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Ice fishing requires attention to gear suitable for cold, windy, and snowy conditions. At the top of the gear list is finding the ideal ice fishing suit to match where, how, and when you ice fish.
Besides where in the Ice Belt you reside—and average winter temperatures and wind chills—it’s important to match the suit to how you will be ice fishing. Will you be fishing outside in the elements primarily, hole-hopping, and fishing in the cold and wind? Or will you spend your time in a portable or permanent ice shelter?
If you’re like many ice anglers, you’ll be doing both on various days, so versatility is key. You may need a super-warm suit that is layered for temperature control so you can dress appropriately to fish aggressively outside where the suit acts as a mobile shelter you wear—as well as inside with the removal of an outside jacket shell.
As for when you’re ice fishing, do you venture out on hard water during early and late ice? If so, it’s essential to consider a flotation-assisted ice fishing suit if you break through the ice. As you’ll discover in the following review, many flotation suits are being offered today. However, you may not need a flotation suit if you fish primarily during safer mid-ice conditions.
With the help of friends, I tested the best ice fishing suits to give you the information you need to find the right jacket and bib for you.
- Best Overall Flotation Ice Suit: Striker Climate Jacket & Bib
- Warmest, Battery-Assisted Flotation Ice Suit: Norfin Explorer 2 Float Jacket and Bib
- Most Rugged Ice Fishing Flotation Suit: Eskimo Roughneck Jacket and Bib
- Lightest Flotation Ice Fishing Suit: StrikeMaster Surface Jacket & Bib
- Best Value: Ice Runner Float Jacket and Bib
- Best Flotation Ice Fishing Suit for Plus-Sized Anglers: Eskimo Scout Jacket and Bib
- Best Flotation Ice Fishing Suit for Women: Ice Armour by CLAM Womens RISE Parka and Bib
- Best Flotation Ice Fishing Suit For Kids: DSG Outerwear Arctic Appeal 2.0 Ice Jacket and Bib
- Warmest Non-Flotation Ice Fishing Suit: SIMMS Challenger Jacket and Bib
- Best Basic Non-Flotation Ice Fishing Suit: Blocker Outdoors Outdoor Pursuit Reliant Parka and Bib
- Best Lightweight/Least Bulky Non-Flotation Ice Fishing Suit: Blackfish StormSkin Gale Pullover Jacket & StormSkin Gale Bib
How I Picked the Best Ice Fishing Suits
During December, January, and February of 2023, I tested many of the suits listed with the help of several fishing buddies and family. We fished northern Minnesota waters like Lake Winnibigoshish and Leech; the lakes of West-Central Minnesota; Fort Peck, Montana; and metropolitan fisheries. We even did some testing on open-water during the mid-winter river thaw, fishing walleyes in a boat to determine the double-duty aspect of some suits.
The Best Ice Fishing Suit Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall Flotation Ice Suit: Striker Climate Jacket and Bib
- 3-in-1 jacket system – Climate G2 Softshell Jacket liner can be removed for warmer days on the ice or worn as a separate jacket
- 300D polyester shell with DWR finish
- Two large top-loading storage pockets
- Zippered vents throughout the jacket
- Sections of reflective fabric areas for added safety on & off the ice
- Line cutter zipper pull
- Hydrapore Waterproof 5,000mm / Breathable 5,000g
- 150g Sureflote flotation assistance
- Waterproof Zippers
- Crotch panel reinforcement
- Adjustable inseams secured by Velcro, zippers, and snaps
- Knee and seat padding
- Removable hand wipe towels
- Incredible versatility
- Four wearable systems in one, from ice fishing to rainwear to waterfowl, and casual wear
- Very dry
- Awesome knee & seat padding for kneeling on ice or all-day sits
- Slightly heavy & bulky
- Removable hand wipe towels on bibs easily unsnapped & lost
- Jacket runs small (size up); bibs appropriate for size description
While on the expensive side, what you get with the Striker Climate Jacket and Bib is worth the investment. It’s actually four suits in one.
First, it’s a well-designed flotation ice fishing suit for extremely cold and windy weather. Second, by removing the bib liner and softshell jacket liner, it’s a very capable winter, spring, and fall open-water rain suit. As well, it doubles as a waterfowl or late-season deer hunting ensemble (albeit a bit noisy) if you’re in a pinch. While the camo pattern isn’t your typical Realtree or Mossy Oak, it is passable with lots of brown fabric to keep you relatively hidden in the marsh or woods.
Lastly, you can remove the Climate G2 Softshell Jacket liner and wear it casually off-the-ice. It’s not very warm on its own, but perfectly suitable for warmer, windy days as a light jacket over a t-shirt.
For its versatility, warmth, and overall design, the Striker Climate Jacket and Bib in Veil Stryk Transition Camo gets our pick for “Best Overall Flotation Ice Fishing Suit”.
Warmest, Battery-Assisted Flotation Ice Suit: Norfin Explorer 2 Float Jacket and Bib
- Shell with removable, heated inner liner jacket
- Rated to -45 degrees Fahrenheit
- Nortex breathable material w/10,000 mm waterproofing
- Breathability: 8,000 grams/m²/24 hours
- Hollofil insulation
- Taped seams
- Zippered handwarmer pockets
- Reflective printing
- Battery-operated Norfin heat system for heat in back & hip areas
- Requires a 2.1 aH minimum power bank (not included)
- Built-in, internal ankle gaiters for snow & slush protection
- Taped seams
- Removable inserts on the knee and seat
- Lightweight for a flotation suit
- Numerous pockets in all the right places
- Electric heat system for sub-zero conditions
- Articulated knees and sleeves
- Small-3XL sizing
- Power banks for jacket & bib must be purchased separately
While battery-assisted apparel is nothing new—with companies like Cabela’s and Milwaukee Tool offering options—the Norfin Element 2 Flotation Ice Fishing suit is the first ensemble we know of for hardwater use that offers lithium-power bank heat-assist technology.
In a nutshell, the Norfin Element 2 Flotation Ice Fishing suit is designed for serious abuse in the worst and coldest conditions imaginable. Even without turning the heating elements on, the suit is beyond warm.
With origins in Russia and popularity across the Baltic region and Scandinavia, Norfin products are now available stateside and have become the de-facto choice with professional, competitive ice anglers.
While I wore the suit on a couple of outings, I let my friend and former colleague (and NAIFC competitor), Shawn Bjonfald, do the majority of the suit testing.
“The lightweight design is great, and it still offers floatation,” says Bjonfald. “It fits well. It’s not bulky or cumbersome like some floatation suits, and the pockets-design is great. The pockets are where they should be and easily accessible so you can organize all of your tackle and tools when you’re fishing on-the-fly outside.”
“I fish on foot a lot during the NAIFC tournaments,” continues Bjonfald. “I’m not hunkered down in one spot, so my suit becomes my mobile shelter and my tackle box, so the Norfin pocket design is ideal. I had everything I needed on me in the suit for easy access and organization. From searching out fish on the ATV, then fishing by foot, and frequently moving from spot to spot, it’s probably the best suit I’ve ever worn.”
“I’ve gone through a lot of ice fishing suits over the years that didn’t fit well, were too bulky, or just didn’t feel right, which fatigue and wear you down. That’s not the case with the Norfin design.”
With regards to warmth, Bjonfald says it can’t be beaten.
“One of the times I wore the suit, it was -5 and gave off more heat than I needed. I recommend wearing the power bank-assisted base layer jacket with the outside shell for conditions below zero. For conditions above zero, all you need are the bibs and the outer shell jacket. I have yet to engage the heating on the bibs, but it’s there if I need it. Plus, the Velcro on the ankle/boot cuffs stays in place and doesn’t come loose, which is great for the slushy conditions I often compete in,” remarks Bjonfald.
Bjonfald concludes: “In terms of durability, I haven’t seen one lick of wear yet.”
Read Next: Best Heated Vests
Most Rugged Ice Fishing Flotation Suit: Eskimo Roughneck Jacket and Bib
- Proprietary Eskimo UPLYFT breathable flotation-assist; sweat and moisture are allowed to escape the fabric and move away from the skin
- Lightweight, tough, and durable DURADRY fabric; windproof with DWR, and 5k/5k waterproof/breathability ratings
- Fully-taped seams for complete waterproof protection
- Lined with Sherpa fleece
- Reinforced wear points at shoulders, knees, ankles, and elbows
- YKK zippers
- Contoured, padded knees
- Full leg zippers w/ venting at the hip
- Warm but lightweight
- Jacket isn’t bulky
- Minimal bulk for flotation bib
- Ease of movement
- Padded knees in bib for kneeling on hard, jagged ice
- Only one hip pocket per bib side; Eskimo Keeper bib has two
My fishing buddy, Ty Macheledt, tested both the Eskimo Roughneck and Scout suits. Macheledt works every day from 5 a.m. until 2 p.m. and fishes almost daily from 2:30 until dark—both on the ice and during open-water months.
Living in western North Dakota, he’s used to a lot of wind and cold and was the perfect candidate to test these candidates for the best ice fishing suits, which claim extremely rugged and warm features. He also makes several trips to Fort Peck, Montana, to chase lake trout through the ice, where he also tested the suits this winter.
“The Eskimo Roughneck suit is warm without the bulk and weight of a typical flotation suit,” says Macheledt. “Then imagine the knee pads you’d put in your football pants. That’s the quality and thickness of the pads in the Eskimo Roughneck Bibs, which you can leave in or remove via pockets inside the bib. I’ve never seen anything comparable in other bibs. Plus, you’ve got big hip pockets on the bibs, which is handy for tackle and other gear. The bibs also have ankle gaiters to prevent slush from getting in, but I don’t use them because my boots are so tall that I don’t need them.”
“I wore the Roughneck down to about 5 degrees and was perfectly warm. I just had a sweatshirt on under the jacket and blue jeans under the bibs. I was fine.”
Lightest Ice Fishing Suit: StrikeMaster Surface Jacket and Bib
- SOS (Stay on Surface) Flotation Technology – floats for 2 hours when worn as a pair
- Fleece-lined warming pockets
- Inside zip pocket for cell phone, wallet, etc.
- YKK zippers
- Magnetic flap on main zipper
- Removable hood
- 100% nylon oxford fabric – 100% nylon tasion fabric
- 100% Polyester/PU Coating – 100% Polyester Tricot Lining
- 120g padded insulation + EPE Foam – 40g equivalent)
- Waterproof (8000mm); Breathability (8000mm)
- Zip-to-Hip side zippers
- Extra-small to 4XL sizing
- Lightweight for a flotation suit
- Not bulky
- Magnetic flaps
- Padded knees for kneeling on jagged ice
- Available in red/black & blue/gray patterns
StrikeMaster has a long, respected history in the ice fishing world for manufacturing high-quality ice augers, accessories, and more recently, ice fishing suits.
First off, the StrikeMaster flotation suit won’t break the bank; it’s priced realistically. Testing it on a couple of outings earlier this ice season, I was amazed by the range of motion you get, rare for a flotation suit, which tend to be heavy and bulky. I didn’t get fatigued wearing the StrikeMaster Surface jacket and bib at all.
The suit is also loaded with common-sense features. Side zippers on the bib pull all the way to the hip making slipping the bib on or off easy, even keeping your boots and cleats on. I also appreciate the padded knees, which make kneeling on jagged ice to set tip-ups, move a transducer, or land a fish way more comfortable.
My frequent ice fishing buddy Bruce also tested this suit and fell in love with it immediately.
“I can’t believe that a flotation suit can be this light,” remarked Bruce. “It’s easy to move around in and you don’t get tired from wearing heavy, bulky gear. Plus, it’s super warm. And when I get back to the hard-house from drilling holes and setting tip-ups, I just take off the coat and unzip the bibs to stay comfortable. I keep it on all day long, inside and out.”
Best Value: Ice Runner Float Jacket and Bib
- Waterproof & breathable 228T Tussor nylon fabric outer shell
- 100 grams of poly fiberfill thermal insulation
- Lightweight foam flotation fill
- 5 zippered pockets: jacket zippered lower hand warmer, upper outer & inner accessory pockets
- D-ring for lanyards
- Full front jacket zipper w/ neck guard
- Adjustable & removable drawstring hood
- Six bib pockets, including two zippered gear pockets
- Thigh-height side zippers on bib legs
- Extremely affordable flotation suit
- Lightweight yet warm
- Not bulky
- Very functional pocket placement
- D-rings for fishing accessories/tools
My ice fishing buddy, Mike, tested this suit in 3XL and was pleased with its fit and warmth. We ventured out on a Northern Minnesota lake in -10 degree air temp and -30 degree windchill. I was wearing the SIMMS Challenger and he was wearing the Ice Runner. Neither of us were cold.
“Hard to believe they can sell this whole flotation suit for 200 bucks,” said Mike. “And it’s super warm, doesn’t weigh much, isn’t bulky, and has tons of pockets. Perfect for me and my budget, that’s for sure. More anglers should know about this Ice Runner suit. And it’s got flotation, which for me at 300 pounds and 6’3” is a pretty real consideration during early- and late-ice—or on big, unpredictable lakes.”
Best Flotation Ice Fishing Suit for Plus-Sized Anglers: Eskimo Scout Jacket and Bib
- Bomber Style Jacket
- DuraDry polyester fabric: lightweight, tough, and durable polyester fabric
- Windproof w/ DWR & 5k/5k waterproof/breathability ratings
- Uplyft Breathable Flotation: Offers safety-enhancing proprietary Eskimo Uplyft flotation-assist; sweat and moisture are allowed to escape the fabric and move away from the skin
- Fully-taped seams for complete waterproof protection, shielding from wind, rain, snow, and ice
- Features (3) zippered pockets, and Molle with a D-ring on the upper right chest
- 60 grams of insulation
- Wear points at the elbows are reinforced with 600 denier material
- YKK zippers throughout the jacket w/ YKK AquaGuard center front zipper
- A simple, 3-inch fold-up hem w/ hook-and-loop tape to adjust the pant length to your preference
- Lightweight but warm
- Perfect fit for anglers with big bellies, unlike full-length bibs
- Waterproof shell for double-duty on open-water
- Very mobile
- Without extension of pants over the back like bibs, shirt can get untucked & back can get cold
- Pants aren’t overly warm
- Only one hip pocket per side on the bib; Eskimo Keeper bib has two
“I really like the Scout jacket,” says Macheledt. “But the pants aren’t overly warm. The other day I was fishing, and it was 25 degrees with a 15 mph wind, and I don’t think I would have wanted it any colder, unless I wore a bigger size and put on long underwear under my jeans.”
“My favorite ice fishing suit of all-time is the Eskimo Keeper jacket and bib, and now I’ve had the chance to test the Roughneck and Scout. What I can tell you is they all fit differently. The Keeper bibs are the same size as the Roughneck and Scout bibs, but they run bigger, which I like. I love the Eskimo Keeper for fishing day in, day out here in North Dakota. I’m used to two hip pockets on each side of the Keeper bib, which the Roughneck and Scout don’t have.”
“Besides warmer days on the ice, I think the Scout would be the perfect spring and fall bib open-water coat and bib for fishing out here on Lake Sakakawea,” adds Macheledt.
One thing, Macheledt notes is that Eskimo Fishing’s customer service is outstanding. He ripped the crotch out of his Keeper bibs while pulling off his boots and cleats and they sent him a new pair, which arrived in a few days. Perfect for Macheledt, who fishes every day…
Best Flotation Ice Fishing Suit for Women: Ice Armour by CLAM Womens RISE Parka & Bib
- MotionFloat Technology w/ internal buoyancy assistance
- Long nap, free-hanging fleece inner lining
- 100 grams of fixed insulation
- Removable hood
- 3M reflective material on parka
- Waterproof cell phone pouch
- 100% waterproof
- Windproof cuff design
- Weatherproof YKK® Vision AquaGuard zippers
- Thumbholes in inner cuffs
- Available in two colors: Charcoal/Black/Teal & Black/Charcoal/Fuchsia
- Women’s sizing: small-3XL
- Adjustable inseam
- Waist cinch straps
- Form-fitting design
- Warm & waterproof
- Cell phone pouch & pocket
- MotionFloat Technology w/buoyancy assist
“I like how the suit is contoured to my curves and doesn’t look boxy like the workwear I typically wear on the ice,” says ice angler, Krysta Gregory. “Plus, it’s super warm and not bulky at all. I’ve got a good range of movement. And it doesn’t require a lot of extra layering unless it’s below zero outside.”
“I also like that it offers flotation for peace of mind if my husband and I are fishing sketchy ice,” adds Gregory.
Gregory concludes: “The other thing that’s kind of nice is there’s a place for my cellphone in both the jacket and the bibs, so I don’t need to worry about dropping it down the hole!”
Best Flotation Ice Fishing Suit For Kids: DSG Outerwear Arctic Appeal 2.0 Ice Jacket and Bib
- Durable Polyester shell w/ 2,000MVT/ 2,000g/m2 2/24hrs waterproof breathable coating with DWR treatment on the face of the fabric
- 100% seal-taped seams
- FLOTEX® layered foam for insulating warmth & flotation assist combined w/ an additional 180 grams of insulation in the body
- 120 grams of insulation in the balance of the jacket & hood
- Inside waist of jacket and sleeve cuff have fast drain mesh allowing water to flow out
- Soft microfleece collar & chin guard
- #5 YKK® Front Zipper with snap wind flap closure for long-lasting durability
- Underarm vent zippers for temperature regulation
- Removable hood w/ adjustable pull chord for a perfect fit
- Internal powder skirt to keep snow & wind out
- Interior Lycra wrist gaiters with thumb hole/adjustable hook & loop cuffs
- Reflective piping for night-time visibility
- 2 large D-rings on upper chest for lanyards/fishing accessories
- FLOTEX® Flotation Assist System for up to 2 hours in the water
- Youth sizing: XS-5XL
- Heavy-duty 840 Denier knee panels w/ 2,000MVT/ 2,000g/m2 2/24hrs waterproof breathable coating w/ DWR treatment on the face of the fabric
- Hem w/ fast drain mesh allowing water to flow out
- Removable internal knee pads
- Drop-seat construction using YKK® AquaGuard® zippers
- #5 YKK® Front bib Zipper with snap wind flap closure
- Micro-fiber terry hand towel – removable for easy washing
- Reflective piping on legs (front and back) for nighttime visibility
- Interior boot gaiter to keep out snow & slush
- Adjustable inseam from 32.5” to 28.5”
- Extremely high build quality
- Very attractive
- Form-fitting for youth
- Excellent flotation assist technology
- Fleece collar & chin guard to keep faces warm
- Internal pocket for electronics
- Lots of pockets and D-rings
- Drop-seat construction for bathroom visits
When it comes to taking kids ice fishing, comfort is key to a full day on hard water. So, I bought his suit for my daughter last fall, wanting her toasty warm and having fun. Although a bit on the expensive side, it’s been a great investment.
She not only wears the DSG suit for ice fishing, she wears the jacket to school and playing outside in the snow. She loves how it looks, fits, and how lightweight it is. Plus, with quality flotation assist, I can rest assured that she would be fine in the event she fell through the ice.
From my 10-year-old, “I love this suit, dad. It’s awesome!”
Warmest Non-Flotation Ice Fishing Suit: SIMMS Challenger Jacket and Bib
- Fully-taped seams
- 3-point adjustable fully-insulated storm hood, w/ ice pick secure loops on back neck & reflective logos for safety
- Center-front zipper w/ waterproof storm flap
- Zippered chest pocket w/ removable sunglass chamois & interior zippered pocket for essentials
- Zippered handwarmer pockets w/ adjustable waist cinch located inside
- Articulated sleeves w/ abrasion-resistant elbow panels & adjustable cuff
- Cinchable waistline & kill switch D-loop
- Shell: 100% nylon 2-layer Toray® w/ DWR
- Lining: 74gsm 50D 100% polyester w/ DWR
- Insulation: Primaloft® Rise 100g in legs and 80g in upper body
- Knee & cuffs overlays
- High abrasion-resistant 275gsm 100% nylon 6.6 2-ply oxford weave
- Adjustable suspenders w/ high back for comfortable fit
- Handwarmer pockets & thigh-pocket w/ plier sheath
- Reinforced high-abrasion oxford nylon seat
- Zippered knee-pad pockets w/ foam inserts
- 2-way thigh-high side zipper opening for easy on/off while wearing boots & cleats
- Warm in sub-zero temps
- Jacket width allows easy layering, if needed
- Padded knees for kneeling on jagged ice
- Supplied knee pads can be replaced with thicker foam pads
- Jacket must be cinched at the waistline to avoid cold
I’ve worn the same pair of SIMMS waders for over 15 years without any leaks, so I thought I’d buy the SIMMS Challenger cold-weather suit for this ice season, after giving away my old Frabill suits to fishing buddies. Good decision.
Featuring 120 grams of PrimaLoft® Rise insulation, the SIMMS Challenger jacket and bib is lightweight but warm. The jacket is roomy enough to allow layering for extremely cold temperatures, but I haven’t needed to do that all season, wearing the suit sans base layers in temperatures down to -10 with -30 degree windchill.
The Challenger is lightweight and offers great range of motion when fishing outside, setting tip-ups, hole-hopping, etc. Even when cruising across the lake on a snow machine, it’s been warm. The only drawback is it doesn’t offer flotation, but even without, makes a great mid-winter, safe-ice jacket and bib.
One thing I really like about the Challenger bib is the reinforced knees with internal zippered pockets that include foam knee pads. While the knee pads that come in the bib are perfectly fine, I added additional foam construction pads to double up on the padding since I kneel a lot on outside to fish.
Another thing I’ll mention is SIMMS customer service. I didn’t unzip the bib legs all the way up to my knees and tried to pull my tall, insulated Norfin rubber boots through the openings and ended up ripping a hole in the crotch. I called SIMMS and they sent me brand-new bibs free-of-charge without any return necessary. After some sloppy stitching, I now have two pairs of Challenger bibs, one for fishing and another that lives in the back of my truck with the rest of my winter emergency gear.
Best Basic Non-Flotation Ice Fishing Suit: Blocker Outdoors Outdoor Pursuit Reliant Parka and Bib
- Waterproof/breathable/windproof performance
- Woven poly/spandex flex stretch shell w/ DWR for maximum mobility
- Micro-fleece lining for added warmth
- 200g PrimaLoft® Silver insulation for warmth without bulk
- 13 total pockets for ultimate storage & warmth
- Articulated hood design with built-in adjusters
- Extremely affordable
- Significant warmth via 200g Primaloft Silver insulation
- Not bulky
- Excellent build quality
- Lots of pockets – 13
- Classic good looks – available in black or gray
Designed for ice fishing and any outside winter activity (shoveling, snowmobiling, chopping wood, late-season hunting, trapping, etc.), the Blocker Outdoors Outdoor Pursuit Reliant waterproof and windproof jacket and bib combo is a great option for that all-around winter suit along the lines of an improved workwear-style suit like Carhartt. Plus, the Blocker Outdoors Pursuit Parka and Bib is affordable, which allows outfitting the family—like I did.
The jacket and bib are built tough. The bib is abrasion-resistant and designed for many years of use. Both feature a breathable water and windproof membrane and 200g thermal-mapped PrimaLoft® Silver insulation and microfleece lining for warmth without the bulk of some suits. SIMMS uses PrimaLoft®, too, but the Blocker Outdoors is lower in price.
My two oldest daughters both wear the Blocker Outdoor Pursuit Reliant jacket and bib—one in black, the other in gray to prevent mixing up their garments.
“I love the way they look and how warm they are,” says my eldest daughter. “Plus, the suit’s not just for ice fishing. I wear it everywhere when it’s really cold in the winter. The suit has been great for walks outside, helping dad shovel, and even skiing. And it’s definitely a lot more fun ice fishing in a warm suit.”
Best Lightweight/Least Bulky Non-Flotation Ice Fishing Suit: Blackfish StormSkin Gale Pullover Jacket & StormSkin Gale Bib
- Stormskin™ technology: 100% windproof. 100% warmth. 100% waterproof
- Perfect for all seasons
- Premium windproof, waterproof soft-shell fabric & free-hanging, long-nap fleece inner lining traps heat inside
- Thermal Snare Technology™ combines a layer of premium fleece & windproof/weather-resistant outer layer that keeps heat inside the garment
- Soft-shell garment that keeps your core temperature warm while providing exceptional comfort in cold and windy conditions
- Extremely lightweight
- Design prevents overheating, like some suits
- Excellent mobility & range of motion
- Windproof & waterproof
- Great suit for fishing inside portable & hardhouses
- Not ideal for sub-zero conditions
The first time you slip on the Blackfish Gale Pullover and Bib, you immediately realize the suit weighs practically nothing. I tested this suit out on numerous ice fishing occasions and it’s also become my go-to winter suit for general work around the yard.
I’m a big guy—6’1” and 240 pounds —so a 2XL was the perfect fit. What I really like about the Blackfish Gale pullover and bib is it provides just the right amount of heat when you’re active outside in temperatures hovering around zero degrees and above, which we’ve had a lot of this winter in Minnesota. I tend to get overheated in some ice fishing suits, running from inside a portable or hardhouse and outside to set and check tip-ups, drill new holes, etc.
So, if you’re going to be active on the ice, the Blackfish Gale ensemble is a solid contender to prevent getting too hot, often the case in ice fishing suits. It’s also a good suit to wear in portables and hardhouses if you like to keep the temperature on the cooler side to conserve propane.
I can also see double-duty use for open-water fishing in the boat or from shore during early spring and late-fall temperatures during walleye river bites. I’m not sure how the Blackfish Gale will handle rain, but the specs list waterproofing so I’m hopeful.
How to Choose a Jacket and Bibs for Ice Fishing
Again, you need to think about when, how, and where you ice fish. Will you be venturing out on early- or late-ice? If so, a flotation suit is definitely in order. If not, you can probably choose a non-flotation ice fishing jacket and bib.
Exterior Material Design
Then comes a close look at construction, starting with the exterior material of the suit. Whenever possible, choose a suit with a high DWR (Durable Water Repellency) rating. Seams should also be sealed. Drawstrings around the waist or jacket bottom are nice, too, to keep the wind and cold out. If possible, it’s best to choose a suit that will function as cold-weather rain gear as well, not just an ice fishing suit.
Obviously, you’re reading this right now because you want to stay warm on the ice. That said, look for high-quality insulation, which doesn’t have to be thick to get the job done. With today’s high-tech materials like PrimaLoft® Rise, Gold, Silver, and Black; PrimaLoft® Aerogel (developed by NASA); as well as older time-proven materials like Hollofil, there are a lot of insulating materials used in ice fishing suits to provide warmth.
As far as I know, none of the ice jackets or bibs on the market are USCG-certified as a personal flotation device. However, they could save your life by keeping you afloat and somewhat warm in cold, icy waters if you fall through—and long enough until someone can toss out a safety rope and PFD or get the authorities to the scene.
Q: Do I need an ice fishing suit with flotation?
If you plan to fish early- or late-ice or venture out on large waters like the Great Lakes, Fort Peck, river systems, and other large bodies of water, know that the ice can shift and is still unpredictable despite its thickness. If that’s when and where you’re fishing, wear a float suit. And anglers on the southern, eastern, and western ends of the Ice Belt, it’s probably a good idea for you, too.
Q: What are the warmest ice fishing suits?
The majority of the warmest ice fishing suits utilize some form of PrimaLoft® insulation or a proprietary blend of materials.
Q: What are the best ice fishing suits?
The “best” ice fishing suit is the one that fits you best, provides the maximum free range of movement, and doesn’t fatigue you while wearing it. It’s also the suit that works within your budget. There are lots of models available to try on at retailers (which I suggest); way more than what’s mentioned in this review.
Final Thoughts on the Best Ice Fishing Suits
Fact is, just about every ice fishing apparel manufacturer is making a jacket and bib that is the right choice for anglers depending on when, how, and where they fish. Some cost more than others. Some are very affordable. For me, I really like the SIMMS Challenger and Blocker Outdoors suits for non-flotation options; and for flotation – limited to what I personally tested—I would opt for the Striker Climate suit given its versatility on the ice, in the field/marsh, or as a rain suit for spring and fall fishing. After years of wearing “snowmobile suits” as a kid, Carhartt workwear, and then now-defunct Frabill suits, it’s been fun to try out what’s currently on the market