Ice fishing is fun and exciting but it involves braving the extreme cold. In addition to layering and accessorizing for warmth, it is important to arm yourself with the best ice fishing heater. When it gets too cold and windy and your hands freeze and toes become numb and you can sense impending frostbite, your heater will be a lifesaver. If you’re wondering which heater to get, below we have reviewed 10 of the best portable heaters on the market and provided a buying guide that makes it easy to pick the best heater for your needs and one that is safe and reliable on the ice.

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How To Choose The Best Ice Fishing Heater – Buying Guide


To help you choose the best ice fishing heater for your needs among the wide range of heaters you will come across, below are the functionality and safety considerations to make.


First, consider how well your ice fishing shanty or tent is insulated to keep cold air out and keep warmth in. If your ice fishing shelter<span style=”font-weight: 400;”> is well insulated and ventless, ensure you get an indoor safe rated heater with safety features. If your ice shack lacks insulation but is very well vented, you will need a bigger heater or you can use an outdoor heater.


You will also need to consider how long you will be out there on the ice needing warmth. Each cylinder of fuel for your heater will give you several hours of warmth depending on whether you’re running your heater on low, medium, or high settings. Ensure that the heater can go for as long as you will be fishing or have a backup tank of gas.


A compact size is nice for ease of transport and storage. The BTU output capacity you need will depend on the size of the space you need it for. Most of the heaters have the space they are designed for indicated. We recommend choosing a unit with variable BTU units and high, medium, and low heat settings. It will serve you better as you will be able to adjust settings depending on how much heat you want. 


When you’re using a heater inside your ice fishing shanty or tent, it utilizes oxygen and emits carbon monoxide. If your shelter isn’t well ventilated, carbon monoxide can build up to deadly levels. For safety, ensure that you only use heaters rated for indoor use to warm up enclosed spaces. It is also important to ensure that there’s air circulation by opening the windows, door, and vents. Always place the heater on a solid surface away from walls and objects. 

Power Source

Check what kind of fuel the heater uses and the kind of cylinders it is compatible with. Most portable heaters use 1-pound propane canisters. Some larger units mount on both disposable cylinders and refillable tanks. Some small heaters utilize butane. An electric ice fishing heater isn’t a very viable option. You would need a very powerful generator in your ice fish house to power it

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Oxygen Depletion Sensors

When using an ice fishing heater in an ice fishing shack or tent, an oxygen depletion sensor is a safety essential. It will alert you when the oxygen level is low and carbon monoxide level high in the shack. Some ice shack heaters will have this feature built in but you can also acquire the sensor separately. 

Auto Tip Over Shut Off

If the heater is tipped over accidentally, it could cause a fire and burn everything in your ice shelter down. A heater equipped with an auto tip-over shutoff function turns itself off if it is tipped over accidentally or otherwise.



Q: What Is A Ice Shelter Heater?


 An ice shelter heater is a heating appliance that provides radiant infrared heat for warming the air, people, and objects in the shelter even when the outside temperatures are sub-zero.

Q: Why Do I Need A Heater?


The ice fishing environment is extremely cold and it is always important to ascertain that the conditions are safe and layer up for warmth before heading out. You also need a heater because the conditions can worsen all of a sudden and spending prolonged periods on the ice waiting for bites can get you freezing cold. Having a heater will keep you comfortably warm and safe from frostbite and enable you to fish longer.

Q: Is It Safe To Have Gas Heater In Such A Small Place?


It is safe as long as you have an indoor use rated heater equipped with oxygen depletion sensors and tip over shutoff, place it on a stable surface away from objects and walls, ensure the small space is well ventilated, and observe the manufacturer’s safety instructions.

Q: Won’t The Heater Melt The Ice And Put Me In Danger Of Falling In The Water?


No it won’t. The heater is designed to warm up the air in a small space in a small amount of time. The amount of energy and time it would take to melt even one inch of ice is incredibly huge. The heat emitted by even the most powerful portable heater isn’t close.

Q: How Big Should My Heater Be?


Once you calculate the floor space of your ice fishing shelter, figuring what BTU output size to go for will be easy as most heaters indicate the maximum space they are designed to warm efficiently in square feet. A compact physical size is convenient to store and carry.

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When winter comes, you don’t have to give up fishing until the ice thaws. With the best ice fishing heater as your companion, you will be able to stay comfortably warm and safe and fish for as long as you want. We wish you fun and successful ice fishing expeditions. Remember to keep warm and stay safe on the ice! 

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Which of the ice fishing heaters on our list is your top choice? We would love to read your thoughts or experience with the portable heaters we’ve reviewed! Let us know in the comments box below!