How to stay warm ice fishing


February 15, 2024


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How to stay warm ice fishing

Anglers getting cold is a common reason ice fishing trips get cut short. The activity isn’t much fun after becoming uncomfortably chilly and, at this point, the sensible thing to do is pack up and go somewhere to get warm. Despite the disappointment of having to end a fishing trip early because of chilly toes or feet, the experience presents an opportunity to learn how to be better prepared next time. This is valuable knowledge as it will let you stay out longer and catch more fish on future trips. Anglers must also not lose sight of the harsh reality that prolonged cold exposure poses health risks, like frostbite and hypothermia, so knowing how to stay warm when ice fishing is an non-negotiable, essential skill. Below are some best practices on dressing for winter weather and tips on ice fishing gear you can use for keeping comfortable on the hard-water.

In this article, you will learn more about:

  1. Wear the right type of clothing
  2. Why dressing in layers keeps you warm when ice fishing
  3. Wearing heating gear for extra on-ice warmth
  4. Tips for keeping your head, hands and feet warm
  5. Hacks to raise your temperature when ice fishing
  6. The importance of nutrition and hydration

Wear the right type of clothing

Investing in quality outdoor clothing is money well spent if you want to stay warm and comfortable during cold-weather activities, like ice fishing. Your ice angling wardrobe should include a variety of moisture-wicking and insulating tops and bottoms for dressing in layers (see next section).

Materials like nylon, polyester, merino wool and fleece do a good job moving moisture away from your skin, which is critical for staying warm ice fishing. Wearing wet, sweat-soaked clothing pulls heat from the body and, thus, is best avoided.

Quality outerwear is another must-have. This includes insulated jackets and bibs/pants with wind-proof, waterproof (or water-resistant) shells.

Ice anglers just starting out can get by with a generic winter jacket and insulated pants, but jack-ets and bibs specifically designed for ice fishing are the far superior option. StrikeMaster’s Pro Ice Fishing Jacket and Bibs and SAIL’s Ice Trooper Ice Fishing Bibs and Jacket are just two examples of such products.

Why dressing in layers keeps you warm when ice fishing

sled ice fishing

Wearing layers is a tried-and-true technique for regulating body temperature and staying comfort-able in winter. An advantage of this approach is layers can be removed when you start feeling warm to help prevent overheating. This practice limits excessive sweating during high-exertion tasks, such as pulling an sled loaded with ice fishing gear or walking in deep snow and drilling holes with a heavy ice auger. Later, when your activity level drops, layers can be put back on and more clothing added, if needed, to help keep warm.

How to dress in layers for ice fishing

Dressing in layers for ice fishing is easy as 1, 2, 3. Here’s a look at some of the different kinds of clothing you’ll need.

Tip: Wearing a vest is an easy way to add extra mid-layer warmth without excess bulk. Learn more about sleeveless vests here

Wearing heating gear for extra on-ice warmth

Heated outdoor clothing has gone mainstream in recent years and is certainly of value for keeping warm when ice fishing. It’s not hard to imagine the toasty benefits gained by wearing heating gloves or heated socks, for example. Mobile Warming, Ewool, Kombi, Outdoor Research and Columbia are just a few brands offering a vests, tights, gloves, mitts, socks, hats and other heating outdoor clothing.

Tip: Hand and toe warmers are popular, inexpensive items anglers can use to help stay warm ice fishing.

Tips for keeping your head, hands and feet warm

Wearing an insulated, wind-blocking hat along with a neck warmer is simple to do, and critical for preventing heat loss and potentially frostbite. Most ice anglers will tell you, too, it’s a lot easier to stay comfortable ice fishing if you keep your head warm.

Hands and fingers also need to be insulated and protected from frigid temperatures. High-cuff winter gloves and mitts are essential when jigging outside in extreme cold, drilling holes and trav-elling between fishing spots.

Owning some convertible Mittens, fingerless gloves or a product like Simms’ Keeper Ice Fishing Gloves is also a good idea. These products expose less skin to the elements and present a better alternative than going barehanded for fine-motor-skill tasks, like tying a knot in fishing line or tip-ping a lure with live-bait.

Keeping feet warm ice fishing begins with quality thermal socks in mid- or heavy-weight ratings. Darn Tough, Smartwool and Lorpen are three reputable sock brands to check out.

Many serious ice anglers own several different types of winter footwear they’ll use over the course of the hard-water season. For instance, an ultra-warm boot, like the Baffin Impact, is ideal for ex-treme cold weather, snow and/or ice-covered lakes, and when your activity level will be low to moderate. Mobile anglers who drill a lot of holes often gravitate towards waterproof hunting boots designed with both warmth and high activity in mind. Then there’s the challenge of keeping feet warm when standing in icy slush during late-ice, which is made easier with insulated, waterproof boots, like Baffin’s Trapper Rain Boots or Bogs rugged, high-cut winter boots.

Hacks to raise your temperature when ice fishing

Ice fishing rod

One of the easiest ways to stay warm ice fishing is to move around. Something as simple as hole-hoping while carrying a rod and a portable fishfinder, or drilling a dozen holes, is going to get your blood flowing and generate body heat.

Seeking shelter is another good strategy. Stepping into a pop-up ice shelter warmed with a pro-pane heater can be an oasis on cold, windy days. Heck, you could make things even cozier by having a heating camping chair in this “ice fishing tent”.

The importance of nutrition and hydration

The body needs energy to generate heat, so always have a sizeable lunch and plenty of nutritious snacks when ice fishing. Staying hydrated is also important for temperature regulation, and why it’s essential to drink plenty of water when active outdoors in winter.

Ice fishing is also a perfect time to use insulated bottles and food containers. A warm cup of hot chocolate and a bowl of hearty stew are delicious treats that will help warm you up when ice fish-ing. There’s always the option, too, of going all-out, bringing the camping stove to cook up a hot meal for family and friends on the ice.


Staying warm ice fishing takes some planning and is best done by dressing in layers with quality, cold-weather clothing, but it isn’t as hard as some might think. Keep the above tips in mind this winter and you’ll be on the right track to stay toasty from head to toe fishing on the ice.


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