Made in MN: Ice Box Igloo Tool

Feb 21, 2023Made in Minnesota

Visit our trail-friendly sponsor!
Minnesota Resorts offer plenty of vacation getaway choices

Pictured above: Susan Alt and Austin Shafer of Eau Claire, WI inside the igloo they helped build.

Husband and wife entrepreneurs Ashley and Grant Schnell have been making ski pulks in their shop in rural St. Stephen, MN since 2011. These pull-behind sleds with rigid poles have traveled the world, literally, behind arctic explorers, winter fatbike campers and parents pulling their kids through the snow for fun. makes seven different models and sells components and parts so you can make your own with their free instructions. Read about a fatbike winter camping trip with a pulk

Recently, the pair has begun offering a versatile, new tool for making your own igloo with snow. It’s designed to be a serious, lightweight piece of backcountry equipment that can eliminate the need for a tent on expeditions, but it can also provide a couple of hours of backyard fun with the kids. Grant happened to have some time to show the Trails team how the Ice Box Igloo Tool works and we put it to the test with some very marginal, crusty snow on a sunny afternoon in February.
The tool is, in essence, a three-sided box on an adjustable pole attached to a center pivot. The form handler in the center of the igloo circle dials in the diameter of the igloo, anywhere from seven to eleven feet, and moves the form along in a spiral pattern as the shovelers fill the form with snow.  As they go up, they adjust the length and pitch of the pole to make the circle ever tighter and form that familiar dome shape. Eventually, the form handler will duck into the structure and steady the now upright pole as the shovelers put on the final shovels of snow to cap off the igloo. If you do it right, you have a fully functioning, self-supporting dome. The form handler will cut their way out, creating the door.
Site preparation is key and you need to stomp down a circle to provide a solid base. We were able to skip that step because recent rains had created a two-foot-thick layer of snow that was so crusty even the heaviest of us couldn’t make much of an imprint. This was good, but created another potential issue, bad snow consistency. Grant said the tool actually works best with fresh powder snow, but is designed to be used with all grades of snow. We had the worst kind for this sort of thing. Under the crust, we found small-grain corn snow that did not pack much at all in our hands, almost like glass beads. Luckily, the strong February sun softened up the top layer enough after a while, that we could scrape the soft snow off. We were in business. Start to finish it took the five of us about 90 minutes to make a seven-foot igloo, with Grant expertly handling the form.

We had no volunteers to stay in the igloo overnight, but it is a legit structure for winter camping. According to Grant, two peoples’ body heat alone can raise the temperature inside the igloo into the 20s on a zero-degree night. We had temperatures in the teens that night and when I checked on the igloo the next day it had set up rock hard. We’ll keep an eye on it throughout what’s left of this season. Maybe I’ll take one for the team and sleep out there some time.

Check out the Ice Box Igloo Tool on

Visit our trail-friendly sponsor!
Love the Life in Luverne, Minnesota and take a spin on the Loop Trail around town and into Blue Mounds State Park
Brainerd is in the heart of Minnesota's Lake Country
Hutchinson MN: Home of the Luce Line State Trail
The Scenic Shore 150 Bike Tour is a two-day, 150-mile, fully supported cycling event that is open to riders of all ages and abilities.
Ride the Tomassoni Tour and cycle for ALS, on the beautiful Mesabi Trail in northern Minnesota.

Keep up with the latest MN Trails news and events in our newsletter

About me

I’m Jan, the publisher of Minnesota Trails Magazine. I’m looking for that one trail, the next ride, a new discovery and other reasons never to sit still in Minnesota.


Visit our trail-friendly sponsor!
Recharge your spirit as you explore hundreds of acres of tranquil parkland and miles of peaceful trails in Janesville, WI

More stories:

Must-Do Bike Rides in 2024

Road, trail, gravel, you name it. Take a look at our list of 2024 bike rides and mark your calendars!

A Runner’s Guide to Minnesota’s North Shore

From Jay Cooke and Duluth to Grand Portage, the North Shore offers trail running adventures of all lengths and difficulty levels.

Trail Pairings: Revelation Ale Works

20 miles from Canada and North Dakota, Revelation Ale Works serves up cold beers to warm you up after skiing Lake Bronson State Park.

Pictographs at Hegman Lake

Author Zach Johns makes an annual pilgrimage to one of Minnesota’s most special places.

City of Chatfield joins Root River Trail Towns

The Root River Trail Towns group was founded in 1988 to promote Minnesota’s famous Root River/Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail. The community of Chatfield is the latest member of this trail alliance.

Adventure Report: Heart of the Lakes Trail

Our work on the way up was rewarded with glorious roll after glorious roll, the ribbon of trail disappearing into the distance and around the next curve.

Life is Good on the Root

This photo essay takes you on a trip into southern Minnesota’s Bluff Country.

Guest Blog: Great River Bluffs State Park

Guest blogger Alyson Eversman explores this southern Minnesota gem of a state park.

Going the Distance on Four Wheels

The Lake Wobegon and Central Lakes Trail system is known for being a destination for walkers, bikers, runners and inline skaters, but the long, flat trail is beginning to gain the attention of endurance skateboarders.

Adventure Report: The Currie Loop

This southern Minnesota trail makes for a fun fall spin around Lake Shetek State Park.

Take Your Next Meeting Outdoors

If your new home office is also a laundry room, you might want to try one of our custom Zoom backgrounds!

Visit our trail-friendly sponsor!
Saint Cloud, MN is your vacation destination if you're into the outdoors!

Please join our newsletter mailing list!

It’s your source for sneak previews of the next print issue, new trails to explore, upcoming events and the latest blog posts. We promise to keep it brief, entertaining and relevant and you can unsubscribe anytime. We will not share your info with anyone.

* indicates required