Creating ice central

by Tim Allard | November 29, 2023

An ice-fishing base camp is a home away from home. Anglers can use these roomy shelters to warm up, rest, eat, store gear or wet a line when not hole-hopping outside. The concept isn’t new, but what’s different is how anglers are using thermally insulated, pop-up huts to create temporary base camps wherever the day’s adventures might take them. If this sounds intriguing, here are a few handy items to help create the ultimate base camp experience.

Lights on

Rigging an LED lighting system is worth the effort. Improved visibility makes finding things easier and prevents a gloomy interior.

Ice fishing companies sell lighting strips and dome lights, but there are also many portable powered lighting options available at outdoor shops. Headlamps are indispensable when setting-up and tearing-down in the dark.

Power a plenty

Power boxes running off of a lithium battery are handy. These mobile power stations are great for running lights and other electronics. Many boxes have a built-in LED flashlight. Or, skip the box and use a battery tray, like Clam’s battery bracket, to securely hold a 12-volt power source.

Bring the heat

Preparing hot food is part of the fun of the base camp ice experience. Cook outside the shelter, and bring a garbage bag for packing out trash. If you’re really looking to amp-up the ambiance with friends and family, consider getting a portable fire pit.

A propane heater is par for the course inside ice shelters. I’m a longtime fan of Mr. Heater’s products, which offer an automatic low oxygen depletion sensor and an accidental tip-over safety shut-off. Using a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector inside the shelter is an additional safety measure.

Tables and chairs

A portable table has all sorts of practical uses at base camp. Lightweight, aluminum, roll-top camping tables provide a sturdy surface capable of holding a good amount of weight. Fabric tables are another option.

Comfortable chairs are a base camp essential. You’ll find plenty of options from ice fishing and outdoor companies.

Some anglers are going a step further and bringing out a cot, pad, and sleeping bag.


Even when wearing warm footwear, boots resting on snow and ice can lead to cold feet. An easy fix is putting down some foam mat floor tiles for added insulation. Some ice fishing companies also sell flooring for specific models. Flooring also keeps gear out of snow and slush and helps retain heat.

Keep it tidy

Items abound for kitting-out your base camp. Clam and Rapala offer mounting systems for attaching rod holders and other items.

Clothing hooks are convenient for hanging jackets and other gear. Cargo nets are useful for storing extra outerwear, tackle trays, and miscellaneous items. Hard rod cases and storage boxes serve double duty, keeping tools and gear protected while offering a working surface.

Originally published in the Nov.-Dec. 2022 issue of Ontario OUT of DOORS

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