Fishing has long been known as a sport of patience, silence, and connection to nature. But as the boats are docked and the lakes freeze over, a challenge to comfort arises. And whether you use an established ice house with heating and a bunk or you’re roughing it out in the wicked northern winds, you need to be sure that you have the best ice fishing boots you can find.
We all know the sensation of the chilling extremities; how your nose starts to run, your hands start to stiffen, and your feet become more like bricks rather than your mode of transportation.
It’s easy to bring an extra face mask or pair of gloves, but boots take up space. They’re heavier, bulkier, and are not necessarily an easy thing to dry out. You need to be sure you have the right pair the first time around.
Challenges Your Boots Will Meet
Cold is not the thing to mess with. Conditions can worsen at any moment, causing a shift in winds or an ice break; you could be stranded for days when you expected to be gone only for hours. In any situation, survival or not, it is best to be as prepared as possible and with the most reliable equipment you can get.
Obviously, ice is your first challenge. It is essential that your boot is equipped with the correct amount of traction to keep yourself steady on slick surfaces. Here, you’ll want a sturdy sole (either synthetic or rubber based on your preference) with deep tracks for extra grip.
This may seem like a given but it is imperative that you pay close attention to the soles and their lifespan. While they are easily replaced, soles are often known to split, crack, or wear very quickly which could prove disastrous in the middle of an ice fishing excursion.
Wind and Cold
In consideration of facing harsh winds and fierce cold you should pay attention to insulation, lacing systems, and fit. If you can feel the wind blowing through your boots and socks, there’s no way you’ll make it comfortably through a cold day out on the lake.
While you should be sure to have the proper thickness in socks, your boots should be doing the majority of the work in keeping your feet warm. Many people also prefer to have a boot with extra toe insulation since your toes always get colder quicker than the rest of the foot.
Many boots will have a removable layer of insulation, but some are built right in and will be just as effective. The removable insulation is good for if your boots get wet and you need to dry them out or if you want to clean them. But be aware that your boots should already be waterproof enough for this to not be an issue.
Comfort and practicality are the goals in choosing the right boot, so make sure that you pay attention to sizes when ordering online. A lot of shoe sizes will be consistent with the normal scale, but occasionally a specific brand can run small or large.
Another aspect of staying warm is the lacing systems. If you step down into a foot of snow, will that snow get into your boot? It shouldn’t. People have different preferences on how to wear their boots which should be taken into consideration. If you’re the kind of person who likes to tuck your pants into your boots then you need to have the excess space to do that.
The most crucial aspect to consider is the amount that your boots are waterproof. Facing wet feet in the cold is a terribly difficult problem to fix and will absolutely end a day of fishing early. And unfortunately, a lot of boots are just not up to par when it comes to staying dry. So be wary of sole material, height, and lifespan of the boots.
Your feet are important and should be treated so. Ice fishing will present you with all sorts of weather extremes so you need an all-around boot that can face water, ice, cold, and wind.
With that said, let’s find the right fit for you…
Top Products of 2018
Sorel Men’s Intrepid Explorer Extreme Snow Boot
Weight: 2 lbs.
Dimensions: 15.5” from arch to top of shaft, platform of sole about 1.5”
Special Features: One of the first things you’ll notice and love about this boot is the barrel lock closure system. The top of the Intrepid is a brilliant design to keep snow and cold out. You can tighten this boot either over or under your pants to feel literally sealed off from the cold.
Best Use: Short distance snow travel, Long exposure to cold
Description: Sorel Men’s Intrepid Explorer Extreme Snow Boot are made of a synthetic material with a rubber sole and a layer of the rubber extending up over the toe which is great for a little extra protection in bitter weather. They have thermal removable inner boots with reflective linings and a waterproof layer extending up the shaft.
The biggest critiques of these Sorels stems from them being imported from China and that they are not a great boot for travel.
They are bulky, heavy, and not ideal for hiking yet their aptitude for warmth and keeping water out still make them a favorite. So if your fishing trip starts off with a hike you may want to consider something lighter, but the boot is praised for its warmth and comfort while relatively stationary.
Be aware that these boots tend to run large.
The Original MuckBoots Adult Arctic Sport Boot
Weight: 4.9 lbs.
Dimensions: 14.5” from arch to top of shaft, 0,75” platform, 1.25” heel, 15.5” boot diameter
Special Features: Waterproof material from the toe to the top of the shaft. Insulation is built right in and is also waterproof.
Best Use: Mud, Short-term cold exposure
Description: The Original MuckBoots Adult Arctic Sport Boot are a favorite among people who have to harsh wet, muddy, and cold weather, but when it comes to ice fishing they may not be the best.
I would recommend this boot if you need the waterproof endurance, but when it comes to dropping temperatures, these boots need a bit more. This is the kind of boot that needs a good thick sock. Because of that feature, I wouldn’t recommend it for long-term exposure to the cold which is one of the main characteristics of ice fishing.
The draw of this boot is definitely its ability to endure water. The MuckBoots have a rubber sole and almost an entirely rubber shaft. The shaft turns to a durable fabric toward the top which makes taking them on and off incredibly easy compared to other rubber shafted boots.
Baffin Men’s Snow Monster Insulated All-Weather Boot
Weight: 2 lbs.
Dimensions: 11” from arch to top of shaft, 1.5” heel
Special Features: This boot is rated to keep your feet warm in up to -94 degree Fahrenheit and has an adjustable shaft.
Best Use: Extreme cold, Shallow snow/water
Description: Baffin Men’s Snow Monster Insulated All-Weather Boot are a great boot for extremely cold temperatures. They have a synthetic sole and a fabric/leather shaft with a bungee lacing system. These boots are made for the cold weather and will keep your feet warm in plummeting temperatures which prove ideal for long-term cold exposure.
The downfall on these boots is that while they are good for ice and cold, they may not stand up to the amount of water or snow you could encounter.
They are water resistant, but with the fabric shaft, it is likely that moisture will soak in if you are in snow or water that comes up past your toes for any significant amount of time. The way these boots are made to stand the cold may make up for this fact, but if your feet slip through any ice or puddles, you may be in trouble.
Be aware that the sizes on these boots run inconsistently when bought online.
Sorel Men’s Conquest Boot
Weight: 4.2 lbs.
Dimensions: 14 x 9.5 x 4.9 inches
Special Features: These Sorels have an adjustable ankle strap for extra ankle support when necessary. They also have an adjustable snow collar at the top of the shaft.
Best Use: Hunting, Long-term cold exposure
Description: Sorel Men’s Conquest Boot are great for those really cold days and hold up in wet weather. They have a rubber sole and a leather/fabric shaft with insulation built in. The waterproof leather does the job and although they are partly fabric have no problem keeping moisture out.
These are the type of boots that you will love while they last. The main issue with these boots is that they are not top quality in construction.
The seam that joins the rubber sole and the leather shaft will begin to crack and split after only a few years of wear depending on how often they are worn and in what conditions. So while they are possibly cheaper than other boots, you will have to decide if this is worth the time of use being cut to only a few years.
Men’s Guide Gear Waterproof Boots Mossy Oak
Weight: 5.3 lbs.
Dimensions: 12” in height
Special Features: 2400 gram Thinsulate
Best Use: Short-term cold exposure, Shallow snow
Description: Men’s Guide Gear 2400 gram Thinsulate& Ultra Insulation Monolithic Waterproof Boots Mossy Oak are highly praised for how comfortable they are. While a lot of boots take time to be broken in and aren’t great for hiking, these boots beat the rest.
They are inlaid with a 2400 gram Thinsulate that should keep you warm in dropping temperatures. They have a rubber oil-resistant sole and good traction.
The big critique on these boots is that they are not truly waterproof. Short exposure to deeper snow or water will let the moisture slip in rather easily. That being said, they hold up in the cold weather so if you won’t be trudging through snow or water, they may work very well for you.
Kamik Men’s Canuck Cold Weather Boot
Weight: 4 lbs.
Dimensions: 14” from arch to top of shaft
Special Features: Removable liner, Adjustable bungee cords at shaft opening and ankle, Slip-resistant and deep treads
Best Use: Wet/Icy weather, Short-term cold exposure
Description: Kamik Men’s Canuck Cold Weather Boot are a rubber soled, fabric boot with drawstrings instead of laces. They are praised for their ability to be taken on and off very easily and their great traction. The waterproof inlining seems to work well in snowy conditions and the adjustable opening is good for sealing off moisture.
These boots are probably not the best bet for ice fishing simply because they cannot hold up in the cold. They are great for traction on the ice, but dropping temperatures will prove uncomfortable for your feet.
These boots focus on being waterproof and not on being extra insulated. Even with good socks they won’t hold up in long-term cold exposure.
Be aware that the sizing for these boots is highly inconsistent.
Korkers Footwear Men’s IceJack BOA Snow Boot
Weight: 2 lbs.
Dimensions: 9.5” from arch to top of shaft, 1.25” platform with 2” heel
Special Features: Includes interchangeable soles for varying conditions.
Best Use: Traversing ice
Description: Korkers Footwear Men’s IceJack BOA Snow Boot are an interesting set of boots. They come with a regular set of snow traversing soles and another with ice picks built into them.
The soles just click in and out and can be changed anytime. This proves extremely helpful for traction on ice. This sort of extreme traction is unnecessary, but if you really don’t want to slip, then it’s perfect.
The boots have a speed-lacing system, as many other boots, that will tighten the top more so than the rest of the boot. It takes sort of a magic touch to be able to tighten the boot with correct distribution. That being said, these boots are easy to slip on and off.
They have 600 gram Thinsulate which means you will most likely need a good pair of socks, but they are sleek and not as heavy as other boots.
Get Out There
Boots have more aspects to consider than most people may think, but it’s important that they are all considered. Make sure your boots are light, waterproof, easy to tie, and WARM. Nothing’s worse than cold feet when you’re out there so take your time, read up, and figure out which boots will work the absolute best for you.
Now that you have some details and opinions on boots, go out there and get some! Ice fishing season is just about upon us.