Top 5 Must-Have Items For Ice Fishing Road Trips

It seems like at least one thing goes wrong on every lengthy ice fishing road trip

by Lake-Link Staff

If there's one thing we've learned the hard way over the past few decades ice fishing, it's that gear breaks down when you need it the most. Especially when it comes to trucks, trailers, and snow machines, seems like at least one thing goes wrong on every lengthy ice fishing road trip.

That said, here are the top 5 must-have items we recommend to carry in your truck for ice fishing road trips.

(1) Heavy-Duty Tow Strap

Especially in the Dakotas, we've gotten the truck and trailer stuck numerous times at landings and dirt roads. One trip in particular they shut the interstate down and we were stranded in a Jamestown, North Dakota motel for five days. Still, we ventured out on county roads to local hardwater and got our rig stuck. Thanks to an old-timer driving by in a tractor, the problem was solved because we had a long, heavy-duty tow strap. $20 in the farmer's palm for night at the local watering hole and we were new best friends. He also shared some info that put us on fish...
Heavy-Duty Tow Strap
A solid tow strap is a must
Granted, some places you just shouldn't venture, but we're always looking for that next memorable bite, so call us foolish. Of course, you're not always so lucky to have another truck (or tractor) drive by so we also carry a come-long, steel pole, and sledge hammer. See #2 in this list.

We've heard there's a new alternative to the time-proven tow strap, but we haven't tried it. It's called the Trac Grabber. Looks ideal for ATVs, but we're not sure how well it would work with a full-size truck and trailer or hardhouse. We'll fill you in after we test 'em.

Lastly, always carry a bag or two of kitty litter or landscaping gravel for extra traction. Before you go flagging down another truck with the tow strap (and suffer the embarrassment of being an out-of-towner idiot), the added traction of the litter or gravel might just get the job done.

(2) 4-Ton Come-Along & Heavy-Duty Chain

Another good way to get a truck or snow machine unstuck is to carry a 4-Ton Come-Along, 20 feet or more of ½-inch or better trucker chain, a steel pole/old-school spud bar, and sledge-hammer to drive the pole into the ground or ice as an attachment point. You can also connect to a tree, telephone, or stop sign, too, but we're typically out in the middle of nowhere when we get stuck... From there, it's simply a matter of putting the rig in neutral and hand-winching the truck out of the snow or slush.

(3) Quality Floor Jack, Impact Driver & Breaker Bar or Star Bar

We've blown numerous tires on fishing road trips over the years, both on trucks and trailers. To that end, there's nothing worse than messing around with a cheap jack in subzero conditions.

So, a couple of years ago we finally invested in a heavy-duty, quality floor jack and Milwaukee Impact Driver to make changing tires a heck of a lot quicker. Loosen the lug nuts with the impact driver, jack up the rig, remove the tire, replace the tire with spare, and finally, lower the jack.

While the impact driver works great for getting lugs loose, we prefer a star bar/tire iron for cinching them into place so as not to overtighten, which can happen easily with an impact driver. BTW, if you find that the lugs are hard to budge from road salt and ice, spray down with PB Blaster, then follow with the breaker bar or star bar.

Trying to justify the cost of a battery-powered impact driver if you don't have one? The nice thing about the Milwaukee impact driver is it shares the same M18 lithium battery we use in our drill-based ice augers, so we've always got one spare battery in the truck if we absolutely need it.

Safety Tip:
Especially in the haze of winter, it's always a good idea to put out orange cones/triangles or flashing orange LEDs to alert other drivers to your presence. Semis whip by pretty fast on some of the interstates we routinely travel to reach top-notch ice fishing destinations.

(4) Portable Jumper/Charger

Dealing with a dead vehicle battery happens when you least expect it-typically when it's time to get on a short-lived bite or leave for home.

Rather than rely on another vehicle to jump start the truck (or any 4- to 8-cylinder vehicles), we invested in a portable jumper/charger. A lot of places we fish are often void of other anglers so it's an important piece of equipment to keep in the truck. Still, it's a good idea to carry a pair of jumpers at all times.

Schumacher Portable Jumper/Charger
The Schumacher is based on a rechargeable sealed lead-acid AGM battery for better performance in the cold.
While there are countless battery-based jump-starters on the market, the Schumacher is based on a rechargeable sealed lead-acid AGM battery for better performance in the cold than some of the lithium battery-based models out there.

It also offers several features besides built-in jumper cables and juice. It includes a built-in 100 PSI air compressor to fill cold-deflating truck/ATV tires, a flexible light, 12 volt cigarette plug power port, and a 4-port USB hub to charge multiple phones or fishing electronics in an emergency.

(5) Can of PB Blaster

If there's anything like an ice fishing vehicle/trailer fix-all, we've learned that a spray bottle of PB Blaster qualifies. Rather than small tubes of "Lock De-Icer", a big can of PB Blaster is not only good for de-icing frozen trucker topper lock-latches (a common problem our rigs), and salt- and slush-covered truck locks.

It's also good for lubricating trailer hitches, bogey wheels and chains on snow machines, and just about any other metal that's corroded, rusting, freezing, or fouling.

Carrying a can of PB Blaster Starter Fluid in your kit ain't a bad idea, either. Designed for extreme cold performance, PB's Starter Fluid works with both gasoline and diesel engines for getting fuel to the combustion cylinder quicker. Just spray into the air intake and turn the engine over.

We also have a can of PB Blaster De-Icer in the cab for melting hard and thick windshield ice - especially that middle part that's hard to reach with the scraper from either side of the truck.

Parting Words...

We hope these tips help prepare you for any ice fishing travel situation you might encounter on- or off-the-road this winter!

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