Permanent ice shacks have taken a backseat in recent years, with more people favouring a portable approach for staying warm on the ice. Modern portable huts are easy to transport and set up, and yet they still offer excellent shelter from the cold and wind. The biggest advantage of portable huts, obviously, is their portability.
Traditional ice shacks are cumbersome to transport and once set up, usually remain in one place for the duration of the season. While portable huts, on the other hand, can easily be transported and set up anywhere. The ability to move gives a distinct angling advantage if the fish aren’t biting in one place. Rather then waiting for the fish to come to you, portable huts allow you to easily move around and find fish. Not only can you move around from spot to spot, but also you have the option of moving from lake to lake. Imagine, fishing a walleye lake one day, and a trout lake the next – all from the comfort of your own portable ice hut.
POP-UP VS. FLIP OVER
There are two main styles of portable huts, flip over and pop-up. Flip over huts come with their own toboggan and seating system. Their expandable pole framework enables the outer material to be flipped over the toboggan, creating an enclosed area on the ice. When collapsed, everything folds neatly into the toboggan leaving enough room for other gear, including a gas ice auger.
Pop-up style huts, on the other hand, resemble a tent without a floor. The major difference is that they don’t come with chairs or a toboggan to transport them. They easily collapse down and fit in a bag, making them a popular choice for those who already have a suitable toboggan.
Both styles come with zippered doors and plastic windows for light.
Sizes range from single-person flip over huts to eight-person pop-up style huts. Some models of flip over huts also have the option of joining two units together with a link system.
Prices vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and are largely dependent on size. Entry-level pop-up huts start around $200, while deluxe flip over huts can cost more then $1000.
The most important accessory for your portable hut is a heating device. Modern propane heaters offer convenient and safe heating options for portable huts. Match BTU output with the size of your hut to ensure inside temperatures remain comfortable, even on the coldest days.
A runner kit is highly recommended for flip over huts that come with their own toboggan. These protect the base of the toboggan from ware and tear. When towed with a snowmobile, a rigid tow-bar is also required to comply with the law. Travel covers are necessary for keeping snow and slush out of your toboggan while being towed.
A small plastic shovel with a collapsible handle is ideal for clearing excess snow from your fishing area. They are small enough to pack in the toboggan and can also be handy if you happen to get stuck.
Portable ice fishing huts give you the option of stopping and fishing anywhere. They are a comfortable and easy alternative to permanent shacks. Give one a try this season and your permanent shack will likely become a permanent fixture in your backyard.
By Ben Beattie
Ben Beattie is an outdoor writer and fishing guide based in Sioux Lookout, ON. For more information visit benbeattieoutdoors.com