Simple, easy-to-use gear to help you survive—or avoid—a plunge into icy water
Also known as ice spikes, ice grippers or bear claws, these are one of the ice angler’s simplest and most effective self-rescue tools. They’re simply a set of two sharp metal picks set into handles, usually connected to a string so you can wear them around your neck. Slick, commercially made versions have retractable guard sleeves, but you can also make your own picks with wooden dowelling and stout nails.
Should you happen to break through, you simply drive the points of the picks into the ice surface and pull yourself out, almost like a horizontal rock climber. This is much faster and more effective than trying to use your cold, wet hands to clamber back onto the slick surface. Once you’re out, get warm as soon as possible and pat yourself on the back for saving your own life with a $15 investment.