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What are portable ice fishing houses?
Portable ice fishing houses are little portable tents that are made specifically for use on the ice and in incredibly cold environments. They will sometimes be called an ice fishing house, ice fishing shanty, or ice fishing shacks. They provide you with protection from the elements and a safe, warm place to fish when out on the ice. Portable ice fishing shelters come in a variety of grades with a variety of price points. There are fancier portable ice shelters as well as portable ice fishing houses with fewer luxuries at a reduced cost.
Portable ice fishing houses are generally weatherproof, windproof, and water-resistant. They can take a lot of cold and a lot of bad weather. Other parts are made with durability and extreme conditions in mind. These are heavy-duty tents for use in the coldest conditions. Most shelters are made to be used with multiple people. We will be looking specifically at shelters designed for 2-4 people.
What makes a good portable ice fishing shelter?
The best portable ice fishing shelters and ice fishing shacks are judged on durability, functionality, and price. A good shelter will provide a solid build with plenty of reliability and insulation. It will also provide maximum comfort. The best shelters will do all of this at a reasonable price point. A good portable ice fishing house or ice fishing shanty should provide maximum durability and comfort without costing too much.
Be prepared to spend a little more if your needs are a little more intensive. We will be looking primarily at the best portable ice fishing shelters for general use in this article. These shelters will all provide you with the comfort you need. Which shelter you prefer may depend on your specific needs. Let’s take a look at what we consider the 6 best portable ice shelters on the market. These will be ranked from worst to best.
Eskimo is one of the top brands for ice fishing shelters. They have a variety of different shelters at different price points. The FatFish is one of the more premium shelters available at $299.99 on Amazon. It provides more room than some other shelters at an increased price point.
The FatFish 949i is designed for a maximum of 4 people. It has 6 windows and is made from their patented 300 Denier IceTight fabric. Denier is a unit of measurement to track the thickness of the fibers comprising the fabric. 300 denier is a lightweight fabric that makes the FatFish 949i lightweight yet waterproof. The shelter uses two layers of fabric with insulation in between to provide warmth and comfort.
Easy to carry and set up
The FatFish 949i can be put up and taken down with ease. It can be folded up and fitted into an included carrying bag that can fit right over the shoulder. The FatFish 949i comes with 6 anchors that hold up under pressure. The FatFish 949i touts its wide bottom as one of its benefit. The wide bottom allows more room to fish and to store gear and supplies. Metal hubs and strong fiberglass poles are used for maximum durability.
Good wide shelter
Our experience with FatFish 949i was good. It seemed very durable and was fairly spacious for 4. We were able to make a good sized fishing hole and fit 4 people in the FatFish 949i comfortably. We were also able to fit all out gear and supplies. It was very easy to take down and put up once you got the hang of it. The materials seemed very sturdy and the wind barely made a dent. The FatFish 949i is pricey but impressive. You might consider the FatFish 949i depending on your needs and level of comfort desired.
Two versions available
The Goplus Portable Ice Shelter is made out of 300D fabric as well. It is not “IceTight”, but we’re not totally sure that makes much of a difference. There are 2 separate versions available. One version is made to hold 2 people for $125.99 and the other version is made to hold 3 people for $149.99. We tried the one for 3 person shelter.
Not as roomy
It is just slightly less spacious than the FatFish 949i. This was to be expected given the lower price point. One neat feature of the Goplus Portable Ice Shelter is that its windows have two removable layers that can customize to your needs. One layer keeps light out while the other layers keeps the cold air out. Both layers can be removed if you wish for the cold air to get in, but that’s just silly. The shelter is said to feature frost resistance of down to -30 degrees Fahrenheit. It is not insulated. No carrying bag is included.
Not as sturdy
Our experience with Goplus Portable Ice Shelter was good. It is strong, sturdy, and very easy to set up. It did feel slightly less sturdy than the FatFish 949 when putting it together. This was also to be expected given the lower price point.
What surprised us was how well it compared to the FatFish 949i while costing much less. It holds one less person but costs nearly half as much. The Shelter was incredibly comfortable for the price. It didn’t manage to stay as warm as the FatFish 949i, but it stayed warm enough that we were comfortable.
Good affordable shelter
The lack of the wide bottom of the FatFish 949i didn’t make too big of a difference for us. The dimensions were still relatively the same. We fished comfortably and with plenty of room for the 3 of us. Things were good when it came time to pack up with Goplus Portable Ice Shelter and leave. This would be a better option than the FatFish 949i for someone who is willing to sacrifice a little bit of comfort for a lower price. It would also be better in slightly warmer environments than the FatFish 949i.
The Shappell Wide House 5500 sits between the Goplus and the FatFish 949 in terms of a price point at $209.99 on Amazon It is made of 600D fabric. This means that the fabric is slightly stronger than the other two. This might make the Shappell Wide House 5500 a better choice in a very windy environment where the weaker fabric might tear. It has 6 windows.
It is slightly smaller than the 3 person Goplus. This would fit 2 people comfortably and 3 people at maximum. It includes its own carrying bag. The Shappell Wide House 5500 has metal hubs and solid fiberglass poles like the FatFish 949.
Our experience with the Shappell Wide House 5500 was good. We tried it with 3 people. It was not as roomy as either previous entry but it was much warmer and cozier than the Goplus due to the stronger fabric. The shack was not as heavy-duty as the FatFish 949. It was definitely a steady middle between the two. The smaller size compared to the Goplus didn’t hurt the experience too much. We were still able to fit our gear and supplies while having ample room to fish.
Good choice for the right person
Putting it together was a cinch. It felt very sturdy when assembling it just like the FatFish 949. All in all this would be a great option for a small party not looking to splurge but looking to have a heavy-duty shelter for some colder environments nonetheless. The lack of insulation is a slight hindrance but the higher quality fabric makes up for this in wind resistance. We kept the windows and doors zipped and were very warm. Extremely tall or large people may wish to spend the extra $100 or so for the FatFish 949. The Shappell Wide House could be a little cramped.
This is an even fancier offering from Eskimo. The Eskimo Outbreak 450i is a good deal larger even than the FatFish 949 by about %50. The price point matches this improvement at $365.99 on Amazon. This would be a great portable ice fishing house for those looking for something a little more high-end.
This is a luxury ice fishing shelter. It is once again insulated. It is made from 600D fabric. This makes it a step-up from both the Goplus and the comparable FatFish 949. It features an oversized door that zips all the way down so you don’t trip into the ice on the way in or out. The Outbreak could easily hold 4 people with much more room and comfort than the FatFish 949. The metal hubs and fiberglass poles make a return from the FatFish 949.
Our experience with the Outbreak 450i was great. This is definitely a premium option for those who don’t mind spending a little bit more on their shelters. You will get your moneys worth if warmth and comfort is what you desire.
Strong fabric and good insulation
The increased fabric strength would provide a lot more stability against harsh weather conditions. We tried it out with the same 4 people who tried the FatFish 949 and they were stunned at the increased room available in the Outbreak 450i. The FatFish 949 had plenty of room for 4 people but the Outbreak 450i spoiled us.
Putting it together and taking it down was easy. You could feel the quality when setting it up. This definitely felt more heavy-duty when setting up than the FatFish 949. This is definitely a great shelter for those with expensive tastes. The price point may be off-putting for others.
The Ice Cube by ThunderBay brings us back into more affordable territory at $169.99 on Amazon. It has metal hubs and fiberglass poles and is made from 300D fabric with no insulation. Its a good fit for 3 people at about the same size as the Shappell Wide House. The shanty includes a carrying bag. This is a great middle-of-the-road option for a shelter.
Reliable and easy to set up
Our experience with the IceCube was great. It was very sturdy and very easy to set up. 3 people fit very comfortably inside with all supplies and gear after it was set up. It felt very strong and reliable and kept us warm even without insulation. The fabric held up and seemed durable. The materials all seemed strong.
Great light option
We enjoyed our experience with the IceCube a lot. Consumers will be pleased with the lower price point and the minimalistic design. The IceCube doesn’t do much, but what it does it does very well. This is a great and reliable option for those looking for more affordable options. It is a great shelter but it might not do too well in the most intense of conditions.
#1 Best Portable Ice Fishing House: Eskimo QuickFish 2
Another shelter from Eskimo
The QuickFish 2 is a lower tier option from Eskimo as far as price is concerned. It goes for only 136.95 on Amazon. It is meant for only 2 people but there are other QuickFish available that can hold up to 6. These roomier shelters will cost a good deal more.
Lower price point
The Eskimo QuickFish 2 features everything great about the FatFish 949 but streamlined for fewer occupants at a lower price point. Metal hubs and fiberglass poles make a return along with the 300D IceTight fabric. This version is not insulated. An insulated version of the QuickFish 2 called the QuickFish 2i sells for about $100 more.
We loved the QuickFish 2 and think it is the best bang for your buck as far as portable ice fishing shelters. It offers everything we’ve come to love about Eskimo portable ice fishing shelters stripped down to the essentials and sold for the most affordable price possible.
Incredibly light and portable
It is possibly the easiest to set up and take down out of all other shelters we’ve looked at due to its stripped back design. It is also the most lightweight and portable. 2 people fit extremely well inside after set up.
A great experience
The lack of insulation once again did not impede our enjoyment of the trip. There were not many features we missed from any of the other 5 options. This is definitely the best deal for the price and would make a great first portable ice fishing shelter.
Which one was the best?
You can’t really beat the QuickFish 2 as far as value per dollar. The QuickFish 2 offers everything 2 people will need to go out on the ice and have a great and comfortable time jigging.
The IceCube was great but didn’t really do much better besides holding an extra person. The Outbreak 450i was an incredible ice fishing shelters for the price. Not everyone wants to pay that much, however, or even needs all the extra features. The Shappell Wide House was good but pales in comparison to the QuickFish 2. The Goplus was a great and affordable shelter that didn’t seem as sturdy or reliable as the QuickFish2. The FatFish 949 provided a lot of comfort and room but didn’t totally seem worth the increased price point for us despite the insulation.
Any of these would make a good portable ice fishing shelter, ice fishing house, or ice fishing shanty for the right person. We recommend the QuickFish 2 the most if you want the most value for your dollar.