Well the recent visit of the arctic vortex gave me the chance to put the IDI Arctic Armor ice fishing suit to the test. The arctic armor suits run a little large and the medium gives me plenty of room to layer depending on the conditions. Make sure you contact them for a sizing chart before ordering. There are generous pockets both inside and out with inside pockets useful for keeping wax worms or a cell phone warm. Clever cut outs in the bibs give you access to your wallet if you are carrying it under the suit. The suit has excellent wind breaking and water shedding ability. I knelt in the water from a newly cut hole and didn't get wet. Knee padding is also generous. The bibs also have a unique seal that goes around your legs at ankle level which is nice while walking through slush and I'm sure is also functional in the flotation ability of the suit (more on this later). The bibs also have a nice belt and buckle on the outside of the ankles to pull tight to keep the leg bottoms tight around your boots. A location is provide to use a belt around the waist on the bibs to snug things up if needed. The parka has draw strings at strategic locations to keep everything sealed up against the wind. The hood could use a little more adjust-ability and options to seal it up better against the wind. Velcro at the wrists allows the parka to be tightened there to keep the elements out. Given the excellent wind breaking ability of this suit, I also tested it snowmobiling and it kept me very warm in temperatures down to 10 degrees. The suit utilizes 3 layers of thermal insulator Insultex® to keep the sportsman very warm. Arctic Armor would also be a great option for late fall or early spring soft water fishing, which leads me to the most outstanding feature of this suit.... it floats! While I didn't dare test this, many others have and you can check out video testimonies here. Insultex® seems to be a very efficient insulator as the suit does not feel bulky at all. According to the IDI website - This new cellular structured fabric is truly revolutionary. It’s proven that air is the best Insulation and Insultex® incorporates countless micro air cells. These individual pockets trap air and do not allow it to escape. This is the key to keeping people warm. Insultex® simply reflects the body’s radiant heat back to the body. Other properties possessed by Insultex® include being very thin, lightweight, flexible, waterproof, windproof and buoyant. A factual example of the efficiency of Insultex® is as follows:
- 1 layer of Insultex® protects a person to –25º C (-13º F)
- 1 square yard of Insultex® is 0.021 inches thick and weighs 0.42 oz.
- 8.8 oz. of Insultex® can float approx. 287 lbs. of body weight
- Insultex® has a melting point of 194°F
- Insultex® material can be sewn and/or laminated
- Multiple layers of Insultex® can be used to provide practically unlimited levels of insulation