If you’ve ever gone ice fishing, you’ve probably benefited from having a shelter out on the ice. But what about a floor for that shelter?
Having an ice fishing shelter floor is not completely essential, but definitely necessary if you want to be comfortable. Shelter floors can keep the interior of your shelter warmer by adding an insulating layer on top of the ice.
Not only does this insulating layer reduce the amount of cold air seeping into shelter, it will also keep your feet warm and dry, which will also help keep the rest of you warm.
What’s more, a shelter floor can help keep you from slipping on the ice.
So, as you can see, there are many benefits to having an ice fishing shelter floor. But what kind of floor should you use?
When making your shelter floor, you want to choose a material that is both lightweight and insulating; that has openings or allows you to add openings so you can get to the ice, and that is easy to put in place and take back up. The material should also be easy to transport.
Let’s take a look at the top five options for creating these insulating floor layers in your shelter.
IN A HURRY? HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS
1. Ice Fishing Shelter Floor
Depending on the type of shelter you have, it may have a floor already. That said, most shelters are sold without floors.
Some shelter manufacturers make detachable floors that are sold separately but are meant to be used with specific shelters. For example, this CLAM shelter floor is made specifically for use with CLAM’s Thermal X or Voyager ice fishing shelters.
If you already have a shelter or are thinking of buying one, check online to see if there’s a floor that will match your shelter. If so, it’s best to use this premade shelter floor. It will fit your specific shelter like a glove and will provide the greatest amount of insulation and comfort.
If there isn’t a floor made for your shelter, or if you don’t want to spend the money for one, you can use other materials to make a floor. We’ll discuss these options in the following sections.
2. Foam Tiles
Interlocking EVA foam tiles are one of the best choices for making a DIY ice fishing shelter floor. They are waterproof, lightweight, and highly insulating, making them a perfect option if you can’t afford a premade shelter floor or can’t find one that goes with your shelter.
These foam tiles can easily snap together to form a tight, crack-free floor. When you are done fishing for the day, simply take them apart and stack them in a corner of your ice fishing sled. They are easy to transport because they can be broken down quickly and easily in this way.
These tiles provide a no-slip barrier against the ice so you can avoid accidents. They are typically sold in 2-foot squares, so you probably won’t need a lot of them unless you have a particularly large shelter.
Since you put the floor together in segments, you can simply leave open spaces anywhere you plan to drill your fishing holes. If you decide to add additional holes later, you can easily remove segments from the floor wherever you want to drill the new holes.
Foam tiles are an all-around great option for creating your own ice fishing shelter floors.
3. Rubber Tiles
also work quite well for shelter floors. They are similar in design to the foam tiles discussed above, but are made of rubber or a rubber-foam composite material instead of foam.
Rubber is even more slip-proof than foam, so rubber tiles will give you excellent traction. They also provide a solid layer of insulation from the cold, and they are completely waterproof, so they will keep your feet warm and dry all day long.
The main drawback of rubber tiles is that they are a bit heavier than foam, so they might not be as easy to use and transport.
Nevertheless, the interlocking rubber tiles work in the same way as foam ones do: snap them together to assemble the floor, snap them apart when you’re done for the day, and transport the tiles in your sled. You can remove single tiles wherever you want to drill your ice holes.
Rubber tiles are a good choice if you’re not worried about the extra weight in your sled; in most cases, rubber tiles won’t add a significant amount of weight, such as an auger or folded up shelter might, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much.
4. Composite Tiles
You could also use deck tiles made of composite material . These tiles provide a firm, hard flooring option that may give you extra stability over foam or rubber.
Composite tiles are lightweight–not as lightweight as foam but light enough to transport easily. They will snap together and come apart just as foam and rubber tiles will do.
As with foam and rubber, you can remove sections to add fishing holes, and you can take them apart and put them together easily on the ice.
Composite tiles are not quite as good at providing an insulating layer, and they’re a bit more of a pain to haul around because they’re not as flexible as foam or rubber. But it’s this lack of flexibility that makes them more stable–they don’t have as much give as you’re walking around on them.
Composite tiles are a good option because of this added stability. They are also waterproof and will keep you from slipping on the ice. So if you are older or unsteady on your feet, these may be the best flooring option for you.
That said, if you are fishing in especially cold regions, you may want to choose rubber or foam instead, as these will both insulate much better than composite deck tiles.
5. Yoga or Cheerleading Mats
Believe it or not, yoga or cheerleading mats can also work quite well as ice fishing floors. You don’t want to use just any mats though; make sure they are thick enough for your purposes. They should be at least half an inch thick.
These mats are both insulating and waterproof. They are generally quite lightweight and made of foam. They are easy to roll up mats.
You can cut holes in the mats for drilling your fishing holes if necessary; or you can simply lay several mats around your holes in the ice.
These mats are large, so generally, you won’t need as many of them.
It’s worth noting that these mats won’t lock together, so they can’t provide a complete waterproof or insulating barrier. They can also be moved around on the ice, which could add to the slipping hazard rather than protecting against it.
Still, yoga or cheerleading mats are a good option if you aren’t going to be moving around a lot, if you’re not worried about slipping, or if you’re on a budget. Depending on how many you need for your shelter, they are quite possibly the cheapest option on this list.