If you’ve any experience of cold weather you’ll already know that the secret is keeping your core warm.
The best way to achieve this is by getting a decent jacket.
I’m going to let you in on a few secrets and give you some guidance on the best ice fishing jackets available in 2020.
Read on to find out how to stay properly warm.
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Simms are an established name on the fly-fishing scene and for good reason. They are already a go-to choice for the best winter fly fishing jackets. This expertise is perfectly suited to ice fishing.
Let me show you the features.
The Simms jacket is a lightweight outer shell. If you have read my ice fishing essentials guide, you’ll already know that I am a firm advocate of ‘layering up’. This jacket will keep you dry without any unnecessary bulk.
A key weak area in waterproofs is the seams, where often water can ingress over time leading to damp patches. With Simms you needn’t worry as the seams are all taped. The fabric of the jacket is breathable too meaning that you won’t end up soaked by your own perspiration.
Let’s talk about comfort.
You still want freedom of movement and the ability to lock out any drafts. Fortunately, this jacket is fully adjustable with numerous flaps and drawstrings to ensure you have a snug fit in the areas that you need it the most.
Lightweight and really comfortable.
Available in a range of patterns and finishes making your look unique.
There isn’t much in the way of insulation so for really cold conditions you might want to layer up a little.
As an easy to carry jacket this is really great. You are guaranteed to be completely dry at the end of the day. This jacket would be ideal for days that are wet, but not too cold.
Frabill are one of my favorite ice fishing brands. They make gear that is purpose-built entirely for ice fishing. If you read my site regularly, you’ll know that I am all about safety. This jacket will keep you warm and safe.
What’s so good about it?
I love that it has two easy to reach icepick holders. These are super useful to help pull yourself up if you fall through the ice. The best bit is that the ice picks are included with the jacket, so you have a custom-made safety solution.
Want to see how much they help? Check out this video on how to rescue yourself.
The jacket also features reflective patches, making sure you can be seen in the darkness or poor conditions which is crucial.
And the rest?
Well aside from looking out for your safety Frabill have made a super snug jacket that is warm and waterproof. This is one of the highest waterproof ratings that we have seen. The 3M insulation and taffeta lining will ensure that you’ll be nice and cozy all day long.
You needn’t think about the wind either. The jacket is constructed using two-layer technology to ensure that even on the breeziest days the denier fabric will ensure that not a breath of cold wind will bother you.
I love the safety features inherent in this jacket.
As jackets go, this offers everything you could want.
I don’t often say this, but I’m struggling to fault it… Unless there is such a thing as being ‘too dry and warm’.
Well it would appear that Frabill have thought of everything in this jacket. Safety, practicality and warmth. For the money this is one of the best winter fishing jackets, hands down.
From one strong suggestion to another. Striker produce great quality, and this jacket is no exception.
Why’s it so good?
Based on looks alone I said ‘wow’. I love the camo pattern on the arms and shoulders. But you’ll still be seen when it matters. Striker have included reflective strips around the jacket, ideal if fishing in low light conditions.
A really neat feature is the twin ‘D’ rings attached to the chest section. These are great for suspending tools and equipment on a zinger or chord.
And that’s not all.
You’ll already know safety is something that we must consider when ice fishing. This jacket will ensure that you will stay afloat if you are unfortunate enough to fall through the ice, as it is stuffed with 150g flotation assistant lining.
As you’d expect from such a good quality product it offers plenty in the way of water resistance and is completely breathable too!
One of the best-looking jackets on my list. Reflective strips and camo gives the best of both worlds.
A really functional jacket with plenty of pockets and loops.
At 5000mm waterproof rating, it may not always keep you dry in heavy rain.
This jacket offers great value and good looks. It would have been perfect if it was a higher waterproof rating.
What would you expect from a company called ‘Eskimo’ apart from excellent quality winter wear? This jacket is packed with features that make it ideal for ice fishing.
The outer shell of the jacket is 5000mm water-resistant. Taped seams seal the deal as they will prevent damp spots in exposed areas. A thick interior lining will ensure that you stay warm regardless of the conditions.
We all know that our fishing gear can get a little ‘ripe’ after a few outings. Whether that is muck from the outside, or within. Something I think is great about this jacket is that it is machine washable. So, you’ll be able to keep it as fresh and new as the day you buy it.
Eskimo are a brand dedicated to ice fishing. And they haven’t skimped on safety. Aside from generous insulation, the jacket is also lined with surefloat. This acts as a buoyancy aid in the event of mishaps whilst out on the ice.
A heavy-duty jacket, for heavy duty fishing.
Inherent buoyancy and insulation as standard.
Some might find the jacket a little bulky.
This is a great quality jacket that should be really good value. When the weather gets really bad you want to be wrapped up, and this jacket will keep you toasty.
If you’ve seen my article on the best ice fishing bibs you’ll already know that I have a little bit of a soft spot for Frogg Toggs. This jacket is a really versatile solution.
Versatile? How so?
Well, the pilot II jackets and bibs both feature a removable fleece lining. This means that you can alter the jacket depending on the conditions on the day. If it is milder weather you can wear it just as a shell. On colder days zip the lining in and you are good to go.
This jacket is pretty lightweight, but still supremely waterproof. The seams are all taped and sealed. The main zipper on the jacket is lined with a storm flap to stop water sneaking in.
A really cool feature are the chest pockets and D rings allowing plenty of storage for any fishing paraphernalia that you wish to have close to hand. Lined pockets make this jacket complete as you can stuff your hands inside when it is wet and breezy.
A lightweight and versatile jacket suitable for all seasons.
Great storage and easy to reach loops and pockets.
The jacket doesn’t offer anything in the way of flotation.
For a good all-around jacket you won’t go far wrong with this choice.
Sometimes you’ll want a range of options at a relatively low price point.
If this is what you are looking for, this jacket is it.
Why do I say this?
Well as the name suggests you get three jackets for the price of one. To start you get a durable and waterproof outer shell. This is complemented by an included and very warm inner puffer jacket. You can wear one or the other or both combined making this the ideal solution for both warmth and dryness.
And it doesn’t end there.
A really neat feature is the zippable vents located in key areas. If you find the jacket gets a bit warm you can open a few vents to ensure that you can allow cooler, fresher air into the jacket.
Speaking of ventilation, both the inner and outer section of the jacket can be machine washed so you’ll stay as fresh as a daisy, regardless of how much you use the jacket.
Warmth and dryness are not the only qualities we are looking for. We also want a jacket to be functional. Fortunately, this jacket features both a chest pocket and outer zip pockets so your possessions are within easy reach.
Warm or cold this jacket will have you covered as it is three in one.
Waterproof, windproof and washable. All things that you would want in the best women’s ice fishing jacket.
Again, flotation could be an issue, especially with the thicker puffer lining.
This jacket is a great all-rounder and if you haven’t had chance to experience the conditions is a really affordable option to make sure that you are covered.
Striker have produced one of the best quality ice fishing jackets I’ve seen. And they’ve made it for the ladies!
If you want insulation and high-quality waterproof fabric then you are in the right place. 150g patented Thermadex will ensure that you can pretty much forget about the cold. And the outer Tussor shell will ensure that you stay bone dry.
Safety features? Sure…
Superflote insulation doesn’t just keep you warm. It traps air, meaning that if the unthinkable happens you won’t be weighed down by 20 lbs of wet jacket, and will be brought to the surface.
The safety features don’t end there. What is really great to see is that there are reflective strips all over this jacket, you won’t be missed come rain or shine!
One other feature that really sets this jacket off is the waterproof mobile phone pocket. When you are out on the ice it is important that you have a means to communicate. By ensuring your phone stays dry, you’ll always be able to reach out if you need help (or lunch).
Packed with safety features as well as high-quality insulation.
Eye-catching and very good looking.
The flap on the hood could get annoying in strong winds.
This is a really beautiful jacket. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Striker. It’s available in a range of different colors too!
Now I’m not normally one for gimmicks and much prefer simple solutions. However, when I saw this, I just had to check it out.
If the cold really really bothers you, then you might want to add some heat. If you can have your own wearable heating system, wouldn’t that be great?
Well, it’s here.
This jacket uses battery power to warm heater elements contained within. If the air suddenly turns chilly then you can ensure that you remain unfazed at the touch of a button.
The back section and front feature panels that will glow with warmth. You can even select whether you want the whole jacket heated or just the front or back!
And the best bit?
The jacket is also windproof and waterproof.
A unique solution to a common problem.
USB Charging and 10-hour battery life means you are covered for a full session.
The jacket may be a bit light for fishing in harsher climates.
This would be an ideal layer to use if you have gone for an ‘outer shell’ jacket with less insulation. This is like wearing a heated seat. Luxury.
Buying Guide to the Best Ice Fishing Jackets
An ice fishing jacket is as important as your rod. Bearing in mind that you will be wearing it constantly you will need to get it right first time.
I’m now going to talk a little about things to look out for when choosing a good ice fishing jacket.
Ok so I won’t say that ice fishing is dangerous, but this is only the case if you are properly prepared. A good ice fishing jacket should keep you safe. Aside from the obvious dangers of cold, we need to consider a couple of other things.
How can I be prepared?
The first is visibility. You’ll be fishing in winter, therefore it’s likely to be dark. ATV’s and snowmobiles can present a real danger, especially in busy areas. Look for features such as reflective strips and bright colors to ensure that you can always be seen on the ice, regardless of the conditions.
The second area which you’ll notice I am keen on is floatation. Nobody ever plans to fall through the ice, but it happens year in, year out anyways. So why not give yourself the best possible chance of recovery.
You’ll need a jacket that helps you stay up on top of the surface, not one that drags you down. Look for inherent flotation technology. Air filled insulation will keep you warm and may also save your life in a bad situation.
One often overlooked area is communication. I rarely ice fish alone, but it is vital that you have a means to ensure you can at least call for help if the weather turns or something bad happens.
To do that you will need an effective way to ensure that your phone stays warm and dry. Look for internal custom pockets designed to do exactly that.
Hot, Cold, or Just Right?
Consider the conditions that you are likely to be fishing in. Don’t plan on a best-case, plan for the worst, or better still look for a jacket that allows you to tailor your level of warmth with each different day.
How do I do that?
Look for features such as removable linings. With the right level of removable insulation, you will be saving money as you are effectively getting several jackets all in one.
If removable layers are not appealing then look for things such as vents and zips that will allow you to release heat when you need to. It is rare I am too warm when ice fishing, but often when pulling my gear for half a mile I can feel a little hot under the collar, if only temporarily.
Is that all?
Not quite. Breathability is important too. By allowing trapped perspiration to escape you’ll actually manage to stay warmer?
Want to know why?
When you get too hot you start to sweat. Sweat is designed to cool you down and over time it will become quite effective even though you may have been too warm initially.
Can you see what the problem could be if you are fishing in cold conditions. Breathable material allows this sweat to escape and prevents you from getting cold when you really don’t want to be.
If I can offer one key to keeping warm it would be this. Stay dry. I haven’t met an angler yet who was wet and warm. By choosing a jacket that is right for the conditions you can ensure that water isn’t an issue.
When I look for a waterproof item of clothing the first thing that I check is the MM rating. This is basically a measure of how long a garment can remain wet before it starts to allow water inside.
5000MM will endure moderate rain (or snow) for around 5 hours before it starts to allow water to ingress. 10,000MM is pretty much waterproof for the day. I would never go less than 3000MM.
Basically, any less than this and you are going to get wet. It’s that simple.
Another key feature I look for is taped seams and sealed zips. These two areas are the most likely for allowing water into your jacket. Even a drip can feel like a fountain when the temperature is well below freezing.
By securing weak areas you can ensure that you still stay dry even during prolonged periods of precipitation.
This guy here can tell you a lot about how to stay dry, in particular choosing waterproof material, why not take a look. It will take you about 6 minutes.
A Functional Jacket
Although it seems counter-intuitive, you are just looking for warmth. If you are snug as bug but your fishing suffers because you can’t move or get organized then that would be no good.
I normally look for pockets on my fishing jackets as a bare minimum. Even better is loops and D rings. I don’t like taking my fishing gloves off to fish in pockets, and rings allow me to attach my most used tools to the outside of my jacket.
I’d like to talk a little about bulk too. Padding is great.
To a point.
If I am waddling round all day and feeling restricted then it can spoil a good days fishing. You are looking for a fishing jacket that has a good mix of insulation but still allows you sufficient mobility where you need it.
Ok so you have looked at the above buyer’s guide and want to see what really fits the bill. You are looking for a jacket that offers the right level of warmth, water protection and possibly additional safety features.
In light of all of this, I would say that my choice would almost certainly be the Frabill Ice jacket given above.
It offers pretty much every feature I have mentioned in my buyer’s guide, and it looks really cool too. When paired with a really great pair of ice fishing bibs, you could have one of the best ice fishing suits of 2020!
How do you stay warm in ice fishing?
Staying warm is actually all about layers.
Why does this work?
Essentially with each layer that you put on, you are trapping a really thin layer of air. Each layer is heated by your body. When these layers combine you can end up really warm.
The benefit to adding layers is that you can take them off depending on the conditions on the day. So, if you find that you are too warm (lucky you) then just peel off a layer at a time until you find the sweet spot.
But don’t take it from me. If you want to know a little more about ways to keep warm, this 4 minute video will give you further insight.
Oh, and don’t neglect the lower half of your body either. In particular, your extremities which will feel the cold first. I always like to make sure I’ve got super warm feet.
If you want to know my secrets head on over to my section on ice fishing boots where I show you the best you can buy!
A warm-core leads to feeling warm all over, but sometimes you can need a hand. Literally. I hate cold fingers almost as much as cold toes.
You will certainly need a pair of ice fishing bibs. Even if you only fish on dry days, unless you are a gymnast you will still be occasionally making contact with the ice, be that on your knees or elsewhere.
If you kneel on the ice you are going to get wet, so it pays to cover your legs too!
You really need to put as much thought into your bibs as you do with your jacket. But don’t worry, I’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to. You can learn all about the best ice fishing bibs here.
Alternatively, you may be looking for a single solution.
In this case, an ice fishing suit might just be what you need. By getting a really great ice fishing suit you can ensure that you have consistency in your approach to the weather.