Using a floor in your ice shanty might not be necessary, but it can make the experience much more enjoyable. Only some shanties have a floor, so you may have to improvise one.
If your ice shanty does not come with a floor, there are many different options you can use instead. Options include interlocking mats, yoga mats, deck tiles, and door mats. Using a floor in your ice fishing shanty will provide extra warmth and a non-slip surface making fishing more enjoyable.
Continue reading for a more detailed look into the different materials you can use as a floor for your ice shanty and the pros and cons to make the best choice for your needs.
Most ice shanties do not come with floors if you purchase them from a manufacturer, but if you’re an angler who prefers to use one while ice fishing, you might have to come up with a substitute option.
Many companies have designed specialized products to use as a floor in an ice shelter, or you can go a more DIY route and use similar material to construct your own.
The first place to check is the manufacturer of your ice fishing shelter, provided you purchased it instead of going the homemade route.
Some ice shanty manufacturers will sell floors separately, and while they might not come with the shanty, they are still designed to be a perfect fit.
Ice fishing floors will vary in quality based on the manufacturer and may range from a thin sheet of material to an insulated and high-quality flooring option.
These floors will be perfectly sized for your shelter and form a good seal around the base of your shanty, further insulating you from the cold.
Going with an ice shanty floor specially made for your shelter will be ideal due to the specialized design.
However, not all shanties have this option; some options might be low quality, and this option may be more expensive than the alternatives.
Interlocking foam mats, specifically made from EVA foam, are an excellent option for your ice shanty floor. These mats are inexpensive, non-slip, and offer plenty of insulation from the ice.
EVA foam mats come in interlocking squares that you can put together much like a puzzle to fit the area you need it to.
The most common size of these mats is 24” x 24”, so you’ll need to keep that in mind when planning your floor plan.
For example, an 80-square-foot shelter divided by 4 square feet per tile would require 20 tiles for the whole floor.
You do not need to cover the entire footprint of the shanty, as you’ll need to leave an opening for your ice fishing hole.
If you have a few extra yoga mats or can find a good deal on some, this is an excellent flooring material for your ice shanty without breaking the bank.
These thin mats offer enough between you and the ice to be practical while portable.
One benefit of using yoga mats as a floor in your ice shanty is they are flexible enough to lay flat on uneven ice without uneven points that can be tripping hazards.
However, yoga mats do not offer much support on snow, making them uncomfortable in deep snow.
Deck tiles and patio tiles are other forms of interlocking squares that come in various materials and sizes and are designed to be weather-resistant.
Deck tiles provide an air gap between them and the ice that will trap warm air and provide extra insulation.
Deck tiles might be one of the most expensive options on this list, but if you have leftovers from a previous project, then using them in your ice shanty is an alternative to another floor.
If your ice shanty is stationary for the season, deck tiles are one of the sturdiest flooring options you can install while still being easy to take down at the end of the season.
Thick interlocking rubber mats are similar to the foam mats mentioned previously and will function similarly.
One of the key differences is the additional weight of rubber compared to foam which makes it harder to carry but much more sturdy.
Interlocking rubber mats are commonly sold for use in animal stalls and gym floors which goes to show how durable they are.
Rubber mats are also designed specifically for use during extreme weather and under rough conditions, so you can be confident they’re durable enough for your ice shanty.
Rubber mats can come in both smooth and textured varieties, and while both will work well for ice fishing, textured mats offer the most traction in wet conditions.
Plywood is the best fit for stationary ice shanties compared to packable tent-style shelters due to plywood’s weight and lack of portability, but you can still create a plywood floor in several pieces to set up and take down.
Plywood, on its own, can offer a lot of protection from the ice, but you can combine it with insulation foam boards to provide the best protection from the ice below.
Plywood is also very customizable, and you can fabricate it to the exact size of your shelter, with fishing holes installed, including covers.
A simple tarp would offer some dry area apart from the ice, and while it lacks insulation, it makes up for it with portability and packability.
You can lay out a simple tarp above the ice, and the edges can be folded up outside the shanty, offering protection from drafts under the shanty.
Tarps are the least expensive option on this list and are easy to pack if your main focus is portability.
Cutting a hole in the tarp for your ice fishing hole is easy and can be done with a knife, making it easier than many other options on this list if you are limited on tools.
Horse stall mats are excellent options for your ice fishing shanty, although they are often bulky and heavy.
These heavy mats are best suited for stationary ice shanties or taking a vehicle to your spot to carry all your gear.
Horse stall mats can be found at any farm supply store and come in many different sizes, including large 6’ x 4’ mats or individual 2’ squares.
If you aren’t concerned with covering the whole area of the tent, a single 6’ x 4’ mat can offer plenty of room for two anglers and their gear to stay off the wet ice.
Another suitable option for your ice shanty floor you might not think about is doormats. Doormats can be picked up cheaply and are made to be durable and left outdoors year-round.
Doormats can be an excellent addition to your ice shanty in combination with another floor to wipe off your boots and avoid tracking snow inside the shanty.
Staying dry while ice fishing can be difficult, but wiping off excess snow can help.
Doormats come in many different colors, patterns, and sizes to let you customize what the inside of your shanty looks like if that is your thing.
If you want to scrape away most of the snow, or your local fishing spot doesn’t have a lot of snow on it to begin with, then an outdoor quilt is a good option.
Outdoor quilts offer a weather-resistant side to place on the ground and a softer side for sitting on when outside.
While these quilts are designed for sitting on the ground outside in the summer, they are great for winter uses as well.
Outdoor quilts can come in sizes over 10 feet long and wide, although you’d need to cut a hole in them if they cover the whole floor of your shanty.
Covering part of the floor with a quilt eliminates the need for a hole, which means you can also use it in the summer.
Outdoor carpet might not be a common material used on the floor of ice shanties, but it does a great job if you are looking for something easy to use.
Outdoor carpets can fit your shelter in any size, making them versatile and perfectly fit. Materials can be patterned or plain colors, allowing you to customize the inside of your shanty however you like.
Outdoor carpets can come in a turf variety, giving you a bit of a spring feel and extra color even in the dead of winter, giving ice fishing a new feel for seasoned anglers.
Insulated mats can be roll-up mats for camping or specially designed insulated mats sold for ice fishing.
Both these options have an R-value attached to them that lets you know how much insulation they provide and how much they will help in your shelter.
You can combine insulated mats with other flooring options to trap in as much heat as possible, an essential feature if you plan on overnighting in your ice shanty during cold weather.
Mats sold for ice fishing can be configured for the size of your specific shanty providing the most benefits without being undersized or oversized, which can be detrimental and inefficient.
Many anglers who enjoy ice fishing prefer to avoid using a floor, which might be the correct route for you.
Some find the extra work of using a floor not worthwhile, and others find that a floor creates more of a slushy mess than without.
Not using a floor is also the most inexpensive route to go, and since it requires no extra weight, it’s the most portable.
Using a clamshell shanty is one reason a floor can be detrimental: these shelters already offer some type of floor, and adding additional flooring reduces portability.
Now that you know many different options you have to use as a floor for your ice shanty, understanding the benefits of using one can help you decide if you need one.
Different floors will also offer their benefits, including comfort, insulation, and packability.
One reason you might prefer to use a floor is insulation from the ice. Ice provides a lot of surface area in your shanty that will drain the heat quickly, even if you use a heater.
If you are using a heater, then using a floor will prevent melting and unnecessary slushiness inside the shanty. The extra insulation will also make the heater more efficient, saving you fuel in the long run.
However, even in an unheated shelter, your body heat will warm up the shanty to some degree, and blocking off the ice will make a massive difference in how much the shelter warms up.
Ice shanty floors also offer a nonslip surface, which can be incredibly helpful in extremely wet conditions. Melted snow on top of ice can be dangerous, and a floor can help make it safer.
For older people and children, having a nonslip floor can prevent unwanted accidents and prevent the ice fishing trip from becoming a trip to the hospital instead.
Nonslip floors can additionally make it easier to control any fish you bring up, making it easier to regain control of them if they slip out of your hands.
Extra grip can be a headache saver and decrease the odds your catch finds its way back under the ice in an unlucky moment.
A correctly sized floor with the walls of your ice shelter can keep you warm by providing insulation from the ice and keeping any drafts from sneaking in the bottom of the walls.
Some floors achieve this by attaching directly to the walls. At the same time, others add an overlap between the floors and the wall.
Either way, keeping out any unnecessary air exchange can go a long way in keeping the inside of the shanty warm.
You’ll have to keep some ventilation, primarily if you use a heater, but a single window or a crack in the door should be sufficient and a lot warmer than a drafty shanty.
One of the best benefits of using a floor in your ice shanty is the separation between you and the ice keeping you drier than otherwise.
Excessive water inside the shelter can make your ice-fishing experience less enjoyable.
Dealing with wet gear is also less fun than if it were dry, so this can make it easier to tie on lures and other movements requiring fine motor skills.
Finally, What Floor Will You Use In Your Ice Shanty?
If you plan on ice fishing this winter, what floor option will you use? Are you focused on keeping it as warm as possible, or is portability your primary concern?
Hopefully, the options in this article helped you make an informed decision based on your individual needs.
Adding a floor to your ice shanty might not be necessary, but it can create a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
You can find many options on this list for a good deal, so keep your eyes open and find what best suits your needs.