You already know that ice fishing is a cold sport. And while you may have an ice fishing shelter and an ice fishing heater to keep you warm, what happens when you’re out in the open? Or when you’re traveling to and from your fishing hole?
You can try to get by with an ordinary fishing bib, but your best bet for optimal mobility and warmth is a bib specifically designed for ice fishing. In this guide, we’re going to look at the best ice fishing bibs you can buy.
Why Do I Need a Bib for Ice Fishing?
When you’re fishing in the winter, it’s critical that you stay dry and warm. The bib you wear fly fishing in the fall is built differently than an ice fishing bib in a few ways.
First, the best ice fishing bib will offer extra insulation. That’s important for your mobility – a thick snow bib won’t do when you’re fishing on the ice. Thinner layers of material keep you warmer and able to move.
Secondly, many ice fishing bibs have added safety features. We hope you never find yourself immersed in ice cold water. But if you ever are, you’ll find that you quickly lose your breath, your heart rate rises dramatically and you may be unable to even breathe, much less swim.
A bib with flotation features can literally save your life, so please strongly consider buying a bib with this feature.
Are Ice Fishing Bibs Different Than Other Cold Weather Bibs?
Yes, they absolutely are! Again, an ice fishing bib is designed to keep you dry and warm, where other bibs may just provide warmth. They’ll also be made from thinner material, allowing you to move around more easily – this could be a lifesaver.
As we mentioned, you can find ice fishing bibs with flotation assistance. If the unthinkable occurs, this can mean the difference between life and death.
The best ice fishing bibs are waterproof, or at the very least water-resistant. When you’re out in bitterly cold temperatures, staying dry is imperative.
Plain and simple, if you’re going ice fishing, you need an ice fishing bib. Don’t rely on your cold weather or hunting bib to keep you safe and warm.
How to Choose The Best Ice Fishing Bib
As you shop for your bib, you’ll have to take your budget and your climate into consideration. But there are other features you’ll want to think about as well. Let’s take a look.
You can get a good quality ice fishing bib for under a hundred dollars. Generally speaking, though, the price of your bib will be higher if you’re looking for the features we describe below.
Expect to pay at least $150 for a solid ice fishing bib that keeps you warm and includes safety features.
If you’ve never been ice fishing, you don’t know the misery of the next morning. Your knees take a beating on the cold ice, so you’ll need to make them comfortable.
Knee pads can also help to insulate your knees, leaving you more mobile and preventing heat from leaving your body. Good knee pads are comfortable, thick and insulated.
As we mentioned previously, it’s very important that you stay dry when you’re ice fishing. If you get your clothes wet, they can literally freeze solid over the course of a day.
Good ice fishing bibs will be waterproof. At the very minimum, choose a bib that’s water-resistant and will repel water away from your body.
Obviously, you’re going to want your ice fishing bib to be warm. That said, layering your clothes can do wonders in keeping you warm.
Your ice fishing bib will provide you warmth, but more importantly it will keep the wind from chilling you. Imagine you’re bent over, baiting your line, and a strong wind blows. Ice fishing bibs will keep the wind off your back.
Layers, boots, gloves and a hat can go a long way in keeping you warm. But a warm bib can keep you warmer, longer.
We’ve already talked about flotation a bit. It’s a good idea to wear a flotation device – this can be as simple as a flotation belt. But if your ice fishing bib features flotation assist, that’s even better.
If an accident happens, your body goes into cold shock as soon as you hit the water. A bib that can help you stay afloat will give you a few extra moments to get your bearings and react to save your life.
Pockets! You can never have too many pockets! As you shop for your ice fishing bib, look for plenty of places to stash your gear.
Cargo and chest pockets can save you a lot of time and frustration when you’re out on the lake. Look for a bib that has lots of space to keep your stuff on hand.
Alright! Now you know why it’s important to have a bib made especially for fishing, and you know a few of the features you want to look for. Let’s take a look at the best ice fishing bibs on the market.
The StrikerICE Predator is the bib we’ve chosen as the best premium bib. You’ll pay a bit more for this bib, but we think you’ll be happy with your purchase. The StrikerICE Predator is lightweight and breathable, and most of all warm.Check Today's Price
Available sizes: Small – 5X Tall
Warmth rating: 7
Weight: 3.9 pounds
The material used to make the StrikerICE Predator is weatherproof, so whether you’re fishing under sunny skies or get caught in a storm, you’ll be protected from the elements. Heavily insulated yet featherweight, this is one of the warmest bibs on the market.
If you’re headed out onto the ice, the StrikerICE Predator is top-notch. But if you’re hunting, skiing, hiking or even working outdoors in the winter, you’ll love this bib, too. You’ll love layers of warmth and plenty of space for your keys, lift pass, scent reduction spray or whatever else you’re carrying.
You can layer as much or as little as you like under the StrikerICE Predator. For fall hunting, you may just want to wear a lightweight shirt. In the winter, pair your bib with Striker’s Predator jacket for an ultra-warm combination.
Surefloat® technology is one of the safety features of this bib, and reflective elements are just a bonus. Roomy pockets and soft kneepads only add to the comfort of this premium bib.
We love this bib for many of the same reasons we love the men’s version: attention to detail, comfort and safety features top our list.Check Today's Price
Available sizes: Even sizes 6-18
Warmth rating: 9
Weight: 3.55 pounds
Don’t worry, women; we’ve got a bib for you, too. Striker has created an awesome bib for women that’s comparable to the men’s StrikerICE Predator… but even warmer.
The bib boasts plenty of pockets, though there aren’t quite as many as on the Predator. You’ll enjoy Surefloat® technology that helps keep you safe in case of an emergency, as well as Hydrapore® material that keeps the elements away from your skin.
The bib is comfortable, too! Adjustable legs can be fit to your body, quick-drain hems keep you dry and snakeskin knees prevent that morning-after pain.
The bib is waterproof and windproof, meaning your day on the ice will be dry and comfortable.Check Today's Price
Available sizes: Medium – 3XL
Warmth rating: 6
Weight: Not mentioned
Frabill has been around for almost a century, and they’ve focused on gear for anglers and ice fishermen over all those years. The Frabill I-3 is an example of the attention they give to what matters to you most.
For example, you’ll find Thinsulate™ insulation, sealed seams, eat padding and reinforced knees to keep you warm and comfortable. This bib doesn’t offer flotation assist, but reflective elements and ice pick holsters are safety features you’ll love.
Too warm? Zipper vents are included for added temperature regulation.
This midrange bib is packed with features that will take care of you on the ice so you can concentrate on fishing.Check Today's Price
Available sizes: Medium – 5XL
Warmth rating: 8
Weight: Not mentioned
The last ice fishing bib on our list certainly isn’t the least.
Reflective accents and the Uplyft™ floatation assist can be a lifesaver in case of an emergency. Breathable fabric allows your sweat to dry and evaporate, keeping you warm and insulated. And you’ll love the extra room this bib gives you – “strategically placed” gussets and elastic let you move freely.
Kinds of Bibs for Ice Fishing
One of the most important parts when ice fishing is keeping your body warm. A lot of times you will be sitting on a stool for hours at a time and even though your butt might be cold it doesn’t mean that your legs have to be. I’ve used both types of ice fishing bibs and there are pros and cons to both.
Snowmobile / Bunny Suits
The old school way of keeping warm was to use your snowmobile suit or as they call them in Canada a bunny suit. A lot of people that do ice fishing for a living use this type of bib because it’s better at keeping the wind off your body and also keeps you dry if you happen to go through the ice or get snowed on. On the other hand a snowmobile suit is pretty heavy and can get hot if you don’t have good circulation in your legs. A lot of people prefer to use them with snowmobile pants so they have extra protection if they fall through the ice.
Another type of bib used by most recreational fisherman is a neoprene bib. Like a snowmobile suit though, it has pluses and minuses as well. In the summer when I go ice fishing I’ll wear an open front bib and let my legs get some air but in winter with all this cold weather of late I can guarantee you that your butt will freeze just from sitting on a stool for two hours. Now granted that I don’t have the circulation in my legs and butt like I did when I was 20 years old but still, sometimes it’s hard to keep everything warm even if you are using fleece bibs or snowmobile pants underneath.
I would recommend getting enough of a neoprene bib so that when your sitting on the stool you can wrap them around your legs and not have to worry about being cold. You can find a ton of different brands of bibs on the web or in stores from Orvis, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s and all other major sporting goods stores. The price ranges from $20 up to $50 depending on the quality.
A Good Pair Of Bibs Is Well Worth It
Now if you’re going to be out on the ice everyday or like myself do a little bit in the spring and fall then investing in a good pair of bibs is well worth it. I bought my first set of Orvis Ice Fishing Bibs last year from Cabela’s for $40 and after using them all winter long they are still like new. But if you just plan on going out a couple times and don’t want to spend that much money then I would take a trip to your local Cabela’s and try them on for size. They have a great return policy so you can always bring them back if they don’t fit right or something else.
Lastly, if you have a lot of room in your bibs and feel the need to wear an extra layer underneath then that’s fine but I would recommend buying pants with suspenders because it makes it easier when putting them on and taking them off. Once you find a pair of bibs that fit well then it will definitely make your ice fishing experience a lot more enjoyable.
Risks of Ice Fishing Without Ice Fishing Bibs
Ice Fishing Bibs are specially designed for protection against cold weather. Ice fishing can be dangerous and even fatal without wearing a bib. Because of this reason, some countries have made it a legal requirement to wear an ice fishing bib when going out to fish on the ice. Even with all its many benefits, there are some downsides of using it too.
If you have ever used an ice fishing bib, you know how warm it is. Although these special garments keeps your body heat from escaping outside, not wearing one on the ice poses some risks. If you are always exposed to the cold weather when fishing without ice fishing bibs, it could lead to hypothermia. This is a condition where your body temperature drops dangerously low.
If you are not wearing protection on the ice when cold weather hits, you can immediately get frostbite from the freezing cold water and air around you. You may even end up losing some fingers or toes if ice fishing without ice fishing bibs.
With all the risks that come with not wearing an ice fishing bib, you would think people would never go out on the ice without one. However, there are still some who choose to do so. Others prefer going out on the ice even if they are wearing one.
How do Ice Fishing Bibs Work?
There are so many different types of ice fishing bibs in the market today. You can easily find one that suits your needs based on its material, brand, design, color, size, and length of the sleeves. Some garments feature zippers while others have Velcro fasteners.
The most common types of these special garments are made from 100% neoprene, waterproof polyester, or a combination of both. Many bibs also come with anti-slip material on the back to prevent you from sliding down on the ice when you are fishing.
If you have one, your best bet is to use it on the ice rather than not using it at all. Not only will you be warm and comfortable while fishing, but also protected against hypothermia and frostbite. The benefits outweigh the risks of wearing an ice fishing bib.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have a few questions about which is the best ice fishing bib for you? Let’s see what others have asked while shopping for a bib.
Do most ice fishing bibs have a zipper in the crotch area?
This is an excellent – and super important – question. The answer is, “kinda.” Most bibs will have a front zipper that runs from your chest down. On the best ice fishing bibs, this zipper will let you use the bathroom relatively easily. Some bibs, though, will have shorter zippers that might make it necessary to pull the bib down.
How important is the flotation feature for ice fishing bibs?
Not every bib will feature flotation assist. If you can find one you love that does, though, go for it! Flotation assist can keep you afloat for as long as two hours – that could be critical in shockingly frigid waters.
Can women use an ice fishing bib designed for men?
Well, women can use men’s ice fishing bibs. But it’s not always true that they should. First, women are shaped differently than men. More room in the bust and hips will give you a more comfortable fit.
For safety reasons, too, women should consider getting a women’s ice fishing bib. A snugger fit in the right places will keep your body insulated and protected against the elements.
The best ice fishing bib can mean the difference between an uncomfortable ice fishing trip and the adventure of a lifetime. Choose a bib that fits you well and has the safety and convenience features you like. Then focus on what you love most – chasing your target.
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