Ice fishing tip No. 1: dress for success
One thing that people often overlook is the most important part of their gear and that is their clothing and how they plan on dressing for the ice. Cold weather and winds can end a trip quickly if you are not prepared. Layering is the key to keeping yourself prepared for the cold. It is a simple process and most of the outdoors population understands the principal, however they don’t often employ the method properly thus leading to a cold day on the ice.
To get a better understanding of keeping yourself warm you really need to understand the basic principal of insulation. Insulation uses air-space to keep you warm. The more air space the better the insulation value. The best way to insulate your body from the cold is to make sure that your clothing fits properly and has the ability to breathe.
Start with a good polypropylene liner sock directly on the skin and then put a good wool sock over the top of that. Over your two layers of socks you should choose a good boot that is at least one size larger than what you typically wear.
Moving up to the main part of your body you want to choose a good set of polypropylene base layer or a Merino wool style that will go directly against the skin.
On the lower half of your body I like to recommend wearing a good pair of fleece pants or fleece lined pants over the base layer. A good wool pant will also work quite well. Both of these fabrics have a property to them that allows them to keep your warm even if they get wet.
The same goes for the upper portion of your body. A good fleece jacket or sweatshirt with a hood will keep you quite warm. The important thing to remember is that if you keep your core warm, chest and back, you will be able to keep the rest of your body warm as well. When your inner core becomes cold then the blood flow to the hands and feet is reduced thus allowing them to get cold much quicker.
The last layer will consist of a good waterproof, windproof and breathable insulated suit. I like to tell people that instead of having an ice shanty, I am actually wearing my shanty.
Layering allows you to add or remove layers to properly protect you from the elements. Staying warm and dry on the ice will allow you to enjoy your time outdoors.