March 11, 2021
With air temperatures rising into the low-40°F range for the past week or so here in north-central Minnesota where In-Fisherman headquarters is located, and with more warmer weather on the way, the snowpack has begun to melt and slushy conditions will become even more prevalent on area lakes. As we move further toward late-ice, slushy and watery conditions typically prevail until ice-out. As long as good solid ice remains underneath, however, late-ice can provide some of the best ice fishing of the year. Staying dry and warm keeps you in the action.
When conditions change to warmer, wet, and slushy, I turn to my early and late-season boot option, a fully waterproof design. An important consideration is that these “transition” season boots aren’t thermally rated for as cold of temperatures as my midwinter pair, but they provide ample warmth and solid waterproofness to get me through the early and late-ice seasons in comfort, and with performance.
Baffin’s Icebear fits this bill. The polyurethane-molded boot is fully waterproof, with a temperature rating of -58°F. I do more foot travel on the ice this time of year and with a pair of midweight wool or synthetic socks these boots keep me plenty warm but not overly warm. A wicking synthetic sock liner can help with added perspiration. Icebears’ GelFlex PU and comfort-crafted midsole reduces fatigue, and the rubber lugged outsole provides good traction, particularly in cold temperatures. Lacking snow, and with water on smooth ice, adding a pair of ice cleats helps improve traction and safety.
During midseason, when temperatures are plunging and dryer conditions prevail, I switch to a boot that’s thermally rated for colder temperatures. Waterproofness isn’t as much of a factor at this time, but it’s good to have at least the lower part of your boots fully waterproof, along with water-resistant uppers and sealed seams to deal with water while drilling holes, remnant slush around holes, and meltwater that can accumulate on the ice in heated portable shelters.
To deal with extreme cold and occasional water, Baffin’s Impact boots are a fine midwinter option. Rated to -148ºF, these boots feature the Baffin multi-layer inner boot system with double B-Tek insulation. The waterproof base is constructed of Arctic Rubber shell, Poler Rubber outsole, and EVA midsole. The upper is constructed of a waterproof, Diamond-Lite insulated nylon, with a waterproof nylon snow collar. Double-buckle fastening makes for quick and easy on-off and snugness adjustments. For highly active anglers who walk a lot and tend to overheat in boots rated for extreme cold, consider options like the Baffin Ice Breaker and Selkirks, with many fine features to expect in an ice boot, but with a bit warmer temperature rating.
With so many options in ice boots available today, it’s become easier to match an ideal boot to the prevailing conditions you’ll experience on the ice. For me, I’ve developed a two-boot system, one for early and late ice, and one for midseason. Stay dry and warm but not too warm. Comfort and performance are key to enjoyable days on the ice.