The Best Ice Fishing Jackets For Women With Float Assist
How my search for the perfect ice fishing jacket has grown my appreciation for the accelerating trend of apparel designed for Women by Women who are passionate about fishing.
*Please note that at this time this article is purely informative and does not contain any affiliate links or affiliate marketing. Should I change my mind on this in the future, the affiliate links will be clearly stated.
This story begins with the simple decision I had made to buy a new ice fishing jacket last Winter. I wanted to replace my older outerwear with ones that incorporate the latest technology. You know, the ones that have flotation assist built into their design. Not only would they keep me warm and dry but they would also help me stay afloat should I ever have the misfortune of falling through the ice. I also wanted them to be made for women, a bit more tailored and feminine than the usual bulky offerings for men. Personally, I am tired of having to settle on wearing ill-fitting men’s fishing clothes all of the time due to the lack of selection for lady anglers! This search launched my discovery of the best 5 ice fishing jackets with float assist for women!
While my comparative insights here are specifically focused on ice fishing outer-wear, it is also a runway for larger introspection on the clothing industry for women anglers in general.
I am hoping the knowledge that I gained will be of help to you, should you be looking for ice fishing clothing for yourself, as a woman, or for the star woman angler in your life. I hope that what I learned will make your shopping experience easier. But I am also hoping that you come away with your own set of questions and insights regarding ‘fishing fashion’, as well as an excitement for the changes that I see happening!
*Please note, I started writing this article in December of 2020. It took me much longer than planned to pull it together because of all the details I wanted to convey. Because of this, the article wasn’t ready until ice fishing here, in the North East, was almost over. I made the decision to wait to publish it once the next hard water season was in sight, as it is now in November of 2021!! This month, 8 months after initially starting this article, I reviewed the offerings by the companies I mention below. I found several changes in product offerings from last winter and I note any updates in the products with ** (note).
In the past month, I have also reached out to all five companies I mention below. Three of the five companies answered my inquiries and I was impressed with their enthusiasm on this topic as well as their willingness to answer the questions I posed to them.
I didn’t set out to do a review on women’s ice fishing jackets initially. I just wanted a new jacket, new bibs….that is all, but it turned into a learning experience to share.
I spent many hours researching and comparing my options for the jacket and bibs, and what I found was very interesting to me. It sparked scientific questions and philosophical debates within my own head. I mean, I really ended up geeking out over all of this! I did research, I took copious notes, I created comparison spreadsheets…
I learned things that I hadn’t intended to learn but wasn’t sorry that I did.
I learned the pros and cons of nylon versus polyester, the meaning of the word denier, what DWR treatment is, and how to measure one’s own arm length. I also learned that I am near impossible to buy fishing clothes for and I find this unacceptable. I feel there needs to be a bigger market, but is there a bigger need? I venture to say “Yes”. Do most women anglers feel this way? As my research continued, I started thinking that they probably do.
There’s no doubt that I personally had a challenging time finding a jacket that fit me well, but, I believe that if you are a woman in the market for a good quality ice fishing jacket, no matter your physique, at least one or more of the companies I researched below will have an option for you. It may take some work to find the right one, and if you are tall with long arms, the task isn’t nearly as easy, nor the offerings as abundant. Though some jackets outperformed others with their versatility and options, I was definitely impressed by the quality of all of the jackets I tried on. I found that each company had something unique about their jackets which made them stand out from the others, and these differences could sway a buyer with a particular need.
Long Armed Love of Ice
Okay, so first, let’s begin with the fact that I am not the average case study. I know this and I don’t expect that all manufacturers would have options that cater to my body type. I am one of those tall women I mentioned above. I am almost 5’11” and of average build. I have kind of wide shoulders with strong arms, perhaps from lots of kayak fishing! I put that out there to start because it became the pivotal point from which the rest of my story here unfolds.
As a woman with long arms and long legs, it can be difficult to find clothing that fits sometimes! I know 5’11” isn’t exactly average, but I see women my height often enough to know we are out there. We aren’t that unusual. . Niche clothing, such as those geared towards lady anglers, can be very hard to find. It is definitely easier to find sizes up to 3XL for women or Tall sizes for men than it is to find Tall sizes for an averagely built woman! This fact, combined with the fact that apparel offerings for women anglers are not exactly an endless sea of choices, to begin with, certainly made my search for the ice fishing jacket a true challenge.
But, if you know me, you know I thrive on a challenge! I was determined.
As most people would, to start my search, I Googled…”Women’s ice fishing jacket with flotation assist.”
I found five companies that fit the query, so it was pretty clear right off the bat that I wouldn’t have a lot to choose from. Sounds like it should be simple with such minimal choices, right? But, actually, it got quite complicated.
$2000.00 later, I found myself sifting through a pile of receipts and shipping bags and boxes. UPS, FEDEX, Amazon…OMG! What have I done? My credit card was certainly happy that this was mostly a pile of items to be returned for refunds, but I was sad that this had been such a depressing endeavor with results I wished were different. I really wished I had had more options that worked for me.
I started my shopping with my first brand of choice, DSG Outerwear.
DSG Outerwear is a niche apparel business conceived in 2010 by Wendy Gavinski out in Wisconsin. Initially, she focused on clothing for snowmobilers. She had found the outdoor clothing market for women lacking, just like I do. Where were the functional stylish choices for women who snowmobile? Or fish? Or hunt? She did something about it and developed her company which seems to be doing fantastic. They are advocates for women in the outdoors, and in fact, they played a large role in making blaze pink legal for the hunting season out there in Wisconsin. Kudos! We need more of this!
I had first learned of DSG on Instagram while following some ice fishing tags.
I thought, “look at all of these women just rocking it out there on the ice, fishing! I WANT TO BE THERE!” They were there setting up shelters, drilling holes, setting tip-ups and electronics, jigging, and catching fish. Morning, day, and night. And not only were they bringing in amazing catches, but they also looked good doing it.
These women looked comfortable and warm and stylish. They obviously weren’t wearing their boyfriend’s coat. Their ice fishing jackets and bibs were beautiful! In my books, there’s something to be said for this. They were claiming a place in this sport as women. I became a fan of these Wisconsin ladies and started taking notes, and that included finding out what their outerwear was. Many had the DSG black bibs with the signature heavy gold-colored stitching paired with jackets that were black with tan, teal, or maroon. Classic, feminine, not overly done, very utilitarian, perfect.
You see, I have come to learn that most women like to maintain a sense of fashion in just about any circumstance, whether they are out on the town dancing, out on a lake fishing, or even home plunging a toilet. In general, we ladies want our clothes to look and feel good. And here, out on the ice in the state of Wisconsin, was a perfect example of this. You may think it silly of me, and ask, does fashion even matter when ice fishing? Or when fishing at all?
“Yes!!” I would say, “Fashion does matter!!” And here is why…
“For some women, fashion is resistance. For others, it is provocation. Fashion provides a spark that powers social and economic advancement— however incremental, incomplete, and belated it might be. It can serve as psychological armor and social pronouncement, clothing us in the courage to broadcast to the world who we are and how we would like to be seen.”
This is a quote I pulled from The Peabody Essex Museum’s web page that announced their exhibit “Made It- Section 5- Designing for a change”. I think it is such a powerful statement. It eludes to the fact that fashion is not only art but can also be used as a social force!
The quote goes on to say-
“Women designers have long harnessed fashion’s power for communication and connection. They use their position in the industry to create clothes that urge the acceptance of new ideas and necessary change. From Vivienne Westwood to Stella McCartney, these designers embody new values, practices, and methodologies that strive to move themselves, consumers, and our society forward.”
Yes! Whoooot! Read that statement twice! I just love this! It’s certainly a reason why fishing clothing for women is so important to me. Not only is the clothing a physical armor, keeping us ready for whatever the elements may present us with on any given day out on the water, it is also symbolism, a social statement, a form of communication, it is ART.
Our fashion style can often be seen as a pronouncement of love as we walk out the front door and enter into a world where there is something we are passionate about and ready to partake in.
I believe in this. But, I also have to say that it’s not unusual for me to feel excluded from “the fishing club” clothes rack. And I LOVE fishing. I am always ready and willing to partake in this sport! To say there isn’t much there to offer me as far as clothing that fits well and is utilitarian with some style is an understatement. After all, it is a male-dominated sport that has not yet fully embraced the impact of women on both its past and its future.
However, the growing movement of creating clothing specifically for women anglers is announcing a much-welcomed change.
I couldn’t resist buying a pair of these boots by Xtratuff with artwork by the Salmon Sisters. The plain brown boots we love so much certainly got a nudge up with the introduction of fun beautiful art!
And check out these beautiful and fun Totally Tarpon fishing leggings offered by FiShe® Wear. Their numerous fish patterned designs are gorgeous!
This is exciting! Just look at what women-owned companies such as DSG, FiShe, and Alaskan Salmon Sisters have been creating! Not only is tailoring to a women’s needs and senses a priority but, notable in many of their products is the inclusion of fine art illustrations from which the fabric patterns used in the clothing are created. As an artist who loves to fish, this just makes my heart sing! This feminine art has been swimming its way upriver and has ended up being represented on products offered by traditional fishing apparel companies. Collaborations with longtime, well-known, and trusted businesses such as Xtratuff and Orvis have been formed over the past 5 or so years and seem to be growing.
Yes! Please! Ladies, keep this going!! I just LOVE this and I have so much more to say here, and I will in another post, but for now, I need to navigate back to the Ice Fishing Jackets and how they rate…
#1- Avid Women’s Fishing Jacket by DSG Outerwear
As mentioned above, after all of my research on ladies ice fishing jackets with flotation assist, my first choice was the Avid Women’s Ice Fishing Jacket by DSG Outerwear, and here is why:
DSG Avid Women’s Ice Fishing Jacket with Features
The fabric felt strong and warm and the inner lining was beautiful, black with a gold-colored printed design. The jackets come in sizes XS – 5XL and in 3 color combinations. Not only does DSG offer the most size options over their competitors, but their jackets also have the most added features.
I ordered a size XL in the jacket and bibs, hoping they’d be long enough for my arms and legs. I waited for the shipment and was so excited for my DSG order to arrive! I can’t help it, I get excited about anything fishing-related that I order, it’s like Christmas every time! I was getting ready to welcome the ice with Love. Evenings were spent going through all of my gear, sorting it, organizing my lures, and putting new line on my tip-ups and reels. There wasn’t ice yet to ice fish on, but it was coming. After all, it was late December and I was going to be ready.
I also need to admit that as excited as I was to receive the fishing clothes, I was actually equally afraid to receive them. Sounds weird, right? But, what if it was a let-down? What would happen if they didn’t fit, then what? I don’t mean that in a sense of “whatever will I do without a new jacket?” with hands thrown up in the air. What I mean is “What would that actually mean if they don’t fit”? Would it mean that I will be forever relegated to wearing ill-fitting fishing clothing while doing something I love? Would it mean that my body is not the standard acceptable woman’s body?
I know, it seems dramatic, doesn’t it? But it was/is a big deal to me, and I can’t help but think that I am not alone in these uncomfortable musings. There must be plenty of women who experience these feelings when looking to buy clothing they love, clothing that is to be worn for a reason they are passionate about such as horseback riding, ballroom dancing, and yes, fishing. I look back to the quotes on fashion mentioned above and think of words such as Pronouncement, Advancement, Courage, and Connection. As well as being warm and dry, I also want to be a part of those standards.
The ice fishing jacket and bibs from DSG arrived and my first impression when I opened the box that held the clothing was quality. These garments were obviously well made, and they were beautiful! I kicked off my shoes and took out the bibs first, the gorgeous, beautiful, bibs. I put them on and…they fit!
Remarkably, they were long enough. They were basic black with gold-colored stitching. Like the jacket, they had a beautiful warm black and gold patterned lining. The legs have an adjustable inseam ranging from 28.5″ to 32.5”. Other features include several pockets, one of which has a removable fish rag, a few D-Rings for clipping on gear, and best of all…a drop seat bottom!
Yes, these bibs, ladies, are quite amazing! Instead of having to peel off layers to squat in an ice shelter, or behind a tree or a dumpster by the side of the lake when nature calls, the bibs have two convenient zips on the backside that allow the seat of the bibs to dropdown! EEEEASY! Can you even believe this convenience?? They felt very warm and well made. I certainly considered this a huge success! First try, and BAM! Look no further, these couldn’t be any more perfect.
Warm and Cheeky in Drop Seat Bottoms
Next, I took out the jacket and again noticed the quality. It was a gorgeous jacket. I put it on and the sleeves actually felt long enough. I zipped up the coat and felt its warmth. It was beautiful. Then I moved and lifted my arms. What? Wait? No…I can’t bend my elbows! I had a thick sweater on, but isn’t that typical when ice fishing? I could have cried. Across the shoulders and in the elbow area, especially on the sleeve with the zip pocket, was a bit too snug, I needed something roomier. Everything else about the jacket was amazing. I was impressed with the thought that had been put into every detail.
Ok, so, one for one, not a complete failure. Was I disappointed? Yes. Can I overcome it? Yes. I decided to take a chance and order the jacket in the next size up to see if I could gain the room I needed. I really wanted this to work, I was in love with this jacket. Unfortunately, the next size up didn’t fit me well either. While I had gained the needed room in the shoulders and arms, the midsection was too big and felt uncomfortable. Did I mention I wanted to cry? I even brought the jacket to a seamstress to see if I could get the midsection taken in. (Did I also mention that I am a determined person?) But, because of the asymmetrical design, the seamstress could not alter it and I needed to return the jacket.
Despite not finding a proper fit, I still rate the DSG Avid jacket as the top jacket because of the quality and numerous features. They also offered the largest size range out of all the jackets I tried, but it just didn’t work for my personal build. I wished it had more room and ‘stretch’ in the shoulders and elbows!
** This season, DSG introduced their Artic Appeal 2.0 ice fishing jacket, an upgrade to their previous Arctic Appeal jacket. It looks like a beautiful jacket, and if the Avid jacket and bibs are any indication, this jacket will be well worth the purchase as well.
DSG Arctic Appeal Women’s Ice Fishing Jacket With Features
**I recently reached out to DSG, and they were enthusiastic about my research leading to this blog post, and here is what I learned.
Q&A with DSG:
WWMA: “Was demand bigger or smaller than expected last season for ice fishing apparel?”
DSG: “Demand was bigger than expected last year.”
WWMA: “What prompted you to create the Arctic Appeal 2.0 jacket? Is this the first year it is being offered?”
DSG: “Our product cycle over all of our lines is to have a specific version of a style available for 2 years. We then re-design it (take into account feedback, new styling trends, new features, etc) to create the next version of that style. This is the first year for the Arctic Appeal 2.0 jacket.”
WWMA: “What made you determine your sizing offerings? (I discuss size and fit options in my post)”
DSG: “Our owner initially was very frustrated with the size and style offerings for ladies snowmobile gear. She wanted to design products that combined fit and function for ladies of all sizes – big/small – short/tall. Our snowmobile line was so successful, that we have branched out in other areas (including ice fishing) where ladies gear was usually just a men’s fit in feminine colors (which doesn’t work for most ladies).”
WWMA: “Are there any other insights you would like to share regarding DSG and ice fishing apparel for women?”
DSG: “Just that we take feedback every year from our customers and our pro staff, and try to design gear that marries fit, function, and style.”
WWMA: “Do you have plans in the future regarding expanding your selection of ice fishing apparel for women or have you found there isn’t an adequate market to justify expansion?”
DSG: “Oh yes! We have quite a few product plans that we are working on for future seasons
So good to hear! I just love the origin, foresight, spirit, and growth of this company. I can also attest to the quality of their products.
#2- Striker Brand Women’s Prism Jacket
The Striker Ice Prism Series was my next choice. And here is why:
Striker Women’s Prism Ice Fishing Jacket Features
Striker brand (referring to a snake strike) was founded by Jim Poucher in 2005 in Minnesota. The company offered premium technical clothing to snowmobilers until 2010. In 2011 Striker Brands LLC was formed and focused on offering quality apparel to ice anglers.
The Striker Brand Women’s Prism Ice Fishing Jacket was the next coat to arrive and it was gorgeous- a jewel-toned purple. Again, another very well-made jacket, and I could really feel the warmth when I zipped it up. According to my research, Striker seems to be the only brand that has a nylon outer shell, which I learned is supposedly stronger than the polyester that the other manufacturers use. Again, I absolutely loved this jacket. But, even though the body of the jacket fit me like a normal size 12 would, it didn’t fit as roomy as an ‘Ice Fishing’ 12 should. This shouldn’t fit like a dress coat. This was not a jacket that I would be able to wear over thick clothes out on the ice, and…the sleeves were much too short for me.
I did love its unique features, such as the Line Cutterz® and back pocket storage, and I think it can truly be a great choice for women who aren’t tall or broad-shouldered. It also felt like it was cut shorter at the waist than the others which didn’t seem practical. I returned the size 12 and ordered the next size up, a 14. The fit was perfect on that, I could fit heavy clothes under it, but again, the sleeves were just way too short. Sleeve length is so important out on the ice and we are not all 5’6″!