Ask a group of ice anglers what is the best transport to haul their gear, and there will be a flurry of answers plus a few disagreements. However, they’ll agree that you need one type of transport to get to the parking lot by the lake and another to move your gear onto the ice.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Pickups, snowmobiles, and ATVs are perennial favorites for both of these tasks.
There are vehicles made to run in the snow and ice like the SnoBear TL or the Wilcraft-Ice. Then there’s the unexpectedly popular type of vehicle that can get you to the lake and out on the ice. Continue reading to learn more.
The Wilcraft-Ice: An Ice Fishing Dream Machine
No, you’re not dreaming, the Wilcraft-Ice is an ice and snow transport vehicle with room for equipment and anglers, an ice shelter, and if you go through the ice, it floats. The oversized tire treads act as paddles to propel it through the water.
The Wilcraft Ice features a lightweight 2”x4” reinforced, powder-coated aluminum body that weighs in at 1,150 pounds and has a cargo capacity of 675 pounds. Sound heavy for the ice? Don’t worry; vehicle weight is safely distributed over a 64-inch by 12-foot, 4-inch body.
The Wilcraft Ice features a 26.5-HP, 747cc Kohler Gasoline Engine, 4-stroke EFI, with an electric start. Hydrostatic drive eliminates belts, pulleys, and maintenance.
11-inches of ground clearance plus oversized, low-pressure tires (front 22x8x10, rear 32×15-15) let the Wilcraft Ice plow through the deep snow.
A durable pop-up cover provides warmth and protection from the wind, while four water-tight 10-inch holes allow quick access to the ice below for easy use of your ice auger. . Closed-cell flotation assures buoyancy and warmth.
You can find a complete list of features at https://www.thewilcraft.com/models.
SnowTrax-STX-R Recreational Snow Vehicle
The SnowTrax STX-R is a go-anywhere, all-season transport that gets you to your favorite ice fishing hot spots. The unique low-ground pressure design of this snow machine allows it to glide on top of the snow no matter how deep it is. The low ground pressure of its track system helps it float across the muddy ground and deep snow.
As with all Trax tracked vehicles, the STX-R is capable of zero-point turns, making it the perfect transport for navigating wooded terrains or getting to your backwoods mountain cabins, hauling supplies, and of course, ice fishing.
Built to get you where you’re going in all seasons, the STX-R lets you traverse flat icy lakes and muddy fields or confidently climb mountain slopes.
From concept to production, the Snowtrax STX-R is built as an access vehicle for otherwise impassable winter terrains. Extra wide tracks provide a generous contact area enabling the STX-R to stay on top of any surface, including mud, ice, and snow.
An oversized vehicle bed carries all your ice fishing toys, and a heated two or four-seat cabin makes it an excellent choice for the snow.
The recreational version of the STX-R features a 38-HP gas-powered electronic fuel injected engine, two-speed transmission, and a 12-gallon fuel tank.
The generous 14″ ground clearance, coupled with a low weight of 1300 lbs / 590 kg aids the 24″ tracks with their 156 2.25″ paddles to generate a low 0.5 psi on the ground/0.37 psi nose to heel.
For a complete list of features and options visit the Trax manufacturers website.
The Argo Frontier 700 6 X 6 Amphibious Transport
The Argo 700 Frontier 6 X 6 is a trackless transport with a serious go-anywhere attitude. Better yet, If you go through the ice, it’s amphibious. The Frontier 700 6 X 6 is as at home on the ice as on any other terrain.
Each of its six wheels has a separate drive system, assuring you always have a wheel with traction pulling you through tough spots. For situations where more traction is needed, add a set of tracks designed to fit over the tires.
Ice fishing uses a lot of heavy gear, including shelters or ice houses. The Argo has onboard storage with a 1,500-pound capacity.
The powerful small Block V-Twin 23-HP fan-cooled EFI engine, bolted to the Instant Torque Clutch and classic transmission, produces 25% more horsepower than previous models, effortlessly pulling up to 2,000 pounds.
Turn on a dime with the 700 Frontier 6 X 6 classic transmission paired with Argo’s Progressive Steering. Turning the handlebars compresses a spring trigger that isolates and brakes the wheels on one side, producing short zero radius turns and increasing the Argo’s go-anywhere ability.
Beefy tires with oversized treads pull you across streams and inland lakes and back onto the ice.
Quality is in Argo’s DNA. Their parent company, Ontario Drive & Gear LTD, works with Canada’s space agency and contributes parts to the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.
Add to this the Argo’s capacity for two to four passengers, bountiful hauling power, its excellent safety record, and a winning transport that gets you out on the ice to make that trophy catch.
The SnoBear TL Ice Fishing Transport
Ice fishing is the sole reason the SnoBear TL transport exists. This unique vehicle seemingly fills every ice fishing whim.
The SnoBear is equipped with built-in Vexilar sonar mounts, interior, and exterior ice auger mounts, in-dash power inverter, 12-volt outlets, onboard charger, heater block, 4-sealable fishing holes, and so much more.
Choose your engine, the 40-HP Vanguard big block v-twin engine, or the new 1.6 Liter, 4-cylinder water-cooled Zenith engine built by Hyundai that produces dependable power to get you over the largest drifts.
The Maxx-Tack system is an independent suspension that distributes vehicle weight and levels the ride for increased comfort. The proprietary AcraLift System is a hydraulic system that lowers you to within 10’’ of the ice for fishing and raises you up 12’’ out of the snow and ice for travel.
Fish in comfort: expansive customizable seating includes captain’s chairs and upholstered bench seating for comfortable fishing.
Exterior light bars for safety and abundant interior lighting,an onboard propane tank to fuel devices, and an indoor rack for your ice auger allow you not to leave your SnoBear until you head home.
The Ice Angler’s Surprise Pick—The Front Wheel Drive Minivan
No, it’s not a typo, and you’re not hallucinating. A search of ice fishing forums will show you that a surprising number of ice anglers also like their grocery-getting minivan for ice fishing. Let’s see why.
First, in 2020, the minivan accounted for 1.9 percent of vehicle sales which translates to 272,000 units. As big as this number is, it’s the lowest annual sale of minivans since 1986. All this means is that there’s an extremely high likelihood you already have one in your driveway.
Second, in the 90s, major manufacturers began switching to front-wheel drive in minivans. Why? Because front-wheel drive gives better traction and control.
Physics illustrates that pulling a load over an obstacle is easier than pushing it because pulling provides a slight upward motion or reduces friction. Conversely, pushing increases downward force and friction. In addition, the weight of the engine and transmission increase traction.
I confess I drive a minivan; what’s worse, I like it! In my experience, I’ve had more control with my minivans and have gotten stuck less. On the downside, I miss how easy it is to do donuts in the snow with a rear-wheel drive vehicle.
Third, fold down or take out the rear and middle seats; you have all the room you need to carry your gear, including shelters and Smitty sleds.
Lastly, the minivan is the only vehicle in this round-up that can both get you to the lake and out onto the ice! The minivan won’t get you through six-foot snow drifts, but with caution, you can drive around them.
Before you take your minivan, or any of these vehicles, out on the ice, check for safe ice thickness; eight inches or more is safe unless it’s near a stream entering the lake or later in the season when ice is softer. At these times, look for 12 inches of ice or more.
If you don’t already have a minivan and decide to try one for ice fishing, just make sure it’s front-wheel drive and get a good set of tire chains.