Choosing the Perfect Portable Ice-Fishing Hut at Cabela's

Choosing the Perfect Portable Ice-Fishing Hut

Author: Justin Hoffman

Ice-fishing has grown tremendously over the years, with new innovations and designs that allow anglers to fish more effectively, while also providing increased comfort and mobility. One such invention is the portable fish hut. Read on to get the right one for you.

Gone are the days of cold feet and hands, blowing line and short days on the hard stuff due to the uncompromising elements of weather. (Let’s face it - sitting on the ice in sub-zero conditions while the wind howls and the snow flies certainly can lose its "fun factor" quickly!)

Portable ice huts come in all shapes and sizes, which sometimes causes anglers to be confused and apprehensive when it comes to choosing one that will best suit their needs. By following the advice and suggestions in this guide, you can rest assured that your purchase will provide many years of excitement and success, all the while keeping you toasty warm and dry.

Fishing huts are made from a wide variety of material components, the most common being nylon, canvas or poly cotton. Although each has their own merits, the most important aspects to consider are thickness, durability, breathability and resistance to water and fire.

Generally speaking the thicker the material, the more protection it will provide from the elements, while also retaining warmth from the interior. Thin material does not offer as much of a barrier to the frigid environment, and causes the inside temperature to drop, which necessitates an increase in heat in order to stay warm. It goes without saying that a hut with a thin covering will also be less durable when out on the ice, allowing rips, tears and weak seams to be a reoccurring problem and concern. However, thin material huts generally weigh less, which is nice if you plan on transporting it long distances. The key is to find a combination that best suits your needs.

Other key features to look for in a hut are breathability, water resistance, and fire retardation. This last feature can be a lifesaver if your heater ever malfunctions, or is accidentally knocked over. Thankfully, most commercial huts produced today are made of fire retardant material.

Try to choose a hut that is made from a dark-colored material. This will attract the warmth from the sun, transferring solar heat directly through to the inside area. A dark color will also keep the inside of the hut darker - allowing easier viewing through the holes for sight fishing as well as when using electronics and underwater cameras.

A concern for fishermen who drag their hut onto the ice is overall weight. The lighter the hut, the easier it will be to carry or pull on the ice, causing less chance for fatigue and sore muscles. One-man portables can peak at around 60-pounds, although trying to find one that falls closer to 45 pounds will save your back on long drags. While weight is important, keep in mind the quality and craftsmanship. Just because it is light doesn’t necessarily mean it is a superior product. Factor in material, size and construction when figuring out the weight ratio for the hut you are interested in buying.

Portable ice huts come in a wide range of sizes, from small, single-person shelters to large cabins that can hold four or five anglers. If the majority of your ice-fishing is done solo, a one-man hut is often the best choice. If you have a large amount of equipment, or are a bit on the large size yourself, choosing a two-person shelter will provide added room and comfort. Keep in mind that the larger the inside area is, the more work a heater will have to do to keep the temperature up to snuff.

Ceiling height is another concern, especially for anglers that are taller than average. Make sure that you have adequate headroom when sitting down inside of the hut. If your noggin is rubbing on the roof, a different style or model will ensure that ice-fishing doesn’t become a frustrating pastime. (Few huts will allow you to stand up completely when inside, but they should all allow you to comfortably sit down, as that’s a prerequisite for fishing on the ice.)

One last factor to consider is the amount of room that will be directly in front of you while sitting down. This area must be spacious enough to allow free movement of an ice fishing rod, especially during the process of jigging or when setting the hook.

Clam 2000 Set-Up Time
Portable huts have been refined over the years, allowing an angler to completely set one up in mere seconds. Many huts on the market can be fully erected in less than a minute, meaning more time to fish and less time fiddling with confusing parts and pieces. There are really two main varieties of huts on the market today - folding and tent style.

Folding type huts do just that - fold over top of you. These are probably the easiest and fastest style of hut when it comes to set-up time. The other variety is the tent style, usually integrating aluminum or alloy poles that are hinged or snapped together. This style will take longer to put up, but is still a great product. Offering lots of room, tent style hut work well provided they are not overly complicated or time consuming to set up. My advice would be to try each style of product out before buying to see for yourself which option seems best for you.

There are two options when it comes to the seating in an ice hut. In some huts you must provide your own chair, while others have chairs built directly in. Both options work fine, although the one drawback of using your own chair is you have one more item to carry out onto the ice. If the hut you are interested in has a built-in seat, make sure that it is strong, has some sort of padding and is comfortable.

All portable huts should have at least one window built into the material of the walls, although two or three is often optimum. These clear viewing areas will allow you to see your tip-ups from inside the hut area, while also allowing you to see what else is going on around you. It is also good to be able to see an approaching weather front or storm. They also allow natural light to enter the hut, which can come in handy during the dark days of winter. An added feature of some huts on the market are flaps or roll-up covers on the inside of the window surface, which allow an angler to completely close the windows when sight fishing down the hole. I highly recommend these, as they give you the option to change how much light you want coming in at any given time.

Make sure that the hut you choose has windows that are placed at the correct height when you are seated inside the shelter. Depending on the layout and your body size, some huts may have viewing areas that are too high or low for your needs.

The majority of anglers use propane heaters in their huts for warmth. Although these trusty gizmos provide a comfortable environment to fish in, they also give off hazardous fumes that can be deadly if proper ventilation is not provided. This is where vents come into play. Many huts have this feature, which allow fumes to escape and fresh oxygen to take its place. It’s important to keep in mind that if the hut you select doesn’t have any air vents, you will have to keep the zippered door open slightly to offset the fumes.

Eskimo Towability
An interesting refinement that many huts offer is folding down into compact sleds. This sled (or toboggan) is often made of molded polyethylene, and allows an angler to carry everything they need for a day of fishing (bait buckets, rods, auger) in a nice and easy towing package. I look for sleds that are durable and strong, towing ropes that are thick and easy on the hands, as well as bottom runners that will slide easily over ice and snow.

Unless you drive your car or truck out onto the ice each time you fish, having a hut that folds down into a sled is a necessity.

Many huts also offer trailer-hitch conversions for easy towing behind snowmobiles and four-wheelers, which is something to keep in mind if this is the way you travel to and from your fishing hole.

The following features aren’t available with every hut, but they are nice to have when finalizing your decision:

Reflective Material - reflective strips that are sewn onto the exterior of the hut offer safety when fishing during low-light periods.
Inside Storage Compartments - these handy pockets provide room for tackle boxes, gloves and maps.
License Holder - clear pockets on the front for displaying your license - some states require licenses to be displayed on the outside of ice-fishing shelters.
Bucket and Rod Holders - molded bucket and rod holders provide storage and a spill-proof design.

Portable huts are certainly the wave of the future when it comes to ice-fishing. Anglers can now experience mobility, warmth and comfort - three things that equal success when drilling through the hard water this winter.

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