January 23, 2024
Hand Warmer—Even on a fairly nice day, the first time you get your hands wet you are sure to get cold frosty digits—and then they don’t work so well. Through the years I’ve used various disposable handwarmers or models that ran on some type of fuel, but all would come up short at some point. The new electric hand warmer from Clam runs on a lithium battery and can be easily recharged overnight via USB cable. This same port also allows you to charge your phone in a pinch. After months of use, the best thing about the Clam hand warmer is that it gets hot quickly. No messing around waiting for it to be usable. This is nice because you can turn it on and off as needed during the day to conserve battery power. The unit features three settings, but even when on the warmest setting, it should get you through a full day.
Auger—People always ask me what the most important piece of ice gear I have. Removing safety gear out of the equation, it’s an auger. Don’t believe me? Try ice fishing without one. The conversion from gas to electric was a slow one for me, mainly because I fish for larger gamefish that often require a 10-inch hole. Early electric models were pretty good in the smaller diameters, but once you get to 8 inches, let alone 10, they just didn’t cut the mustard. For some it was lack of extended power and with others you couldn’t hardly drill but a few holes before the battery was tapped out.
Modern electric auger such as the Strikemaster 40-volt model can cut through enough ice that even an ice troller probably doesn’t need to use a second battery. The advancements in the powerheads of these units have come a long way in a short amount of time. The synthetic shaft option that Strikemaster offers likely helps cut a few more holes, too, and it definitely makes it easier to lug around.
Jump Box—As a guide, I always have people trying to use our USB or “cigarette lighter” outlets on the machines to charge phones, cameras and other devices. They don’t understand these machines have smaller batteries, and the cold doesn’t help matters. It can become quite an issue, so I installed a battery shut-off switch on all of my machines to conserve battery power. When the machine is not in use, the switch is turned to off to prevent any draw down that could cause engine-cranking issues.
Fortunately, the solution is simple. The Dakota Lithium Powerbox 10 is not only compact, but very lightweight thanks to the 10Ah lithium battery. While it features small lugs and a flashlight, the USB and cigarette-lighter port are easily the most used features. This handy item sees use in the boat, ice shanty and blind to keep my small electronic devices working. If you still need more power Dakota Lithium has a much larger 135Ah option that can jump a vehicle, run a pellet grill or laptop, just to name a few.
Lights—If you hunt or fish long days, chances are you need some lights on your machine or boat. In the past, the issue was bright lights pulling a lot of power, and the onboard battery and stock alternator—or stator—might not be enough to keep the voltage up. Sleds, ATVs and UTV’s often don’t have both a quality or large enough battery for all of the add-on accessories we add after purchase. The advancements with LED lights now offer cost-effective options that will still light up the night without causing battery issues. Make sure to do your homework before purchasing lights and determine the the lumen power is and the amount of power they pull. Many high-power lightbars and cubes require a wiring harness and relay to be installed for the lights to to properly function. When this is the case or anytime the machine will be used in the cold, installing a shut off switch is a good way to eliminate any “phantom” battery draw issues.
Electronics Battery—Early in my career, we used electronics with a 5-inch screen that pulled a half amp per hour. This allowed us to get away with small batteries and and poor rigging to a point. Today’s units require much more power, rather it’s the larger LED screens or technology such as Mega Live that consume additional power. Modern units typically pull at least 3 amps and that means the old AGM or lead-acid batteries aren’t going to cut it for a full day on the ice. Much like hand-held cordless power drills, lithium runs until it’s depleated, allowing you to get the most out of a battery cycle. The other advantage we often fail to recognize until we’re dragging or carrying something heavy across the ice is weight. Many quality lithium batteries basically double your capacity, while cutting the weight in half.
One of my favorite batteries is a Dakota Lithium 23Ah battery because the size allows me to fit it vertically in factory ice boxes meant for traditional batteries with a smaller capacity and footprint. The Dakota 23amp battery also features a double USB outlet and digital battery meter on it. This allows you to charge a phone or run a camera if needed, all while monitoring the battery status. This setup is small enough to carry an extra battery for long days or backup charging.
Technology keeps advancing, and it’s as important to have the right battery handy to keep everything running effectively. When winter sets in make sure you have enough power and creature comforts to keep you safely going all winter.
Capt. Ross Robertson