The 7 Best Ice Augers

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What to Look for in an Ice Auger

Hand vs. Electric vs. Propane vs. Gas

Hand augers are the epitome of simplicity when it comes to cutting a hole in the ice. They’re lighter than powered augers and don’t require carrying fuel or worrying about an engine dying or getting flooded. But…obviously, hand augers require a lot more elbow grease to cut the hole. To some, that only adds to the pure—and quiet—nature of ice fishing. But those wrestling with thick ice (or those who plan to ice fish a lot throughout the season) may want the added heft of a powered device.

Electric augers don’t handle really thick ice as well as propane or gas augers, but you also don’t have to worry about fumes or spillage. They’re also the lightest and quietest of the category of powered augers, and the easiest to start. A smaller sub-genre of electric augers, you can also purchase an auger that’s compatible with a cordless power drill, which offers a lighter—albeit, less powerful—version of a stand-alone electric device. But keep in mind that cold temps sap battery power quickly. So if you plan a longer excursion, consider packing in more than one battery.

Propane-powered augers afford several benefits. They burn clean fuel (versus gas), and often run quietly, and don’t emit any smoke, making them ideal for fishing in an ice shack. Anglers also report that they start up reliably in the first or second pull—and there’s no risk of flooding the engine. Gas augers are the old-school workhorses, providing longer run times and more continuous, even power. But they’re much noisier, do require carrying gas (and sometimes oil), can flood, and can be fussy to start in low temps. They’re also often the most expensive, and heaviest.

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Ice Thickness and Size of Hole

Most augers will be long enough to cut through the thickest ice of the season and their lengths don’t vary as much as you’d expect. But if you’re trafficking on frozen lakes with more than a foot of ice, be sure the auger is longer than 12 inches. There are more variables when it comes to the blade’s diameter—anywhere from four to 13 inches—though an eight-inch hole is wide enough to allow most fish to pass through without issue.

How often will you go ice fishing?

If you’re dipping your metaphorical toe into ice fishing and don’t plan to make it a winter-long obsession, you should consider a hand auger that’ll work well without breaking the bank. Hand augers also have the added benefit of being far more travel-friendly. They’re lighter and most break down so you can pack them tight to add to your checked luggage. If you plan on traveling to a bunch of different ice fishing meccas, or if your favorite lake is a long hike from the trailhead, this is a smart solution. But if you do plan on frequently hitting the ice, powered augers make punching a hole far more efficient and less taxing than a hand-driven product. If you’re fishing in a shed, avoid gas-powered augers, and instead consider either electric augers or those fueled by clean-burning propane.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Nathan Borchelt has been testing, rating, and reviewing outdoor products for decades. Price, ease of use, reliability, pack weight, and overall function were all taken into consideration in evaluating these augers, with a special emphasis on products that would perform admirably over multiple seasons.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>