Best Ice Fishing Sleds of 2021 – Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

| Last Updated June 27, 2021

Ice fishing is not only crucial for obtaining food in some parts of the world, but it is also widely hailed as a sport. It is not easy to get out in bone-chilling winter to deal with thick ice and come back rewarded with fish. 

The expedition requires a lot of active energy. Surely, no one wants to waste their energies in carrying their gear to the spot, and that is why ice fishing sleds are used. Ice fishing sleds add undeniable convenience to the expedition. 

There are many options available, each with its own suitability and usability. However, below, we have reviewed the best ice fishing sleds present on the market.

Comparison of the Best Ice Fishing Sleds

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Made from tough polyethylene providing durability while reducing overall weight
  • Molded with runners to improve both strength and stability
  • Contoured body is designed to improve its mobility even when pulling by hand
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  • Made from all-season durable polyethylene to provide light-weight strength
  • Under belly reinforcement trackings provide stability in all terrains
  • Made with a reinforced lip and a stronger leading edge to provide a better ride
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  • Molded-in runners improves overall durability and provides stability
  • Made from durable polyethylene molded body for all-season durability
  • Engineered ideally for ice fishing, hunting and recreational sledding
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  • Very durable with a 5 year life span
  • Powerful clover attraction for wild turkeys and whitetails
  • Tough, strong, uniform Polyethylene build
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What Size of Sled Do I Need For Ice Fishing?

There are a few things that determine the appropriate size for your sled. It depends on how much gear you carry. The more gear you have, the larger the sled needs to be. This is not only to accommodate everything easily but also to distribute the weight of all the haul evenly. 

If you plan on building a shelter near your drill hole, you’ll need to carry supplies for that too. In this case, a larger-sized sled is useful and can conveniently carry everything. For short distance expeditions that expect a quick return, there is no need to carry shelter and food supplies, and hence, for those, a smaller size would suffice.

What Makes a Sled Great For Ice Fishing?

For most ice anglers, an ice fishing sled is a must-have, especially in cases where long distances need to be traveled on the ice before arriving at a fishing spot. These make the overall experience easier to endure and more worthwhile. Why are they so crucial? Let’s find out:

Portable Convenience

Ice fishing sleds are designed to haul heavy weights over ice and snow. They are shaped with molded grooves at the bottom that reduce friction and stabilizes them over thick, slippery ice. This allows the anglers to carry all their gear to the fishing site without having to endure it on their shoulders. 

Moreover, apart from being pulled, sleds can also be hitched to a snowmobile and ATV and easily dragged to the spot.

Carrying Capacity

While some fishers use backpacks or buckets to carry their gear, the carrying capacity of sleds is unmatched. Sleds have far more room than either of the two options. Also, they can carry heavier supplies like shelter gear and many poles, which are almost impossible to carry in a backpack or a bucket.

Organization

Another advantage that favors sleds over backpacks or buckets is that sleds allow for organization. While with buckets and backpacks, the most you can do is shove everything at once and empty out all the contents when you need something, with sleds, it is not so. They have an open design where everything could be placed in an organized way with easy access.

Review of the Best Ice Fishing Sleds

Since the sleds form a crucial part of the ice fishing industry, it is only fitting that there are numerous models available on the market. While each model has its own usability depending upon its features, there are a few options available that still outrun the rest.

Below, we have reviewed some of the best available sleds.

Best Overall:
Shappell Jet Sled

PROS

  • Easy to pull due to the contoured hull
  • Rugged Polythene construction provides durability and strength
  • Strength and stability are ensured by the presence of molded runners
  • Length and Width measure 54”x24” which is wide enough for large gear
  • Could be used for other purposes like carrying firewood or for playing with children

CONS

  • Rope is not very thick and needs reinforcement
  • Rough terrain runners need to be careful as the bottom may wear out quickly under extreme rough use

What Recent Buyers Report

Most recent buyers are very happy and satisfied with their purchase. This is because not only was the sled sufficient for pulling ice fishing equipment, but it also served for many other purposes otherwise. It provided a very sturdy solution to carrying ice fishing supplies to long distances, yet it proved to be incredibly useful for transporting rock and firewood and even giving the kids a swing.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The rugged polythene construction is incredibly durable for dragging over smooth ice terrains. It is wide enough to fit fishing poles, ice spears, and pop-up camping gear without any problem. Moreover, the hull has a contoured D shape, which aids in reducing air friction and makes pulling the sled easier. 

Who Will Use This Most

Ice anglers looking for a dependable sled for smooth terrain with few slopes will find this very useful. It is also suitable for those who need to travel some distance before arriving at the fishing spot. Also, residents of snowy areas who need a sled for other purposes, in addition to fishing, will find its utility boundless.

Bottom Line

The Shappell Jet Sled is a well-thought-out sled apparent from its design. Not only do the contoured hull and molded runners provide for a smooth ad stable drag across snowy paths, but the construction itself is very sturdy yet lightweight. 

Moreover, it comes in a black color, which makes it easy to spot over the vast expanses of white. All in all, it is by far one of the best options present among fishing sleds.

Best for the Money:
Beavertail Sport Sled

PROS

  • Comes in 3 different sizes to choose from
  • Polythene construction is durable yet weighs only 6lbs.
  • Comes with a spare pulling rope; a total of 2 ropes included
  • Measures 44"L x 22"W x 9"H in size which can hold a good amount of haul
  • Designed to have leading edges and reinforced bottom for good performance on rough terrain

CONS

  • Objects need to be placed gently, anything thrown in the sled might break it
  • Ropes included are of low quality and do not hold against pulling heavy weight

What Recent Buyers Report

For most recent buyers, this unit delivered what it advertised. The 3 different sizes were a very convenient feature as it provided sizes for all the needs in one place. Additionally, the rugged Polythene construction performed well on ice as well as grass and sand. Also, the mesh brown color was visible from a distance.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Quite a few features earn the sled its place among the top options. Firstly, the design supports leading edges that can bust through debris as well as survive bumps along the path. Secondly, the reinforced bottom performs better on rough and uneven patches. Thirdly, it is 44” long and can easily house large gear. 

Who Will Use This Most

Ice fishing enthusiasts who find themselves often in rougher terrains that might even be cluttered with bushes will find the most useful for this sled. This is because of its reinforced bottom and leading edges that can not only glide over rougher parts with stability but can also pass through bushy clumps.

Bottom Line

With a user-friendly design made to perform well in terrains where others fail, the Beavertail Sports sled is a good option for all ice anglers. It comes in 3 different sizes and works as well on rough surfaces as it does on smooth ones, so you don’t have to buy a new sled for every new place.

PROS

  • Polymer is soft and does not become brittle in the cold
  • Rugged Polythene construction gives unrivaled strength
  • Length of 21” and height of 8” are suitable for ice fishing needs
  • Very wide structure with a width of 43” can easily fit large and wide objects
  • Can also be used for removing debris or transporting material like firewood

CONS

  • Cannot be attached to a snow motor or an ATV
  • Has stickers over the body that are hard to remove

What Recent Buyers Report

When recent buyers tested the sled’s performance in cold weather and on icy terrains, they found it to serve the purpose well. It glided through fresh or old snow without much effort. Even after using it for long hours, the soft polymer did not get affected by the cold, or crack.

Why it Stands Out to Us

With this sled, Shappell again releases a winner. The most exciting feature about it is its wide structure. While most sleds have a longer yet slim construction, this one has a wider base. This makes it incredibly useful for easily carrying large and heavy weights to long distances.

Who Will Use This Most

Ice fishermen who spend most of their time fishing in the season would find great usability in this sled. This is because it is large and high enough to stably carry their belongings, and the polymer construction does not freeze over time and result in cracks. Other than that, it is also suitable for various other purposes in different climates.

Bottom Line

Shappell continues to launch amazing sleds. The JSR Jet sled falls among the top tier options, owing to its durability and strength as well as multipurpose usability. It is easy to pull and can survive all day long, gliding on cold icy surfaces.

Best Otter Ice Fishing Sled:
Otter Pro Sled

Otter Pro Sled, Small, Black

PROS

  • Offers great cargo space
  • Raised back offers better cargo safety
  • Uniform thickness offers exceptional durability
  • Reinforced outer lip increases strength and stability
  • Built-in hitch pockets mean it can be towed with ease
  • Raised lips on either end offer superior snow resistance

CONS

  • Limited two-year warranty
  • Durable materials make it heavy to move around by hand

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers are quite content with their purchase. Most of them are very happy with the size of the sled and its capacity. The distribution of weight is also one of the strengths as users report it to be very light and, therefore, easy to pull around.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Pro Sled comes tow hitch-ready out of the box and can easily be towed because of its molded-in hitch pockets. The excellent design and weight distribution allow for easy handling. The hitch pockets are something not every sled can boast of. Moreover, the sled is reported to be super sturdy and easily passes through snow and even rugged terrain.

The many accessories available for the Otter Pro make it an even better buy. All in all, it is one of the best ice fishing sleds out there. 

Bottom Line

The availability of numerous accessories, the strong build quality, and the built-in hitch pockets make the Otter Pro Sled a great buy. The Hyfax kit, coupled with the tow bar, will make it a great sled behind your snow machine.

PROS

  • Comes with a 2-year limited warranty
  • Rugged Polythene construction easily takes on icy terrains
  • Can be hitched to a snowmobile or an ATV for even easier transport
  • Spacious enough to carry a 5-gallon bucket along with other equipment
  • Measures 54”x26”x9.5” which is wide enough and high enough to house all gear

CONS

  • Material feels a little thin for heavy-duty hauling
  • Rope attachment is a weak link and could use some reinforcement for enhanced durability

What Recent Buyers Report

The sturdiness of the sled is what was enjoyable for most recent buyers. Apart from the weak links at the rope, it proved to have a pretty solid build overall. On occasions, it bumped into trees or rocks protruding out from the ice and still didn’t leave a mark. In addition, it is multipurpose.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The carrying capacity of this sled is incredible. It measures 54”x26” which is wide enough to fit all sorts of gear. With a height of 9.5,” it ensures that the piled stuff does not fall out. Moreover, for enhanced utility and for dragging to larger distances, it can be hitched to an ATV or a snowmobile.

Who Will Use This Most

The usability of this sled is vast. Apart from carrying ice fishing supplies, it could also be used for firewood transport, deer hauling, and also as a sled for kids. But most importantly, it could be hitched to a snowmobile and hence is an exemplary option for those who travel long distances looking for fishing spots.

Bottom Line

Terrain Sport Sled packs utility in a very dependable build. The 2-year warranty is a testament to its long life and convenience. It can serve multiple purposes and endure bumps that come along the way. Moreover, it is spacious enough to carry a 5-gallon bucket and still leave room for further supplies. It is one of the finest options available to snow fishers.

PROS

  • Has a weight carrying capacity of 130lbs.
  • Two sleds put on top of each other form a closed box
  • Features built-in attachment points for bungee cords and nets
  • Design measures 45.5”x20” in length and width with an 8” height
  • High density, rugged polythene construction can endure rough terrain

CONS

  • Does not come with warranty support of any sort
  • Design would have been more convenient if the rope was attached at the front rather than on the top

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers report that the Pelican sled is worth its price. It drags through rough snowy terrain effortlessly and does not crack under cold even after long hours of use. Moreover, the usability is not just limited to ice fishing; rather, it serves many other purposes both in snowy areas as well as on grass, mud, and sand.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The high-density Polythene construction is further reinforced with a RAM-X multi-layer material coating. The design that results is strong and durable yet very lightweight. Not only can it carry up to 130lbs. of weight, but it does not put too much strain on the hand either. Moreover, it is 40” long and can fit elongated pieces of gear easily.

Who Will Use This Most

What’s interesting about this sled is that its usability is not extended to just ice fishing or icy terrain. It performs well for these purposes and makes for a very efficient and easy-to-pull sled. 

But its usability extends to expeditions like wildlife hunting and beach explorations. This deems it very suitable for users who need a sled for ice fishing during not only vacations but also something that would serve other purposes back home.

Bottom Line

The Pelican Multi-Purpose sled is the best bang for the buck. It has wide usability, durable structure, and enough space to carry up to 130lbs. And all this is provided at a very reasonable price. The bargain provides a utility sled that extends beyond the price.

Pros and Cons of Ice Fishing Sleds

Ice fishing sleds are a crucial part of ice fishing sports gear. They make the overall process much easier under harsh climatic conditions. Their usability extends beyond seasons and terrains, and they serve for a very long time. However, accompanying these pros are also a few cons. In the following sections, we will see some of both.

Pros

Let’s first look at the pros. 

Convenience Over Long Distances

The main purpose of sleds is to make long-distance travel easy. For ice fishing, anglers have to walk over frozen lakes, streams, or rivers to find spots for fishing. These frozen water bodies might not be very safe for wheeled vehicles, and hence, walking is the best course of action. Under such circumstances, sleds provide very comfortable replacements for backpacks and buckets that might tire the person out.

Carrying Capacity

In addition to being more comfortable to glide than carrying backpacks and buckets, sleds also provide more room for supplies and equipment. They have an open structure that is wide and long enough to house all shapes and sizes of belongings.

Versatility

Another advantage that comes with sleds is the versatility in usage. Once you buy a sled, you will notice that its usability is not just limited to ice fishing, but it can serve many other purposes both in snowy areas as well as in sandy and grassy lands. They may be used to haul other types of weight, remove debris, transfer firewood, wildlife hunting expeditions, and much more.

Cons

Meanwhile, some limitations include:

No Cover

Sleds are designed without a proper solid cover. Under the cold circumstances of ice fishing, if it starts to rain or snow, the best protection for your gear against the change in weather would be a fabric cover. These might be thick and even waterproof but will not save your gear from damage that might come from big pieces of flying snow.

Prone to Damage 

Typically, sleds are made of polythene. While this is lightweight and glides easily over smooth surfaces when it comes to rocky, snowy terrains, they may bump into hard snow or rock and crack. If the crack widens, you might be left in the middle of nowhere with all your belongings. However, with careful maneuvering, this seldom happens.

How to Choose an Ice Fishing Sled

Choosing the right sled for yourself can be a tricky task with so many different options on the market. So, to make things easier, the following are some of the things you should consider before getting yourself a sled:

Depth

Depth is one of the most important aspects of a sled. It defines the capacity it will have. Generally, the deeper the sled, the more gear you can carry. Moreover, the cargo will be stashed away safely, even when towing behind a quad or snowmobile.

While most ice fishing sleds are eight to ten inches deep, others go as deep as 17 inches. So, keep in mind the gear you want to carry before settling on a size. 

Weight

Weight can make or break a decision. If you’re traveling long distances and are aiming to pull the weight by hand, then a heavy one will not be any good to you. It is only going to tire you out faster. 

On the other hand, if you’re towing your sled behind a vehicle, then the weight is less significant, so you’ll have to choose accordingly.

Weight and durability usually go hand in hand, so a general rule of thumb is that the more the weight, the better the quality and durability.

Accessories

It is always great to own something that can work with a number of great accessories in the market. These include tow bars, mountings, bungee ropes, etc.

Types of Ice Fishing Sleds

Ice fishing sleds come in different shapes and sizes. Some of these include:

Snow Tube  

Snow tubes are personal-sized tubes made of tough plastic. These slide down the snow and usually come with some sort of handgrip. The only drawback is the absence of braking.

Their lightweight and ability to inflate with a simple air pump make them super easy to carry around and fun to use.

Toboggan

This is perhaps the oldest and most traditional style of the sled. Toboggans can be made out of wood, plastics, or any other material as long as it’s durable. Looking like a boat that is curved upwards on both ends, a toboggan is lightweight, long, and narrow.

Saucer 

A saucer takes its name from, well, a saucer. It is similar to a snow tube in design and is meant for single person use only. Saucers have grips on either side and are made out of steel or other metal materials that glide quickly over snow. 

Saucers are durable and long-lasting. The durability comes at a cost, though. These are simply the heaviest kind of sleds on the market, and because of the design and materials, they can’t fit into tight spaces.

Ice Fishing Sled vs Kids Sled - Comparison Overview 

As mentioned earlier, sleds come in all shapes and sizes, and different sleds are meant for different uses.

As the name suggests, a kids sled is for kids, whereas ice fishing sleds are primarily meant for ice fishing. But, because of their sturdiness, they can also be put to various other uses. Here’s how the two compare to each other.

Similarities

Both sleds are meant to take you around the ice. They can seat one or more people, depending upon the size. Kids sleds also have a reinforced upper lip just like ice fishing sleds to pull them around. Both can also carry cargo around, although the size of kids sled is usually small.

Differences

Because both sleds are meant for different uses, they are made out of very different materials. Kids sleds are often soft and made out of foamy and blunt materials that will not harm the kids, even in the event of an accident. Moreover, professional ice fishing sleds may even have a steering mechanism that will allow you to steer your way through the ice, something that kids sleds don’t have.

Ice Fishing Sled Mods

You can modify your sled in a number of ways. This not only adds functionality but also complements your sled. Here are some of the popular mods that you can also make to your unit:

Adding Mobility Skis

An old pair of skis is hardly helpful for anyone. Just mount the old pair to the bottom of your ice fishing sled to make it glide it over ice and snow. Skis reduce the surface area in contact with the snow.

Reflective Safety

Highly reactive materials on a sled can make it easy to spot it in low light conditions. Such materials also make sure that the oncoming traffic can see who is coming.

Bungee Straps

The addition of bungee straps on either side of the sled is a great addition. Bungee ropes are easy to tie and can hold your precious cargo in place. If the sled does not have points to tie down bungee straps, you could screw hooks to the lip of the sled. 

Rod Holders

The sled walls are automatically improved with the introduction of rod holders. Your fishing equipment can stay a lot safer hooked to them than lying around on the floor.

How to Keep Ice Fishing Gear in a Sled

Your sled can help you carry your ice fishing gear with ease. If you have a fishing platform with it, it automatically makes things easier. You should:

  1. Carefully place your cargo in the sled. The key is to place heavier and space-consuming things at the bottom. 

  2. If you have a seat resting on a bar, you can start by putting things underneath it first.

  3. Always utilize the maximum space. You can put cargo into empty containers to manage space efficiently. 

  4. Always keep small and handy things at the top, so you don’t have to reach out to the bottom every time you need something.

  5. Put your fishing equipment into the fishing platform, or if no platform is available, then into the sled directly.

  6. Once everything is in place, use bungee ropes to tie everything securely. This is important because if you pull your sled behind a snowmobile, your cargo will jump out.

Although all sleds are different, the basic concept of organizing stuff when storing works everywhere. Be sure to refer to the video below for a detailed insight into keeping gear in a sled.   

Conclusion

Sleds are the growing needs of most snow sports, but for ice fishing, they form a crucial part. They give a convenient and comfortable solution to all luggage carrying problems. They further ease the process when they can hitch onto a snow vehicle. Also, their usability spreads over many areas and under many climates.

People Also Ask

Deciding on a sled with the right size and space to cater to all your needs is not an easy job. It requires careful consideration in many areas. Hence, there might be something left in the above discussion without understanding might not be complete. In this section, we answer questions related to such considerations.

How to Modify Your Ice Fishing Sled

There are a ton of modifications available for your beloved sled. These include improvements to mobility and safety visibility, increased storage, and improved fishing. You can modify the sled by adding tow bars, hitches, fishing platforms, safety reflectors, bungee cords for cargo management, and rod holders.

How to Transport an Ice Fishing Sled With Car

A compact trailer with a flatbed can easily transport one or more sleds. Most trailers have a ramp at the back that helps in hoisting the sled onto the trailer. The trailer can be hooked behind a car to easily transport it to your favorite destinations.

What is an Ice Fishing Sled Shelter? 

Ice fishing sled shelters keep the frost away from your prized possessions in the sled and can act as a great cover from the chilly winds. Different companies offer different shelters for sleds and users alike. While some shelters might be for storage, others can keep the sled covered as it travels through the snow.

How Do I Pull an Ice Fishing Sled?

Pulling an ice fishing sled can be a cumbersome task. But, a good workaround to pulling it through the tough ice is to add skis to the bottom of the sled.

You could modify some unused skis to fit the size of your sled. This will decrease the dragging force required. You might have to drill them in a piece of wood before attaching the wood to the body.

Do Ice Fishing Sleds Float?

Most ice fishing sleds float in case there is a crack in the ice you’re fishing above. But this is mostly when they are loaded lightly. Even though the individual weight of the sled may be floatable, loading it with heavy gadgets and equipment, strips it of the possibility of floating. 

How Do You Make an Ice Fishing Sled Easier to Pull?

One way to make this happen is by the addition of skis to the bottom of the sled. If you have old skis lying around that you don’t mind cutting to a size that fits the sled, then you might be able to further ease the dragging. Simply cut the sleds to the desired size and drill them in a piece of wood. Then glue this piece of wood onto the plastic body.

How Do You Put Skis on an Ice Fishing Sled?

This is easily done with a pair of skis, a few blocks of wood, wood screws, and water-resistant super glue. 

  1. First, wax your skis for a smoother performance. 

  2. Next, measure them to match the length of the ski and cut off the excess. 

  3. Now, take 4 to 6 woodblocks all even and the same in size. With the help of wood screws, screw the sleds and the wood blocks together at equal intervals. Both the skis should have the same amount of wood blocks attached to them at the same intervals.

  4. Next, use your super glue to join the free/upper side of the wooden blocks to the sled. 

  5. Let dry. 

  6. Now, you have a sled on skis with added ground clearance.

What Makes Sleds Faster?

There are a few things that will make your sled faster. The first is the construction material, which is usually plastic. The plastic glides easily over slippery ice without causing much friction, and as a result, you gain momentum. 

Secondly, a light load will certainly increase the speed of your sled. A heavily loaded sled would be difficult to pull and hence slow in speed. Thirdly, the addition of skis might make it go faster in thick and fresh blankets of snow.

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My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at admin@biggamelogic.com. Read more about Big Game Logic.