If you are an ice angler, you know that keeping your hands warm is a top priority. Especially in the last few years, with all the advances in outerwear, underwear, and mid-layer fabrics, many of us have overlooked the number one garment that determines the success of ice fishing. Cold feet are uncomfortable and eventually force you to bend back to the shore, but cold toes prevent you from tying knots, getting caught in fish, or doing other detailed work needed to wet lines in the winter.
In this guide, I will share with you the important tips and tricks on choosing the perfect pair of ice fishing gloves. Let’s read on and understand the factors that should consider before choosing the best ice fishing gloves.
1. Waterproof, but How?
There are many ways to waterproof ice gloves, be it an exterior coating of non-waterproof fabric, a waterproof insert, or a shell fabric that is itself waterproof like neoprene. In my experience, coatings are hard to stand up to on hooks and ice chips and need to be waterproofed on the outside. Neoprene is great, but at least for my hands, it produces heat, then sweat, then cold soon after.
2. Design Matters
Take your hand and place it flat on the table, then relax. Then ask yourself why your gloves are straight when your whole hand is naturally curved? Pre-curved gloves need help with less break-in time and overall fit, which doesn’t seem important unless you start talking about warmth and insulation. Most gloves have heavy insulation on the back of the hand to counteract this effect, where you don’t need it.
3. Fit and Failures
Online shopping is great for many items. But you want to try your next snow glove. Most people make the mistake of buying gloves that fight too hard, give the insulation less ability to lift the air, and thus keep you warm. As you try it, twist your fingertips slightly and slowly pull your hand away. See if the fingertips are sewn into the tip of the glove and how well. As anglers, we constantly dip wet hands into gloves, and poorly designed liners that are pulled out with cold wet fingers make ice gloves useless.
You should also examine the stress point parts of the glove, such as the crotch seam between the thumb and forefinger where most of the gloves are likely to fly.
4. You Get What You Pay For
If you can prevent them from getting lost, you will have a good pair of ice fishing gloves for many years to come, so this is a worthwhile investment in warmth. But what is a “good” pair of snow gloves or what brand to buy? I am looking for a company that specially designs outerwear or accessories and invests in details. I want more thread strength and thickness, heavy-duty leather or synthetic fibers, pre-curved fingertips, and front and back insulation. After all, they need to feel good about themselves, because I’m willing to pay for quality, but convenience is always a priority.
5. Gloves or Mittens?
After wrestling this a thousand times, I think in the end I have a perfect solution and that is both. High-end mittens are perfect for snow early duties, such as a snowmobile or ATV trip on the open snow and some basic setup. From there, if you want to carry mittens and gloves, this is the perfect time to switch to the full-leather, heavy-duty ice glove option. If you both don’t want to carry it, wear gloves. In particular, I prefer the Striker Ice Combat Glove, which sells for $89.99.
Leather is the only armor I’ve found that will handle the sharp gill plates of volley feathers or perch as I immerse my hands completely in the icy water. Newer and more advanced leather glove options still sacrifice some mastery, but if I lose a little bit of it, I’m fine, if I can still reel, run the ice rod, and put on gloves without exposing my fingers to the frozen water.
For small motor-skill-type tasks such as tying small jigs or tangling in ice electronics, I prefer my open hands. This is clearly a problem in extremely cold and humid climates. Still, I remove the gloves for detailed work. To keep those gloves as warm as possible, I need to keep them dry on the inside, so I always carry a small towel to at least remove the moisture from my hands before putting on the gloves for another drop. More than anything, frequent drying keeps you warm this winter and you get more fish on the ice.