A reliable ice fishing heater can make all the difference between an amazing day on the ice and absolute misery. You need reliable, safe, portable heat to be an efficient cold-weather angler.
We’ve done our homework and found the best ice fishing heaters we could find, and I hope that your next ice-fishing adventure is a little warmer!
One note – stay safe out there and put a portable CO detector in your pocket if you’re using a heater in any small space.
Our Top Picks
Best for Permanent Shack:
Camco Olympian Wave 3 Catalytic Heater
1. Mr. Heater Buddy – 9,000 BTU Propane Heater
Behold the king of ice shanty heaters.
The “Buddy” from Mr. Heater has long enjoyed being the #1 of ice fishing heaters due to its low cost, safety features, ease of starting, adjustable heat output, and is simple to pack and carry.
If you’re going to be using this unit a lot (and not moving around on the ice all that much), grab a 20lb propane tank and hook it up using a tank adapter hose.
- Adjustable 4000-9000 BTUs
- Easy to Carry
- Auto shut-off if tipped
- Auto shut-off if low oxygen
2. Mr. Heater Big Buddy – 18,000 BTU Propane Heater
The Buddy has a big brother – the BIG Buddy.
This heater has all the same beloved features as the original Buddy except it has two heater elements.
When you set up your shack, you can run this heater wide-open and get the full 18,000 BTUs out of it to warm up quickly. Then you can run just a single element on low and get 4000 BTUs out of it to maintain your cozy shack.
If you run this unit on high, it’s going to go through gas quickly. Bring extra 1-lb tanks or grab a 20-lb propane tank and hook it up using a tank adapter hose.
- Adjustable 4,000-18,000 BTUs
- Easy to Carry
- Auto shut-off if tipped
- Auto shut-off if low oxygen
3. Camco Olympian Wave 3 Catalytic Heater
If you have a very large area to heat then the Camco Olympian Wav 3 Catalytic Heater is the right one for you. With a massive adjustable output between 1600 and 3000 BTUs of heat.
A very unique feature of the Olympian is that it can be mounted to a wall. If you have a more permanent wood structure then this unit can be mounted and become a semi-permanent fixture during the fishing season and then you only need to haul some gas to power it.
This unit is perfect for a small room like an ice fishing shelter. It is a powerful unit that is more complex in operation than some of the other heaters on this list. That said, it works great and would be a great ice fishing companion
- Adjustable BTUs
- Mountable Heater
- Propane Fuel
- You Need Separate Sold Legs if Not Mounting This Unit
4. Mr. Heater Little Buddy Indoor-Safe Heater
I like simple heaters that work from 1lb propane canisters. Most outdoorsmen have these already so it just makes sense. The Mr. Heater Little Buddy is perfect for ice fishing because it utilizes this kind of fuel source.
This powerful little heater is going to require that your ice fishing tent be well-ventilated or that you use it in the open to just blow hot air in your direction. Either way, this unit makes a world of difference on a cold day.
The Mr. Heater Little Buddy pumps out 3800 BTUs of heat and is powerful enough to heat an area of 100 square feet!
From the standpoint of safety, you even have an oxygen depletion sensor. This will ensure that you do not harm yourself if you are using this in an enclosed ice fishing tent. It will even auto-turn off if you have accidentally tipped this thing over.
- 3800 BTUs of Heat
- Uses Common Fuel
- Safety Features
- Powerful Wind Gusts Can Shut Off
5. Heat Hog Portable Heater
This portable heater is a powerhouse that pumps 9000 BTUs of heat. This is such a great tool because it gives you the option to tilt the heating element. This gives you much more range in deciding where the heat goes.
The Heat Hog runs on 1lb propane canisters which give you the ability to store one kind of fuel for a number of different things. I really like that. A thoughtful feature of this heater is that it puts the fuel canister closer to the heating element which helps prevent the canister from freezing. You will get more gas from each canister this way.
This heater will provide you with just under 5 hours of heat per 1lb canister of propane. Inside your ice fishing shelter, you will stay nice and toasty as this heater is designed to heat an area of 225 square feet.
The safety features built into the Heat Hog will keep you safe even when you are busy with the fish. There is an auto turn-off should the heater tip over or if the oxygen in the area depletes to dangerous levels.
This is an effective and powerful ice fishing heater.
- 9,000 BTUs of Heat
- 5 Hours Heat 1lb Propane Canister
- Tiltable Design
- Pilot Light Takes Some Getting Used To
6. Campy Gear Chubby 2 in 1 Heater and Stove
It’s nice to have gear that works for you in several ways. The Campy Gear Chubby is a 2-in-1 stove and heater. This ice fishing heater will keep you warm but it can also cook you a warm meal or get the percolator going for some fresh coffee.
This heater has a very interesting design that sends heat out in a 360 degree fashion. Instead of heating the area from one direction you have a unit that heats more of the room by sending heat in every direction.
The Campy Gear Chubby 2 in 1 heater and stove sends out between 9,000 and 10,000 BTUs. You can get this powerful output from several types of fuel. This stove is compatible with butane, isobutane, and propane. I would highly recommend the optional adapter that allows you to use larger containers.
This little stove packs a punch and with an adjustable flame and removable cage it can be a heater and a stove or both! When the morning gives way to lunch or a late day ice fishing adventure starts to hit dinner time, you will be very happy to have a stove and heater in the tent with you.
- Stove and Heater
- 10,000 BTU Output
- Mutli Fuel Compatibility
- Lacks an Igniter
7. Dura Heat 360 Degree Tank Top Heater
This heater is a simple design that gets the job done but it does not have the bells and whistles of some of our other units. The Dura Heat Tank Top Heater is designed to fit right onto a 20lb propane tank.
Setup is very simple and you can run this thing for 14 hours straight on a single propane tank. That could be a lot of ice fishing trips. The Dura Heat would be the perfect ice fishing heater if you did not have a shelter to protect you, though it can shut off in high wind.
You will need some serious ventilation with this unit as it puts off a lot of heat and burns a lot of gas. The heat output in this ice fishing heater is by far the most of any unit we have on the list at a whopping 40,000 BTUs!
Safety measures include a tip over shut off that stops the high efficiency stainless steel heat reflector from working. The heating element is match light so make sure you have a way to get this thing started.
- Whopping 40,000 BTUs
- Attaches Directly to a 20lb Propane Tank
- 14 Hours Straight Heat
- Should be Used In The Open
- Wind Can Put it Out
How to Choose the Best Ice Fishing Heater
There are 3 things that you should consider when you look over these heaters. Each one of these metrics will help you decide which ice fishing heater is the best one for you.
We are going to focus on BTUs which is how much heat energy the unit puts out. We will look at Safety Features to assure that you can use the heater the way you want to. Finally, you should consider fuel consumption.
BTU Output vs Size of Shelter
The first order of business is to look at the heaters for the main reason that you are reading this review. You wanna warm up your ice fishing shelter, right. Well, we have options on this list that run between 3,000 and 40,000 BTUs.
As you can imagine a smaller shelter will benefit from the 3,000 BTU ice fishing shelter while the 40,000 BTU powerhouse is so powerful it will give you carbvon monoxide poisoning if you use it in an ice fishing tent.
Emissions and Safety Features
When it comes to ice fishing heaters, not all units are created equal. Some of these units come with auto shut offs when oxygen levels deplete or when units tip over. You need to be intimately aware of the safety features that your heater has built into it.
Most importantly take the proper precautions to assure you are safe while using your heater.
Your access to certain kinds of fuels will also dictate what type of ice fishing heater you choose to buy. As an outdoorsmen I keep a lot of 1lb canisters of propane so it makes sense for someone like me to invest in a heater that uses the kind of fuel I have on hand.
If you work outside and have a large area to heat then you will probably consider the 20lb tank, 40,000 BTU Dura Heat because it fits a type of fuel that work for you.
The final consideration with fuel is efficiency. A unit that is most efficient with your fuel has its benefits, too. Each one of these heaters will burn a certain amount of fuel over an hour.
Is it Safe to Heat an Ice Fishing Shelter?
It is incredibly safe to heat an ice fishing shelter. Modern ice fishing heaters are packed with safety features. Most heaters are designed to shut off if they are knocked over. This feature prevents fires.
They will also auto shut off if the oxygen gets too depleted in a room. However, you can take even more steps in your ice fishing shelter to assure the ice fishing heater is running safely.
Whenever you are running some kind of propane, kerosene, or gas heater inside the home then you are going to need some amount of ventilation. Modern heaters have been outfitted with safety measures that turn the heaters off automatically when oxygen levels get dangerously low.
Still, that alarm can malfunction. So, you should always focus on ventilation when you are using one of these ice fishing heaters.
Having an alarm to monitor carbon monoxide is another measure that can keep you safe in your ice fishing shelter. Safety is always going to be key when you are operating an ice fishing heater.
There are inherent dangers but you can monitor your precious oxygen levels as long as you are careful and put the right safety measures in place. A CO2 alarm coupled with thorough ventilation is the best method of staying safe.
Wrapping up the Best Ice Fishing Heaters of 2023
Whether you are setting up an ice fishing tent, permanent structure or just sitting outside in the cold weather, an ice fishing heater is going to warm you up. We have presented you with a wide variety of ice fishing heaters and they all have their benefits.
Ice fishing does not have to be a teeth chattering and finger numbing experience. There are many ways to stay warm when ice fishing. You could be one larger propane tank away from heated ice fishing.
Now, look over the offerings and choose your own ice fishing propane heater. Though we have taken the time to choose the heater we think is the best, your situation might call for a different type of unit.
Need some more Minnesota gear? Trust our recommendations to guide your next shopping trip!
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- About the Author
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Born in Madelia, MN, to a now 5-generation Minnesota family, Ryan’s MN roots go deep.
A painter by day, Ryan founded Life in Minnesota in 2013 with his wife Kelly to chronicle their musings on everything Minnesota. Ryan and Kelly are raising their 7 kiddos in Maple Grove, MN.
When he’s not shuttling his kids around to hockey practice, you might find him in the shop working on his leatherwork. Undoubtedly, there will be a family trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area every summer, and of course weekends at Grandpa’s cabin up north in the summer.