How to Choose the Best Among Portable Ice Fishing Shelters

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How to Choose the Best Among Portable Ice Fishing Shelters

How to Choose the Best Among Portable Ice Fishing Shelters
Jay Coburn (Jay45)

If you are a big fan of ice fishing and it's a must do activity for you to do every winter, a portable ice fishing shelter should be an important part of your fishing gear. It helps you keep warm and enjoy this great outdoor activity without having to succumb to the biting cold. There are several types of portable shelters available in the market. We will discuss about some of them here, so that you can make an informed choice.

The different types of shelters available:

There are mainly four styles of portable shelters that are popular among ice fishing experts. The first and most basic are the Windbreakers, the second are the easy to set up collapsible shelters, third the extremely popular flip over shelters and the fourth the cabin or hut type shelters. The first of the lot are the windbreakers that are lightweight and thus very easy to carry around anywhere.

Windbreakers and collapsible shelters

Windbreakers are the most basic ice fishing shelters available and they weigh no more than 12-13 pounds. These are shelters that are usually designed for a single person and come with a seat and two or three walls for your protection against the harsh winter wind. They are also cheap and you are likely to find one online for less than $ 150. However, the downside with them is that they do not provide protection overhead, so if you are planning to go fishing in very cold areas, this variety will not serve you that well.
In that case you can consider the second variety among portable ice fishing shelters i.e the collapsible shelters. The design of these shelters is like those of your camping tents. But these collapsible shelters are tailor made for the needs of the ice fishing enthusiast. There are external poles that serve as the frame of the shelter. The floor is made up of flexible fabric.
That makes them much more lightweight compared to those with a hard plastic flooring. The other advantage of having a lightweight fabric as flooring is that it comes with holes that are pre cut, so that your fishing becomes easier and more enjoyable experience. The only disadvantage that you may face with these collapsible shelters is when the weather is too windy. You may find it a challenge to set up the poles in such weather conditions.

Flip over and cabin type shelters

The third and extremely popular amongst portable ice fishing shelters are the flip over shelters. These are shelters that come in models that can seat from one to four people. The flip over shelters are built over a hard plastic sled base. This is the foundation that not only holds the seats but also acts as a foundation for the poles that can be adjusted.
When you are ready to fish, all you have to do is sit on the seat provided, extend out the poles and simply flip them over, like you would do in a convertible car. You can keep the shelter completely open, open it up to halfway or keep it closed fully according to the weather conditions. If you buy a flip over shelter with windows or any other ventilation system, you can also use a heater that runs on propane gas to keep yourself warm inside the shelter. The only problem with this type shelter is that the plastic sled base makes it heavier and a tad bit difficult to carry around.
The fourth option that you have are the cabin style shelters. These are much like the flip over shelters with the hard plastic sled base and the adjustable poles. However they usually take much longer to set up than the flip over styles of tents because these are full blown cabins or huts. These are usually the largest models available and can seat anything between 4-8 people easily.
They are usually folded into half to ease transport. In order to set them up, you have to first unfold the floor of the shelter and set up the poles and then the roof. Once this is up it will be shaped like a rectangle and will be roomy like a full fledged hut. There is also a lot of headspace in such models which makes them extremely comfortable. Cabin type shelters also come with heaters and other gear that can make your ice fishing trip really enjoyable. It's recommended for those who are going fishing with family or a group of friends. It's easier to put these up when you have help.

Pointers to keep in mind

Before you invest in a portable ice fishing shelter there are certain things you must keep in mind. Firstly do not invest in one just for the heck of it. Ice fishing shelters make sense for those who are interested in hard water angling as a sport and have some prior experience in it. In case you go out ice fishing every season it makes sense for you to invest in a good shelter. See to it that you invest in one that has good and comfortable seats and a zipper door. Zipper doors not only give you an easy exit but also provide you extra ventilation when you need it.

We also strongly recommend you to buy a shelter that comes with windows. The light that comes into your tent through the window will be useful and help you keep an eye on things outside. Last but not least, ensure that the portable shelter fits in properly inside your car. For truck owners and SUV owners this is not likely to pose a problem. But if you have a compact car, you need to check the dimensions of the shelter before you invest in one.

Jay Coburn is an avid ice fisherman for over 30 years and occasional writer. Find more information about portable ice fishing shelters here:

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