If you’re like me, you’re probably still out fishing by headlamp, freezing your fingers off as winter sets in. Once the water ices over, it’s not time to head inside. It’s time to upgrade gear and get back out there. Enjoying fishing in the winter months can be a little more challenging than summer lure-throwing, though.
One of the fastest ways to get forced off the ice is cold fingers. We can all sit through a snowstorm sipping from a mug in the shanty, but none of us last long with frozen fingers, do we?
So, how do we keep our precious digits from icing over while maintaining enough dexterity to feel a weak bite, reel in fish, and unhook lures?
Together, we’re going to take a look at what makes great ice fishing gloves stand above the rest. We’re also going to save you time by reviewing some of the choices you can find today so that you can spend more time fishing--and less time shopping! If you’re also interested in keeping your toes warm, check out our guide for ice fishing boots.
Here’s a glance at our top picks:
Table of Contents (clickable)
Related: Best Ice Fishing Bibs
Neoprene is one of the best water fabrics out there thanks to its ability to repel or trap water and then keep it warm. That’s why the Pro Angler is a neoprene-based fingerless glove with finger “caps” to keep everyone warm!
If you’ve ever worn neoprene, you know that the seams can be bulky and clunky sometimes at best. That’s why the Pro Angler seeks to keep the seams on the edge of the glove, and the seamless palm keeps dexterity as high as possible. On top of that, the first three fingers of each glove have a grippy rubber to help with handling things around the shanty.
Thanks to the neoprene and internal fleece lining, these gloves have an incredibly high heat-bulk ratio. That said, fleece and neoprene always make a less-than-dexterous combination, but the pre-curved fingers keep the hand in its anatomically correct position.
Overall, we think these gloves are a good choice for moderate conditions.
If you tend to get wet when you’re out ice fishing and you’re tired of dealing with soggy gloves and cold fingers, the Memphis Glove Ninja Ice might be for you. These double-layered rubberized gloves will keep out anything short of a tsunami.
Let’s be clear: this glove does not feature removable fingerless options. You’re either wearing the glove or you’re not! That might be fine for you if you don’t mind taking the gloves off to handle fish, line, and tackle.
Because they’re fully rubberized, these gloves are inherently waterproof and windproof. Keep in mind, though, that the rubber exterior stops at the wrist, so if you dunk your hand in the lake, you’re still going to get wet.
Inside, the acrylic terry cloth liner isn’t overly thick, but it does add just enough warmth. That’s because the rubberized exterior does most of the work of trapping and holding warm air.
Overall, the Ninja Ice is best for those who prefer serious waterproof hand protection and don’t mind the shorter glove cuff.
If you like the mechanic-style operator-inspired gloves--like I do--then the Pelagic End Game Fishing Gloves might be right for you. Featuring superior grip reinforcement, these gloves will make a good companion for those fishing inside of protected shanties.
Maybe you’re like me and spend more time fishing during the summer months than the winter ones. However, when you do get out ice fishing, you’re probably sitting in the shanty with a little heater, a good book, and a flask.
You may not need arctic explorer gloves. Instead, you just need a little warmth and some palm protection for handling augers, spuds, and wet (cold) fish.
These Pelagic gloves have velcro adjustable wrist cuffs to dial in the fit. The palms are reinforced to help you haul on free line and keep fins from stabbing you in the hand when you finally haul up that walleye!
These are best for those looking for multi-use gloves that can take you from the ice shanty to summer charter trips.
I know I mentioned in the buyer’s guide that hybrid mitts are some of the best gloves you can use for ice fishing. The Alaska River Series Flip Mitt by Glacier Glove is exactly that type of glove for you to check out!
Mittens are warmer than gloves because they keep all your fingers in the same pocket which helps them keep each other warm. That’s why this neoprene ice fishing mitten makes a solid choice when temps are harsh.
Unfortunately, mittens have low dexterity due to their shape. To work around that, all you have to do is fold back the mitten part, and the fingerless glove underneath allows each finger to have full dexterity! Did I mention the thumb also is openable?
Overall, we think these make a good choice as one of the most versatile ice fishing gloves you can find.
Stormr has a couple of ice fishing gloves on the market and all of them appear to be well-loved. The Typhoon made our list because it’s one of the largest, most rugged gloves we’ve found to recommend to readers.
I have to say that the long cuffs on these gloves are a huge talking point compared to the other smaller gloves on our list. If you want something to keep the wind and water off well up above your wrists, this is it! Stormr even took the time to add a pull tab to make getting on and taking off these gloves a little easier.
That said, they’re certainly not going to be the most dexterous glove on our list. However, the water-resistant neoprene and siliconized palms will help a lot with warmth and shedding water.
And while we don’t know how much it really helps, Stormr says there’s Kevlar in key areas to improve the tear-resistance of these gloves for overall durability.
Ultimately, his is a great choice if you’re on the market for a tall, durable glove that can shed water, wind, and snow.
Giving the Stormr gloves a run for their money, the Neo Sports have a little trick up their sleeve.
Unlike the other gloves on our list, the Neo Sport wetsuit gloves have some options for thickness. 3mm and 5mm materials are both viable, but keep in mind that the thicker 5mm gloves will be less dexterous and harder to handle gear with.
The biggest drawback here is that you’ll have to remove the gloves altogether if you need to do anything with your fingers. That means dealing with cold fingers while the gloves are off!
That said, I think neoprene makes a good choice for a lot of ice anglers--so if you plan on getting wet and staying wet in the coldest conditions, then the 5mm thick gloves are probably your best bet.
Keeping fingers and hands warm is the primary job of any ice fishing glove. In order to do that, there are a couple of basic concepts at work.
First, the insulation of an ice fishing glove must trap a layer of air between your hand and the outside of the glove. This trapped air is then heated by your body, creating the insulating air layer which helps to keep you warm.
The more (thicker) the insulation is on your glove, the better job it will do at keeping you warm.
If you’re fishing on open ice, you’ll want a thicker glove than if you’re fishing inside a protected, heated shanty.
If that layer of trapped warm air in your glove is lost and replaced with cold air, the glove can’t do its job.
One way that the warm air layer inside your gloves can be lost is by the action of the wind. When the wind blows across the ice and hits your gloves it can sap the warmth from them instantly!
Windproof gloves stop the movement of outside air so that it cannot interrupt that warm insulation inside your gloves. This is especially important if you’re fishing in an exposed location outside of a shanty.
Whether you’re in the shanty or fishing in open air, you can pretty much guarantee that your ice fishing gloves will get wet. As long as the precipitation stays frozen, all you need to worry about is water from the line and the fish.
Pro Tip: All waterproof gloves are also windproof, but windproof does not always mean waterproof!
With fingerless gloves, you can carefully handle the line and fish while mostly avoiding getting the gloves wet. You might also be inclined to simply take your gloves off when handling fish to further keep them from getting wet. If this sounds like you, then waterproof gloves may not be necessary!
Waterproof breathable gloves are more expensive than non-breathable gloves. In the winter, however, every little drop of moisture in your gloves (including your sweat) can make your hands colder. That’s one reason I think WPB gloves make sense for ice fishing.
In extreme cases, you can wear those rubber nitrile gloves under your ice fishing gloves. These gloves will keep your fingers dry when handling wet gear--and they’ll keep your hands from wetting out the main gloves due to sweat. You’ll be amazed at how much warmer you’ll stay!
For fishing, I dare say, fingerless gloves are a requirement and not an option. Of course, you’re free to make your own choice. However, it’s hard to find a better glove type for ice fishing.
Real fingerless gloves are actually missing the first two knuckles of the glove from at least two fingers. Some have open tips on all fingers. For ice fishing inside a shanty, these gloves may be just fine.
It’s pretty hard to beat the hybrid gloves, though. These have fingerless gloves which are hidden under a removable mitten. Sometimes, they can also be fingered gloves with removable finger “caps”.
Without a fingerless or convertible glove, you’ll have to take your gloves off when you want to do something dexterous such as removing a hook or handling a wet fish.
Pro Tip: Try wearing a nitrile glove under your fingerless glove. As mentioned before, this helps the glove stay warmer for your hands, but it also keeps your fingers dry when handling line or fish.
A lot of ice fishing gloves have some rubberized components. Usually, this is in the form of a rubber palm. Rarely, some will be fully rubberized like those heavy-duty dish-washing gloves made for the kitchen.
Rubber can add a lot of grip and is, of course, a waterproof material. However, the major drawback is a huge loss in dexterity for anything more than just a thin layer of rubber.
The solution to this is a siliconized palm. Little dots or lines of silicone add a lot of grip to a glove without compromising dexterity too much. In order to resist water, however, the rest of the glove’s material will still need to be waterproof.
For some reason, I often see ice fishing gloves advertised as cut-proof or cut-resistant.
In reality, it’s just not necessary and doesn’t make sense for ice fishing. Because of their design, cut-resistant gloves usually fail to offer enough insulation or waterproof qualities for ice fishing.
Instead, these gloves should be kept in reserve for use only when filleting. In that situation, they definitely make sense to help protect those who choose to use them!
Neoprene is a well-known component of diving suits and wet-suits. This material is amazing at trapping warm water next to the skin and fending off the cold.
While other gloves trap warm air and hold it near the skin, neoprene gloves usually assume you’re going to get wet--so instead of trying to keep you dry, the neoprene traps and keeps that warm water next to your skin. That way, you can stay warm even when wet.
It’s kind of the opposite of waterproof or waterproof breathable materials.
Leather gloves are awesome for durability and longevity. I recommend them, honestly.
However, leather is a natural material which, on its own, is susceptible to taking on water. I mean, it used to be skin, right?!
To stop it from taking on water or wearing out too quickly, we can use leather treatment products. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of these types of products out there. I recommend just two, usually.
When it’s time to head out and attempt to pull one of those sluggish little fish out of the ice, you’ve got to bundle up. How much you’ll need to bundle totally depends on the time of year and how you choose to hit the ice.
While any of these gloves will keep your hands warm throughout the winter, both of our top picks edged out their rivals in terms of both warmth and versatility.
Glacer Glove’s Pro Angler gloves provide excellent flexibility by offering slit fingers and a seamless palm design. Made of 2mm fleece-lined neoprene to ensure warmth, they’re our top pick for ice shanty use.
If fishing on the open ice, we think you'll really appreciate the superior warmth of Neo Sport's Neoprene Wetsuit Gloves. With two different thickness levels available--3mm and 5mm--they're an ideal option if you're planning on getting wet and staying outdoors in chilly conditions.
Remember to revisit our buyer’s guide section for an overview on glove technology before making your purchase. Once you know what your options are, you’ll be better positioned to make a solid purchase that you’ll be happy with, season after season!