Skip to main content

Lightweight Ice Camping Part 2

Not all hard-shell ice houses are heavy duty and hard to move, check out these lightweight options.

Lightweight Ice Camping Part 2

The Zack Shack pull-behind shelter offers comfort, quality components and the option to remain mobile. 

This is part 2 about camping on the ice and which shelter to choose. To catch up on Part 1 in Jim Edlund’s series, visit this link.

Smaller & Mobile Hybrid Hardhouse/Toy Hauler Options

The Zack Shack – Made in Bismarck, North Dakota, USA

A little over a decade ago I first discovered these no-frills hardhouse while fishing Devils Lake, North Dakota. The locals we encountered were extremely excited about the design. With its unique fender/ski system and minimal tongue weight, it was no problem to pull a Zack Shack out to good fishing spots through ND snow and slush with a tracked ATV, snowmobile, or UTV, and set it down in down in seconds, the skis folding back into fenders, the house floor dropping to the ice surface, holes drilled out quickly for fishing. I had never seen anything like it. Super slick—and again, extremely mobile.

The company was taken over by Cole Glatt in 2019 from company founder, Zack Zackmeier. Based in Bismarck, ND, all products are still hand-built. As such, the small staff only produces about 50 units per year, and they sell out quick. Zack Shack offers 10-, 12-, and 14-foot options, all with 6-foot width, either with a flat- or V-front. Units start at around $12K.

“Both the 6x10 and 6x12 flat-front sell for under 15K. The exterior is all tin and the frame is 100% steel for strength and a long life,” said Clatt.

“We’ve sold around 1000 fish houses since 2019, and I’ve never had one come back with frame issues, even on the older models,” he said.

“Our houses are very light. The smallest weighs 1,200 pounds.; the 6x12 is 1,400 pounds; and the 6x14 is 2,000 lbs. All our houses have a 61-inch ramp door for tracked ATVS. That’s kind of our claim to fame; 80% to 90% of my customers out here in the Dakotas have an ATV with tracks. That’s the deal—an ATV with tracks and a Zack Shack.”

inside the zack shack
The intuitive interior of the Zack Shack makes it a comfortable an versatile house to utliize on the ice.

The company specializes in build-to-order exactly to customer specs, dealing direct, no dealer-base. “We’ll do anything,” Clatt continued. “They’re all two-person bunk systems. We can put two sets in on the side or one along the front. Front V-bunks run $650; side-wall bunks cost $750.”

When talking with Cole about his success and how enthusiastic his customers are, he explained succinctly: “My customer is the ice angler who wants to be extremely portable. I don’t know if there’s an age demographic. About 70% of the customers I’ve built fish-houses for have a bigger permanent fish-house and realized they made a mistake. They let it sit at home and use a Zack Shack for fishing. My customers are serious ice anglers and average guys. They all have something in common: they want something that works and will get them off the beaten path but still with a hardhouse.”

Canvas By The Stitch – Made in Webster, Wisconsin, USA

I fished for a weekend years ago out of one of these unique hybrid toy-hauler, hunting blind, fish-house combos and was immediately impressed. First, offer lots of fishable space, light weight, mobility, general trailer use year ‘round, and can be sprayed under-floor to float for early- and late-ice conditions.

Built around a rigid steel frame with 200-gram 3M Thinsulate insulation and heavy, weather, and fire-resistant denier coating inside (200) and out (300), Canvas By The Stitch offers three shelter/trailer sizes: 15-footer for $7,842; 18-footer for $9,018; and 21-footer for $10,195—each available in black or a timber camo for all cast and blast scenarios. Width varies from 6 feet, 6 inches to 6 feet, 8 inches for easy toy-hauling of ATVs w/tracks, UTVs, snowmobiles, and more.

canvas by the stick ice house
The Canvas by the Stitch option is very comfortable, lightweight and makes for an easy hole-hopping "permanent house."

The small, husband, wife, and son operation offers numerous options to customize exactly the fish-house you’re looking for, with add-ons like skylights, wall-fold-out, built-in bunks/mattresses, an expandable porch, wheel skis, electric vs. included manual drop-down winches, a front ski, and more.

Recommended


The stand-out version seems to be the 18-foot, 6-inch model, 6-foot, 6-inch wide Nodak A.S.S.T. outfitted with 3,500-pound axle, 15-inch tires, steel tube frame axle, three-layer enclosure, eight windows, five holes in a 3/4-inch treated floor, and full rear-opening door. Another cool feature is a skirt around the entire shack perimeter that eliminates having to bank the house with snow.

Marine-grade sub-flooring, composite flooring, carpet, electric winch, LPR tank holder, catch covers, rear screen door, waterfowl opening, privacy curtain, screen porch, spear hole, skis, height extension, bunk frames and cushions, and vent/stove jack ports are all available add-on options.

In terms of weight, they’re hard to beat. The original weighs around 900 pounds, and the Max is about 1,300. Another great feature is its light tongue weight; about 80 pounds so you can move around the shelter with ease—either by hand or with a machine.

“You can pull our shacks out on the ice with ATVs, UTVs, and some customers even use a snowmobile,” said Canvas By The Stitch Founder, Scott Cone.

canvas by the stitch interior
Here's a look at the interior of the Canvas by the Stitch ice fishing hosue. Lots of room and ability to customize the interior to your desires.

“And when it comes to pulling our shelters onto early- and late-ice—or duck hunting—a lot of customers have had us spray the frame undersides for flotation. We also offer easy strap-on skis that fit under the wheels making transport even easier in bad conditions,” he added.

Cone—a very active ice angler who fishes in deep snow, slush, you-name-it—uses a Wilcraft All-Terrain vehicle with after-market tracks instead of wheels. With this this system, he said he can fish literally anywhere—typically far off the beaten path from hard-house cities.

He isn’t in the business to make huge loads of cash—he and his family still earning their bread and butter from a long-time custom upholstery business.

“I'm a small guy trying to get people on the ice and catching fish, and I try to take care of the customers I have. I only move about 30 units a year—we’re not a giant production facility.”

“I realized long ago,” he concluded. “The whole thing about being a successful ice angler is mobility and getting away from the cities of people on the ice. Our product allows you to do that.”

Team Lodge – Made in Watertown, South Dakota, USA

If you’re interested in a traditional hardhouse but looking for a smaller footprint and year ‘round toy hauler/off-grid camping use, the Team Lodge Team Lodge Junior may be a good fit. More expensive than some options mentioned, it nonetheless bridges a gap between simple toy hauler trailers converted to fish-houses and full-on, custom “Ice Castle” permanent designs.

team lodge junior
The Team Lodge houses are easily manuverable, rigged out comfortably and will carry a "toy" like an ATV.

Team Lodge shelters comprise a 2x4 powder-coated steel frame, 2x3 wood frame structure, 1 1/2-inch minimum closed-cell spray-foam insulation, and .040 screwless aluminum siding.

At 6 1/2x14, the Team Lodge Junior weighs 2,850 pounds, features a single axle with 6,000-pound GVWR, 3,150-pound cargo capacity, 360 pound tongue weight, 72-inch ramp door height, 54-inch ramp door width, .040 aluminum screwless treadplate exterior trim, 54-inch fold-over sleater, (2) 24x36 inch windows, (1) 15x30 inch window, 32x72 fold-down cot, 30x72 walk-thru door, .050 rubber flooring, (2) 30-pound propane tanks and cover, 0.7 cubic feet microwave, three-burner cooktop, front kitchenette cabinets, and (2) side upper cabinets.

Team lodge interior
The Team Lodge interior is well thought out and offers numbers of customizations and accessories to set it up to your unique ice-fishing efforts.

Upgrade options include: (1) 12-volt 27 Series Deep Cycle Battery, On/Off Disconnects, (6) recessed interior lights, (2) exterior flood lights, (1) exterior on/off flood light, (4) 110-volt outlets, (3) 12-volt USB outlets, boat seat with pedestal and base, 30x48 dinette and table, 20K BTU forced-air furnace, 13,5000 BTC A/C unit, and DVD/CD player with surround sound, and various interior wood grain and color options.

In Conclusion

Looking to fish early- and late-ice, get away from the crowds, and use year ‘round for camping? Today’s hub and hybrid house designs might be just the ticket.




GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Renown big catfish guide Chris Winchester takes Doug Stange and Steve Hoffman on a big flathead catfish hunt in the uppe...
Destinations

World-Class Channel Cats below the Selkirk Dam in Manitoba with Blackwater Cats

Renown big catfish guide Chris Winchester takes Doug Stange and Steve Hoffman on a big flathead catfish hunt in the uppe...
Learn

Controlled Drifting for GIANT Blue Cats with Phil King

Renown big catfish guide Chris Winchester takes Doug Stange and Steve Hoffman on a big flathead catfish hunt in the uppe...
Learn

3 SIMPLE and EASY Catfish Rigging Tips with Captain Ross Robertson

Renown big catfish guide Chris Winchester takes Doug Stange and Steve Hoffman on a big flathead catfish hunt in the uppe...
Destinations

CATFISH FEVER!

Renown big catfish guide Chris Winchester takes Doug Stange and Steve Hoffman on a big flathead catfish hunt in the uppe...
Learn

How To: Rigging for fall catfish

Renown big catfish guide Chris Winchester takes Doug Stange and Steve Hoffman on a big flathead catfish hunt in the uppe...
Gear

The PERFECT Rod to Carolina Rig With G. Loomis GLX Bass Rods

Renown big catfish guide Chris Winchester takes Doug Stange and Steve Hoffman on a big flathead catfish hunt in the uppe...
Destinations

In-Fisherman Classics: Stalking Giant Flatheads AFTER DARK

Renown big catfish guide Chris Winchester takes Doug Stange and Steve Hoffman on a big flathead catfish hunt in the uppe...
Destinations

In-Fisherman Classics: Big Cat Safari - Finding Spring Channel Catfish

Renown big catfish guide Chris Winchester takes Doug Stange and Steve Hoffman on a big flathead catfish hunt in the uppe...
Fishing

New Podcast! Life on the Lower Niagara River with Capt. Frank Campbell

Renown big catfish guide Chris Winchester takes Doug Stange and Steve Hoffman on a big flathead catfish hunt in the uppe...
Learn

In-Fisherman Classics: Where to Find Post-spawn Walleyes

Renown big catfish guide Chris Winchester takes Doug Stange and Steve Hoffman on a big flathead catfish hunt in the uppe...
Learn

In-Fisherman Classics: What Are the Top Walleye Baits Of ALL TIME?

Renown big catfish guide Chris Winchester takes Doug Stange and Steve Hoffman on a big flathead catfish hunt in the uppe...
Destinations

In-Fisherman Classics: Big Mississippi Flatheads with Chris Winchester

In-Fisherman Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the In-Fisherman App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top In-Fisherman stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now