What to wear- Nothing will make your day more miserable and cut short the trip than getting cold. With today’s clothing selections I can see no reason what so ever to ever get cold. But how you manage the clothing is important.
Let’s first put everything cotton you were planning to wear against your skin to good use. Toss it in the fish bucket and use it to wipe your hands on. Seriously, do it! When you start to perspire, and you will by walking to the ice and drilling a hole, you now have a wet wash rag lying against your skin.
Your base layer against the skin needs to be something that can wick the moisture away. For my money Polypropylene is it. If it has a cotton backing away from your skin that will work but I’d rather straight poly or wool nylon blend. Wear just the minimum clothing that will keep you warm while walking, and then bulk up when you get where you want to be. Use the same construction of layering for your feet. They are against the ice all the time so that brings us to foot wear.
There are so many models of cold wear foot gear that cold shouldn’t be happening. Couple that with the ability to put a warming device in them and you should be comfy.
I have been using the Sorel Caribou model for years in the winter. For standing on the ice I put a cold barrier insert between the foot bed and the wool blend insert. I don’t wear my boots to the fishing spot. I keep them up in the cab with me so they will be warm when I stick my foot in them. I want to avoid sweaty or cold feet before I get there so plan appropriately. Don’t select footwear that is too tight when socked up. You want to be able to wiggle your toes. And put a hand warmer in there if your toes do get cold.
Headgear depends on the day. I have a selection for most all types of weather. You loose or capture the majority of heat through your head. You can use a hat to help regulate that issue. My favorite is a wool military helmet liner that I picked up at a Surplus store. It even has a bit of a brim if I need it. Grab some sun glasses while you are in there to help with the white surroundings. If the sun comes out, you’ll be really glad you had them. Don’t over look the sun screen either.
Hands are and ongoing search for the Holy Grail of gloves. If you can tie a lure on with a Gortex glove with 400 grains of thinsulate…..You are the King, or Queen, as it were! At sometime my bare hands are going to see air and that is usually when they do. The rest of the time I usually have a wool glove liner on. Again, I picked them up for minimal cost at a surplus store. When I handle a fish I slip into my leather gloves that are lined, that I wore while I was drilling holes. If the temperature is above freezing I use a fish rag to wipe off the glove. If not I wipe them in the snow and the slime instantly freezes and by rubbing them together I get them clean. I’ll stuff them in my pockets and go back to the wool. The last couple trips I’ve been using a Gortex glove by Browning. I got them a tad large to accommodate a liner, but have not needed one so far and I’ve been out in 5 degrees this year. They have leather palms and I use them for all things up until when I have to tie on a lure or bait up. Hint- (tie your lures on at home before you go it is one less time your hands come out of the gloves).