Artic Armor is just the thing for ice anglers - and more
By VINCE MEYER - Outdoors Editor
I've seen the future of ice fishing apparel and its name is Arctic Armor.
In fact, I might have seen the future of cold-weather hunting apparel as well, though the camouflage hunting clothes, to be called American Archer, won't be ready until next summer.
I first heard about this remarkable line of clothing while talking with Tom Whitehead, a Nisswa resident who represents Innovative Designs, Inc., based in Pittsburgh, Pa.
"You've got to see this ice suit," Whitehead said. "You can float in it."
You mean I could break through the ice and not sink like a 40-pound anchor?
"Well, we don't endorse doing anything stupid like walking on thin ice, but, yeah, if you broke through you'd float. And this stuff is really, really warm."
Keeps you warm and from drowning
Brainerd Dispatch/Vince Meyer
With Dan Eigen, who spends as much time on the ice as anybody around here, Whitehead offered to demonstrate the Arctic Armor suit. We met at Bar Harbor, where the water under the bridge was covered with a thin layer of ice. To my astonishment, Whitehead and Walleyedan kicked a large hole in the ice near shore and then each did a belly-flop into the frigid waters of Gull Lake. As Whitehead had guaranteed, they floated like Thill bobbers. They didn't stay completely dry - the suit isn't waterproof - but when they got out of the water they stood on shore for several minutes before heading for their vehicles. They chatted and their teeth weren't chattering.
How does Arctic Armor work?
The Artic Armor suit has three layers of a fabric called Insultex. One layer can keep a person warm in sub-zero temperatures, so imagine what three layers can do? The fabric has been used as a house wrap, its insulating properties are that effective. It's windproof, waterproof and breathable and 8.8 ounces of Insultex can float a 287-pound person.
Yet the Arctic Armor suit isn't the least bit bulky, but light and pliable. Walleyedan went ice fishing at sunrise Thursday morning. The temperature was below zero. Under his Arctic Armor suit he wore a base-layer T-shirt, fleece pullover and sweatshirt. For pants he wore regular blue jeans.
"I stood out there for four hours and wasn't the least bit cold," he said.
That got me excited about the camouflage clothes. As a bowhunter who habitually pushes the season to the bitter end, sunset on Dec. 31 finds me in a tree somewhere, frozen stiff most years. My old bibs and coveralls just can't keep me warm when the temperature gets near zero. Insultex hopefully can, and its insulating properties might prevent some scent-dispersal as well.
Another nice feature about these suits is you can mix and match the sizes of the bibs and jacket. If you want small bibs and an extra-large jacket, or vice versa, go right ahead and order your suit that way. Gloves provide the same protection as the suit, and they allow you to retain good finger dexterity. Whitehead said you can pick up a dime off the ground.
One thing you can't do with these suits is toss them in the dryer, for Insultex melts at 194 degrees. But when's the last time you dried your ice fishing suit? If yours is like mine, it hangs on a nail in the basement, no matter how wet it gets while augering holes.
Walleyedan had the Arctic Armor suit in his booth at the St. Paul Ice Fishing Show and he said it was by far the most talked about item.
For more information about these suits and Innovative Designs, go to www.walleyedan.com, or phone Tom Whitehead at 963-3555.