Homemade Ice Shacks

Homemade Ice Shacks
The main purpose of an ice shack is to protect those out on the ice from the elements. Because there is no cover, break from the wind or protection on bare ice, conditions can become extreme, with biting winds and extremely cold temperatures. Shelters let you remain out on the ice longer without risking numbness, frostbite or hypothermia.


Shacks provide more than basic protection; they offer a convenient way to transport tools, equipment and creature comforts onto the ice. Some people convert their shacks into homes away from home.

While a heat source and a place to sit constitute the minimum features, storage allows applicable gear to be kept organized, in one location. A food preparation area, cots for overnight trips and entertainments (radio, games, even television) are just a few popular additions.



Shelters frequently are made of plywood or aluminum siding over wood framing. Models made to collapse for easy transport can be built from tent or tarp material. Houses are mounted on wheels or skids to make transport and placement easier.

Most shacks have evolved far beyond the rudimentary construction of early days. Save money by using recycled materials, such as reclaimed windows or lightweight doors.

Windows are optional, but incorporating at least a small set is recommended, as using holes for ventilation does not guarantee enough air movement, and leaving a door propped open is a waste of heat.


Ensure that the ice has reached a sufficient thickness: 4 inches for humans, 1 foot for vehicles. Even then, local conditions and changes can render ice unstable, unable to support weight or capable of breaking free of shore. Check conditions or check with local experts before attempting to cross the ice.

Shacks are usually moved onto the ice by snowmobile, ATV or truck. The structure has to be lightweight enough to maneuver safely onto the ice, yet substantial enough to endure the elements and remain intact.


Proper ventilation is vital in an ice shack, not only to help eliminate moisture, but to clear hazardous fumes that can be generated by stoves or heaters.

Carbon monoxide (CO) can build quickly inside a shack and overcome the people inside. Symptoms of poisoning are easily confused with the flu and resulting mental confusion can render the afflicted unable to escape or seek help. Some shack users include a CO detector as an added measure of safety.


There exists a large community of ice shack enthusiasts who openly trade ideas and tips for improving shanty construction, function and safety. These groups provide a ready source for troubleshooting issues that arise with use. They also provide leads for finding used homemade shacks for sale by private owners and offer free plans for construction for a wide variety of styles of shacks if you want to build your own.



Article Written By Alice Moon

Alice Moon is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. She was chosen as a Smithsonian Institute intern, working for the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and has traveled throughout Asia. Moon holds a Bachelor of Science in political science from Ball State University.

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