It can get chilly out there on the ice. To ensure you don’t freeze to death out there, you need to have more than basic winter apparel. Keep hypothermia at bay with one of the best ice fishing heaters on the market while you wait for a bite out in frigid temperatures.
What’s the best heater for ice fishing? We took the liberty to narrow down a few great choices you can look into.
Here are the best ice fishing heater reviews that can help you make an informed decision:
- Best Propane Heater for Ice Fishing-Mr. Heater MH18B, Portable Propane Heater
- Best Ice Shack Heater Propane-Mr. Heater MH18BRV Big Buddy
- Best Mr. Heater for Ice Fishing-Mr. Heater MH9BX Buddy
- Dyna-Glo HA1360R
- Best Space Heater for Ice Fishing-Mr. Heater MH4B Little Buddy
- Best Smaller Heater for Ice Fishing-Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater
6 Best Ice Fishing Heaters for 2023 Reviewed
1. Mr. Heater MH18B, Portable Propane Heater
Best Propane Heater for Ice Fishing
This fishing heater comes with a dual heating system that combines radiant and convection heat flow for high heating efficiency. You can get 108 hours of heat from a single 20 lb propane tank quickly. The heater boasts ceramic burner tiles that are also equipped with floating insulation to prevent damage, and the fuel compartment is covered to protect the propane cylinders as well.
There is a small learning curve to the heater, but it is easy to operate once you get the hang of it. It is a bit large for small spaces, so make sure you have a large tent, or it can get quite stifling in there.
2. Mr. Heater MH18BRV Big Buddy
Best Ice Shack Heater Propane
The Mr. Heater MH18BRV Big Buddy can efficiently heat spaces that are about 450 sq feet, which makes it perfect for cabins. The auto-shutoff safety features ensure the unit shuts off if the pilot light goes out, it tips over, or in low oxygen conditions (thanks to the oxygen depletion sensor) which is a real danger at high altitudes.
The heater connects to a 20 lb cylinder that comes with an optional hose for direct heat.
We love how lightweight and portable this ice fishing Mr. Heater is, but if the cabin you are in has a high ceiling, you may get cold. The burn rate of this unit is about 9 000 BTU, which means it burns about 0.099 gallons per hour.
3. Mr. Heater MH9BX Buddy
Best Mr. Heater for Ice Fishing
The Mr. Heater MH9BX is a propane heater that is considered to be the best portable ice fishing heater for some. It offers two settings – the low one runs for over six hours, and the high one can run for 3 hours before it shuts down for safety.
The propane bottle can be attached to the side of the unit inconspicuously. The simple fold-down handle comes in quite handy when you are struggling through the snow.
This Mr. Heater unit can refuse to work if you try and use it over 7,000 feet, and it requires a carbon monoxide monitor. However, it can give you hours of comfort and is quite easy to operate, so this little buddy will not disappoint.
4. Dyna-Glo HA1360R
The Dyna-Glo is an ice fishing heater that is designed to be used safely indoors and is easy to operate as well. All it needs is a 20 lb propane tank to work so you can take it with you to a log cabin where electricity and stores may be scarce. It features a piezo light that ignites fast and can heat 225 square feet efficiently.
You can either attach a 1 lb propane tank (2 to 3 hours of heat) or a 20 lb one (43 to 58 hours of heat) depending on your needs and oxygen levels.
We would recommend this as the best ice fishing heater because it has no cons that we could see. However, since its heat output is about 360 degrees, make sure that you don’t sit too close to it. Plus, you probably shouldn’t use it in the small confines of an ice shelter, but it is still great for indoor use provided it is used in a cabin.
5. Mr. Heater MH4B Little Buddy
Best Space Heater for Ice Fishing
The Mr. Heater MH4B Little Buddy will keep you warm without taking up much space. This portable best cheap ice fishing heater is excellent for outdoor use and indoor use, so you can use it in a tent, workbenches, campers, patios, decks, and as a source of emergency heat when you are ice fishing in an ice fishing shelter.
The Mr. Heater Little Buddy comes with safety features such as a heavy-duty wire guard that will keep your fingers safe from burns and a push-button piezo start button that won’t turn on accidentally.
As the best ice fishing heater for small spaces, this Mr. Heater unit gives enough heat output to be useful in frigid temperatures. However, it will prove useless at 7000 feet, so make sure you don’t take it to an ice fishing shelter that is located that high.
6. Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater
Best Smaller Heater for Ice Fishing
Ideal for ice fishing, camping, hunting, and other outdoor activities, the Texas Propane Heater is easy to transport and great for outdoor use. Some of the safety features it offers include an automatic shutoff valve, a durable safety grid, and a large paddled base that prevents it from tipping over.
This tent and ice fishing heater can produce about 2890 BTUs of power, and it is made from rugged material that can take a lot of punishment. It is also quite easy to operate and can keep you warm for hours.
This heater is best used outdoors because it gives off a toxic smell when it is turned on and remains in an enclosed space for too long. However, it is worth getting if you are going ice fishing alone and need a budget-friendly unit.
How to Pick the Right Ice Fishing Heater?
The best heater cookers for ice fishing have different features compared to the best ice fishing heater you can find. It pays to know the difference, especially if you are on a budget. So how can you determine that the unit you have your eye on is the best choice and is easy to operate? What are the ideal heating settings and safety features which can suit your needs?
To narrow down the best choice, use the following as a checklist:
Type of Heater
The first thing you need to decide is which type of ice fishing heater you should get. For example, do you just want to keep warm, or do you plan on cooking on one as well? Contrary to popular belief, you cannot make dinner on a heater that is not designed for that purpose. Plus, not every heater can or should be used outdoors or indoors.
To figure out the size of the heater, you should get, determine the dimensions of the cabin or space in which you will use it. You cannot place a heater with a stand in a tent without putting yourself at risk, but it can prove useful in larger shelters.
Typically the heat settings should provide enough radiant heat to warm up the space you intend it for. So, for instance, if you need it to warm up for 250 square feet of space, get an ice fishing heater that can generate 7,500 to 10,000 BTUs of heat. Smaller ones, such as the Little Buddy, should give about 3,800 BTUs to keep you warm.
800 BTU will suffice if the weather is pleasant enough for you to wear a light sweater. Most portable ice fishing heaters typically use 1lb propane canisters and can give about 15,000 BTUs.
The best ice fishing heaters come with safety features that can prevent accidents. If you can splurge, go for one that has a stable stand, can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, and can shut off if it tips over or if it overheats. If you get one with a fan, make sure that it is covered with a grill, or you may lose a finger.
The heat settings should also be easy to manage and easy to read to prevent confusion. Plus, never use ice fishing heaters that are meant for outdoor use indoors.
Auto Tip-Over Shut Off
An ice fishing heater or ice heater is a fire hazard if it tips over without shutting off, whether it is for indoor use or outdoor use. The one you get should shut off if it falls over in the wind or if someone bumps into it.
Oxygen Depletion Sensor
An ice fishing heater is usually taken on mountains where ice fishing anglers can find frozen lakes to fish in during the winter. Oxygen is already scarce at that altitude. Add an oxygen-burning ice heater, and you can suffocate to death even if you are warm. The best fishing heater comes with an oxygen depletion sensor that can detect low oxygen levels and shut down automatically.
An ice fishing heater is useless if it is too bulky or heavy to be transported safely. It will also impact how it can be used on the ice. For instance, if you are taking your ice fishing gear by hand in a gear bag or a sled, a compact ice fishing hole heater will prove invaluable.
However, if you are using a snowmobile or a truck to get to your destination, you can go with a larger ice fishing heater and take a 20 lb propane tank with you. However, the best ice fishing heaters are those that can be transported easily without breaking down.
Stainless steel ice fishing heaters may be durable, but if they are not insulated, they can cause nasty burns. Plus, before getting one, determine how insulated your tent or cabin is where you will be staying. Some shelters, for instance, are made from thick fabric, so you may not need a 9 000 BTU heater. If you have a thin tent, you may get by with an 800 BTU heater.
The heating time depends on the volume of the unit you get as well as the materials it is made from. If you want one that can heat a room quickly, you should go with one that has a lower BTU, but if you want one that can offer higher levels of radiant heat, go for an ice fishing heater that can give a higher BTU.
Units that are equipped with stainless steel fans can distribute heat evenly and keep you warm for longer.
These heaters either come with a propane tank or a large standard tank for fuel, but think of your preferences before you choose. A standard tank is more substantial and bulkier than a propane cylinder, which is slimmer and more portable in comparison. Plus, look for a unit that offers good fuel economy and can last for hours on little fuel.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the best heater for ice fishing?
A: The best heater for ice fishing is one that meets your comfort and portability needs. Plus, its heat settings should also be easy to manage even if you have numb fingers, and it should keep you sufficiently warm.
Q: How safe is Mr. Buddy Heater?
A: Mr. Heater is a brand that takes safety seriously. Since ice heaters can cause carbon monoxide to build up in a confined space, the people at Mr. Heater made sure that the units on offer are designed with a shut-off mechanism that shuts them down if it detects low oxygen levels.
Q: Is there a battery-operated heater?
A: Yes, some ice heaters that come with blower fans are powered with batteries rather than propane tanks. These ensure even and fast heat distribution.
Q: What is a buddy heater?
A: A buddy ice heater is a portable heater that is best used indoors but checks the heat settings of the unit you get just to be safe.
Q: Can I put a heater inside my tent?
A: That is the most obvious way to heat a tent, but not if you have an electric heater. Those require an electrical power source that will be hard to come by in the world. You can invest in propane heaters, but only if you know how to use them safely and the ice fishing tent is well-ventilated to let CO2 emissions out.
Just open the vestibule to let some of the heat out and let pure air in. Plus, don’t run the heater before you sleep. Run it half an hour beforehand, so it warms up the tent enough for you to drift off. If you get cold, don’t turn the unit on. Just pile on more layers to keep your core temperature down.
More Questions Answered
Q: How many batteries does the Big Buddy Heater take?
A: Two 1 lb propane cylinders for this heater can last you 3 to 12 hours, and two 20 lb propane cylinders can last you up to 220 hours.
Q: How can I stay warm without electricity?
A: You should shut down the heater before sleeping, or you can get CO2 poisoning. To stay warm after the heat dissipates, layer your clothing, do some warm-up exercises, or add more blankets.
Q: Infrared vs. Ceramic heaters. Which one is the best?
A: Infrared heaters can become quite hot to the touch compared to ceramic ones. Plus, the latter can heat large spaces quite well, while the former is designed to heat small areas only. If you are bunking in a cabin, take a ceramic heater, and if you need one for an ice shelter or tent, bring an infrared one.
Q: Do ceramic heaters use less electricity?
A: Most ceramic heaters have safety features, such as an auto-shutoff mechanism that turns off the unit when it overheats and conserves electricity.
Q: Can I leave a ceramic heater on overnight?
A: Doing so is a potential safety risk. Even if you do keep a window open to let the CO2 out, the heat can dry out your skin and nasal passage.
Q: Which heater is the cheapest to operate?
A: Electric heaters are considered to be quite efficient in that regard as they turn electricity into heat, but some units are more expensive than others because they provide more warmth. The cheapest ones are halogen and oil heaters, and fire and fan heaters are more costly in comparison.
Q: Are oil heaters safe to use?
A: Oil heaters can cause fires, but they are less dangerous than fan heaters or bar radiators.
The best ice heater is one that you can use both indoors and outdoors, but those don’t come cheap. Word to the wise, even if you get the most popular one, do not think you are safe from harm.
Carbon monoxide poisoning isn’t rare, and ice anglers more experienced than you have succumbed to it because of a little carelessness. Even the best heater for an ice fishing tent can cause death.
Unlike a wall-mounted heater, a portable heater is not integrally vented, which means it should be kept in a room that is adequately ventilated. That way, the CO2 it generates as it burns fuel can dissipate outside rather than remain inside and poison you.
While keeping the door open as the heater works may seem counter-intuitive, the point is to get the internal temperature at a comfortable level, not create a sauna that can make breathing difficult.