Best Ice Fishing Heaters of 2020 – Complete Buyer’s Guide

Are you really prepared for the upcoming ice fishing season?

For some ice fishing enthusiasts, no discomfort or trouble is too much to endure in the pursuit of this hobby.

While some anglers prefer to go old school and make do with just a hole in the ice and a stool, more and more are opting for some creature comforts to keep them comfy until the fish start biting.

Our Top Picks for Best Ice Fishing Heaters

  • Best overall
  • 2 color options
  • Auto shut-off function
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  • Runner-up
  • Low oxygen sensor
  • Auto shut-off function
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  • Best for the money
  • 2890 BTU rating
  • Plastic paddle foot
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Comparison Chart of the Best Ice Fishing Heaters

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Best overall
  • Available in 2 color options, red and silver
  • Has an auto shut-off functionality in case of tipping over
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  • Runner-up
  • Features a low oxygen sensor
  • Equipped with an auto shut-off functionality
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  • Best for the money
  • It has a BTU rating of about 2890
  • Equipped with a plastic paddle foot
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  • Has a BTU rating of 4,000 to 18,000
  • Features an auto-shutoff trip-over functionality
  • Equipped with temperature control knob ranging from low, medium to high
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  • The heater weighs about 9 pounds
  • Has a BTU rating of 6,000 to 12,000
  • Features an auto tip-over shut-off functionality
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews

What is an Ice Fishing Heater?

Ice fishing is usually a winter activity, where recreational and professional fishermen drill holes in the ice of a lake to fish. It is a lot of fun if done with the right equipment, knowledge of safety rules, and fishing etiquette. 

Once you have a tent or ice fishing shelter in place, the next item you’ll need is a heater to keep the inside warm and comfortable.

This will make the tent or shanty habitable during frigid temperatures. A good heater is great both for keeping you and your friends warm and also can be used to cook your food.

How Does an Ice Fishing Heater Work?

An ice fishing heater is a portable device that can help you stay warm during ice fishing and heat up your shack to a comfortable degree. These heaters usually use propane or electricity to operate and feature a built-in carbon monoxide detector and auto shut-off to prevent dangerous accidents, making them efficient and perfectly safe to use.

These heaters are connected with the propane filled containers through a pipe and use this fuel to produce a great amount of heat energy.

Does an Ice Fishing Heater Really Keep You Warm?

One of the most common questions that people ask is how effective an ice fishing heater can be in keeping us warm in the middle of a frozen lake. Frostbite can really ruin the ice fishing experience for you, and you do not want to run back to the comfort of your home in the middle of the activity. 

Bringing an ice fishing heater can actually help you fight off this hypothermia by taking the chill off your hands and feet and warming up your tent to a comfortable degree while also providing enough heat to cook your food.

What Size of Ice Fishing Heater Do I Need?

Choosing an appropriate size for your ice fishing heater is important if you do not want to freeze to death or make your camping tent a sweat lodge by investing in an under or oversized product. To know what heater size will work the best for you, you must first calculate the square footage area of your camping tent. A bigger area means you require a heater with more BTU (British Thermal Unit).

Most fishing heaters come with an output rating of 3000-15000 BTUs. You should go for a unit with a slightly larger capacity and multiple heat levels.

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy

Quick Take | Best Ice Fishing Heaters

Just looking for the three best ice fishing heaters? Here they are:

  1. Mr. Heater MH18B
  2. Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy Heater
  3. Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater

Review of the Best Ice Fishing Heaters

There are many heaters out there for camping and outdoor recreation. Let's take a look at some of the best ice fishing heaters that made our list!

Best Overall:
Mr. Heater MH18B

Mr. Heater F274800 MH18B, Portable Propane Heater,Red,Regular

PROS

  • Can be used in medium-sized spaces
  • Available in a variety of 2 color options
  • Has easy to use, precise heat temperature controls 
  • Detects low oxygen levels and shuts off automatically 
  • Auto shut-off functionality when the heater tips slightly 
  • Consumes gas sparingly
  • Heats up a space very quickly
  • Piezo sparking mechanism makes lighting very easy

CONS

  • Not the best for camping and outdoor environments 
  • Limited heat settings

What Recent Buyers Report 

Recent buyers of this heater report that the product is incredible for medium-sized rooms that have a really low temperature. They love it for quite a number of reasons. One feature they were really thankful for was the auto shut-off functionality that ensured their security. They also liked that they could choose between two colors. 

Why It Stands Out to Us 

The most prominent, distinctive feature of this heater is its extremely convenient portability. It has a carry handle, is built sturdily and intelligently that allows you to carry it easily. Moreover, the heater is also one of the best on the market for heating medium-sized rooms of sizes up to 450 square feet. 

This model is a 4,000 and 9,000-BTU radiant heater for spaces up to 225 square feet. It is approved for both indoor and outdoor use.

It is nearly 100 percent efficient in burning propane gas and comes with a fold-down handle, a swivel-out regulator for easy LP cylinder and hose installation, and two heat settings of 4,000 or 9,000 BTU per hour.

The four position control has a Piezo igniter built-in, and on/off and low/high heat settings. For safety, there is a high-heat wire guard, a low-oxygen safety shut-off (ODS), and tip-over safety shut-off.

The porcelain-coated, durable heat surface pushes radiant heat over a wide area and features a ceramic burner tile with shock absorbing insulation for durability and ease of replacement.

Who Would Use This Most

This is a really safe product for people who have kids and pets at home, as the heater shuts off itself when it tips even slightly. Moreover, people with tighter budgets looking for highly efficient and long-lasting units can also make great use out of this product. So, apart from a heater for ice fishing, it has other uses too. 

Bottom Line 

To wrap up, this is a well-built, well designed versatile heater with a capacity to quickly heat medium-sized spaces. It’s not only the best for ice fishing, but it also proves to be a safe and sturdy product for indoor use. It is also available in 2 colors, which further makes it a suitable product for people who want to match the heater with their interior. 

Ideal for small and medium-sized spaces, such as ice fishing shanties and tents, this little heater is both dependable and functional. It will keep you warm on the coldest of days while using gas frugally. The included safety features make your ice fishing trip safe and comfortable.

Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater, Medium

PROS

  • Fold-down design is easy to store 
  • Has heat settings ranging from high to low 
  • Shock absorbing insulation design ensures durability
  • Compact design makes it portable and travel-friendly 
  • Low oxygen shut off with efficient sensor ensures safety 
  • Consumes gas sparingly
  • Warms an areas quickly
  • Piezo sparking mechanism makes lighting very easy

CONS

  • Longevity issues reported by some users
  • Buyers report that it needs re-lighting frequently
  • Only one heat setting

What Recent Buyers Report 

Buyers report that this compact heater is very easy and quick to set up and start. The reports suggest that people used it in extreme winter conditions and found it truly functional. Moreover, many buyers also reported that they used it in outdoor settings such as camping and ice fishing and found it helpful. 

Why It Stands Out to Us 

The most distinctive feature of this heater is its design and build. With shock-absorbing insulation, the unit is also foldable. This makes it truly convenient for the user and travel-friendly as well to take on fishing trips. Therefore, it qualifies as one of the best heaters on the market. 

This heater has one heat setting of 3,800 BTU/hr and can be used to heat up to 95 sq. ft., while providing continuous heat for up to 5-1/2 hours at a 45-degree heating angle.

It comes with a shutoff in case of accidental tip over and a low-oxygen shut-off pilot system for indoor safety, allowing you to control the comfort level. The handle folds down to reduce storage space.

The heater also features a control with four position options and a built-in Piezo igniter with on/off and high/low heat settings which let you customize the heating level.

It includes a wire guard that withstands high-temperatures and a swivel regulator to ensure simple installation of the LP cylinder and hose.

The porcelain-coated heating surface is large and durable and heats a wide area with radiant heat with a ceramic burner tile that features shock absorbing insulation to ensure durability and ease of replacement.

Who Would Use This Most

If you plan on traveling, camping, or indulging in outdoor activities where it will be really cold, then this portable and travel-friendly heater will work great for you. You can also use it for small to medium-sized rooms. People who have limited space can also make great use out of it. 

Bottom Line 

Summing it up, the heater has an exceptional design and build quality. It’s manufactured by one of the best brands on the market, which further makes it a really reliable product. Its foldable design, auto shut-off functionality, and easy temperature adjustments make it stand out in the market. 

Ideal for small spaces like an ice fishing shanty of 95 square feet, this little heater will be great for keeping you warm on your next fishing expedition. It comes with plenty of safety features and is convenient to light with its built-in Piezo switch.

Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater

PROS

  • Aluminum reflector has a safety grid
  • Stainless steel construction ensures longevity
  • Lightweight design is appropriate for traveling purposes 
  • Features a safety valve to close the fuel flow if the flame is out 
  • Plastic paddle foot ensures great stability and hence safety of use 
  • Stylish Look
  • Consumes gas sparingly

CONS

  • Requires you to arrange a cylinder separately
  • Many buyers report the product does not work after some time of use
  • Can only be used outdoors

What Recent Buyers Report 

The heater was used by many buyers in small to medium-sized tents for camping. They report it to be really easy to use, and also suggest that it heats up a small space very quickly. Moreover, other buyer reports suggest that it has 6+ hours run time on low temperature, which was pretty satisfactory for most buyers. 

Why It Stands Out to Us 

The heater stands out in the market for a number of reasons, but its most prominent and mention-worthy feature is its plastic paddle foot. This wide base adds great stability to the heater, preventing it from tripping or falling off easily. Therefore, it proves to be a safe and reliable product, especially in small spaces where there are more chances of the heater falling. 

This propane heater is for outdoor usage, so it is ideal for people who need radiant heat while ice fishing. The Texsport Propane Heater uses 16.4 oz. or 14.1 oz. disposable propane fuel cylinders and adjusts up to 2,890 BTU's.

It is easy to use and transport, and has safety features like a large paddle-shaped foot base to keep the unit stable, an automatic fuel shut-off valve if the flame goes out, and a safety grid on top of the aluminum reflector. It runs for approximately 4-6 hours per one lb. fuel cylinder. It has a durable stainless steel burner and comes in a stainless steel finish.

Who Would Use This Most 

We would strongly recommend this easy-to-use, efficient heater to people who want to heat up small space with extreme cold in less time. The heater is also good for beginners as it is safe and easy to use as well. Since it is highly stable, it makes a great unit to take along for your next fishing trip. 

Bottom Line 

To sum it up, this outdoor propane heater is one of the best-selling, well-known products on the market. It is backed by a bunch of positive user feedback, which increases the product’s reliability. It has an efficient design and functionality, featuring adjustable temperature, auto shut-off, stable base, and a convenient steel carry handle too. 

This little heater will be great for keeping you warm on your next fishing expedition. It comes with plenty of safety features and is convenient to light with its built-in Piezo switch and is made specifically for use outdoors.

Best Ice Fishing Propane Heater:
Mr. Heater F274830 Big Buddy

Mr. Heater F274830 MH18BRV Big Buddy Grey Indoor-Safe Portable RV Propane Heater (4,000 , 9,000 and 18,000 BTU)

PROS

  • Available in a variety of 2 colors
  • Low oxygen sensor ensures safety
  • Shuts off automatically if tipped over 
  • Quick and easy to assemble and use right away 
  • Fully adjustable temperature with an easy-to-use knob
  • Does Not Use a Lot of Gas
  • Effective for spaces up to 300 sq. ft.
  • Combines both convection and radiant heat

CONS

  • Cylinder not included in the package
  • Weighs more than most other models
  • Only for indoor use

What Recent Buyers Report 

Recent buyers were quite satisfied with the run time this heater provides. They report that on full temperature settings, it gives an average of 5 hours of run time. This was feasible for most of the buyers. In addition, other buyer reports suggest that the auto shut-off functionality works great, particularly when the heater gets even the slightest bump. 

Why It Stands Out to Us 

The heater truly stands out on the market for its top-notch features, such as its shut-off functionality. The buyer reports tell us that the unit’s auto shut-off feature is highly dependable, as it turns off quickly even when it is slightly bumped. Moreover, this is one of the very few models that offer you a color variety to choose from. 

This 4,000-18,000 BTU LP heater uses two 1 lb. cylinders and is ideal for heating cabins or enclosed spaces up to 300 sq. ft.

This unit blends convection and radiant heat styles using an integrated fan to increase the unit’s heating capacity.

The two swivel regulators allow you to use either disposable cylinders or a remote gas supply like a 20 lb cylinder with the additional purchase of a single hose and filter.

The built-in Piezo sparking mechanism will turn on the heater and the Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS) and accidental tip-over safety shut-off keeps you safe.

The low, medium, and high heat level control knob keeps temperatures steady. The fan runs off 4 D-size batteries or an AC adapter.

Who Would Use This Most

The heater is great for all sorts of outdoor purposes. However, you can also make great use of it for indoor use. It can be used in medium-sized to slightly larger rooms as well. Plus, it is safe, so it can also be used around pets and kids since the tripping auto shut-off feature can be relied upon. 

Bottom Line 

Summing it up, this is another Mr. Heater product that has set a high benchmark on the market. It is incredibly safe, reliable, and worthy of your money. It’s available in two colors and has a convenient carry handle for portability. 

This heater comes with plenty of safety features and is convenient to light with its built-in Piezo switch, and as expected from Mr. Heater, the durability and value for money is unmatched.

Editor's Pick:
Mr. Heater MH12B

Mr. Heater MH12B Hunting Buddy Portable Space Heater

PROS

  • Highly recommended for safe indoor heating
  • Has a portable design, making it travel-friendly 
  • Push-button start functionality is very easy to use
  • Oxygen Depletion Sensor further ensures safety and reliability 
  • Safety auto shut-off functionality ensures reliability and safety of use 
  • Adjustable heat output
  • Uses Gas Efficiently
  • Effective for spaces up to 300 sq. ft.

CONS

  • Does not offer any color options 
  • Several buyers report poor durability 
  • Only for indoor use

What Recent Buyers Report 

The heater is backed by numerous comments and user feedback that highly appreciates the push-start functionality. The push start function made beginners and first-time users really satisfied with the product. Moreover, buyers also used it on camping and hunting trips and were able to make great use out of it. 

Why It Stands Out to Us 

Any heater you choose to buy should not be able to heat the required area but should also be safe and easy to use. This heater stands out to us on the market as one of the best, primarily due to its push-button start functionality. All buyers and users also positively comment on this feature and have found it to be really useful in challenging conditions such as hunting and camping situations.

This patented radiant 6,000-12,000 BTU liquid propane heater runs off a single 1 lb. cylinder and is great for enclosed spaces like ice fishing shanties up to 300 sq. ft.

Use the swivel regulator for either disposable cylinders or a remote gas supply like a large gas tank with an additional purchase of a single hose and filter.

Simply push the button and rotate the knob to light the unit, and a built-in silent electric ignition lights the gas.

You will be sure to enjoy many years of safe, comfortable heat indoors with the included accidental tip-over safety shut off feature and the Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS).

Who Would Use This Most

The heater is the perfect choice for hunters and fishers. It has a portable, travel-friendly design with a carry handle. Therefore, if you are a hunter or are planning to go fishing or camping, then this one will definitely work really well for you. It is also a good choice for people with a small-sized place to heat. 

Bottom Line 

Overall, we think that this Mr. Heater product is a great choice for first-time buyers. The push-button start feature makes it really competitive on the market today since it means to add great convenience and ease of use for the buyer. All these incredible features are packed into one product that is manufactured by a really reliable and renowned brand. 

Like any other heater from Mr. Heater, this model is robust, efficient, and highly functional. The safety features will help you stay safe while enjoying the comfort of a warm hut.  

Choosing the Best Ice Fishing Heater 

While each individual should get an ice fishing heater based on their needs and likes, the following factors should be considered when making the selection.

Type of Heater

You may need to consider the option of a radiant or convective heater, based on whether you plan to use it inside a tent or cabin, or outdoors. A convective heater will work inside a room, but not outside.

Size of Heater

While the heat output of a heater is measured in BTUs, that number doesn’t usually have an intuitive meaning for most.

A square foot rating is a little more helpful, as you can tell that a heater rated for 120 square feet will be too much for a tent of 35 square feet. So just aim for a heater that meets your heating needs and don’t get something too big that will be too large and heavy to carry.

Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy

Safety Features

Look for safety features like an oxygen depletion sensor, which will ensure that your fishing tent or shelter won’t get filled with toxic carbon monoxide. Similarly, having a tip over off-switch means your heater will automatically shut itself off when it falls over, preventing burns and minimizing fire risk.

Indoor Rated

It is extremely important that your heater is rated for operating indoors, as it can emit poisonous gases like carbon monoxide. Any portable ice fishing heater you purchase should have an open-air source for fresh air to circulate into the shelter.

Types of Ice Fishing Heaters

Choosing the most suitable type of ice fishing heaters from a variety of different options available in the market is essential. You must opt for a product that works the best for you and lies well within your budget. People can choose from one of these four basic types:

Propane Heaters

Propane heaters are the most popular choice among customers, mainly due to their easy handling and safety features. They are quite inexpensive and provide better thermal output than other available options.

Electric Heaters

These heaters operate on batteries. These batteries are not easily available in the market and are quite expensive. However, if you own large generators, then they are a fairly good investment.

Radiant Heaters

These heaters produce infra-red radiation that quickly heats up a large space. Most radiant heaters can warm up a 200-400 square feet area and are more readily available in various options.

Convection Heaters

Convection heaters rely on air movement that passes over the heating element and disperses in the room quickly. These heaters take a little more time to heat the room. However, they are a good choice for small spaces.

Mr. Heater vs Dyna Glo Heater for Ice Fishing- Comparison Overview

People looking for some of the perfect choices for ice fishing heater usually go for the Mr. Heater MH9BX Buddy or the Dyna Glo Propane Tank Top Heater. Both are not only the best in the market but also provide great value for the money. Thus, it is normal to find it hard to decide between the two. 

We have tried to list down the similarities and dissimilarities between the two products to help you pick the most suitable one that matches your needs, space, and budget.

Similarities

  • Both the heaters are suitable for outdoor use

  • Come with different levels for adjusting the heat

  • Contain tip-switch for safety that turns off the device on excessive heating or CO detection

  • Both the heaters are propane-operated

Dissimilarities

  • Mr. Heater Buddy provides adequate heat up to 4000-9000 BTUs, while Dyna Glo generates 9000 to 15000 BTUs

  • The Dyna Glo heater is exclusively used for outdoor purposes while Mr. Heater can be operated indoors as well

  • Mr. Heater can provide heat up to 225 square feet area while the Dyna Glo unit can provide heat up to a 15-feet radius

How to Use an Ice Fishing Heater

In order to heat up your ice fishing shanty or camper, keep your propane gas tank outside, and run a hose in from it to connect it to the heater. Make sure that there are no leaks, as it could create a dangerous fire hazard.

Next, light up the heater and adjust the setting to the right heating output for the size of your tent or shanty. Now you’re all set to keep comfortably warm.

You can also use your ice fishing heater as a grill. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Fit the protective grill in the slots on top of the heater (such as a Mr. Buddy heater). In some cases, the heater has a built-in cooking grill already.

  2. Place the food that you want to cook on top of the grill, (e.g. sausages, burgers, kettle of water).

  3. Wait until the food is ready, and then carefully remove the food and enjoy!

Heater Safety Tips 

In order to operate your heater safely both indoors and outdoors, always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Never use a heater indoors if it is not rated for indoor use. If your heater’s oxygen depletion sensor detects low oxygen levels, it will automatically shut itself off.

Try to keep the heating element well protected from impact, and try not to let it touch the floor or come into contact with people. Ideally, it will have a good metal cage to keep it well away from contact.

The best heater for an ice fishing shelter should ideally turn itself off when not on an even surface since a lot of these tents are made of heat sensitive synthetic material.

To help you figure out what size the ice heater should be, first measure the space in your shelter. Most heaters will include the amount of space they are designed for in the product description. When in doubt, get the more powerful heater, so long as it still easily fits in the shelter.

In order to help you calculate the BTUs you require from your heater, use this handy formula. Cubic feet (volume of your shanty) x Temperature Increase in Fahrenheit times 133; where the last value is always a constant. If you’re using Celsius, then replace .133 with .2394. So, cubic feet x1.33 will give you the number of BTUs you need. Or cubic feet x .2394 for Celsius.

Conclusion 

The purpose of this article is to review some of the best ice fishing heaters in the market, their attractive features, and how to operate these fishing heaters most properly and safely possible. Hopefully, you now know how to choose the most perfect and suitable ice fishing heater.

Now that you know what to look for in an ice fishing heater, you should have no trouble selecting the right heater for your needs.

Keep in mind the safety features, the heating requirement for your ice fishing shanty, and whether you need to use the heater as a grill.

People Also Ask

It does not matter if you are merely a beginner. You can still have a thrilling experience with the right set of gadgets and guidelines. Here are answers to some very common questions that people ask to learn how to find and operate a suitable ice fishing heater.

What is a Clean Burning Heater for Ice Fishing?

A clean-burning heater completely burns the fuel and does not produce residues and unnecessary pollution. These heaters have a 100% fuel burning rate and are not only safe and efficient but also produce less smoke and pollution, making your camping tent look cleaner, safer, and less smelly.

How Long Will a Big Buddy Heater Run?

A Big Buddy Heater gives an extended run time, which makes them efficient and provides great value for the money. Two bottles of a one-pound propane can give an average of three to twelve hours of heat at a medium setting, while two 20lb bottles can last around 50-220 hours.

Is It Dangerous to Run a Gas Heater in an Ice Fishing Shelter?

Using a propane gas heater in a compact ice fishing tent can pose a serious threat to carbon monoxide poisoning if used without proper and adequate ventilation. However, you can avoid this problem by investing in some latest, high-quality heaters with proper, advanced ventilation systems and advanced carbon monoxide detectors.

Will an Ice Fishing Heater Burn Through the Ice?

It is not wrong to consider this factor while thinking of purchasing a heater. However, a portable ice fishing heater does not produce enough heat to melt a thick layer of ice necessary for ice fishing. Just remember to face the heater upward and not downward.

Are Ice Fishing Heaters Waterproof?

Ice fishing heaters are supposed to be used on an ice fishing campsite, which means there is a high chance of water damage. To combat this problem, these heaters are designed and engineered using high-quality, waterproof materials. Thus, they are completely waterproof and safe to use.

What is an Ice Fishing Hot Box?

An ice fishing hot box is one of the most important advancements that has transformed the dynamics of ice fishing. This box generates adequate heat that melts the ice enough to keep your holes open below the freezing point. It is designed to provide complete functionality, portability, and versatility.

How to Vent an Ice Fishing Heater

To keep yourself safe from any potential dangers and harmful accidents, it is important to take the necessary measures for properly venting an ice fishing heater. You can either use circulatory fans or place the heater at a table opposite the room vent. You can also invest in high-tech CO detectors.

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