Currently set to Index
Currently set to Follow

Best Portable Ice Fishing Shelters: Cold Weather Protection for 2022 At Its Finest

Written by: John B
Last Updated:
SHARE: 

When you're ice fishing the right clothing is essential, of course, but so is a good ice fishing tent.

If you’re in the market for a portable ice fishing shelter, we’ve got you covered. Below, you’ll find reviews of some of our favorites as well as a complete buying guide to help you make the best choice for your needs and budget.

Quick glance at the best portable ice fishing shelters:

Best Ice Fishing Shelter Overall

Otter Outdoors Vortex Pro Lodge

Otter Outdoors Vortex Pro Lodge

Erected size: pentagonal 91” x 31”
Center height: 79”
Weight: 48 lbs.
Interior area: 74 square feet

Most Durable Ice Fishing Shelter

Eskimo Outbreak 450XD Limited

Eskimo Outbreak 450XD Limited

Erected size: 139” x 138”
Center height: 80”
Weight: 48 lbs.
Interior area: 75 square feet

Best Budget Ice Fishing Tent

Thunderbay Ice Cube 3i

Thunderbay Ice Cube 3i

Erected size: 90” x 90”
Center height: 80”
Weight: ???
Interior area: 34 square feet

10

Amazon

 

Eskimo Quickfish 3

Eskimo Quickfish 3

Size: 70” x 70”
Center height: 80”
Weight: 35 lbs.
Interior area: 34 square feet

10

Amazon

 

Eskimo FatFish 949

Eskimo FatFish 949

Size: 94” x 94”
Center height: 80”
Weight: 30 lbs.
Interior area: 61 square feet

10

Amazon

 

Clam 14469 X-400

Clam 14469 X-400

Size: 96” x 96”
Center height: 82”
Weight: 47 lbs.
Interior area: 64 square feet

10

Amazon

 

Frabill Bro Series Hub

Frabill Bro Series Hub

Size: 80” x 80”
Center height: 80”
Weight: 35 lbs.
Interior area: 56 square feet

10

Amazon

For more, check out Cabela's, Sportman's Guide, and Scheels for a large selection of ice fishing tents

Related:

Best Ice Fishing Shelters Reviewed

Otter Outdoors Vortex Pro Lodge - Best Overall Ice Fishing Shelter

Available at: Scheels | Bass Pro

Erected size: pentagonal 91” x 31”
Center height: 79”
Weight: 48 lbs.
Interior area: 74 square feet

Otter’s ice shelters have quite a following among hard-water anglers, and their new Vortex Pro line-up goes a long way toward demonstrating why.

Otter Outdoor’s Vortex Pro Lodge breaks with the strational square hub shelter, using an innovative pentagonal design to maximize interior dimensions and give you plenty of room to fish. Expect 74 square feet of interior space, rivaling the awesome Outbreak 450 XD Limited for elbow room.

This large shelter sports a tall center height of 79 inches, making it perfect for taller anglers. 

Ideal for three fishermen and lots of gear, you could squeeze an extra person or two in, just as with the Outbreak.

Manufactured from the company’s proprietary THERMALTEC 600 denier fabric, the Pro Lodge is plenty tough, bucking the wind and keeping you warm with an appropriate heater. Plenty of tie-downs ensure that you keep your shelter in place and secure even in the worst weather, and windows on each of the sides provide great light.

Lots of storage pockets and a thoughtful overhead storage net make this shelter easy to organize for a day’s fishing, and you won’t find space that’s better utilized to your benefit from any manufacturer.

Overall, you can count us as impressed by the Vortex Pro Lodge, and I’d be more than willing to take this shelter out on the ice anytime.

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Awesome interior storage options
  • Awesome windows
  • Massively spacious pentagonal design
  • Durable materials
  • Lots of anchoring points
  • Nice ventilation
  • Very warm
  • Tall center height

Cons

  • ???

Eskimo Outbreak 450XD Limited - Most Durable Ice Fishing Shelter

Eskimo Outbreak 450XD Limited Pop-up Portable Insulated Ice Fishing Shelter, 75 sq ft. Fishable Area, 4-5 Person
 

Erected size: 139” x 138”
Center height: 80”
Weight: 48 lbs.
Interior area: 75 square feet

Eskimo’s Outbreak 450 XD Limited is a family-sized hub shelter that’s built tough.

This limited-edition shelter sports a stronger ball-and socket design that’s made from solid metal, as well as thicker, more robust fiberglass poles. Tie-downs to secure this halter in heavy wind are plentiful and strong, just as you’d expect, and the beefier frame is sturdier than the Outbreak of old.

That makes it darn tough, and the StormShield fabric cuts the wind and works well to keep this shelter warm with an appropriate heater. Even when the mercury is falling like your available balance on vacation, you’ll find the inside remains at a cozy temperature.

This is a big shelter, and larger anglers are going to love the ability to stand upright at the center. Fishermen as tall as 6’2” will have no trouble in this regard, and the days of hunkering over and hobbling around will be over. Easily accommodated two to three anglers and their gear, this is the model to go for if you regularly fish with friends and family.

The Outbreak is quick to set up, and includes thoughtful features like a light gray interior to brighten the shelter, a no-trip door design, and flat panels at the edges to increase the available fishing space.

Seven well-placed windows let you keep an eye on your pop-ups, and you’ll find two gear nets and two storage pockets built-in to the interior.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up
  • Great windows
  • Massively spacious
  • Lots of anchoring points
  • Nice ventilation
  • Very warm
  • No trip door
  • Tall center height

Cons:

  • ???

Thunderbay Ice Cube 3i - Best Budget Ice Fishing Shelter

THUNDERBAY Ice Cube 3 Man Portable Ice Shelter

Amazon 

Erected size: 90” x 90”
Center height: 80”
Weight: ???
Interior area: 34 square feet

Thunderbay’s Ice Cube 3i is the insulated version of their standard three-man ice shelter. A good deal for bargain-hunters looking for an insulated shelter, it’s priced below the similarly-sized Quickfish 3 while offering greater warmth.

Made from 300 denier insulated fabric, the Ice Cube sets up and takes down quickly, getting you fishing sooner rather than later. The hub and poles are strong and durable, and I wouldn’t be concerned about overall durability at all, even for the price.

This square shelter offers plenty of space for a single angler and lots of gear, and adding a buddy won’t cramp your room at all. But three anglers plus gear and a heater is going to get tight, just as it would in the Quickfish 3.

The windows are placed just as you’d expect, as are the tie-downs, and there’s nothing innovatie or unexpected about this shelter other than its budget-conscious price.

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • OK windows
  • Spacious
  • Lots of anchoring points
  • Nice ventilation
  • Warm for an uninsulated shelter

Cons

  • Not quite as durable as the other options on our list

Eskimo Quickfish 3

Eskimo 69445 Quickfish 3i Insulated Pop-Up Portable Hub-Style Ice Fishing Shelter, 34 Square Feet of Fishable Area, 3 Person Shelter, Red

Amazon 

Erected size: 70” x 70”
Center height: 80”
Weight: 35 lbs.
Interior area: 34 square feet

Eskimo’s Quickfish 3 demonstrates that this company, probably best known for its flip-overs, hasn’t ignored the hub market. Well designed and constructed, there’s a lot to like about this shelter.

Made from 300 denier fabric, it’s tough, though not as durable as the other options on our list.That’s a reality for its price point and weight, and anglers who pull a sled by hand will want to take a closer look at a shelter than weighs in at just 35 pounds.

Window placement is excellent, allowing clear visibility while seated. That matters a lot if you use your shelter as a base to run multiple tip-ups while you fish.

The Quickfish 3 is advertised as a “three man” shelter. That’s generous, and we think two adult anglers will find this shelter spacious enough for their gear. Three would be pushing gear and heater space to bursting.

The Quickfish 3 is up in less than a minute in calm weather, and even less with some help. It’s secured by four interior grommets placed at the corners, and offers exterior anchoring straps as well - a feature you’ll need in heavy wind. As with all hub shelters, setting this one up in bad weather can be more challenging, and you’ll need to begin by turning one corner into the wind and securing the two adjacent sides to the ice before expanding the hub.

The great news is that once it’s up, it’s surprisingly warm. With a small heater, this un-insulated shelter is short-sleeve ready in just a few minutes. Velcro vents allow you to control heat and humidity, a thoughtful feature.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up
  • Great windows
  • Spacious
  • Lots of anchoring points
  • Nice ventilation
  • Warm for an uninsulated shelter

Cons:

  • Not quite as durable as the other options on our list

Eskimo FatFish 949

Eskimo FF949i FatFish Pop-up Portable Hub-Style Ice Shelter, Wide Bottom Design 61 sq ft. Fishable Area, 3-4 Person Insulated
 

Erected size: 94” x 94”
Center height: 80”
Weight: 30 lbs.
Interior area: 61 square feet

Bigger than the Quickfish, but smaller than the Outbreak 450 XD Limited, the FatFish may be the Goldilocs shelter for plenty of ice anglers.

Made from insulated quilted fabric faced with tough 600 Denier nylon, the FatFish can take a beating while keeping you warm. Now, don’t expect the superior comfort of the Outbreak, but you will notice a huge difference between the FatFish and an uninsulated tent, and with a good heater, low temps won’t stop you fishing.

Flared bottoms keep wind out and create more fishable space, and you’ll find that everything from window placement to interior storage options has been thoughtfully designed.

Offering fully 80 inches of height at the center of the hub, taller anglers will appreciate the ability to stand upright, but keep in mind that at 75 square feet, two fishermen and their gear are about right for this hub shelter.

Like all of Eskimo’s hub shelters, the FatFish goes up quickly and packs down again just as easily.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up
  • Great windows
  • Spacious
  • Lots of anchoring points
  • Nice ventilation
  • Very warm
  • Tall center height

Cons:

  • ???

Clam 14469 X-400

CLAM 14469 X-400 Portable 4 to 6 Person 8 Foot Pop Up Ice Fishing Angler Thermal Hub Shelter Tent with Anchors, Tie Ropes, and Carrying Bag
 

Erected size: 96” x 96”
Center height: 82”
Weight: 47 lbs.
Interior area: 64 square feet

Clam’s X-400 is a more than worthy rival for Eskimo’s FatFish series, and a quick run-down of its stats shows why.

Made from nearly indestructible 900 denier nylon that’s packed with 90 grams of insulation per square meter, this is a tough, durable, warm shelter. With an appropriate heater, nothing on our list but the Outbreak will be warmer.

Inside, you’ll find plenty of space for two to three large anglers and their gear, and with an 82-inch center height, there’ll be no more hunching and nursing an aching back.

This Clam shelter goes up easily, and the included hardware is real-world tough, so no worries about sudden storms, high winds, or accumulating snow.

The X-400 can also be fitted with an available (aftermarket) floor that attached via Velcro hook and loop closures, making this a very versatile choice for the ice.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up
  • Very, very tough
  • Spacious
  • Lots of anchoring points
  • Nice ventilation
  • Very warm
  • Tall center height

Cons:

  • Probably not quite as warm or as spacious as the Eskimo Outbreak 450 XD Limited

Frabill Bro Series Hub

Frabill Bro Series Hub | Durable Ice Fishing Shelter | Artic Camo | Capacity: 3 Anglers

Amazon 

Erected size: 80” x 80”
Center height: 80”
Weight: 35 lbs.
Interior area: 56 square feet

Frabill’s no stranger to the ice fishing world, and their Bro Series Hub shows that they know a thing or two about hub shelters. The first thing you’ll notice is its unusual shape. Rather than the usual cube, this tent has additional angles that provide more elbow room and space to work. Two to three adult anglers should find plenty of room for everything they need.

The Bro Series Hub offers you an insulated top made from 600 denier material (top to bottom), and a strong skirt section constricted from even more durable 900 denier fabric. There’s no question about whether this hub shelter can take a beating, and this insulation makes this a warmer option for really cold weather.

Four interior grommets anchor each corner to the ice, and it offers external straps on each wall, as well. To control moisture, two vents are placed high on opposite sides. The windows are also removable if even more ventilation is needed.

Two doors are placed on opposite corners and can be secured in their open position with Velcro tabs. The Bro Series Hub is easy to put up and take down, too.

Pros:

  • Great design provides more working space
  • Insulated and very warm
  • Easy to set up
  • Great doors
  • Spacious
  • Lots of anchors
  • Strong and durable

Cons:

  • High windows make checking tip-ups tough

Our Criteria for Buying the Best Portable Ice Shelter

Protection from the Elements

Ice fishing is hot when the weather’s cold. But when you’re out on the ice, exposed to the wind, you should expect problems with your gear.

It’s crucial to always be dressed for the weather, no matter how good your shelter is. That’s simple common sense, and it can save your life. But your gear needs protection, too. When exposed to the full force of the elements, your line will become stiffer, water it absorbs or carries will freeze, and icing will become a problem. Especially with lighter line, the wind is a major concern, as wet, freezing line will stick to anything the wind blows it into.

The whole reason you erect an ice shelter is to provide protection for yourself and your gear, and if your shelter can’t do this well--blocking the wind, providing some measure of insulation--it’s not worth bringing with you to the hard water.

To make our short list, these ice shelters needed to stop the wind, provide enough insulation to cut down on icing, and let us work with our hands without gloves. When the mercury really starts to bottom-out, though, a good heater can be a godsend, and the shelters we review provide the ventilation you’ll need for that.

Durability

Winter is hard on your equipment. That’s just as true for your shelter as it is for your reel or car.

We prefer shelters that are made from heavier-weight materials, have strong seams, and can stand up to snow and wind. This often involves a compromise with weight and cost, because the better the shelter is, the heavier and more expensive it tends to be. Exactly where that line falls for you is your choice, but we lean toward durability.

Portability

Durability and protection are our most important criteria when selecting an ice shelter, and the better models tend to weigh more. While that affects their portability, we’ve selected shelters that should be acceptably light and package for reasonably fit anglers.

Any shelter that’s truly easy to repack gets bonus points from us, too, as we’d prefer not to need to be origami masters at the end of the day!

Set up and Take Down

Setting up and taking down an ice shelter shouldn’t be a chore, and if it takes more than a few minutes, it’s poorly designed. To make the cut with us, shelters need to be up and down in five minutes or less.

Room

More isn’t always better. A shelter that’s designed for six and fished by two will be colder than it should be. You want to select the size that’s right for you and your angling adventures, but you don’t want tons of extra space on the ice.

That said, you need enough elbow room to work with your tackle, and enough height to stand comfortably and work your rod while jigging, setting the hook, and fighting your fish onto the ice. You’ll also need room for gear and a heater, so don’t forget to figure in those extras when making your choice.

Windows

Light allows you to see what you’re doing, and large windows with excellent placement make a huge difference in how well you’ll see inside your shelter. Well-placed windows also let you keep track of your tips ups at a glance, something every hard-water angler appreciates.

We appreciate windows that have coverings to block light when we want that option, and all the ice shelters on our list offer that possibility.

Flip-Over vs Hub

The choice of styles is mostly a matter of preference, although there are strengths and weaknesses to each.

Flip-overs

Flip-over shelters are essentially large, plastic sheds equipped with a telescoping frame. You drag the sled to your hole, and by pulling the frame up and over, you create a windproof shelter with built-in seating. That’s right--most flip-overs come with swivel chairs already attached! This makes them easy and fast to set up, even in wind or when alone.

The price for this convenience is weight and size: they tend to be pretty small and they’re much, much heavier than the alternatives. Especially when there’s a lot of snow on the ground, pulling that heavy sled can be a pain. Flip-overs are also difficult to transport--they won’t fit in your car!--and lift in and out of the back of a truck.

For that reason, hub shelters are increasingly popular, and only one flip-over made our short list.

how to erect a flip-over shelter

Hubs

Hubs provide a pop-up shelter much like a modern tent, though without a bottom. Made rigid by an internal folding frame, they’re erected by carefully expanding that skeleton. Lightweight, sturdy, and easy to transport, they come in a range of sizes.

This portability makes them popular, but they have two drawbacks. First, they can be very hard to set up alone if it’s windy. And second, they don’t come with seating, so unless you plan to stand all day, you’ll need to bring some extra gear along. That may cut into the weight advantage they offer, so consider the options carefully.

demonstration of erecting a pop-up

Final Thoughts

We can’t tell you which ice fishing shelter is the best fit for your budget and needs, but we can guarantee that you’ll be happy with any of the choices on our shortlist today.

For anglers who face brutal wind, it’s hard to beat the Eskimo Outbreak 450XD Limited. Sporting an all-metal hub and thick poles, as well as tough 600 denier fabric, this ice shelter can stand up to abuse that might wreck lesser options. And when properly secured to the ice, this is the hub shelter I’d want to be in when the wind really starts gusting.

Overall, my favorite shelter is the awesome Otter Outdoors Vortex Pro Lodge. I have to admit that I was an Eskimo die-hard, but the vortex Pro line-up has me reconsidering. Durable, warm, and spacious, the awesome lighting and storage options are just impossible to beat.

Finally, for anglers on a tight budget - and who isn’t these days - the Thunderbay Ice Cube 3i is a great option. Priced right, this insulated, three-man shelter sets up and takes down easily, offering plenty of space and warmth without breaking the bank.

We hope that this article has helped you find the right ice fishing shelter, and as always we’d love to hear from you.

Please leave a comment below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best flip over ice shelter?

The best flip over ice shelter is the Eskimo Sierra. It has:

  • Unbeatable 600 DENIER FULLY-INSULATED material
  • Rigid lightweight aluminum square tubing frame
  • Removable window panels
  • and more!

Who makes the best portable ice house?

The best portable ice houses are made by Otter Outdoors, Eskimo, and Clam Outdoors. Their products contain:

  • Unbeatable 600 DENIER FULLY-INSULATED material
  • Rigid lightweight aluminum square tubing frame
  • Removable window panels
  • and more!

What is the biggest pop up ice fishing shelter?

The biggest pop up ice fishing shelter is the Eskimo Fatfish 9416i and the Eskimo Outbreak 850XD which fit 7-9 people. Both have over 100 square feet of fishable area.

Which is better clam or otter?

Even though Clam has existed for twice as long as Otter, Otter seems to be the better choice based on the 2022 ice fishing shelter line ups. Otters ice fishing shelters feature:

  • Easy set up process
  • Awesome interior storage options
  • Awesome windows
  • Massively spacious pentagonal design
  • Durable materials
  • Lots of anchoring points
  • Nice ventilation
  • Very warm
  • Tall center height

Do ice fishing tents have floor?

Ice fishing tents typically do not sell with a floor. However, you can buy ice fishing floors as an accessory.

How do you pick an ice shelter?

To pick an ice fishing shelter you should consider a number of criteria such as protection from the elements, durability, portability, set up and take down time, size, windows, and type (flip-over vs hub).

Are ice fishing tents warm?

Ice fishing tents can be warm if they are insulated and if you use a proper ice fishing heater.

Are ice fishing tents waterproof?

Generally, ice fishing tents are not waterproof but are they water-resistant.

What are ice shanties made of?

Ice fishing shanties are made of heavy materials such as wood and metal. However, there are portable ice fishing shanties that are made of lightweight materials such as vinyl, canvas, and denier fabric.

About The Author
John B
If it has fins, John has probably tried to catch it from a kayak. A native of Louisiana, he now lives in Sarajevo, where he's adjusting to life in the mountains. From the rivers of Bosnia to the coast of Croatia, you can find him fishing when he's not camping, hiking, or hunting.
Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram