Anyone who has been ice fishing knows all too well how important it is to stay warm during your session. Although you will likely be using a shelter or ice shanty, the odds are that you will still require a decent base layer (or two!) to keep you warm.
We’ve tested and reviewed the top 5 base layers for ice fishing, and in this article we will take you through the pros and cons of each option to help you make the best purchase for your needs.
If you’re in a hurry, you can find our summary table below full of the best picks we could find on the market today.
Factors to Consider before buying a Base Layer for Ice Fishing
Ice fishing is quite a unique sport in that it requires very little movement compared to something like hunting.
Sure, you might get a little sweaty cutting your fishing hole or moving from one ice shanty to the other, but you are likely to be using very little energy over the course of a day.
But what exactly does this mean in regards to choosing a base layer?
A good base layer will either be made from synthetic materials such as microfiber and spandex, or a natural material such as wool. Natural materials such as wool, or more specifically Merino wool in the case of base layers, tend to have greater insulation.
This is important to consider because when ice fishing you want as little heat as possible to escape from your body. You aren’t going to be moving around a lot, so you want to make sure you keep as much heat in as possible.
You can also specifically buy greater thickness material which offers a larger weight per square metre of fabric, meaning greater insulation and thermal properties.
No matter where you choose to go ice fishing, it will be cold for obvious reasons. If it is cold enough to form an ice lake to fish on then it is cold enough to require a base layer.
Despite this, you must consider the location greatly as it can influence other factors. If you are in a sheltered area then you will have greater protection from the wind, and will therefore require less base layer insulation.
This is the same for if you are planning to go ice fishing at a venue where there are dedicated ice shanties or fish houses. It will still be cold, but you will have a lot of protection from the elements especially if you opt for an option with heating.
When you purchase any product budget has to be one of the main considerations, and with base layers it is no different.
You’ll find lower priced base layers are made from synthetic materials, whereas those on the higher price range are typically made from Merino wool.
We’ve made sure to include a budget option as there are some very good synthetic base layers available due to advances in material science.
This is particularly helpful if you plan to buy more than one base layer, which might well be the case depending on the location you plan to go ice fishing.
Review of the 5 Best Base Layers for Ice Fishing
1. Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer – Best All Round Option
Our top pick is this base layer crew by Smartwool. We recently featured this very base layer in our article about the best base layers for hunting, and with good reason. Not only is this made entirely from Merino wool, but it is specifically designed to wear under an ice suit or jacket, making it the perfect choice for ice fishing.
The only problem we can find is the price being quite steep, but in terms of quality and all-round comfort you would struggle to get much better. Its also not the most exciting of tops, but as a base layer it more than does the job and can even be worn on its own if you choose.
2. TSLA Thermal Compression Shirt – Best Value Option
Next in our list is the TSLA compression top, which we’ve included due to its amazing value. It has fleece lining and a skin fit to help keep you warm, and is certainly a good choice for your first layer when ice fishing.
If you’re looking to save some money and go with an affordable option then you need to take a look at this option.
The main issue with this option is that if you’re not a fan of the compression style and fit, you might find this top uncomfortable to wear. This does get better with time, but we can understand why this would put some people off.
Its made from synthetic material as well, so you won’t get that more natural feeling than that of wool, but it will still help to keep you warm regardless.
3. Eizniz Men’s Merino Wool Long Sleeve – Best Insulation
If you want the most insulation possible, look no further than this long sleeve shirt by Eizniz.
This top is made from 100% 260g Merino wool, the greatest weight per metre of all of the options on this list. This means that if you are looking to stay as warm as possible then this is the best choice.
We advise this top for truly artic conditions as a first layer coupled with a fleece jacket or winter suit. Although a bit on the expensive side, if you’re serious about your ice fishing then you won’t regret having this top with you.
4. Thermajohn Men’s Ultra Soft Thermal Underwear – Best Suit Base Layer
We’ve included a full suit option for those of you looking for an all in one solution to your base layer. This set includes a full top and bottom combination to give you almost 100% coverage, great for those who prefer to wear a base layer top and bottom when ice fishing.
There’s plenty of colour options available as well, if you’re into that, as well as plenty of size options. Although made from synthetic materials, the addition of spandex does mean that this set will stretch and fit to your body.
5. Rocky Thermal Underwear for Boys – Best option for Juniors
Last but certainly not least is this thermal underwear by Rocky.
We know many of you out there will likely have children, and there is no better experience than sharing your hobbies with them. This is why we have included an option specifically for juniors.
Ice fishing can be a great experience and if you decide to bring your children along then it is important to make sure they are warm, especially since they will lose heat more quickly than an adult.
This top and bottom combination provides great full coverage for a child, so you won’t have to worry about them feeling the cold.
What should I wear when ice fishing?
Aside from a good base layer it is important to have an idea of what else to wear. We usually prefer to wear a wool shirt or fleece over the base layer, followed by a waterproof jacket or hunting jacket – but everybody is different.
For bottoms a good pair of hunting bottoms usually do the trick, but again it depends on you and what clothing you prefer to wear to keep warm.
Aside from the essentials you may choose to wear a decent pair of gloves as well as a hat, depending on the conditions outside.
How do you stay warm when ice fishing?
Aside from layering up properly with the right clothing, there are a few tips and tricks that you can use to stay warm out there on the ice.
- Eat properly – Its important to stay fuelled during a long day of ice fishing. It will not only keep you satisfied, but it will help to keep you warm – especially if you choose to eat foods that take longer to digest, such as nuts or oatmeal.
- Keep you hands and feet dry – It can be easy to forget to keep your hands and feet warm especially since you will likely be using most of your attention on your body. This can be a problem because you will end up losing a lot of heat from these areas, especially if they get wet. Bring extra pairs of both socks and gloves with you every time you head out on the ice.
- Avoid alcohol – Alcohol can make you feel like you’re warming up, but it actually results in your core temperature dropping. We know it can sometimes be tempting, but it is best to be avoided.
What material is best for base layers?
We’ve already discussed about why choosing the right material is so important for base layers, but which material is best? In our opinion, we would pick Merino wool 9 times out of 10.
We do understand that some people have budgets to stick with, and that Merino wool can be on the expensive side, but there is no material like it. If you have the opportunity to get a base layer made from this material, you won’t regret it.
We’d like to thank you for taking the time to read this article. If you are looking for more advise on fishing or any other outdoor activities then do not hesitate to contact us.