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How to Keep Your Ice Fishing Tent Warm?

How to Keep Your Ice Fishing Tent Warm?

If you are investing in an ice fishing shelter, you definitely want to stay warm. It can make the experience of ice fishing even more fun when you don’t have to be bundled up in a heavy coat and bibs.

Some small shelters will stay warm just from sunlight and body heat. But if these aren’t keeping your fishing shack warm, you came to the right place.

This article will go through several kinds of heater and techniques for keeping your shelter warm. We’ll also talk about how to use these tips safely.

Keep reading for ideas geared toward both permanent ice fishing shelters and pop-up fishing tents so you can keep your toes – and everything else – toasty on the lake this winter.

How to Heat a Permanent Ice Fishing Shelter?

Mr. Heater F242300 MH15C 10,000-15,000 BTU Cooker

A permanent ice fishing house or shanty has some advantages for heating: sturdier walls are less likely to burn or melt than the thin walls of a tent, and a permanent location allows you to leave heavy fuel like a propane tank in or near the shelter.

The most common heat source for a shed like this is a propane tank, usually 20 gallons or so, installed outside with a hose running into the shelter to a heater. These heaters can be extremely powerful and some even double as a heat source for cooking .

Obviously, it’s important to be very safe when using propane as it is flammable and can fill your enclosed shelter with gas if all of the parts are not fitted and installed correctly. You always need ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

How to Keep an Ice Fishing Tent Warm?

to stay warm in a tent

Keeping an ice fishing tent warm is a little trickier because the walls can melt if they are exposed to too much heat, and also because you need a heater you can easily pack up and take with you at the end of the day.

A small propane heater that uses 1-pound disposable propane tanks (commonly sold by Coleman and used for cooking) should get the job done. One of these canisters will usually last most of a day.

The larger your ice fishing shelter, the more powerful heater you might need. Small shelters require only a very small propane heater on medium heat to warm up the indoor temperature to a comfortable level.

3 Best Ice Fishing Heaters

Here is our comparison of the three best ice fishing heaters. We’ll mention what we like and what we don’t about each heater, and which type of situation each is best suited for.

1/ Mr Heater Portable Buddy Propane Heater

Portable Buddy Heater - Mr. Heater

This is probably the best all-around heater for 90% of ice fishing shelters. It’s not the biggest heater available, but it is advertised to heat up to 225 square feet, which is bigger than any tent and many permanent shelters.

With BTU ranging from 4,000-9,000, it puts out a lot of heat. It’s also packed with the safety features that you need for ice fishing shelters: including a tip-over shutoff and the very important low oxygen sensor.

What We Like:

  • Fuel options. Connects easily to 1lb disposable propane tanks or larger 20lb bulk tanks
  • Portable Design. Easy to carry handle.

What We Don’t LIke:

  • Price. The Mr. Heater is a little more expensive than other options, but it is still a good value for all of the features you get.

2/ Campy Gear Chubby 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater & Stove

Campy Gear Chubby 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater & Stove, Outdoor Camping Gas Stove Camp Tent Heater...
  • 【2 in 1 Portable Heater & Stove】Campy Gear honorably presents you this 2-in-1 heater & stove that serves the purpose of cooking and heating for...
  • 【Rapid Heating & 360°Radiant Heating】With a maximum output of up to 9000-10000 BTU propane heaters with the designed 360° radiant heating will...
  • 【High Adaptability】The Campy Gear 2-in-1 Heater & Stove is compatible with 110g & 230g butane / isobutane / propane fuel canisters (of most of...

This heater makes the list because of the extremely convenient heater/cooker combination. If you are using propane to heat your shelter, you might as well heat up some beverages or soup while you fish. You could even put a fresh filet on to fry.

This heater/cooker puts out up to 9,000 BTU so it can produce a lot of heat. But it is an ambient heat design, meaning that the heat goes in all directions rather than being reflected toward you. So it is definitely suited for smaller spaces.

What We Like:

  • Comes with everything you need. The heater comes with a fuel hose so it is ready to connect to a 1lb fuel canister.
  • Value. Since it is a heater and a stove, you are getting more value for your money.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Ambient heat. This distributes the heat around the room rather than directing it at the user. This is inefficient in large spaces.

3/ Texsport Sportsmate Portable Propane Heater

Texsport Sportsmate Portable Propane Heater
  • Steel reflector with safety grid is present

This is a great heater for any ice fishing tent or a small-to-medium permanent ice fishing shelter. It goes up to 3,000 BTU which is a fair level of heat. It has a great price and conveniently uses disposable 14oz or 16oz propane containers. It has an auto shutoff valve to turn off the flow of gas if the flame suddenly goes out.

What We Like:

  • Sturdy base included. This heater is sold with nice fold-out legs for the propane tank that it sits on. This will help protect you from tipping over the canister and the heater with it.
  • No ignition switch. Some fishermen might consider this a negative point, but we like the fact that there is no button that might break on you. Just bring a lighter or matches to strike up a flame on this heater.

What We Don’t Like:

  • No low oxygen sensor. This heater needs to be used with good ventilation in your tent, so it may be a bad choice if that is not an option. This heater may be intended for outdoor use.

Safety Guidelines for Heating an Ice Fishing Shelter

Flame King YSN-CHS20 20,000 BTU Propane Gas Tank Space Radiant Portable Heater

Is it safe to use a heater in an ice fishing tent? It’s safe if you take steps to do it safely.

Start with a good, reliable heater. Buy new if you can. There are several safety features you should look for when you buy your heater for your ice fishing shelter.

Don’t buy a heater unless it advertises:

  • Automatic shutoff or tip-detecting shutoff
  • Low oxygen sensor

These features are the most important things to keep you safe when you’re using a heater while ice fishing.

An automatic shutoff means that the heater contains a sensor that can tell when it tips over and will automatically stop the flow of propane to the heater.

This prevents the heater from blowing heat or flames onto the shelter walls, clothing, furniture, your body, your fishing gear, or anything else if it gets knocked over somehow.

It’s easy to trip or knock things over when you are fishing on ice, so this feature is a must-have.

A low oxygen sensor will shut off the heater or sound an alarm when oxygen is low around the heater. Low oxygen in the presence of a propane flame means that the oxygen is being replaced with toxic carbon monoxide gas.

Carbon monoxide is different from the propane you might smell for a second or two when you fire up the heater. It is completely tasteless, but even very small amounts of it in the air can kill you. In a small space, this can happen in minutes. Read more about avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning here or here.

Only use a heater with a low oxygen sensor to prevent inhaling deadly gasses.

Practical tips for safety when using a heater:

Ice Team Tips - Keep Your Heater Off the Ice
  • Open a window or a zipper. You should also always leave some space for ventilation in the walls or ceiling of your shelter to help let some fresh, oxygen-rich air in.
  • Don’t put the heater too close to anything. Leave enough space to prevent catching items or your body on fire. Put the heater in a place you’re not likely to forget it or bump it.
  • Follow all instructions. Heaters can be dangerous. Make sure you know how all the connections work and double check that they will not be leaking.
  • Pay attention. Avoid using heaters while you sleep or while you are outside the shelter for more than a few minutes.
  • Extend the base fully and find a stable spot. Never put a heater on an uneven surface. Clear a spot on the bare ice or use a hard, sturdy table. Extend the feet, if it has the option. This will help prevent tipping.
  • Use a Portable Carbon Monoxide Detector. If you want to be really safe about low oxygen or if you buy a heater with no low oxygen sensor, invest in a handheld CO detector  to warn you if this gas is present.