Nothing makes a day on the ice more miserable than having cold feet. If you want to catch more fish, learning to keep your feet warm while ice fishing is imperative so you can stay out longer.
It may be easier said than done but there are plenty of ways to beat the cold and put some warmth back in your toes.
In this article, we highlight the 9 best methods to insulate, warm up and prevent cold feet from cutting your ice fishing adventure short.
Here is a quick list of the 9 best ways to keep your feet warm while ice fishing.
- Double up on socks
- Wear waterproof, insulated boots
- Keep your feet dry with moister wicking liners or foot powder
- Add toe warmers
- Keep your feet off the ice
- Warm your core first
- Try plastic bags (really, it works!)
- Do some exercises
- Spray on the antiperspirant
1. Double up on socks
Just like putting on an extra sweater, adding an extra layer of socks keeps those little toes warm and cozy.
However, not just any socks will do. Invest in good wool or wool-blend socks designed for cold temperatures. Never wear cotton. Cotton holds moisture against your feet and does not provide adequate insulation.
As beneficial as a second pair of socks may be, it can also be part of the problem. Use over sized socks for the second layer and wear appropriately sized boots for the number of socks on your feet.
Otherwise, too much pressure on your feet blocks blood circulation, leading to numb toes and cold feet.
2. Wear waterproof, insulated boots
Never underestimate the benefits of a good boot. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” as the old saying goes. Waterproof boots with sufficient insulation are the best way to prevent your feet from being cold in the first place.
Walking through snow and drilling ice holes is a wet and cold business. There is no way around it if you want to catch fish in the water below.
Here are some key features when selecting ice fishing boots.
- Get a thick rubber sole for added insulation from the ice.
- Look for high top boots to keep water from splashing over the top.
- Avoid leather since the cold makes it stiff, causing seams to leak.
- Try insulated rubber boots. One of the few styles of boots that is actually waterproof.
- Get good insoles for increased insulation.
- Buy 1 size bigger to accommodate more socks.
- Select a boot with 800-1000 grams of insulation.
No matter what boot you pick, it is essential that your feet stay dry. Wet feet are cold feet.
For the ice fishing ladies out there, I find that men’s boots are significantly warmer than the women’s version. Simply figure out your shoe size in mens.
These are our go-to boots for ice fishing and we have yet to suffer cold feet!
Lacrosse Men’s Aero Insulator 14″: These comfortable, insulated, 100% waterproof rubber boots work great for everyone because the soft upper boot allows cinching to your exact leg size. No more big baggy boots ladies! They also don’t pinch your leg when you crouch or sit down while fishing.
Muck Arctic Sport Rubber High Performance Men’s Winter Boots: These 100% waterproof, insulated, fleece lined, rubber muck boots are perfect for flinging water while drilling ice holes. They will keep your feet and legs warm all day in frigid temperatures.
3. Keep your feet dry
Apart from waterproof boots, you need to also keep your feet dry from the inside. Sweat may mean you have warm feet but you’ll get cold quickly. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, socks damp with excess moisture will lead to chilly feet.
Moisture wicking socks or sock liners alleviate the problem of sweaty feet by pulling water away from the skin. Your feet will stay warmer longer. For added protection, add a bit of foot powder to your feet before putting on your socks.
If you find that your feet get too warm, you may actually want to cut back on heat retention by reducing socks or using boots with less insulation. It’s a delicate balancing act to keep your feet at just the right temperature.
4. Use toe warmers
When the temperatures dip to sub-zero and the wind howls across the ice, try using toe warmers.
The individually packaged warmers like HotHands Insole or Toe Warmers last up to 12 hours. They are perfect for stationary anglers. If you find them uncomfortable to walk in, try putting them on after getting to your ice fishing spot.
Be careful that you don’t overheat your feet and cause sweating with the warmers. They are best saved for the harshest days out on the ice.
5. Keep your feet off the ice
Resting your feet on the ice saps valuable heat from your feet. Even with think soles and extra socks it gets cold standing on the ice.
I like to give my feet a chance to warm up by putting something between them and the ice. A wood board, foam pad or piece of carpet are easy options to cut the chill.
When you are fishing in a flip-up shelter, try placing a rubber door mat on the ice. Not only does it keep your feet warmer, it provides a good kneeling platform when you scoop the hole or grab a fish.
6. Warm your core first
Our body’s natural defense in the cold is to pull heat from extremities to preserve the function of internal organs. The opposite is true when your core gets too warm. Extra blood is pumped to your limbs to cool you down.
If you want warm feet, focus on warming the core. Dress appropriately for the conditions. Use a layering system to provide the best thermal insulation possible.
Long underwear like smart wool is the perfect base layer. Combined with a fleece layer and waterproof, insulated jacket, your body will be well protected from the elements.
Don’t forget about your head. An exposed head looses a great deal of body heat. Cover with a warm cap. Be sure to cover those ears too.
When you are properly dressed, the extra warmth gets sent to your feet and hands.
Still not warm enough. Add more heat to your core by drinking a hot beverage. Pack a thermos of coffee, tea or cocoa and your toes will thank you.
7. Try plastic bags
It might seam silly but plastic grocery bags really do provide tremendous insulation for your feet.
Place the bag on your bare feet followed by the socks. The plastic creates a vapor lock that traps warm air next to your skin. Even if it make your feet sweat, the moisture is warm. Much like a wet suit protects scuba divers.
If nothing else, it is the cheapest way on this list to get warmer feet. Give it a try the next time you venture onto the ice.
8. Do some exercises
When the bite slows down, set down the pole and use that time to warm back up by exercising. Working muscles generate heat.
Getting a boost of heat to your toes only takes a minute or two of simple workouts. Do exercises that key in on large muscle groups to get the biggest bang for your buck.
Squats work all the largest leg muscles that generate heat efficiently. 10 or 12 body weight squats is all it takes to generate some heat and get the blood pumping. And while you’re doing that, you may actually get a bite.
9. Spray on antiperspirant
Antiperspirant for your feet? I did not believe this trick would work until I gave it a try last winter. A quick spray with your underarm antiperspirant prevents sweaty feet for 6 hours or more. My dry feet stayed toasty warm and as an added bonus, they smelled better too!
The bottom line
Nobody likes cold feet. Avoid a ruined ice fishing trip by protecting your feet. Your day on the ice will last longer and be more productive. Give a few of these tricks a try to find what works best for you.
Want to get the most out of your ice fishing season? Check out our Washington State Ice Fishing Secrets ebook. Our book highlights the 10 best lakes for ice fishing in Washington State with actual coordinates to some of our most productive holes. Plus, we thoroughly cover everything from gear selection, tactics and travel planning. To top it off, you also get information on 41 other lakes with superb ice fishing! Check it out before ice fishing season passes you by!