Some of you – let's call you people who don't live in Alaska – are already enjoying Spring in full Fling. Those of us who do live in Northern climes are still enjoying the last gasps of winter activities, from skiing to ice skating. Speaking of ice, it can kill you dead. Not so much the ice, but the water you fall into after breaking through the ice.
So, if you're ice fishing or snowmachining – yes, snowMACHINES dammit! – or backcountry skating or walking out to a glacier or anything else on ice, please do yourself and others a hyuge solid and get some ice claws. Or ice spikes, or ice picks or whatever you want to call them. If you go in the drink it's extremely difficult to self-rescue without spikes to pull yourself out with. It's also extremely difficult to rescue someone else without a rope.
Fortunately there are economical and easily portable solutions to both those problems. Frabill's ice safety kit includes a pair of leashed ice claws, a whistle and a pair of traction devices for your feet. All work well, and the hand spikes have a nice spring-loaded cover over the spike to protect you from accidentally stabbing yourself. We were easily able to pull ourselves along the ice with these, although we may end up replacing the leash with a straight piece of thin cord for more comfort; easy enough to do.
The Scotty throw bag with fifty feet of 9/32 550lb test floating MFP rope is also superlight and easy to carry, with the bag having a built-in buckled strap and reflective band. Note the whistle in the picture is sold separately. The high-visibility orange rope allows you to stand off a safe distance and still heave the rope bag to someone in distress. The fact that the rope floats makes it easier to see and to grab. Just clip it to your pack, your boat, a life ring, or what have you and when the time comes off it throws. It repacks smoothly, and the bag has a mesh side for easy draining and fast drying. For under $40 for both the throw bag and the ice safety kit there's no reason to leave home without it.
Frabill Ice Safety Kit $15.99 at Amazon
Scotty Throw Bag $22.23 at Amazon