Ice fishing boots aren’t always necessary–a coat of snow can make the path out over the ice much more forgiving (and a regular pair of gumboots or hiking boots could serve as backup)–but save yourself the hassle, embarrassment, and injury, and sort out a proper pair of ice fishing boots ahead of time. Apart from traction, you’ll want to make sure that your boot is waterproof (not resistant), sufficiently insulated (we’ve found that either neoprene and/or removable fleece inserts do best), and lightweight if you plan on making any long hauls. We’ve already done the research for for all budgets, so do your feet a favor and keep them warm and dry out in the elements this winter.

Best Ice Fishing Shoes

Kenetrek Mountain Extreme 400MuckBoots Mens Arctic ProUS Military Mickey MouseBaffin Men’s Selkirk Snow
Arctic Sport BootKenetrek Mountain Extreme 400MuckBoots Men’s Arctic ProUS Military “Mickey Mouse” Baffin Men’s Selkirk Snow

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Irish Setter Mens 860Guide Gear Men Monolithic
Irish Setter Men’s 860Baffin Men’s Snow MonsterGuide Gear Men MonolithicLaCrosse Men’s Alphaburly ProSorel Men’s Conquest

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Arctic Sport Boot

MuckBoots are a popular choice for all seasons and terrains, but the Arctic Sport model is designed with an additional 2mm of thermal foam atop 8mm of neoprene, earning a broad comfort rating between -40F (-40C) and 60F (~16C).

The Arctic Sport boots are also fleece-lined, completely waterproof right to the top, and incorporate a breathable airmesh lining, keeping your feet dry from without and within.

Arctic Sport Boot

What’s more? The lightweight rubber sole is reparable, so if after a few of seasons of wear and tear you find a fissure, a quick patch job will have them ship shape in short order.

The tall shaft of the boot–14.5in (37cm) measuring from the arch–also makes it a great boot for light wading in shallow streams.

Weighing between 2 and 2.5lbs (.9-1.1kg), the Arctic Sport is extremely lightweight for any boot, let alone a lined, waterproof one with a reinforced toe, or “bumper.”

All in all, MuckBoots’ Arctic Sport might be a bit cumbersome for romping around town, it’s fully serviceable on ice, snow, and in streams.

Advantages

  • Waterproof
  • Lightweight
  • Suitable for multi-season use
  • Tall neoprene shaft, ideal for wading across shallow streams

Disadvantages

  • Lining is not removable
  • Can get hot, especially with sweaty feet
  • Not ideal on slick or black ice with little or no snow cover
  • No laces for those who require ankle support

Kenetrek Mountain Extreme 400 Insulated Boots

While the Kenetrek Mountain Extreme 400 Insulated Boots are designed with the mountaineer in mind, the full grain 2.8mm seamless leather is completely waterproof and abrasion resistant, and the K-Talon outsoles offer excellent traction. A far heftier price tag makes the Kenetrek prohibitively expensive for most, but it’s worth noting that they’re bound to outlast more affordable neoprene boots.

With the price comes comfort: a 7mm nylon midsole is a nice touch, offering extra support and making your day (and trek) out on the ice a little easier on your feet. Full lacing also means you’ll get optimal support, especially if you plan on hiking up to more elusive fishing grounds where you might risk rolling an ankle.

Kenetrek Mountain Extreme 400 Insulated Boots

The Mountain Extreme 400 is insulated with 3M’s trademark Thinsulate, a hyper-lightweight synthetic solution to more cumbersome fleece, stripping the weight of these puppies down to 2.1lbs (.95kg) per boot, which is remarkably light for a leather boot.

Weight aside, this is a pricy boot, and by no means necessary for ice fishing. In fact, it is probably excessive for most ice fishers, especially those with not much of a jaunt to the ice, where ankle support becomes a less important concern, as do laces, which detract heavily from comfort, especially when you’re doing more sitting than walking. But, for the ice fisher with a penchant for hunting or wandering way off the well-trodden path, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better boot to serve both purposes.

Advantages

  • Full grain, waterproof, and abrasion resistant leather
  • Lightweight
  • Great traction
  • Tough outer soles
  • 3M Thinsulate insulation

Disadvantages

  • Expensive
  • Lining is not removable
  • High-traction K-Talon outsoles
  • No specific weather rating

MuckBoots Men’s Arctic Pro Hunting Boots

The warmest of the MuckBoots on the market, the Men’s Arctic Pro Hunting Boot is rated for comfort in temperatures between 30F (-1C) and -60F (-51C), and is favored by Canadian ice fishers and Alaskan hunters with good reason: apart from 8mm of Neoprene for insulation, a 2mm thermal EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) foam–the same dense foam used for fishing rod grips–beneath the footbed ensures against frost in some of the toughest environs on earth.

MuckBoots Mens Arctic Pro Hunting Boots

The high shaft of the Arctic Pro Hunting model (the same 14.5in as the Arctic Sport model) is also waterproof, and the topline of these boots are fitted with a snug, stretch-fit binding designed to keep your feet warm while preventing the elements from finding their way in. The base of the boot, while sufficiently built for most endeavors, is also available fitted with an industry-certified steel toe for those who might find themselves chopping wood to cook up the day’s catch lakeside, or in search of a 2-in-1 boot for both work and play.

One more handy feature, despite not being removable (which we favor), is the Arctic Pro’s 2mm fleece lining (also found in the Arctic Sport) is relatively easy to clean.

Advantages

  • 30F (-1C) to -60F (-51C) temperature rating
  • 14.5in (37cm) height above arch
  • EVA midsole
  • Fleece lining
  • Stretch-fit topline binding
  • Lightweight (2.2lbs/1kg per boot)

Disadvantages

  • No laces means little ankle support
  • Lining is not removable

US Military “Mickey Mouse” Extreme Cold Weather Boots

Colloquially and affectionately known as both “Mickey Mouse” and “Bunny” boots, these standard issue cold weather combat boots have been serving the US Military since the Korean War in the early 1950s. While they may not be fit for modelling, but remember: we’re talking ice fishing, lest we forget, and no lake trout or pike ever made mention of the aesthetics of a fisher’s footwear, last we checked.

US Military Mickey Mouse Extreme Cold Weather Boots

Rated for temperatures as low as -20F (-29C), US Military’s “Mickey Mouse” boots have probably served in enough wars to speak for themselves and earn their fair share of Medals of Honor. A solid rubber sole guarantees waterproofing and dependable traction, which should be expected at the very least. What really makes this boot remarkable is its solution to evaporation (i.e., perspiration) issues, which according to the US Military, is among the leading causes of injury and frostbite in the great outdoors. They’re lined with wool, but anyone who’s ever owned a shoe, boot, or wetsuit lined with wool knows that just a few outings will render a stench so unbearable and impermeable that they require diligent, if not professional cleaning. The US Military places felt and wool between two layers of waterproof rubber so that the outside and the inside of the boots are waterproof, preventing both evaporation and stench. The gusset tongue is also waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about moisture seeping in around the laces.

One more unique touch is an air pressure release valve that gives the alpine ice fisher or hiker the option to relieve any pressure, which can start to suggest a problem anywhere above 6,000ft (about 1800m) or so.

Word to the wise: buy these boots a size smaller than you normally would as they tend to run large.

Advantages

  • Rated to -20F (-29C)
  • Rubber sole
  • Evaporation-free insulation
  • Waterproof gusset tongue
  • Excellent traction
  • Air pressure release valve

Disadvantages

  • Heavy; averaging about 2.75lbs (1.25kg) per boot
  • Not terribly flattering, aesthetically
  • Thick (wool) socks are a must, or rubber-coated lining can cause blisters

Baffin Men’s Selkirk Snow Boot

Rated down to -40F(-40C), Baffin’s Selkirk Snow Boot would have been overkill for Selkirk himself. Weighing in at about 2.6lbs (~1.2kg) per boot, they’re certainly heavier than most of the boots that made our list, but that comes along with a series of amenities not to be denied or overlooked.

Several insulation technologies make this boot, which bears a soft and smooth microfiber lining called thermoplush, Hydromax II which is yet another lining meant to mimic the wicking qualities of an infant’s diaper, and a “waffle” insole contributes an extra layer of insulation while allowing for airflow and breathability. All of the aforementioned is sealed by a vaporized aluminum membrane meant to reflect heat back to the foot, rather than absorb it.

Baffin Mens Selkirk Snow Boot

Of course, the exterior is fully waterproof with a snow collar up to the top, which just about reaches the knee (13in/30.5cm from arch), and offers reinforcement through a buckle over the shin.

Make no mistake about it, this is a cold weather boot: unlike the Arctic Sport by MuckBoots, this would be serious overkill for a rainy day in May. But, if you’re looking to spend a full day–or week–out on the ice and/or in the snow, you’d have a hard time finding a more comfortable option.

Advantages

  • Full grain leather
  • Waffle insole
  • Advanced buckling for firm fit
  • Thermoplush lining
  • Hydromax II insulation
  • Removeable lining

Disadvantages

  • Bulkiness
  • Weight

Irish Setter Men’s 860 Elk Tracker Waterproof 1000 Gram Boot

Leather-made with a waterproof GORE-TEX membrane, the Irish Setter Men’s 860 Elk Tracker Waterproof 1000 Gram Boot comes with a cushy 1000 grams of 3M Thinsulate, memory foam bases, and CuShin (shin-cushioning) technology which add optimal comfort these heavily insulated boots, while a four-way nylon shaft offers flexibility no matter which way you step.

The outsole is comprised of Irish Setter’s Bull’s Eye Air Bob traction: three different gripping points, ideal for anything winter has to throw at you.

Irish Setter Men 860 Elk Tracker Waterproof 1000 Gram Boot

The Elk Tracker is also designed with Irish Setter’s ScentBan technology, preventing odorous bacteria which will save you lots of detailed cleaning, and serve you well should these happen to become your hunting boots as well.

A steel shank offers firm topside support, while a roomy toe box keeps your feet from feeling claustrophobic, but it’s important to keep in mind that although these boots are relatively lightweight, that brings them up to just under 2.5lbs (1.3kg) a piece.

If you do go with the Elk Trackers, make sure to clean them with a clean, wet cloth, and definitely don’t store them–or anything leather–in plastic, which will prevent them from breathing and lead to mold.

Advantages

  • Quality leather
  • 1000g 3M Thinsulate Ultra insulation
  • Great traction
  • Comfortable
  • Roomy toe box
  • Odor Free

Disadvantages

  • While GORE-TEX is a wonderful waterproofing membrane, it degrades after a few years
  • On the heavier side, at about 2.5lbs (1.3kg) per boot
  • No specified temperature range (though one Amazon reviewer laid claim to wearing them while building power lines in Wisconsin through winter without a hitch)

Baffin Men’s Snow Monster Insulated All-Weather Boot

Somewhat less flashy than the Selkirk Snow Boot, the Snow Monster weighs about the same (2.8lbs/~1.3kg per boot), but are rated for even brisker temperatures–down to -70F (-57C).

The waffle-comb footbed, removable liner, signature traction, and signature full grain leather of the Selkirk are not lost on the Snow Monster, as are the thermoplush lining, heat-reflecting vaporized aluminum membrane, and moisture-wicking Hydromax II layer. What is gained is a complex lacing system (as opposed to shin buckles), which offers more support than the Selkirk, but more meticulous fine tuning than an average lace-up boot, and yes, the Snow Monster is sealed right up to the top of the boot which includes a snow collar to keep the cold out.

Baffin Mens Snow Monster Insulated All-Weather Boot

If you need a snug fit for a long, cold hike, this is your boot. But, if you want a relaxed fit for a skip and a hop out to drill a few holes in the middle of the lake, this is still your boot. Just ease off on the laces and this harcore hiking boot becomes one for lounging and leisure. Simply put, the Snow Monster is a little more versatile, and is rated to get you just a little closer to the poles without freezing off digits.

Advantages

  • Full grain leather
  • Waffle insole
  • Advanced buckling for firm fit
  • Thermoplush lining
  • Hydromax II insulation
  • Removeable lining
  • -70F (-57C) temperature rating
  • Fixed speed lace closure for fine tuning

Disadvantages

  • Weight
  • Bulkiness

Guide Gear Men Monolithic Waterproof Insulated Hunting Boots

An unprecedented 2400 grams of Thinsulate insulation give Guide Gear’s sleek leather beasts a -58F (-50C), but that comes with a weight of about 2.5lbs (1.13kg) per boot, which is not the heaviest of the boots on our list, but it comes close.

And while this is one tough boot, it’s probably aimed more toward hunters than fishers: it doesn’t have ice-specific traction, and its 12” shaft is only matched with a ¾ gusseted tongue, so the elements are liable to find their way in with more ease than the other boots on our list.

Guide Gear Men Monolithic Waterproof Insulated Hunting Boots

That said, multiple Amazon reviewers swear by them for ice fishing, the traction has an additional slip and oil-resistant coating that should help on the ice.

EVA soles similar to those found in MuckBoots, along with a heavily padded tongue make them comfortable enough for longer treks, where the laces also come in handy.

Advantages

  • Leather
  • Waterproof
  • 2400 grams of Thinsulate
  • Great traction
  • Slip and Oil-resistant
  • Breathable membrane to keep feet dry
  • EVA sole
  • Padded tongue

Disadvantages

  • Heavy
  • Short shaft
  • ¾-length gusseted tongue won’t keep elements out to the top of the boot

LaCrosse Men’s Alphaburly Pro 18″ Realtree Xtr-M Hunting Boot

LaCrosse’s Alphaburly Pro 18” Realtree Xtr-M Hunting boot weighs in at 2.4lbs (1.1kg) per boot, placing it between most neoprene and leather boots in the weight category, but with an 16” shaft (and adjustable gusset for easy entry), they’re worth it for those fishing in milder climates.

Similar to the US Military’s Mickey Mouse (or Bunny) boots, the Alphaburly Pro comes with an embossed liner designed to wick moisture and increase circulation, which is especially important for a mild-weather boot in which sweaty feet can become a serious matter of concern–these boots don’t come with insulation, and bearing only 3.5mm of neoprene, you’ll find yourself wanting some seriously thick wool socks if the mercury starts dipping much below the 20s.

LaCrosse Men

The top part of the shank is even double-stitched; these boots are built with the intention of withstanding even the utmost most recklessness. Stumble through rock, rubble, mud, freestone streams, fields of broken ice at the lake’s edge–they’re built for just about anything, and with a middle-of-the-road price tag, they’re a reliable choice for the budget-minded ice fisher.

The rubber outsole is hand-laid, and reinforced toe and heel is a unique trait that probably adds to the weight of these boots, and while that might not necessarily serve you ice fishing, it will do wonders for the longevity of the boot, and you might find yourself appreciating it for longer hikes, wading streams, or getting through some mud on your way to the ice for one last late- (hopefully not too late) season outing.

Advantages

  • Flexible
  • Durable
  • Hand-laid rubber soles
  • Waterproof
  • Chamfered outsoles (45°-angled edges) for demanding terrain
  • Adjustable gusset
  • Embossed liner
  • Reinforced toe and heel

Disadvantages

  • Somewhat heavy for a neoprene boot
  • No liner; not designed for extreme cold

Sorel Men’s Conquest Boot

Among the most affordable options for a leather boot, Sorel’s Conquest is fairly lightweight at 2.3lbs (1.04kg) per boot, which is quite the achievement, especially when you take into account the hand-laid and vulcanized rubber sole rated for heavy snow. 400 grams of Thinsulate Ultra insulation earns the Conquest a temperature rating down to -40F (-40C), while the 8.6in (22cm) leather shaft and gusset is fully waterproof right up to the top. And while this boot is decidedly shorter than the others on our list, a barrel-lock gaiter bootie with bungee drawstring forms a snug enclosure to keep snow, ice, water, and mud out with authority.

Sorel Mens Conquest Boot

Further support is provided by the ankle buckle, which offers support for those who need it, when they need it.

Still, it’s important to point out that this is a budget boot. You get what you pay for, and a leather boot at this price ($89.99 at the time of publishing), comes with its issues, the most common of which being separated seams, according to several Amazon reviewers. We recommend that if you really don’t plan on wearing boots too much, they’ll probably last you a long time no matter what. But if you plan on putting these things through icy hell, day in, day out, spend a bit more and look into the Baffin line.

Advantages

  • 400 grams of Thinsulate Ultra insulation
  • Lightweight
  • Hand-laid, vulcanized rubber soles

Disadvantages

  • Liners are not removable, out of Sorel tradition
  • Seams tend to fall apart after a few seasons

Conclusion:

Ultimately, your ideal ice fishing boots are going to come down to a few specifics based on the environment in which you’ll be fishing, your intended frequency of use, and the amount of trekking you’ll be doing to get to your fishing holes. However, at the very least, be sure to choose a pair that is waterproof (ideally to the top of the shaft), comfortable, well-soled for everything from slick ice to dense, wet snow, and insulated enough to keep your toes from freezing off during a day out on the ice–the last thing you want to have to do is endure the utter embarrassment of informing your fishing buddies that it’s time pack up all that gear and turn around just because your toes are cold; it could be a loooong walk home.