Ice fishing is done in the middle of a frozen lake. It can get cold during ice fishing, and if the wind starts to blow, you are sure to get frostbites or even hypothermia, which can be fatal.
Ice fishing is a fun activity, but it’s also extremely dangerous if you don’t keep yourself warm enough. While there is proper ice fishing gear available that every ice fishing angler should wear, there are other ways as well that help keep the fisher warm on the icy cold trip. One such method is using a heater.
While the gear can protect you from the cold, it can’t keep you fully warm. Heaters, however, can help you in this endeavor while you try to catch fish. It helps keep your hands from freezing off in the cold or your toes from getting frostbites.
Hopefully, this guide will lead you to some of the best ice fishing heaters there is. We are going to review 5 of the top heaters to help you select which one is best suitable for your need.
Benefits of Using Ice Fishing Heaters
As the name suggests, a heater keeps you heated or warm in the cold. It is especially useful during ice fishing for people who cannot stay away from fishing even in the cold. There are multiple benefits a heater can provide, but of course, the most important one is that it will keep you comfortably warm.
When the guides are covered in ice, and your fingers are too frozen to even put on bait, heaters can help a lot. Heaters are an affordable and useful way to warm yourself and your equipment.
The best part about these heaters is that they are portable, so you can easily take them with you on your fishing trip. These heaters are small and don’t take too much space. Plus, you can always use them in your home once you are back from your fishing trip.
Besides keeping yourself and your equipment warm, you can heat water with a heater. Water, let alone warm water, can be tough to find in the middle of the snow, which is why a heater can be convenient.
Some heaters come with a built-in grill that you can use to cook food. It’s super handy, as it can be really hard to burn wood in the cold. If you are out camping with your friends while enjoying ice fishing and have a heater with you, you don’t need to find wood and burn it to make food.
How Do Ice Fishing Heaters Work?
Keep your gas tank outside your tent and connect it to your heater by using a hose to heat your tent or hut. Ensure there are no leaks as it can be a fire hazard. Then, light up the heater and adjust the setting of the heater according to the size of your tent or hut. This will keep your entire tent warm.
Your ice fishing heater can also be used as a grill. All you have to do is to put a protective grill on the slots found on top of the heater. Sometimes, there is a built-in grill already provided. Place the caught fish or any other food you want to cook on the grill. The food will cook slowly but adequately. Once it’s done, take it from the grill and enjoy.
When you use a heater, don’t forget that propane gas can be extremely dangerous and can be a life-threatening hazard if you are not careful. Keep the heater away from any material that can catch fire, and always put the gas tank outside your fishing tent. Let the heater warm up your tank as long as you are awake, but turn it off before going to bed as it can end up heating too much and causing damage.
Top 5 Best Ice Fishing Heaters Reviews
1. Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy Radiant Heater
The Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy comes with two heat settings, 4,000 BTU and 9,000 BTU. Hence, how much BTU of heat it delivers per hour solely depends on how much heat you want. It can easily heat up to 225 square feet of space. Everything is delivered without compromising the size. It weighs only 9.5 pounds and is unbelievably light. Plus, the handle on top makes it easy to carry around.
The burning of propane is 100 percent efficient. A swivel regulator is present for easy usage of a gas cylinder or remote gas supply.
This heater falls perfectly in the list of top 5 heaters due to the safety it provides. It is implemented with an automatic shut-off feature so you won’t have to worry about accidentally tipping the heater over as it will turn off automatically, saving you from any fire hazard.
The main drawback is that it is designed to be connected to a 1-lb. propane tank. Changing the tank every time it gets empty can be a little frustrating.
- Automatic shut-off
- Easy to carry
- Can heat up to 225 square feet
- Oxygen depletion sensor system
• Need to connect to a 1-lb. propane tank
2. Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater
The Texsport Portable Heater offers various functions for both indoor and outdoor use. It can provide plenty of heat for a large fishing shack or tent.
It needs a 16.4-oz. or 14.1-oz. propane tank to produce heat. When you switch the knob all the way, it produces up to 2,890 BTU of heat. That’s enough to warm up an entire ice-fishing shack properly. You can also cook things like marshmallows if you hold them near the heater.
This heater can act as a burner as well. You can use it instead of making a wood fire. Since it makes the fire using a convection system instead of burning anything, you won’t have to worry about the wind putting it out. You can easily warm up your hands and feet while enjoying other activities.
The burner and body of the heater are made of stainless steel, making it durable. It also has an automatic shut-off feature if the flames go out. The heater can work for up to 4-5 hours on 1 lb. of gas. It is light and easy to transport.
- Safety auto shut-off
- Stainless steel burner
- 2,890 BTU heat production
• Using it indoors can be dangerous as the propane gas produces CO gas as a byproduct
3. Dura Heat TT-360 Propane Tank Top Heater
The Dura Heat TT-360 is one of the cheapest heaters out there. It connects to two propane cylinders and can heat up to 1000 square feet. It looks like a lantern and is a safe source for camps or fishing tents. This product is cheaper than other heaters and still provides just as much heat.
It produces 360 degrees of radiant heat and can function on a 20-lbs. propane tank for 14 hours continuously. The chrome emitter guards are rust-proof, and the heat reflectors are made of stainless steel. This heater also includes a tip-over shut-off feature, so safety is fully guaranteed.
The heater has no handle on the top, but it is present on the base of the heater, which can be a bit troublesome to use. Hence, instead of being a portable heater, it is ideal for a permanent shelter as you won’t have to keep setting it up and dismantling it every time.
- High quality
- Be able to heat up to 1000 square feet of space
- Works with two propane tanks
- 360 degrees of radiant heat
- Automatic shut-off feature
- Stainless steel burners
- Rust-proof guards
• Slightly difficult to carry around due to the handle on the base
4. Camping Emergency Butane Heater
This heater is one of the best ice fishing heaters on the market. It has a CE certificate that endorses its use in the outdoors. It is small in size and very easy to carry. It is most suitable for ice fishing since you can easily carry it while looking for a spot to fish on the frozen lake.
Instead of using propane gas, it uses butane to produce heat, which makes it stand out from the rest of the heaters in this article. This is beneficial as propane can be harmful if it is used in closed premises. Propane produces carbon monoxide as a byproduct that can be dangerous for health.
This heater also has a ceramic burner, which is another plus point. It uses approximately 100g of gas per hour and produces a lot of heat compared to its small size.
The upper body of the heater can move and can be adjusted according to your needs. Hence, you can focus the heat toward yourself if you want to. The heater also includes a shut-off function that turns the heater off automatically if it senses pressure.
- Butane gas cylinder
- Small and portable
- Swiveling upper body
- CE certified for outdoor activities
- Safety shut-off system
• May not be ideal for large tents
5. Mr. Heater MH12B Hunting Buddy Portable Space Heater
The Hunting Buddy works with a propane gas cylinder, but a slight difference between the rest of the propane heaters and this brand is that this one uses liquid propane instead of the gas. It produces 6,000 to 12,000 BTU with 1-lb. liquid propane.
The Hunting Buddy is best for the indoors like using inside a closed ice fishing tent and can warm up to 300 square feet of space. To switch between remote gas supply and a disposable cylinder, you will need to use the swivel regulator with a single hose and filter. Just rotate the knob to adjust the tank, and the silent electric ignition will light up the fire.
The Hunting Buddy also comes with an oxygen depletion sensor and the automatic shut-off feature, which will guarantee the safety and provide a completely safe experience.
- Works with liquid propane
- Easy to use
- Portable and small
- Can heat up to 300 square feet
- Swivel upper body
- Automatic shut-off
- Oxygen depletion sensor
• Only for the indoors
How to Choose the Best Ice Fishing Heaters
Choosing the best ice fishing heaters is the main focus here. There are a variety of heaters available in the market, but how would you know which one would suit your needs the best? Here are some factors that you should consider before buying a heater:
Weight and Size
One of the main factors to consider before purchasing an ice shanty heater is its size. An extra-small heater won’t be able to produce enough heat and will find it challenging to keep the cold away if your tent is big. Therefore, it will not be able to heat the room efficiently. On the other hand, an excessively large heater gives you less room to move and comes with added weight.
One easy way to decide on the size is to measure the square footage of the place you want to heat up and match it with a heater you want to buy. We advise purchasing a heater with higher capacity because the settings can be adjusted and the output can be maximized.
However, since you will have to carry the heater for your ice fishing trip, make sure not to forget the weight. If the weight is too much, you’ll end up not taking it with you and wasting your money for nothing.
The output of a heater is measured in BTU, which stands for British Thermal Unit. To increase the temperature of 1 lb. of water by 1 °F, the amount of heat that is needed is called BTU.
Usually, a 1-lb. propane tank is used for portable heaters during ice fishing. They can produce 2,500 to 15,000 BTU of heat, though the most popular output is 10,000 BTU. Most people are also familiar with the square or circular kerosene heaters, which can produce up to 25,000 BTU.
As stated before, the size of the heater plays a huge factor. The bigger the size, the more heat it will produce.
Many ice fishing shanties or tents are already provided with some wind insulation. However, improvements in this area might benefit some. Insulation means that devices are designed to keep the cold outside and warmth inside.
However, you still need to remember that a heater, regardless of how insulting it is, cannot make much of a difference if the tent cannot retain the warmth, especially if you have a small heater. A bigger heater could still manage it somewhat as it can produce more heat as compared to a small heater and won’t allow heat to escape the tent quickly. Hence, if your tent is not insulated, go for a bigger heater.
Oxygen Depletion Sensor
It is important for you to have an oxygen depletion sensor, whether you buy it separately or it comes with your heater. It helps you know whether the tent contains a high amount of carbon monoxide. While carbon monoxide poisoning is not a serious concern if your heater is running properly and offers proper ventilation, the sensor should still be on the top of your priority list if you don’t want to face any life-threatening situation. The unexpected can always happen, so always make sure the oxygen depletion sensor is working properly before going on an ice fishing trip.
Burning fuel produces carbon monoxide so it can be especially harmful in closed spaces. Tents are made in such a way that the air cannot pass through, keeping all the carbon monoxide gas inside the tent and eventually resulting in one’s death. That’s why choosing a heater specially designed for indoor use is crucial for your wellbeing. Too many fishers are killed every year by a simple mistake.
Thus, before buying a heater for your ice fishing trip, make sure it’s designed for indoor use with a good air ventilator. If the heater does not come with a proper air ventilation system, keep an area of your tent open large enough for the gas to leave and small enough that the cold won’t bother you and the tent stays warm.
Although this is an extra feature and may not be found in many heaters, it is still a very important one. When the heater is tipped over, the system automatically cuts the fuel supply, eventually turning the heater off. You can easily restart and light the heater again after placing it properly. This feature has been proven to prevent fire accidents.
Many heaters also come with overheating precautions, which turn off the heater if it has been running for a long while. It is always necessary to turn off the heater before going to sleep so that you can stay protected at your most vulnerable. However, if you fall asleep and forget to turn off the heater, the overheating auto shut-off mechanism will keep you safe.
While there are many other varieties of heaters available in the market, the ones that we reviewed are some of the best. Hopefully, this simple guide will help you determine which one is ideal for your situation. Remember that your choice of the heater will depend on your needs. The size of your tent or shelter, your heating needs, and inclusion of a burner are all factors that you need to consider before buying a heater. If you end up with a big tent and a small heater, you are the one who will suffer.
You should try to choose a heater that will stay with you the longest. Check its durability, weight, and portability. Ice fishing already requires you to carry a lot of equipment including fishing gear and rods, so make sure you keep things easy on yourself and the heater you carry doesn’t weigh too much.
Also, don’t forget to follow the safety instructions when using a heater. Even though heaters now come with a more secure body with advanced safety features, you still need to be careful not to cause any accidents.
Q. How can I maintain a heater?
Heaters are easy to clean and maintain. Make sure you unplug the heater and turn it off before cleaning. Take a damp cloth and wipe the outside of the heater. The grills can be cleaned with a dust brush.
Never open up a heater to clean it. It can damage something inside or can be dangerous if it is not put back together properly. Just take a blower or hair dryer to clean the insides of a heater. If that doesn’t complete your purpose, take a long brush like a paint brush and clean with it.
Q. Can a heater be placed in a corner or closed space?
Never place a heater in a corner and especially not a closed space. The heater needs air to remove the byproduct from the environment. Not allowing it to do so can be very dangerous, as the byproduct gases are life-threatening. Plus, keeping the heater inside runs the risk of fire if the heater tips over and falls on something.
Q. How can I know the amount of heat needed for the tent?
If you want to know which setting to keep your heater on, start with turning the thermostat knob to the maximum and wait for the area to start getting warm. Once the temperature is according to your preferences, gradually turn the knob down to a lower temperature.
Q. How can I know which size of a heater to get?
Usually, the heater indicates the approximate value of BTU it produces. Calculate the size of your tent and look for a heater that will produce the amount of heat that will be more than enough for it. You can always ask the store manager as they know their products better than anyone.