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When you’ll be walking and sitting on ice, it’s important that you are safe, and that starts with sure footing. Whilst you might think the odd slipped foot might not be an issue if you slip and fall and are on the ice for any length of time things could quickly become serious. And a simple sprained ankle could turn into hypothermia.
Climbers including ice climbers have been using cleats for years as they give feet a better purchase on both on mossy rocks and on the ice. They are relatively inexpensive and typically lightweight so if you ice fish they’re definitely worth the investment.
Best Ice Cleats for Ice Fishing
Yaktrax Diamond Grip
Best Budget Ice Fishing Cleats
Kahtoola MICROspikes – Best Ice Fishing Cleats
If you ask most ice fishers what brands offer the best ice fishing cleats on the market, you’ll often hear two names. One of those sworn by users is Kahtoola and their MICROspikes, which many swear by over regular cleats.
Keep a pair of cleats to hand just about anywhere, whether it’s your pocket, bag or glove box. They’re lightweight and take up minimal space. Don’t let their portability put you off though, they are constructed from heat-treated stainless steel and can stand up to even the toughest of terrain.
Durable Design for the Toughest of Conditions
These cleats are made with 400 series heat-treated stainless steel. There’s no need to worry about these taking a beating from the elements and rusting on you. No, these cleats are here for the long run. Featuring twelve spikes there’s enough grip to tackle even the toughest of terrain. Perfect for those long days out on the ice.
These are durable cleats that should last you for plenty of seasons thanks to the use of heat-treated steel. They grip onto footwear tightly which means you can be sure that they won’t give out and fall off your boots or shoes.
A small detail to note since these cleats are made from durable materials they can cause wear on surfaces other than regular outdoor terrain (ice, snow etc.) you may find these cleats wear down your flooring more than other cleats.
Yaktrax Diamond Grip
The second brand of cleats favoured by ice fishers is Yaktrax. Yaktrax offers high-quality products at an affordable price point. You can feel confident going on the ice with a pair of Yaktrax cleats on your boots.
Lightweight and Portable
Keep these to hand just about anywhere, whether it’s your pocket, bag or glove compartment. They’re lightweight and take up minimal room. Don’t let their portability put you off though, they are constructed from heat-treated stainless steel and can stand up to even the toughest of terrain.
Unique Diamond Bead Design
When wearing Diamond Grips, you can be sure of wearing only the highest quality materials. These cleats are made from case-hardened steel alloy and strung on steel aircraft-grade cable.
The unique diamond bead design increases the surface area of the cleats possible gripping points to the surface below. In addition, these beads swivel independently which reduces the build-up of snow and ice clogging up your cleats.
These cleats are great for not only the ice but when walking on concrete and gravel. Thanks to their independent diamond bead design you can be confident each step you take will be a secure one.
The cable used can tend to fray, corrode and rust after prolonged use. Therefore, it’s important to keep the cleats dry to prevent rusting.
Yaktrax Pro – Best Budget Ice Fishing Cleats
The second Yaktrax product on this product line up. With good reason too, the Yaktrax Pro is not as heavy duty as the diamond grip cleats, however, that doesn’t mean they're not any less suited to a day on the ice. These are a solid pair of ice fishing cleats at an affordable price.
These are durable cleats that should last you for plenty of seasons to come thanks to the use of heat-treated steel. They grip onto footwear tightly which means you can be sure that they won’t give out and fall off your boots or shoes.
The rubber tends to wear out. Although, for the price, these are still a good pair of cleats.
What are ice cleats?
Ice cleats fit the base of your ice fishing boots and have tiny metal spikes which dig into the ice giving you grip and traction meaning your foot shouldn’t slip out from under you and enabling you to walk confidently across the ice.
Why do I need a pair of ice fishing cleats?
The most important reason, as mentioned above, is safety. A good pair of ice cleats will enable you to walk comfortably across the ice without fear of slipping and or worse case falling on the ice. Not only is falling on the ice a dangerous event it’s also annoying especially if you’re carrying heavy kit and gear which may skid off across the ice or worse case may even fall into a hole.
What materials are ice cleats made from?
Not all ice cleats are made the same which is surprising for such a relatively simple product. But, like most things today, there’s a big difference between the materials used and how they’re used and so it’s important to understand a little about this to ensure you make the right decision for your circumstances.
Typically, cleats will have a rubberized material which will stretch over the heel and toe of the boot or shoe and metal spikes or serrations on the soles which grip into the ice. This combination of steel and rubber works well.
However, for something different you can also buy all rubber cleats which can be just as effective and are lighter.
The most important element of any pair of cleats is the spike material. And don’t be fooled, they aren’t all made the same. To ensure you choose the best pair of cleats you need to first understand what type of environment you will use them in.
Sharp spikes are best used to penetrate ice and snow and so are ideal for ice fishing.
Typically the spikes are made from:
- Coiled spikes.
- Steel and heat-treated steel.
What features should I look for?
- Abrasion resistant steel beads
- Hard material for longevity.
- Retractable blades can be useful if you want to walk on indoors while still wearing your cleats as they shouldn’t damage your floors - note: please be sensible when trying this on your floors at home etc. and read the manufacturer’s recommendations for the correct usage of their cleats.
- Foldable cleats are ideal space savers in your kit and are handy if you want to stash a pair either in your glove box or in the office for that impromptu fishing trip!
- Replaceable cleats allow you to remove a worn-out cleat and replace it with a new one.
- Full-sole coverage gives you the most natural feel and they’re more comfortable as you’re walking style shouldn’t be affected.
- Polyester straps offer additional security as they strap across the top of your shoes or boots.
- Self-cleaning cleats give you one less thing to worry about when you’re cleaning your kit.
Ice cleats are worn over your boots including those with a high level of insulation and should be comfortable enough to wear all day without causing undue wear or fatigue.
How the ice cleats attach to your boots will vary between manufacturers and designs. They feature a rubberized material which stretches over the heel and toe of the boot securely attaching the cleat to the boot with a firm grip. This makes removing the cleats easy and enables you to wear them with a selection of different footwear.
Other manufacturers use a combination of rubber and metal to secure the cleats.
In addition, for a more secure fit look for those with a polyester strap fitting.
Typically, the cleats will stretch to fit over your ice fishing boots so you want a flexible material that will hold its shape and provide a secure fit that won’t fall off after only a few wears.
Don’t forget, it’s important that any cleats you choose are easy to put on and remove when your hands are cold or you are wearing gloves.
When you consider that this item will be on your shoes or boots all day (though there’s nothing stopping you from removing your cleats once you are set up for the day and won’t be doing any walking) you want something that doesn’t feel tight or pinch your toes.
Despite common misconceptions, ice cleats don’t have to add too much weight to your kit. With modern lightweight materials, you can get a decent pair of ice cleats which weigh only around 8oz a pair.
Aluminium will typically be a better option over steel if you are looking for an ultra-lightweight pair of cleats.
Depending on the style and design of cleats you choose you might also use them while out hiking as cleats can give excellent grip over the slippery, mossy ground and snow and ice.
Ice cleats are ideal for icy, slippery and snowy conditions at home too but first check the manufacturer's recommendations to make they are suitable for walking on hard surfaces such as sidewalks and roads for example.
There are plenty of anglers who don’t buy cleats, preferring to take to the open ice in their trusty fishing boots and who cope well with the slippery environment. However, investing in a pair of good-quality, well-made ice cleats is a wise purchase. Ice cleats give you the necessary grip to ensure that you have a sure footing across the ice and while you are fishing. An injury on the ice can quickly become serious so you don’t want to put yourself in danger of having a fall, sprained ankle or broken leg turn life-threatening.
There are plenty of inexpensive but good quality ice cleats on the market so take a look at our reviews to see which pair is right for you - and stay safe on the ice.