Ice fishing may sound, to those unfamiliar, like a serious test of survival only meant for those brave enough to endure freezing temperatures, but in reality, it can actually be a very comfortable experience with the right equipment. When you go ice fishing, you can even bring a portable heater.
There are plenty of different options available for heaters, so here is a list of five of the best heaters, along with which one I would buy.
Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater
This is one of the most popular portable heaters on the market, and that’s for good reason. It’s portable, it has an attractive design, and it’s easy to use. It can be used indoors or outdoors.
This heater is very easy to connect to a 1 lb propane cylinder. It outputs between 4,000 and 9,000 BTUs per hour, making it nice and hot. Lighting it is a cinch: just rotate the knob to pilot, then push. The sparking mechanism will then get the heater going.
The heater has neat safety features, too. It has a mechanism to shut off automatically if it is tipped over accidentally. It also has a sensor to tell if oxygen is depleted in the room, so if you place this in your tent or shanty, you should feel safer knowing that the device should shut off if oxygen is low (still be cautious in keeping it on for too long, though).
The product weighs 10.6 lbs and stands at 14 inches long, 7 inches wide, and 14 inches tall. Because it has a big handle on top, carrying it around is super easy. The propane cylinder sits conveniently on the side.
If you are ice fishing inside a shanty, you will have total comfort with this heater, which heats up to 200 square feet.
It will help you out if you’re just fishing outdoors without shelter, too. You will want to set it down so that the front faces you. Given how hot it is, you’ll be more than comfortable if you do this.
This heater has received many positive reviews online. The vast majority of customers were very happy with how it performed while they did activities such as ice fishing in cold weather.
One problem that was mentioned, however, stating that the starter mechanism had malfunctioned, meaning that the heater was hard to light. But this seems to be an unlucky case, not something that happens to everyone.
Overall, this is a great heater that will serve you well for ice fishing. The price is very reasonable, currently sitting at just $77.
You can purchase it at here on Amazon.
Dura Heat 360 Degree Tank Top Heater
The name says “360 Degree,” and they aren’t lying about that. The burner of this heater is circular so that heat is emitted from all sides of the heater.
What’s great about this design is how a large number of people will be able to feel the heat. If you are ice fishing with a large group of friends, this could be the heater for you.
Note that this heater should not ever be used indoors, however. Use it if you are going to sit on the lake without any shelter. It would be far too hot to use in an enclosed space, and it’s not safe to do it either.
This heater, which weighs almost 5 pounds, is designed to stand on top of a 20 lb propane tank. It’s not designed to be mounted on smaller tanks, so you’ll need to use a 20 lb one. Because of that, this is not the most portable option available, but it is very efficient and very warm.
In fact, the heater will run for up to 14 hours on a 20 lb propane tank. It is likely that you will be able to use it for multiple days of fishing before needing another tank.
It must be lit with a match, also, so make sure to bring some on your trip.
When it comes to safety, the heater will shut off in case of an accidental tip over. This should prevent wasting propane, too.
Reviews on Amazon for this heater are mostly positive, though a few customers found the durability lacking, and the heater may need some maintenance over time. One thing is certain, though: it does a good job heating.
This is a great heater for ice fishing outdoors with a group of friends or family. You just might have to do a bit of tinkering with it over time to get it to work right, though.
Check it out here on Amazon.
Texsport Sportsmate Portable Propane Heater
This is probably the most portable option on the list, and it’s one of the most affordable, too.
It’s small and has a simple design. It sits atop a small (16.4 oz) propane cylinder, which it connects to for fuel. The cylinder sits in a paddlefoot base. The heater weighs just 2 pounds. You could really take this heater anywhere.
It’s not really designed to warm a lot of people at once, so it’s not the one you want to go with if you are trying to keep a lot of people happy. But if it’s just you you’re heating, then go for it.
Surprisingly, the heater comes with a cup holder. This could be an awesome feature, actually, if you don’t have anywhere else to put cups, for some reason.
A potential downside of this heater is the height. It’s short, and you might have trouble finding a good spot for it when fishing. Perhaps you will need something to set it on top of.
However, this heater costs about 40 bucks, so it’s the least expensive out of all these.
It outputs up to 3,000 BTUs so it will keep you quite warm. And it should burn for 6 hours. If you are planning on a lengthy ice fishing trip, maybe don’t use it the whole time, or bring extra tanks.
It lights with a match, like most similar items, so make sure to bring some. And it features an auto-shut-off valve for any case when the flame goes out, so there’s no need to worry about wasting fuel.
Reviews online for this product are mostly positive, but some have reported malfunctions that kept theirs from working. For under $50, ordering this heater might be worth the slight risk of getting a defective product, but that’s up to you.
You can order this heater from Amazon.
Martin Portable Gas Catalytic Heater
This heater has a very cool and unique design. Its shape resembles a megaphone, strangely enough.
More importantly, this heater is highly efficient, working for 7 hours on a 1 lb propane cylinder.
Because it has an electronic ignition system, it is easy to light this heater, despite that it is still propane-based.
This product has folding stands on its left and right sides so that you can set it on the ground and still have it aimed right at you. This is great for those who want to bring it outside for ice fishing. You can set it near your camping chair and feel the heat coming right in your direction.
It might not be your first choice if you are trying to keep a large group warm outdoors, however, since it is not all that large. But if you are fishing in a shelter, it should keep the whole place warm.
Like the other heaters on the list, it has an auto-shutoff feature in case the flame goes out for any reason. It does not boast an oxygen depletion sensor, so be cautious using it in more enclosed spaces.
The heater is designed to work only with 1 lb propane cylinders, as it uses the cylinder you connect to it along with the stands to prop itself up.
When it comes to size, it weighs 4.45 pounds and has dimensions of 11 x 11.2 x 15.4 inches. This heater is highly portable.
Outputting 3000 BTUs, the heater is plenty hot, but you could find a more powerful one if you wanted. It’s not the best value out there, but with such a nice, portable design, there are definitely reasons to get it.
Reviews online are mostly positive, but once again, some reported defective products. This is probably not a widespread problem, but the risk is still there.
You can order it on Amazon.
Mr. Heater Portable Big Buddy Heater
If this one sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a bigger version of the previously discussed Mr. Heater Portable Buddy.
Why get a bigger version of an already great heater? This heater brings far greater performance.
It heats twice as much space: instead of up to 200 square feet, it can heat up to 400. Whereas the smaller version outputted up to 9,000 BTUs, we see that doubled here with an output of 18,000.
Here’s something that’s really cool: instead of just one 1 lb cylinder, this one takes two. By doing so, you can get between 6 and 12 hours of heat (how many hours exactly depends on how hot you set it to be).
Or, you can even hook up a 20-lb tank and get up to 120 hours of heat. Now that’s efficiency. Of course, it takes more work to carry around a tank like that, but you might find doing so very helpful.
The design of this heater is similar to its smaller sibling, having a convenient handle on top for carrying. The heat comes from one side.
It has the same safety features. It will shut off if the flame goes out due to accidental tipping-over. It also has the same low-oxygen sensor, making it ideal for indoor use.
It also has the same spark igniter that makes lighting the heater a breeze. Just turn the knob and push.
This heater has the added feature of a blower fan. This requires D-cell batteries, but if you really want the heat to get well-distributed, turn this fan on.
Obviously, it is somewhat big. It weighs 17 lbs, so it might not be something you will want to take hiking for many miles, but then you probably wouldn’t want to do that for ice fishing, to begin with. Unless you do want to fish at an extremely remote lake, you shouldn’t have any trouble transporting it to your preferred spot.
With the sheer power and efficiency of this heater, you will be able to keep large groups of friends happy.
The only real downside for this heater is that it seems excessive for ice fishing. Even if you use a shelter, it’s probably not big enough to justify using this heater. But then again, with such efficiency, you may choose it anyway and not enjoy not having to worry about running out of fuel anytime soon.
This is really the ultimate portable heater! It will serve you well when ice fishing, but you could also go with something cheaper that would likely keep you warm just as well.
Still, judging from the sizable number of five-star reviews online, this is a fantastic heater that has made for many satisfied customers.
See it here on Amazon.
Which One Would I Buy?
Out of these five heaters, when I compare the price, durability, power, and design of them all, there is one clear winner when it comes to buying a heater for ice fishing: The Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater.
While the Big Buddy Heater is more impressive and powerful, it’s significantly more expensive. For ice fishing, the extra power and features it offers do not seem necessary. If I was to get that one, I would probably set it to the lowest setting. With its two propane tanks, it would provide fuel for a long time. At the end of the day, though, it’s not my pick.
The Texsport heater is very affordable. If I wanted to save some money, this is definitely the one that I would choose. However, it doesn’t seem to be the most reliable, so buying it means risking ending up with a product that stops working.
The 360-degree heater is a great product as well. It costs a bit more than the Buddy Heater, however, and shouldn’t be used indoors, while the Buddy Heater can be. To me, having to use a 20 lb propane tank makes it less convenient than simply being able to use a small 1 lb one when it comes to transporting the heater.
The Martin has a good design and is easy to use like the Buddy Heater. However, it is more expensive, and its reputation is not as good. However, the fact that I could set it on the ground and aim it right at me makes it compelling.
Overall, the Buddy Heater offers a great product at an affordable price point. It is one of the top-selling products in this category, and it gets high-scoring reviews, showing that it is reliable.
When it comes to ice fishing, with this heater, I could definitely use it to heat up a shelter, or I could just sit outside and set it nearby. Since it’s highly portable, I would have no problems taking it anywhere I wanted to fish, and bringing along a couple of small propane tanks would be no trouble either.
While each of these heaters would work for ice fishing, the Buddy Heater is definitely the one I would choose.