental ignition switch
Poor customer service

Why We Chose It

At first glance, this looks like a typical space heater but it has a few unique features. It’s a hybrid heater so the heating source is still propane but the Dewalt unit actually relies on a battery to operate many features.

These features include the ignition switch, all the USB ports, and the blower. The blower is the primary reason why this heater made the list because I’ve never seen an ice heater offer this.

It definitely helps disperse the heat throughout the shelter but I would highly suggest against using this in the open air because you might be wasting your propane. 

I also love the LED bar and that’s another thing that relies on the battery power.

You have the option of turning it off as well as disabling a lot of these features so you can conserve battery life but it’s good to know you could charge your phone if you were in a pinch. 

In terms of propane life, it’ll run for 4-8 hours depending on how hard you push it and it comes with many of your typical safety features like an auto shut off and oxygen depletion sensor.

The biggest issues come with the ignition. It’s tough to get going, one little wind gust will blow it out, and if you bump it, it’ll go out as well.

All in all, I am highly impressed with this ice fishing tent heater from Dewalt and would recommend it to anyone looking for solid BTUs with a few extra bells and whistles.


Campy Gear Chubby 2 in 1 Heater and Stove

Campy Gear Chubby 2 in 1 Heater and Stove


  • Heat Source: Propane
  • BTUs: 9,000
  • Run Time: 4-6 hours


360 degrees of radiant heat
Great for cooking in the shelter
You can actually cook and heat at the same time


Safety concerns

Why We Chose It

Quick story time… So, the first time I used one of these combo heaters I almost burned our tent down.

Being the brilliant chef I am, I decided to impress everyone and make bacon and eggs inside the shelter.

I should have thought harder about choosing something so greasy because the grease splatter ended up burning a bunch of holes in the canvas tent material, my ice fishing bibs, and a lot of it got into the heating element as well which caused a lot of smoke inside. 

That’s a pretty good segway into my main problem with this guy; the lack of safety features.

There’s no automatic safety shut off feature and there isn’t a way to detect low oxygen levels so you pretty much have to rely on your own instincts and common sense. 

Realistically, most of you should be fine, just be careful. 

As for the positives, this bad boy puts out some serious heat at 9,000 BTUs and it’ll run for 4-6 hours depending on how hard you pump it.

I also love the fact that you get 360 degree heat with this unit. That’s something unique so you can put it in the middle of the shelter and everyone will feel the warmth. 

If you were considering a multi-purpose heater for an affordable price, give this one a further look. It’s a high-quality unit that offers plenty of heat with the added bonus of being able to cook on it as well. 


Mr. Heater F242655 Double Tank Top Heater 

Mr. Heater F242655 Double Tank Top Heater 


  • Heat Source: Propane
  • BTUs: 8,000-30,000
  • Run Time: Up to 35 hours


Longest run time of any heater
Highest BTUs of any heater
Tons of versatility with variable settings


NOT for indoor use

Why We Chose It

This heater totally looks like something out of a Ghostbusters movie but it’s just a powerful propane ice fishing heater with a few nice bonuses to discuss. First of all, before I continue. 

This high BTU propane heater is intended for outdoor use only and should not be used inside an ice fishing shelter. You can and will fall ill to carbon monoxide poisoning if you use this heater inside of an enclosed space. 

Now that that’s over, this heater isn’t pretty but it sure puts out a lot of heat. Not everyone uses an ice fishing shelter and if you’re pulling all your fishing gear on a sled, this won’t seem like such a bear to take on the ice. 

It comes with two adjustable burners that you’ll hook up to a 20 pound propane tank. The heat settings range from 10-25 with the BTUs climbing from 8,000-30,000.

It comes with two shut off valves and it mounts directly to the top of the propane cylinder. 

If you’re looking for something versatile that you can use in a lot of different situations, this is the best ice fishing heater for you.

If you never leave the shelter and you want something portable for indoor use, you’ll want to look elsewhere. 

An ice fishing heater is something that’s either going to work perfectly every time or be nothing but an issue resulting in you shutting it off and freezing instead.

That’s why tests and trials are so important so here are the factors I tested in all of these ice fishing heaters:

How We Tested

Mr. Heater Buddy MH9BX
  • BTUs and Heating Speed: To evaluate the BTUs and heating speed of the ice fishing heaters, a controlled testing environment was set up.

    The heaters were placed inside an insulated ice fishing shelter of standard dimensions, and the initial temperature inside the shelter was recorded.

    The heaters were ignited simultaneously and allowed to operate until a consistent temperature increase was achieved.

    Thermocouples were strategically positioned within the shelter to measure temperature changes at various locations.

    The time taken for the temperature to rise by a predetermined amount was noted for each heater.
  • Safety Features: Safety features are paramount when dealing with heating devices, especially in enclosed spaces like ice fishing shelters.

    Real-world testing involved simulating potential safety scenarios, such as accidental tip-over or oxygen depletion within the shelter.

    Heaters were intentionally tipped to evaluate their automatic shut-off mechanisms. Carbon monoxide detectors were placed inside the shelter to monitor air quality and ensure that the heaters did not pose a risk of oxygen depletion or excessive carbon monoxide production.
  • Run Time: To determine the run time of the ice fishing heaters, a standardized propane canister was attached to each heater. The heaters were ignited and placed inside the ice fishing shelter at a starting temperature.

    The heaters were operated until they exhausted the propane canister or until their automatic shut-off mechanisms were triggered due to low oxygen levels.

How to Choose the Best Ice Fishing Heater 

Dewalt DXH12B

When you’re looking for an ice shanty heater, there are a few important factors you should always consider. First, the size of your shelter will determine how many BTUs you need and also the overall size of the heater.

You should also keep in mind that all propane heaters give off fumes that will suck the oxygen right out of your shelter if you’re not venting it. You’ll need safety features to help with that.

Lastly, the amount of time you spend ice fishing and on the hard water will play a role too. Let’s break each of these down.

Shelter Size and BTUs

One important consideration is ensuring your heater is big enough to heat the space you’re occupying. This will depend on two factors; the size of the shelter and the power or BTUs of the heater.

Common sense would tell us that as our shelter size increases so must the BTUs on our heater.

If I had to guess based on experience, I would say that the traditional 2-person ice fishing shelter is between 36-48 square feet.

It’s important to make sure that your heater is capable of heating that much space at the bare minimum.

This would also mean that you could likely run them on a lower setting which would result in using less propane, extending the life of the heater, and putting less fumes into the air requiring less ventilation, and ultimately keeping more heat inside. 

On the flip side, if you have a 4×4 or one-person ice fishing shelter, you don’t need a 10,000 BTU heater.

You’ll want to go with something smaller like the Texsport heater because it’s a portable propane heater and it’s got lower BTUs so you won’t get too many fumes in your shelter.

Emissions and Safety Features 

Mr. Heater Little Buddy MH4B

Safety is a crucial consideration when using a propane heater in an enclosed area. As I’ve mentioned, any heater of more than 3,000-4,000 BTUs really isn’t recommended for indoor use.

As an ice fisherman, I realize that people do it all the time and they’re fine but you just have to be aware and careful about how much ventilation you have and how high you’re running the heater. 

Also look for great safety features like an oxygen detector, automatic shut off, and tip shut off value as well. These will help keep you safe and prevent your oxygen levels from falling too low.

Most of the time it’ll just result in a bit of a headache but severe carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to fainting and even death. 

It doesn’t hurt to also bring a portable CO2 alarm with you if the ice fishing heater you choose doesn’t come with one. 

Fishing Trip and Run Time 

The last thing you’ll want to consider is how long you plan on fishing versus the total running time of the heater.

Keep in mind that you could always bring an extra 1 pound propane tank, they barely weigh anything and it’s always good to have a backup just in case. 

I’ve never found it necessary to run the heater the entire time, you’ll quickly realize how fast the shelter heats up and how it maintains that heat as long as you’re not opening it up a million times.

This especially applies if you’re bringing a lot of fish in with your ice fishing rod. Ideally, anything in the 3-4 hour running time should be more than enough if you’re not running it constantly. 

Final Thoughts

The best ice fishing heater should offer optimal BTU output based on the overall size of your shelter. If you’re using a one-person flip-over shelter you’ll want a portable mini heater.

If you’re trying to heat a shelter for two people or more, go with a standard size. 

If you’re serious about getting the best ice fishing heater you’ll go with either the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy MH9BX or the Mr. Heater Little Buddy MH4B.

If you’re not super crazy about using an ice shack heater then why not pick up a pair of the best ice fishing gloves?

These will help keep you warm and your body heat should do the rest in most cases. Good luck and be safe out there!

2 thoughts on “The Best Ice Fishing Heater for Inside an Ice Fishing Shelter: Stay Warm and Safe”

  1. Avatar

    Safety is very important: from experience. Its not a good day when someone you know is, or you find a friend dead in their hut. Because they “improvised ” on their heater. 80 to 100 dollar investment in a good piece of equipment, is a hell-of-a lot cheaper than for the cost of a funeral. Your family and friends would also be thankful.

    1. Coty Perry

      I faced a very similar situation about 15 years ago so I feel you there! These heaters can become a gas chamber if you’re not careful. Stay safe and thanks for reading.

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