The Best Ice Fishing Shelters for Fishing Solo or with Friends

Last Updated on November 17, 2021

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A lot of people misunderstand ice anglers. They think we’re all these big burly men with beards who eat ice for breakfast. But that’s not the case.

I’ve seen so many families ice fishing and nine times out of ten they have an ice fishing shelter to keep themselves warm and provide breaks from the cold.

I know my son sure appreciates me having one!

I couldn’t afford one of these for a long time but when I got my first shelter, it really changed the game. Investing in a portable ice fishing shelter makes ice fishing more accessible (aka. comfortable) and allows you to think less about the weather before going out.

Read on to learn about the best ice fishing shelters on today’s market and to find one that will suit your needs.

Comparison Table –  The Best Ice Fishing Shelters

ImageProductRatingPrice
Best Overall
Eskimo Quickfish 3i
Eskimo Quickfish 3i

Dimensions: 5.8L x 5.8W x 6.7H
Weight: 34lbs
Insulation: Yes
Setup Time: 60 seconds

9
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Best For Large Groups
CLAM 6 Person Pop Up Ice Fishing Shelter
CLAM 6 Person Pop Up Ice Fishing Shelter

Dimensions: 1.5 diameter/7.5H 
Weight: 58lbs
Insulation: Yes
Setup Time: Varies

8.5
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Most Lightweight
Eskimo QuickFish 2
Eskimo QuickFish 2

Dimensions: 5L x 5W x 5.6H
Weight: 18lbs
Insulation: No
Setup Time: 60 seconds

8
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Best Flip Over
CLAM Legend XL
CLAM Legend XL

Dimensions: 7.7L x 3.7W x 5.6H 
Weight: 60lbs
Insulation: Yes
Setup Time: 60 seconds or less

8
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Best Two-Person
Frabill HQ 200 Hub
Frabill HQ 200 Hub

Dimensions: 5.8L x 5.8W x 7.25H
Weight: 23lbs
Insulation: No
Setup Time: 2-3 minutes

8
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Best For The Money
Goplus Portable Ice Shelter
Goplus Portable Ice Shelter

Dimensions: 6.3L x 6.3W x 5.6H
Weight: 18.5lbs
Insulation: No
Setup Time: 60 seconds

7.5
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In Depth Reviews of Our Favorite Ice Fishing Shelters 

Eskimo Quickfish 3i

Eskimo Quickfish 3i

BEST OVERALL

Specs

  • Dimensions: 5.8L x 5.8W x 6.7H
  • Weight: 34lbs
  • Insulation: Yes
  • Setup Time: 60 seconds

Pros 

  • Easy setup; quick
  • Fully insulated to reduce the need for heat
  • Comes with a cinch endload bag for easy carrying 

Cons 

  • Not as roomy as you think
  • Issues with tearing especially around the windows 

Why We Chose It

It really doesn’t get much better than a portable ice fishing shelter from Eskimo. This company was one of the first to design the ice fishing huts that pop up quickly and they’re still the company out here doing it right. 

After a few goes at it, you should be able to set this tent up in 60 seconds or less. It has a hub style design so it’s not necessarily a “pop up” as it involves locking a few interior joints into place and securing the self-tapping ice anchors.

The factor that makes this the best ice fishing shelter is the insulation. Having an insulated shelter is a luxury that a lot of people don’t often get to experience simply due to budget restraints.

If you’re trying to take it easy on the wallet, they also have a non-insulated version of the shelter for about half the cost.

Or vice versa, you could step it up to the heavy-duty Eskimo Fatfish if you’re looking for a little more space and cost isn’t as much of a concern.

The biggest con here is that the shelter doesn’t come with a sled, so you’ll need to drag it onto the ice. It does come with a convenient carrying bag but you may end up throwing it away after a few uses because while the cinching endload bag is a nice thought, getting the tent back into the bag when you’re done is a challenge.

There’s also the issue of moisture getting trapped inside of it so you really want to try and vent the shelter before stuffing it away. 

In terms of durability, it’s a solid choice. A lot of people say they’ve had issues with the material tearing around the windows but I truly believe they’re just being too rough. The 300 denier fabric of this ice fishing shelter is thick and all the joints are reinforced with additional material.

If you just take care of your gear then you shouldn’t run into this issue.

At the end of the day, the Eskimo Quickfish 3 is the best insulated ice fishing shelter for those who are looking for a little more comfort on the ice.

CLAM 6 Person Pop Up Ice Fishing Shelter

CLAM 6 Person Pop Up Ice Fishing Shelter

BEST FOR LARGE GROUPS 

Specs

  • Dimensions: 1.5 diameter/7.5H 
  • Weight: 58lbs
  • Insulation: Yes
  • Setup Time: Varies

Pros

  • Plenty of space with mesh pockets for storage
  • 60 grams of insulation with 600 denier material
  • Fits around five people 

Cons 

  • Lacking material around the doors
  • Price

Why We Chose It

This ice fishing behemoth is what everyone dreams of when they think of ice fishing with the guys. It’s a six-sided ice fishing shelter with 89 square feet of fishable area. It’s 7.5 feet at the center with a slight decline to around 6.5 on the sides so it should still be high enough for most people throughout. 

I love the fact that it also comes insulated so it really is like having a small house on the ice. It’s the perfect choice for long-term fishing trips and bringing along people who aren’t as excited about ice fishing (i.e. they want to be comfortable.)

In the world of best ice fishing shelters, it’s really hard to beat this one until you look at the price tag. It’s expensive but what do you expect for an 89 square foot pop-up shelter. 

There’s one significant design flaw that is tripping a lot of people up though. The material is pulled so tight that when the ice tent is assembled it’s difficult to zip up the door. A lot of people have actually broken the zipper as a result.

Now that you’re aware of the problem, I don’t think this is something that will impact you and you can easily avoid it. Just be careful zipping it up!

To be fair, this problem is something we see with a lot of other large-scale structures. For example, the Shappell Wide House had similar issues and people raved for years about it.

At the end of the day, grab this bad boy if you want to bring large groups on the ice.

Eskimo QuickFish 2

Eskimo QuickFish 2

MOST LIGHTWEIGHT

Specs

  • Dimensions: 5L x 5W x 5.6H
  • Weight: 18lbs
  • Insulation: No
  • Setup Time: 60 seconds

Pros 

  • Quick setup
  • Easy to transport and super lightweight
  • Great warming properties despite no insulation

Cons 

  • Small (would only recommend one person even though it says two) 
  • Low headroom 

Why We Chose It

Nope, you’re not seeing double, we’re looking at another Eskimo ice shelter. The first one we looked at was the Quickfish 3i which is a three-person insulated ice fishing shelter. This is a two-person non-insulated shelter. Before I get into what I like about it, I do have to clarify.

Whatever number you see the manufacturers say you can fit inside the tent, subtract one from it because it’s not true. You might be able to fit two people in there if you’re not fishing and you don’t have any of your gear.

But if you’re actually covering a hole and you have a sled full of gear like your ice auger, sled base, and ice fishing rod, that will quickly make this a one person ice fishing shelter.

So again, think of the QuickFish 2 as a one-person shelter given all the equipment that you’ll have with you.

The main pro of this shelter is its lightweight nature and portability. It only weighs 18 pounds so it’s a great choice for those of you ice fishing by yourself and if you want something a bit more roomy than a flip-over shelter. You should have no problem fitting all of your gear, yourself, and your hole inside this shelter. 

Even though it’s not insulated, the material on these Eskimo shelters is top-notch. It’s a higher thread count with very little external seams and it comes with an oversized skirt which will help keep the wind from pulling the sides up and letting in a draft.

CLAM Legend XL 

CLAM Legend XL 

BEST FLIP OVER

Specs

  • Dimensions: 7.7L x 3.7W x 5.6H 
  • Weight: 60lbs
  • Insulation: Yes
  • Setup Time: 60 seconds or less

Pros 

  • The best choice for flying solo
  • Comes with a built in chair attached to the sled
  • Super fast to set up
  • Insulated

Cons 

  • Price, price, price
  • 60 pound weight

Why We Chose It 

Let’s get one thing straight; if you’re fishing alone, they don’t make a better ice fishing shelter than this one. This is the best portable fish house for all my solo joes out there. It’s easy to move around, super fast to set up, incredibly warm, and it comes with a chair built onto the sled.

This is a flip over ice fishing shelter. What that means is that it comes attached to a sled usually with PVC or fiberglass poles. You’ll throw all of your fishing equipment into the sled, take it out of your truck or van, and pull it down to where you want to fish.

Once you’ve drilled a hole in the spot you think you wanna hang out for a while, you’ll place the sled in front of the hole and pull the shelter over the hole like a curtain. Once you’ve secured everything properly, you’ll use the door to get in and you’re good to go. 

Because of its small size and the fact that it comes with the toughest fabric I’ve seen yet and 90 grams of insulation, this will easily be a warm shelter without any need for a heat source. Also, it’s a bit small so unless you’re using a portable heater, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with anything larger in such a small space. The carbon monoxide will get to you. 

The biggest gripe with this shelter is price. It’s really expensive but I would argue that it’s worth it for avid ice anglers. The Frabill Ice Hunter is a bit cheaper and actually has two chairs built into the sled but they charge an arm and a leg for shipping so the cost is actually a little higher once everything is said and done.

Frabill HQ 200 Hub

Frabill HQ 200 Hub

BEST TWO-PERSON

Specs

  • Dimensions: 5.8L x 5.8W x 7.25H
  • Weight: 23lbs
  • Insulation: No
  • Setup Time: 2-3 minutes

Pros 

  • Roomy with plenty of headroom
  • Lightweight and easy to transport
  • Large fishing area of 34 square feet

Cons 

  • No insulation

Why We Chose It

The Frabill HQ 200 made the list as one of my favorites for one main reason, headroom and a lot of it. Most ice fishing shelters peak in the middle and the headroom declines as you get to the sides as is the case with most tents. Since this one has a hub design you don’t lose much headroom anywhere in the shelter so most people below seven feet tall could stand up inside the shelter.

That really adds to the comfort factor when you’re out fishing all day and you just want to take a break, it turns a day of ice fishing into an experience that even less passionate anglers could enjoy. 

Since this shelter has so much room, I recommend getting a nice portable chair for the inside as well. I like the ones that have storage underneath. It makes good use of the space and helps you have everything readily available when you want it. 

And again, this shelter is rated for three people but I don’t agree with it. There is no way you can fit three people and all your ice fishing gear inside this shelter. Maybe you can do it if you keep all the gear outside but then you’ll have to keep opening the door which defeats the purpose of even having the portable ice house.

All in all, this is a great option if you’re looking for a roomy shelter at an affordable price.

Goplus Portable Ice Shelter

Goplus Portable Ice Shelter

BEST FOR THE MONEY

Specs

  • Dimensions: 6.3L x 6.3W x 5.6H
  • Weight: 18.5lbs
  • Insulation: No
  • Setup Time: 60 seconds

Pros 

  • Affordable
  • Versatile options for ventilation
  • Quick setup

Cons

  • Low headroom
  • Seams look to be lower quality 

Why We Chose It

A lot of people can’t afford a $400+ ice fishing shelter and that’s okay.

You’ll find that there are still a lot of high-quality options in the $100-200 range as well but you will have to make some sacrifices. For instance, the Goplus shelter here doesn’t come with any insulation.

They are still rated for -30 degrees but trust me when I say that you won’t want to be in there if the temperature dips that low.

The fabric is said to be durable but I never like products that have externally visible seams like this one. If you click the picture above and zoom in, you can see there are sewing marks all over the outside of the structure which tells me that these will wear down quickly and start to create weak points for moisture to get inside. 

On the bright side, the ice fishing tent comes with a few different layers of fabric to cover the removable windows so you can decide how much air you want to let in.

It goes up super quickly and tears down just as easily. This one also fits into the carrying bag much better and it’s big enough for two people to snuggly fit inside. There’s also plenty of storage pockets inside to store smaller items. 

The main upside is the fact that you’re getting it for under 150 bucks (the majority of the time.) So, if you’re afraid of being cold and that’s the main issue holding you back from ice fishing, $150 gets you a useable ice shelter so you can enjoy fishing all year long.

Pro tip:

If you have enough money left in the budget after buying this shelter, go buy a Buddy or Big Buddy heater for the inside and it’ll make up for the lack of insulation.

How to Choose the Best Ice Fishing Shelter

Few things will put hair on your chest like a cold winter wind whipping around the ice when you have little to no protection from trees or buildings. The wind just seems to hit differently when you’re ice fishing and you need to protect yourself with not only the right cold weather gear but sometimes you need walls around you too. 

Keep in mind that you’re not the only thing you’re protecting. The gear is out in the cold and if it’s really frigid with snow drift blowing around, that could cause some problems for your gear. Your line gets really stiff, parts of it will freeze, and your line can even get stuck to the ice if the frozen wind whips fast enough. 

If you’ve already taken a look at my recommended shelters, you’ll find that most of them meet some or all of the following criteria. Here are some of the things I look for in the best ice shanty. 

Insulation 

In a best case scenario, you’ll get a shelter with some insulation. This will avoid the need for a heater in most cases. I try not to use a heater because of the carbon monoxide.

It gives me a headache and makes me feel groggy so I prefer to avoid it. Any form of insulation will do the trick because you’ll have your body heat and as long as you’re not opening the shelter too much, you won’t be cold for long. 

Portability 

Ultralight weight Non-insulated Ice Shelter

So, this is a tough one because you’re usually sacrificing a certain level of durability and warmth by going with a shelter that is super lightweight. The lightweight ones are not insulated and they likely don’t have as much material holding them together so there are obvious risks associated with that.

There’s also the factor of packing them away which is always a challenge. Flip style shelters with ice sleds are the most portable even though they generally weigh more because they’re factoring the sled into that weight.

If you have a reliable heating source and you’re concerned about the shelter being too heavy, go with a non-insulated one then. They’ll weigh less than 25 pounds in most cases and they go up really easily.

Space 

The “roominess” of your shelter will determine how comfortable you are inside and how much room you have to store your gear. If you have to leave the gear outside, it almost defeats the purpose of even getting a shelter.

I’ve given my two cents on this a few times but I’ll say it again. If the manufacturer says that you can fit four people inside of the shelter, the real answer is three and sometimes even less. You’ll need to factor in all the gear you have plus the hole you’re fishing in.

Not to mention the fact that you actually need elbow room to work your bait so you won’t want to be sitting right on top of each other. 

Don’t forget about headroom as well. Many ice fishing shelters come with either a five foot or seven foot clearance at the highest point. I’m a pretty short guy and I don’t spend a lot of time moving around inside the shelter so the five foot clearance is good enough for me.

Where I think this becomes an important factor is if you’re on the ice all day with people who aren’t that interested in fishing. If they’re moving around a lot and going in and out, you may need something bigger with more headroom to keep them comfortable.

Style 

When it comes to the style of your ice fishing shelter, you basically have two choices. Hubs or flip overs.

Hubs are pop up tents without a bottom. They have an internal frame that expands as you pull each section into place.

You’ll need to have a separate ice fishing sled to pull these onto the ice because they don’t come with one. They’re easy to set up and they get the job done in most cases. 

The downsides to a hub are that they’re difficult to set up if it’s windy, especially if/when you’re by yourself. The other downside is that they don’t come with anywhere to sit which means you have to lug around extra gear i.e. a chair.

However, hubs are usually lighter than flip overs so the weight of carrying a hub and chair equals about the same as carrying just a flip over. So in short, weight is essentially the same whether it’s a hub or flip over.

Flip overs are attached to a sled with built in chairs and a telescoping frame. You’ll pull the sled to the hole by hand or with an atv or snowmobile and then pull the ice shack over you.

These ice fishing tents are more expensive and they weigh more but they’re much easier to set up on your own and they’re the perfect choice for those lone ice anglers. 

What You’ll Also Need 

Even the best ice fishing shelter won’t keep you warm 100% of the time. Here are a few things you’ll want to take with you on your way to the ice.

Heater/Stove 

Mr. Heater Little Buddy

I’d go with Mr. Heater Buddy or Mr. Heater Little Buddy depending on what kind of shelter you’re using, what the temperature is, how many people you’re with, and a variety of other factors.

Again, I try not to use a heater all the time because of the carbon monoxide headaches that I get. But I have found these Buddy heaters have low enough emissions that my headaches aren’t too bad with these.

Also, the regular Mr. Heater offers up to 9,000 BTUs so it’s got more than enough power to keep the shelter warm. My buddy actually made hot dogs on it one time haha!

If you’re going to grab a heater, make sure to read our best ice fishing heater article first so you don’t buy the wrong one!

Thermal Gloves 

Every ice angler needs a top-notch pair of thermal ice fishing gloves. If you’re skimping on the gloves, you’re making a big mistake. 

Chairs 

If you get a hub shelter, you’ll need some chairs so you and your buddies can sit. Forget sitting on buckets, we don’t need to do that. Some of the best portable chairs come with storage too. 

Boots

Besides gloves, coats, and all that good stuff, you need a really solid pair of ice fishing boots. They’ll not only keep your feet warm but they’ll ensure you don’t slip on the ice.

Final Thoughts 

I spent years freezing without a shelter and finally realized that sometimes we just need to bite the bullet and spend some money on ourselves. That’s why I recommend going with the Eskimo Quickfish 3i. This is the best ice fishing shelter because it’s fully insulated with a skirt, it’s quick to assemble, and it’ll work for two or three people.

The Frabill HQ 200 is another great option because it’s so roomy and it’s more affordable than the Eskimo brand. You’ll still get a high-quality shelter without the high ticket price.

Either of these options will get the job done and it’ll be a lot easier to convince your friends to fish with you when you tell them you bought a shelter. Good luck out there and leave a comment below if this helped you!

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