With recent advancements in technology, there have been many improvements to ice fishing as a whole. One of the greatest improvements has been to ice fishing clothing. The latest gear will keep you warm no matter the temperature. Long gone are the days of hiding in your hut all day to stay warm.
Lets dive right in.
Boots: warm feet equal happy feet
Anyone who has been outside in the cold knows that cold feet can ruin a day. When you are out on the ice, there are many different conditions that can affect this. I have fished lakes that had over an inch of water on top of the ice, which is like standing in an artic pool on top of a skating rink. Also, let’s not forget that we will be standing on a sheet of ice for an entire day.
When you are cutting holes, there while always be some water pulled onto the ice when you back out your auger, especially if it is not a hand auger. Without waterproof boots, your feet will almost certainly be wet from the start.
Waterproofing technology has been greatly improved recently. There are plenty of boots out there that are guaranteed to be completely water proof, from the sole to the top. If you will be walking through high snow, tall boots have more height and straps to tigthen them at the top to avoid snow in your boots.
The newest boot technology is with interchangeable soles. These allow you to change the soles on your boots for regular snow, ice, etc. The Korkers Polar Votrex Boot Series actually come with a sole designed specifically for Ice traction. These soles have spikes built into them. This allows you skip the hassle of putting on crampons and worrying about them falling off or breaking. When you are not on the ice, you can simply change the sole and put the rubber version back on.
Keep in mind that boots are going to be an investment. If you want a cheap pair of boots, your feet will probably be wet and cold. The great thing about this investment is you can use your boots for any cold weather application. When you are out on one of these cold weather days in wet conditions, you will be happy you spent a few extra bucks.
Snowpants keep your lower half dry
Out on the ice, I spend as much time kneeling or on my knees as I do standing. For example, when you are bringing in fish you have to be down close to the hole to land them properly. The easiest way to do this is from your knees. Anytime I tie on a new bait I usueally kneel as well. This means that you will be on your knees in snow or water throughout the day. If you aren’t wearing some water proof pants, be prepared to be wet and cold.
There are a large variety of options here. I prefer the bib option with snow pants, which typically come chest high and have overalls to keep them up. These cover most of your body and the overalls keep them from falling down. In my experience, snow pants without the overalls have a tendency to fall down which means you will be pulling them up all day. These also cover a much smaller portion of your body which just means there a more areas that could be exposed.
If you already have a trusty winter coat, these are the lowest cost otpion for you. In my experience, I never get cold with my bib on. In extremely cold conditons, I usually layer up quite a bit underneath as well. The only layer that should be on top of your bib is your winter jacket. This ensures that everything else stays dry.
Last but not least, and I can’t say this enough, MAKE SURE THEY ARE WATERPROOF.
Snowsuits to avoid exposure
If you dont have a reliable jacket yet, a snowsuit may be your best option. There are two peice and one peice options here. The one piece option is nice because it literally covers your entire body up to your neck (besides your hands of course). Nothing is exposed here.
One of the main drawbacks with a one piece suit can be flexibility. If your suite doesn’t fit correctly it is definitely tougher to move around in. Especially once you start adding layers underneath. These are also more difficult to get in and out of. Personally, I’m more of a two piece guy, but I have friends who prefer the one piece too. If you are interested in a once piece suit, check out this one by Refrigiwear that is rated for up to -50 degrees Farenheit.
Float suits address the two biggest obstacles when ice fishing
The float suit is one of the biggest game changers in ice fishing, ever. This is a solution for the two biggest obstacles when you are on the ice. The cold, and the potential that you could fall through the ice. These suits are desgined to keep you warm and dry in cold conditions, while also keeping you afloat if you fall through the ice.
These come in both jackets and pants, however it seems like the safest bet is to have both. I have watched multiple videos showing the float potential of this gear. These always show both the pants and jacket, so it isn’t worth risking trying to go with half of the combo. This is literally one of the best inventions in ince fishing history. Let’s hope you never have to test it.
At near $400, the price tag isn’t cheap, but it’s hard to put a price on piece of mind. If you like to fish alone or during early or late ice the float suit is a must.
Gloves protect the hands, no fishing without these
In my experience, the hands are the hardest thing to keep warm when you are out ice fishing. Unless you are magic, you can’t fish without these. This hands are the toughest thing to keep warm. Grabbing a fish out of the hole gets your hands wet. You can’t feel your line with gloves on. Good luck tying on a new lure with your hands frozen.
There a multiple parts to this. Fingerless gloves are great for being able to tie lures, bait hooks, and remove fish. They sell these with and without covers. The problem is that they aren’t typically waterproof and most of them seem to be made from materials that aren’t terribly durable or warm. Simms Guide Windbloc Flex Gloves are the highest quality pair that I have found.
The next option is gloves or mittens. Personally, I can’t see how there is any functionality with mittens. I have seen people fish with these, but I’m not sure how. All I can figure is that you take these off whenever you need to do anything,which can’t be great for keeping your hands warm in the long run.
On the glove side, there are plenty of great options. I may sound like a broken record, but find something waterproof. Again, gloves are somewhat limited in what you can do, but provide more functionality than mittens. In all honesty, I will almost always take my gloves off to grab a fish, unless it’s a monster or an emergency. This guarantees that my gloves will stay dry for the most part.
In reality, gloves are the hardest part of the equation. My best recommendation is bring more than one pair. When your hands are cold, it makes it hard to do anything.
Hand warmers are life savers
This may not fit with the other items here, but these are life savers. I always pack lots of extras because these can be used in boots, gloves, jackets, etc. All you have to do is open them and they typically last for 6 to 8 hours. I always put a pair in my gloves when I go out. Some gloves have pouches for these, but you can honeslty fit them in your gloves on the palms of your hands anyways. Hand warmers are super cheap so there is no reason not pack lots of extras.
Your gear will make or break you
When you are out in the middle of a lake on a long fishing trip, it’s too late to prepare. Over prepare when it comes to clothing. You never know what might happen. Its always better to have extra. I have never fished in a hut, and I have fished many days in temperatures below zero. The right gear makes all the difference. If you spend a day on the ice without proper gear, you will understand the importance of good gear.
I would love to hear feedback on any gear you prefer or anything else that should add to this list.