Ice fishing can get incredibly cold, with ideal ice fishing temperatures falling below freezing and above zero degrees Fahrenheit. And with the combination of freezing cold temperatures and the possibility of getting wet, you need to properly protect yourself against hypothermia and discomfort.
Ice fishers should wear multiple layers, including a sweat-wicking bottom layer and outer layers that are waterproof or wick away outside moisture. You should also make sure to cover your extremities, such as your face, hands, and toes with socks, gloves, a hat, and a possible face covering.
In this article, we’ll dive into more detail regarding the best ways to dress when ice fishing and what exactly to wear. Pay attention to each type of garment, as different parts of an ice fishing out protect the fisher from different elements. Keep reading to learn more.
Ice Fishing Attire Essentials
Below, we’ll look at all of the garments and items you’ll need to wear for a day of ice fishing to stay warm, dry, and comfortable. There’s more to this outfit than just layering up and heading out to fish, so pay attention to these items – listed from head to toe – if you want to avoid frostbite or hypothermia.
We’ll start with your head since this is where the body loses the most warmth. A warm and insulated winter hat is key – especially one that covers your ears so you don’t get an earache from the cold air. And if you feel like you want coverage on your face, too, you can opt for a face mask or balaclava.
Next, pay close attention to what types of shirts and jackets to wear. You’ll want to start with a base layer (maybe a short- or long-sleeve shirt made of moisture-wicking fabric). Make sure to layer on top of this shirt with some kind of insulating or warm long-sleeve top, like a flannel button down shirt or hoodie.
Third, you’ll want to opt for bibs or waterproof/snow overalls instead of pants. Your bibs can go over your top sweatshirt layer. The key with overalls is that they keep all of your layers snug and insulated, especially if you go with a snowsuit, which should be water-resistant. And if it’s cold enough, consider adding a waterproof jacket or winter coat overtop of your bibs.
You’ll also want to ensure that your hands are warm. The colder your hands are, the less control and dexterity you have while fishing. This is why it’s essential to keep them warm the entire time you are ice fishing. There are actually gloves made specifically for ice fishing activities.
This type of glove is designed specifically to keep your fingertips extra warm so you can use them to tie knots and place bait on your hooks. Some of them even have removable fingertips so you can manage the technical part of setting up your reel.
Next, make sure that you have a decent pair of socks under your boots. Make sure that your socks are absolutely dry when you put them on so you don’t run the risk of them making your feet more cold. You might even decide to layer up on socks if it’s extra cold outside. Just make sure that you don’t cut off your circulation in the process.
Finally, every ice fisher needs a solid pair of boots. There are boots specifically for ice fishing, but you don’t necessarily need them. As long as you have a decent pair of boots with really solid traction and insulation, you are set. The most important aspects of the shoe when ice fishing are keeping you safe from slipping and falling, and keeping your feet warm and dry.
Tips for Ice Fishing Attire
It’s good to be aware of what you should wear when ice fishing, as well as the types of fabrics and garments that you might want to avoid.
Stay Away from Cotton and Other Sweat-Absorbent Fabrics
The reason that it’s suggested to wear a base layer that wicks away moisture is because your base layer will be the first (and probably only layer) to come into contact with your sweat. And if your clothing soaks up that sweat, it could keep you from staying dry out in freezing cold temperatures, which puts you at risk for hypothermia. True enough, ice fishing is a cold sport, but when you get dressed and spend a day outside, your skin will inevitably get warm and sweat under all of those layers. Materials like cotton, as well as linen, bamboo, and merino wool typically absorb the most sweat.
Make Sure Your Bottoms Are Waterproof
Not every layer of your ice fishing outfit needs to be waterproof. However, the outermost layer, or the layer that is going to be closest to the ice, should definitely be waterproof. You may shift positions while fishing, kneel down towards the ice to pick something up, or even have water splash upwards from the ice hole. If any of these things happens, getting freezing cold water on your pants or boots, then you will be stuck in a predicament where you’re wet and can’t get dry anytime soon. And with the outside temperatures as low as they are when ice fishing, being wet is simply not a position you want to be in.
Opt for Thinner Gloves, Rather than Thick Ones
While it may seem like a thick pair of gloves is the most logical choice, we actually suggest a thinner pair of gloves. The reason is that you are more dexterous when you have thinner gloves on, allowing you to secure your pole, tie knots, etc. And if you’re able to achieve these tasks without taking your gloves off, you’ll be way better off. You won’t have to deal with your fingers going numb (making them practically useless for tying knots), and you won’t lose so much body heat.
Remember Your Layers
There are multiple reasons that layering is helpful when ice fishing. First off, layers allow you to stay extra warm amidst the cold conditions. But what you may not have realized is that the reverse is true; layers allow you to cool off should you get too warm. Even though temperatures may be freezing during a day of ice fishing, if the harsh sun is beating down on you for hours and you only have two layers on, you’ll wish you had a way to strip down more. After all, sweat can build up and make you wet, which becomes extremely uncomfortable.
Choose a Good Shoe
Your shoes are just as important as the rest of your outfit. You’ll want to choose a pair of insulated boots that have a decent water resistance and good traction. Since ice is slippery and wet, you’ll want all the protection you can get from moisture. After all, if your feet aren’t warm, chances are that the rest of you won’t be warm either.
Ice Fishing Attire Recommendations
Take a look at some of the most popular ice fishing clothes, boots, and garments for sale on Amazon. They are well-rated and great options if you don’t already have the clothes you need.
Ice Fishing Boots
- Norfin Klondaik Anti-Slip Winter Boots for Fishing, Hunting and Hiking (these come with retractable ice cleats, a removable insole, and are made from EVA material, good for temperatures as low as -40°F)
- SOREL – Men’s Glacier XT Insulated Winter Boot (these water-resistant boots are insulated with a rubber sole, made to withstand the most extreme winter conditions)
- Kamik Women’s Momentum Snow Boot (these waterproof boots have ice traction soles, moisture-wicking lining, and are rated to withstand -25°F)
Ice Fishing Gloves
- KastKing Mountain Mist Fishing Gloves for Cold Winter Weather (these ice fishing gloves are made for men and women, have open finger slots for extra dexterity, anti-slip palms, and smartphone friendly material
- Palmyth Flexible Fishing Cold Weather Insulated Gloves (these water repellent gloves for men and women have three open finger slots for fixing fishing lines and are meant for mild cold weather, as opposed to below freezing temperatures)
Ice Fishing Bibs
- DSG Outerwear Women’s Avid Ice Fishing Drop-Seat Bibs (these bibs have a waterproof coating and layered foam insulation for extra warmth)
- Striker Ice Fishing Bib (these ice fishing bibs are polyester zip-ups, with waterproof and Thermadex technology)
- StrikerICE Trekker Bib (these bibs heavy-duty, waterproof, and insulated for wettest and coldest winter conditions)
Ice Fishing Water-Wicking Shirts
- DRI-Equip Long Sleeve Moisture Wicking Athletic Shirts (polyester, moisture-wicking long-sleeve shirts for a base layer when ice fishing)
- Hanes Men’s Long Sleeve Cool Dri T-Shirt UPF 50+ (moisture-wicking polyester long-sleeve shirt for a base layer when ice fishing, lightweight)
Ice Fishing Socks
- WEIERYA Ski Socks for Skiing, Snowboarding, Outdoor Sports Performance (moisture-wicking, insulated socks for warmth underneath ice fishing boots)
- DG Hill Mens Thick Heat Trapping Insulated Boot Thermal Socks for Cold Weather (itch-free, insulated, moisture-wicking socks for extra cushion and comfort when ice fishing)
My name is Ruben. I love fishing like most guys I know. Fishing is so much more than just an outdoor activity- its an escape, its therapy and so much more. I put together a team of other professional anglers in order to create the most inclusive fishing resource.