Ice fishing can be a pretty tough hobby. You’ve got cold temperatures, slippery ice, and bitter wind to contend with, and that’s just the start.
You shouldn’t add stiff legs or a sore behind to that list of discomforts. Get yourself a good ice fishing chair, and you’ll be fishing longer hours thanks to the comfort of your seat. You might even miss fewer bites when you’re close to the hole and able to concentrate better.
There are a whole range of options for ice fishing chairs. It starts with a basic 5-gallon bucket with or without a foam seat, but you can get fancy with a director’s chair or even an all-in-one fishing stool and rod carrier combo. What you find comfortable depends on your budget and your personal preferences.
Check out all our tips in this guide to find the seat that’s best for your ice fishing excursions so you can focus on catching more fish!
How Can I Make Ice Fishing More Comfortable?
One of the easiest and best ways to make ice fishing more comfortable is by bringing a good chair to sit on.
There are at least 4 great advantages to ice fishing with a chair:
- Rest your legs and feet from standing on the hard ice
- Alleviate neck and back pain from slouching over the hole
- Kick your feet up and get them off the ice so they stay a little warmer
- Prevent slipping and falling from standing up too much
Even if you’re already sitting to fish, you may find the chair you are using is uncomfortable (maybe even worse than standing up). You might just need a different style of chair.
Read on for our breakdown of the best chairs for ice fishing, from a simple plastic bucket to a popover fishing shelter with built-in chairs.
6 Best Ice Fishing Chairs: A Few Unique Options
There are many great options for ice fishing chairs. You’ll be surprised at the variety you can find. Enjoy our list of the top pails, seats, and stools for ice fishing. We’ve filled each tip with helpful Amazon links to help you pick up the products you want to try.
1. Plastic Ice Fishing Bucket
This is the timeless classic, the old man’s standard for an ice fishing chair. It may surprise you, but there are actually a lot of options for how to rock the ice fishing bucket seat.
If you want to get real flashy, you can spring for a premium bucket like this one made by Yeti . It works the same, but it’s engineered to be basically indestructible. Frabill makes a bucket with an insulated bait carrier inside, so you can keep your minnows from freezing while you pop a squat.
Once you have your bucket, you have a ton of seat options. The toughest old timers just flip the bucket over and sit on the base, but you can do better than that…
Finally, you might want to pick up a bucket organizer to keep all of your gear handy and easy to carry while you fish – the one we found even has LEDs so you can see your tackle in low light.
2. Plastic Ice Chest
When I was growing up, my dad always told me not to sit on the lid of the cooler. I don’t know why, because as it turns out, it’s actually a great place to sit!
You can use an ice chest to carry your snacks and drinks out on the lake, use it to keep fish alive in water, or just fill it with fishing gear. It’s your choice what to put inside the cooler, but you can use it for a chair no matter what’s inside.
You probably already have some kind of cooler in your garage, so why not make it your ice fishing chair?
3. Bag-Style Folding Camp Chair
This is another option that you might already have lying around.
A bag-style folding camp chair like this one made by Coleman is pretty easy to take out on the lake because it folds up and has a shoulder strap on the bag. It’s fairly sturdy and has arms, a back, and a cup holder.
This type of chair isn’t really made for ice fishing, and here’s why: a bag chair is good for lounging around a campfire or barbeque. You can lean back, put your arms up, and talk with friends or family.
But when you’re ice fishing, you’re not really leaning back. You actually want to lean forward over the hole, and this type of very relaxed-back chair will make that a huge pain.
If you want a chair that can pull double-duty in the summertime, or you already have one lying around, why not take it out on the ice and see if you like it?
4. Director-Style Folding Camp Chair
Director’s chairs have become very popular for outdoorsmen in the last few years. They’re a little sturdier than the standard bag chairs but just as easy to fold and use.
They correct the posture problem of bag chairs because the back of a director’s chair is usually more rigid and straight, preventing you from reclining. This style will have you sitting up straighter, which is much more conducive to leaning over a fishing hole.
They are a little bit bulkier and usually don’t come with a simple shoulder-carry strap, so you will probably need a sled or ATV to carry one a long distance. But most director’s chairs are still relatively lightweight and they do fold up flat.
Our top three picks are this basic Coleman Director’s Chair , this heavy-duty chair made by KingCamp, and this taller version of the director’s chair , produced by Guide Gear. One of these is sure to suit any tired fisherman.
5. Minimal Folding Camp Stool
A folding camp stool has most of the benefits of a larger camp chair, but it’s also ultra-portable. If you want to keep it lightweight, one of these might be great for you.
We’re talking about a simple stool that has only a seat made of heavy cloth and three or four metal legs. There’s no arm rest or back support, but if you are ice fishing you will usually be leaning over the hole anyway.
One of the best all-around stools out there is this ALPS Mountaineering Tri-Leg Stool . It’s sturdy, simple, and comes in a lot of colors. This REDCAMP 2-pack of stools will do the job just as well, but each stool has a mesh gear pouch. I also like the Eskimo fishing stool because it offers a little backrest for when you do want to lean back.
6. Ice Fishing Chair and Rod Carrier Combo
This is one of those products that does two things at once. It’s both a chair to sit on and a case for carrying your fishing poles. It’s called the Clam Chair .
It’s not the cheapest ice fishing seat, that’s for sure. But it has potential to cut down on the number of things you need to carry with you. It has shoulder straps, too, so you could potentially carry your seat and all your gear on your back.
It also has a waterproof pouch under the seat that is meant to carry the fish you are taking home for dinner.
Some anglers say that the Clam Chair falls over too easily, but it’s up to you to decide whether this a great feat of engineering or an unnecessary gimmick.