More and more hard ice anglers are opting for a more comfortable solution to ice fishing. The days of fighting a biting wind and frigid temperatures are over. You can eliminate layers of cloths and still stay warm and dry. I've been ice fishing for 30 years and I can tell you first hand using an ice fishing shelter made an enormous difference for me. If you don't already own a shelter I would like to offer some guidelines for choosing a shelter based on my experiences.
1) Size - when deciding on the size think about what you will need in the tent with you. You will need something to sit on, a place to put a bucket of minnows, lantern for heat and light, small tackle box, I usually can take my coat off in my shelter so I need a place to set that. It will be your preference but I like a lot of room. If you want to be able to stand up make sure you get a shelter tall enough to accommodate your height.
2) Your shelter should be portable - many times it is necessary to move around the lake to find the fish. Having an ice fishing shelter that allows you to easily move around will be to your advantage. Most portable shelters can easily be moved without being taken down.
3) Weather proof - make sure to buy a quality product with durable material. Your shelter should be able to withstand strong winds and water resistant to keep you dry.
4) Easy set-up - once you get to the lake you want to go fishing you don't want to fumble around trying to set up your shelter. It already takes time to drill holes and get set up. Make it simple, make it fun.
Everyone has different preferences for what they like. It's probably good there are so many different styles of ice fishing shelters. If you are new to ice fishing you may want to go with a friend that has a shelter or go to a local ice fishing derby and walk around to see all the different types of shelters. The folks at the derbies are usually very friendly and probably wouldn't mind if you asked questions. It is also interesting to see some of the home made shelters. I wish I had pictures of some of the ones we made.
Just keep it simple. Pick a shelter that is big enough to fit your needs, is portable to move around the ice, weatherproof to keep you warm and dry and easy to set up. I'll see you on the ice.