Winter Safety – Floating Safely, In Style
It's early December and first ice is close, you can taste it. Temps have been taking dips, and social media is pumping its annual ice vids, I love it. First ice is like opening day and some will go out before the permanent huts are out. For that, there's a basket of items that put the safety odds in your favor. The saying needs to be said "no ice is safe ice", but if you plan on taking advantage of that window, flotation suits are a must.
The classic 1 piece survival suit, "The Pylon" can be seen all over Lake Simcoe during first ice. In fact, you’ll see them right through the season and into last ice. Flotation suits are designed for one thing, to keep you alive and if budget allows- why not be good to yourself with luxuries like a pocket designed to hold your beverage! But are they worth it?
Safety is always paramount and comfort takes a close second. One piece suits are typically designed to help prevent hypothermia and keeping the angler afloat, but will not self-right you (keep your face out of the water) like a life jacket would. Some Mustang survival suits will allow virtually little to no water penetration when submerged.
Two piece float suits like the Strikers Sureflote tech allows for roughly 2 hours of floating and you WILL get wet, but are comfortable. Some of the luxuries offered in the two pieces are magnetic storm flappers, fleece lined pockets, memory wire visor for your hood and pockets designed to hold beverages!
Bells and whistles are nice, but there's always other low budget ways to accomplish the same thing. It all depends on your budget and the type of ice you plan on venturing out on. If you're planning on going out with a reputable hut operator, they would ensure the ice is safe enough for guests. The need for a flotation suit with a hut operator is unlikely.
You can find an extensive list of Lake Simcoe Hut Operators here.
However, if chasing first ice Jumbos and last ice crappie sound like you, safety should be a primary concern. Some folks during first and last ice can be seen with simply putting on a Life Jacket/PFDs just in case the ice gives way. Hypothermia will set in quickly.
What do we recommend?
One Piece Advantages
Traps body heat for warmth
Helps prevent hypothermia when submerged
One Piece Disadvantages
Stiff - some say comfort is compromised
When nature calls, you practically undressed yourself
Two Piece Advantages
Comfortable for bending, sitting and reaching for items
Fish Friendly Features: like magnetic storm flaps, waterproof zippers and waterproof knee pads
Two Piece Disadvantages
Once submerged, water will engulf the angler
Deemed not as safe as a 1 piece
Recommendation: For low budget, dress warm and grab a life jacket at a minimum. If budget allows, thin ice like first and last - a survival suit that prevents water from getting in, preventing hypothermia is a good choice. If you fish often and its mid season where the ice is usually thick, a two piece will have you fishing hard all day in comfort while still providing safety.
For more information on ice safety, check out our ice Safety article!
Visit the Article Page for some tips and tricks.