While they might not be the flashiest piece of gear in your ice fishing arsenal, a good pair of ice fishing cleats are absolutely vital for maintaining traction on the ice.
If you’ve even been on the hardwater without a decent pair of cleats, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Slipping and sliding around the ice is not only inconvenient, but it can also lead to serious injury.
Ice fishing cleats add a high degree of traction to your entire sole, so you can hop from hole to hole without worrying about going head over heels!
Quick Answer: 7 Best Ice Fishing Cleats
- Best Overall: Kahtoola Microspikes
- Runner Up: Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra
- Best Light-Duty Ice Cleats: Yaktrax Pro Traction Cleats
- Bow for Deep Snow & Ice: Hillsound Cypress 6
- Budget Pick: Limm Crampons Ice Traction Cleats
- Boots with Built-in Cleats: Norfin Klondaik
- Also Consider: Stabilicers Maxx 2
Why ice fishing cleats?
Much like snow chains for tires, ice fishing cleats drastically increase the amount of grip on the bottom of your winter boots. This will allow you to walk – or even run – over slick ice without losing traction and slipping.
This added grip will not only reduce the chance of a fall, they also help you feel more comfortable while ice fishing. You won’t be second-guessing yourself and walking on eggshells – you’ll stride confidently over the ice like an arctic fox!
Ice fishing cleats come in a variety of different styles and traction levels, so you’ll be able to tailor your cleats to your local ice conditions. Everything from basic slip-on plastic cleats to heavy-duty metal crampons that can be used for ice climbing is available for purchase.
Let’s take a look at some of the best ice fishing cleats on the market, as well as how to pick the ideal ones for your needs.
Top 7 Ice Fishing Cleats – Reviews
While they might cost a few bucks more than cheaper models, these well-designed cleats have been a favorite among ice fishermen since they were introduced. They feature twelve heat-treated 3/8” stainless steel spikes per foot, providing excellent traction on ice, snow, slush, and just about anything else.
An elastomer harness offers a low-profile, and the raised heel tab makes them easy to slip on and off as needed. While you might think a plastic harness would lead to tearing, Kahtoola has designed this elastomer to be ultra-strong, light, and to remain flexible down to frigid subzero temperatures (-22°F / -30°C).
Four different sizes are available (S, M, L, and XL), so find the ideal fit for your winter shoes or boots. Pay attention to the manufacturer’s sizing chart when ordering, as the sizing is slightly different for boots and shoes.
Beyond using them for ice fishing, these cleats also work great for winter trail running, hiking, and climbing.
- Spike Material: Heat-treated 400 series stainless steel
- 12 spikes per foot.
- Low-profile elastomer harness is ergonomic and flexible in cold weather.
- Reinforced eyelets with TPU inserts prevent tearing.
If rugged durability and maximum traction are what you’re after, then you’ll have a hard time beating these professional-grade crampons. Sporting an impressive 18 stainless steel spikes per foot, you’ll have no problem maintaining your grip on snow, packed ice, or whatever the weather gods have in store.
The spikes vary in length from 1/2 to 2/3 of an inch, which gives you enough grip to tackle nearly any ice conditions. They can be worn over a variety of boots and shoes, and utilize an adjustable Velcro strap to secure the spikes in place.
Reinforced double-link chains eliminate a common weak point in other cleats, and make these cleats one of the best heavy-duty options on the market. A rock-solid elastomer harness connects the cleats to your boots or shoes, which makes them both comfortable and flexible in cold weather.
- Spike Material: Stainless steel.
- 18 spikes per foot.
- Spikes vary in length from 1/2 to 2/3 of an inch.
- Can be worn over a variety of shoes and boots,
- Reinforced double-link chains eliminate common ice cleat weak points.
Best Light-Duty Ice Cleats
You don’t always need heavy-duty cleats to get the job done – in fact, sometimes less is more. These low-profile, abrasion-resistant stainless steel coils provide 360 degrees of traction so you’ll be stable no matter what the ice conditions are like.
They attach to your boots or shoes with a durable rubber frame, and are safe from breakage down to temperatures of -41° F! An over-foot frame lets you adjust the cleats to mount on a wide variety of winter footwear, while the spike-free design prevents you from accidentally shredding your pant legs or other gear.
They’re also significantly less expensive than heavy-duty cleats, so if you’re looking for a cheaper option that won’t set you back much; this pair makes an excellent choice. They tend to run a little small, so you’ll want to order one size larger than your normal shoe size.
- Traction Material: Stainless steel coils
- 4 mm thick stainless steel coils provide a high degree of traction to entire foot.
- Durable rubber foot frame ensures tight and comfortable fit.
- Tested safe from breakages down to -41° F.
Best for Deep Snow & Ice
Sometimes micro-spike cleats just won’t cut it – and you need to break out the big guns. These hefty carbon steel spikes fit that bill nicely.
Each foot feature six ¾ to 1-inch long carbon steel spikes – which can keep you moving through seriously deep snow. They also work well when you need to traverse through elevated terrain, where smaller spikes can’t provide enough traction.
An anti-balling pad on the bottom of each crampon prevents snow build-up and allows you to shed excess snow by tapping your heel.
Two easily adjustable straps secure the cleats to your boots, which use a ratchet buckle system to get a precise fit. You can also adjust the width of each crampon in seconds, so they’ll fit nearly any boot size.
A convenient puncture-proof carry bag also comes included, so you won’t damage your other gear with the spikes.
- Spike Material: Carbon steel spikes.
- Six ¾ to 1 inch long spikes per foot.
- Heavy-duty crampons ideal for deep snow and traversing through elevated terrain.
- Anti-balling pad prevents snow build-up.
If you’re looking for a functional and versatile pair of ice fishing cleats without spending an arm and a leg – then the Limm Crampons makes an excellent option. They utilize a slip-on design with heavy-duty stainless steel spikes that will maintain your footing in ice or snow.
Donning and doffing the cleats takes mere seconds with a pull tab over the toe and an adjustable rubber strap in the rear. This allows you to make micro-adjustments to the fit – so you can a precise fit no matter what type of winter boots or shoes you have.
The entire rubber top membrane is made from durable and flexible TPE elastic rubber, which will retain its flexibility even in subzero temperatures. Four different sizes are available – so you can find find the right for fit for kids, women, and men.
Beyond their budget price, one of the distinct advantages of these cleats is their portability. They can be folded up flat and stashed in your back pocket, glove box, or a compact gear bag.
- Spike Material: Stainless steel
- Slip-on design takes seconds to don and doff.
- Top rubber membrane is made from durable and flexible TPE rubber.
- Budget price makes them a great value.
Boots with Built-in Cleats
While they may not be ice fishing cleats in the traditional sense, these rugged winter boots feature a built-in retractable cleat which lets you increase traction on the ice with the flip of the heel tab. These boots aren’t just a gimmick either – they’re some of the best-reviewed ice fishing boots on the market.
The boot exterior is made from 100 percent waterproof EVA, while an inner Thinsulate layer provides insulation down to -40° F. There’s also a middle heat-reflective aluminum layer, which keeps out cold and retains body heat. The innermost layer also wicks away moisture, so your feet stay warm as well as dry at the end of a day on the ice.
The rubber outer layer is also highly protective and will shield your feet from cuts and other damage. Each boot has a small retractable ‘ice-creeper’ on the heel, which can flip down when you need extra traction.
- Triple-layer insulated boots provide warmth down to -40° F.
- Inner Thinsulate layer wicks away moisture to keep your feet dry.
- Aluminum middle layer retains body heat.
- EVA rubber exterior provides complete waterproofing and protection.
- Small retractable ice cleat on each heel allows you to add traction as needed.
While these ice cleats were originally designed for use with work boots, they also work well as ice cleats for fishing the hardwater. 15 heat-treated steel cleats per foot provide plenty of traction, while the sure-foot binding system allows you to get a perfect fit no matter what type of boots or shoes you’re wearing.
The traction aids are tested to remain flexible down to an impressive -45° F – so you’ll have no problem using these bad boys when things get hairy out there. Oil-resistant soles keep your feet protected in slick environments, although this is probably overkill if you’re planning to use them for ice fishing.
Each cleat can be replaced if necessary, and threads onto the full thermoplastic sole to keep it in place.
One thing to keep in mind is the cleats are by no means stealthy. If you plan to use them in an environment where you need to move about silently, look elsewhere.
- Spike Material: Heat-treated stainless steel.
- 15 replaceable cleats per foot.
- Adjustable sure-foot binding system uses multiple hook & loop straps to fasten to any footwear.
- Tested to remain flexible down to -45° Fahrenheit.
How to pick the right ice fishing cleats?
Ice fishing cleats vary widely in terms of grip level, materials, fasteners, and price points. You’ll want to keep these factors in mind when picking out the right pair of cleats for your needs.
Let’s take a look at some of these key features in more detail.
One of the biggest differences between ice fishing cleats is the type and amount of grip they provide.
As you might imagine, the more aggressive the tread style, the more grip it’ll give you in the ice and snow. There is also a downside to too much tread through – it can add further weight and bulk to your cleats – making them more difficult to use.
There are several main grip types used in the majority of ice cleats, although exceptions certainly exist.
Full-spikes are often found on heavy-duty crampon-style cleats. These are the same type of cleats that can be used for serious winter hiking and climbing. They typically feature spikes between ¾ and 1 inch long.
If you’re looking for ice cleats that can handle the most extreme ice and snow out there, then these cleats will perform admirably.
Micro-spike cleats are a slightly paired down version of full-length spikes. They offer a nice balance between heavy-duty full-length crampons and more lightweight cleats. Micro-spike cleats typically feature spikes in the 3/8” to 2/3” length range.
These make great all-around ice fishing cleats and will perform well in a variety of snow and ice conditions.
Compact cleats are the most lightweight and compact type of ice fishing cleats. They’re ideal for use in moderate snow conditions and make great backup or on-the-go cleats. The cleats themselves are typically less than ¼ inch long and can be made from either plastic or stainless steel.
In addition to the tread type, it’s worthwhile considering the cleat construction materials.
Stainless steel is the most common spike material and offers an excellent balance between durability, price, and corrosion resistance. You can’t really go wrong with stainless steel.
High-carbon steel is used by some cleat manufacturers and allows for strong and durable cleats that cost less than their stainless steel counterparts. The only downside of high carbon steel is it can corrode if you don’t take care of it – so make sure to wipe these cleats clean and dry them thoroughly before you put them away.
Plastic cleats are the cheapest and least durable type but can work well for compact or backup ice cleats.
Another important consideration is the way the cleats attach to your boots or shoes. It doesn’t matter how good your cleats are if they don’t fasten to your footwear properly.
Flexible rubber uppers will stretch to fit a variety of shoes and boots and are typically designed to remain flexible in frigid sub-zero temps. They’re fairly lightweight, so they won’t add much extra weight or bulk to your feet.
They’re not as adjustable as cleats with Velcro straps, so you’ll want to pay attention to the manufacturer’s sizing chart when picking a pair.
Adjustable strap cleats feature one or more straps that fasten over your boots or shoes. This allows you to get a more precise fit, as well as make small adjustments to the fit as needed. If you’re looking for a pair of ice cleats for use with multiple sets of footwear, then these make an excellent choice.
Consider the environment and weather conditions where you plan to fish.
Do you frequently fish in areas with heavy snowfall?
Do you need to drag an ice sled through woods and trails to get to your fishing spot?
Are you planning to use your cleats only for ice fishing, or do you also need them for hiking, trail running, or mountaineering?
The harsher the conditions and elevation, the more cleat you’ll need. On the other hand, heavy-duty crampons can be overkill if you just plan to fish an easily accessible local pond or lake.
Whatever you decide, it’s important to consider your traction needs when picking ice cleats. Most of the models reviewed above feature spikes over the entire length of the foot, including both the heel and toes. These are far more versatile than cleats with grip only covering the heel.
Last, but not least, the price can be an important factor when choosing cleats. Ice cleats come in a wide variety of price points, including budget prices that won’t set you back much at all.
Like other ice fishing safety gear, when it comes to ice fishing cleats, you’ll get what you’re willing to pay for. Don’t expect budget prices cleats to last as long as premium cleats that utilize premium materials and designs.
I’ve loved being in the outdoors for as long as I can remember. I grew up fishing, canoeing, and camping throughout the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. It’s what lead me to start this site and share my passions for fishing, diving, kayaking and more. Nowadays you can find me writing about my passions or (preferably!) preparing for my next outdoor adventure.