6 Best Hand Warmers for the Outdoors in 2022 - 99Boulders (2023)

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Hand WarmerScoreTypeAvg. Runtime (<60°F)
Top Pick: Zippo 12-Hour Hand Warmer

87

Catalytic11 hrs
Best Electric Hand Warmer: Human Creations EnergyFlux Ellipse 5200mAh

83

Electric5.5 hrs
Human Creations EnergyFlux Enduro 7800mAh

80

Electric5 hrs
Best Disposable Hand Warmer: HotHands Hand Warmer

75

Disposable9 hrs
HotHands Super Warmer

73

Disposable10 hrs
Grabbers Hand Warmer

70

Disposable7 hrs

We bought six of the best hand warmers on the market and tested them over the course of a month. We used them in daily life, measured their runtimes and heat output, and took them outdoors for some climbing and hiking to see how they hold up in the cold. The overall winner was the Zippo 12-Hour Hand Warmer, which runs on lighter fluid(sold separately).

Warming up hands is a topic near and dear to my heart. I have a mild case of Raynaud’s Syndrome in my fingers, which means that my arteries don’t circulate efficiently to the extremities.

This poses a challenge because, as a climber, I often find myself outdoors in cooler weather. Fall brings the best climbing temperatures, but it means battling numbness with every outing.

The utility of hand warmers isn’t limited to climbing. On ski days, mountain trips, or even just chilly cookouts, hand warmers are a major quality-of-life upgrade. In this test, I was out to find the best hand warmer for as many outdoor applications as I could.

This is a sentence I don’t get to write often, but every product made a strong argument for itself. They all have pronounced strengths and weaknesses, which lend themselves to different styles and activities.

Curious which will work for you? Read on.

6 Best Hand Warmers for the Outdoors in 2022 - 99Boulders (1)

Top Pick: Zippo 12-Hour Hand Warmer

6 Best Hand Warmers for the Outdoors in 2022 - 99Boulders (2)

I’ll be honest:

At the beginning of this test, I was nervous about putting a device that burned lighter fluid in my jacket pocket.

But by the end of testing, the Zippo was my favorite warmer.

The Zippo does require extra work. You must first fill the small plastic fuel funnel, remove the device’s catalytic burner, fill the tank, replace the burner, and use a lighter to begin the catalytic process.

Once lit, the (flameless) combustion cannot be stopped or turned off.

The Zippo is messy to fill, smells a little like lighter fluid, and requires filling before each trip. The catalytic burner will eventually need to be replaced (Zippo sells extras), and you have to buy lighter fluid separately.

These are minor inconveniences, but they add up. If you want a warmer that requires no effort, this is not the one.

But once lit, the Zippo was the most reliable and useful hand warmer in the test. It didn’t quite live up to its name, but I got about 11 hours worth of heat from a tank of fluid. That’s the longest in the test, and the Zippo remained at a consistent heat.

It comes with a fabric pouch to spread heat during use. Placed inside, it emits a gentle glow of heat.

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When my hands were severely cold, I preferred to take the chrome hand warmer out of the pouch, where it became one of the warmest devices in the test. Heat can be roughly adjusted by how much oxygen the burner receives.

Even better, the Zippo isn’t fragile. The electric hand warmers couldn’t handle cold, had inconsistent battery life, and had to be protected from falls.

The Zippo was simple, reliable, and supremely durable. To cap it all off, as of this writing the Zippo is the cheapest of the reusable hand warmers.

Those virtues overcame the inconveniences and won our hearts. The Zippo is messier than most hand warmers, but it makes up for it with enduring heat and excellent reliability.

Best Electric Hand Warmer: Human Creations EnergyFlux Ellipse 5200mAh

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Here’s a riddle: why did the electric warmer with the smaller battery last longer?

I don’t know the answer, but that’s what happened in our testing.

With remarkable consistency, the smaller Human Creations hand warmer would outlast its sibling by thirty minutes to an hour.

It’s just as hot, a couple ounces lighter, and retails for a little less. As a result, it takes home our award for the best electric hand warmer.

The best part about electric warmers is the heat. Outside in the cold, they were hottest to the touch. The conductive metal surface dissipates heat quickly, but warmth always returns after a moment or two. The Human Creations warmers were usually the quickest way to warm up numb fingers.

The EnergyFlux Ellipse is the more diminutive of the two, but it’s a nice shape. The controls are simple: hold the power button for heat, tap it again to enter the High setting, and hold again to turn it off. Three blue lights denote battery levels.

Where the electric warmers struggled was consistency. Human Creations advertises a 6.5-hour lifespan at room temperature, which I found the Ellipse could routinely exceed.

But outdoors in the cold, it struggled to break 6 hours and sometimes died an hour or two earlier. This is a quirk of electric warmers, and Human Creations acknowledges the fact with an asterisk in their marketing.

Still, it’s frustrating to be uncertain when your hand warmer will give out.

As a small bonus, the electric warmers can be used as battery packs to charge devices. 5200 mAh isn’t that much, but it gets the job done in a pinch.

(If you’re looking for a standalone battery pack check out our reviews and recommendations in our guide to the best portable battery packs.)

For their heat and easy reusability, electric hand warmers are worth a look, and the Ellipse was our favorite.

Best Disposable Hand Warmer: HotHands Hand Warmer

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HotHands is a favorite in the world of disposable warmers, and they managed to best their rival Grabbers in our testing.

The traditional HotHands hand warmers weren’t the hottest. They don’t provide as much surface area as the Super Warmer or the reusable warmers. In the first hour or two after activation, the Grabber warmers often felt hotter to the touch.

But the HotHands was consistent: it was hot enough and remained hot throughout its lifespan.

By contrast, the Grabber hand warmers tended to have an initial flare and then subside.

The smaller warmers aren’t quite as hot as the larger HotHands Super Warmer, but in our testing they were more consistent. They also got close to their advertised 10-hour lifetime.

The great advantage of disposable fabric hand warmers is durability. If you’re tossing a warmer in your chalk bag (which I frequently do when climbing outdoors), you’ll be throwing it out at the end of the day.

When one warmer runs out, you can just start another — at less than an ounce, the HotHands warmers are light enough that you can take plenty.

The smaller warmer is a good size for many applications like placing in climbing gloves or chalk bags. Add in the fact that you get twice as many warmers per package, and it’s clear why the HotHands warmers took are our favorite disposable option. They’re reasonably hot, consistent, and durable enough to go anywhere.

Reviews of the 3 Other Hand Warmers We Tested

Human Creations EnergyFlux Enduro 7800mAh

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For a product named the Enduro, this warmer was a bit of a letdown.

It’s versatile and hot, but it failed to match the lifespan or consistency of the smaller electric warmer.

Like the Ellipse, the Enduro has two heat settings, a charging port, and a USB output for charging devices.

The Enduro is more effective as a portable battery thanks to its larger capacity. It also has a flashlight, which is a nifty addition but didn’t feel strictly necessary.

Along with the Ellipse, the Enduro was the hottest warmer in the test, especially on high. Unfortunately, it couldn’t match the Ellipse’s runtime.

Its battery indicators were less reliable too, changing suddenly from two dots to blinking empty.

At 196 grams, it’s the heaviest warmer in the test. The chunky curves are nice to hold, but the Enduro doesn’t fit well into pockets, and forget about gloves.

The nail in the coffin is the price: the Enduro is the most expensive warmer in this test.

It scored well based on its heat and usability, but unless you need the extra battery capacity, the Ellipse is our electric warmer of choice.

HotHands Super Warmer

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As far as I can tell, the Super Warmer is essentially two HotHands Hand Warmers stitched together into a larger pouch.

It behaves almost exactly the same, with decent heat and a large surface area.

The Super Warmer isn’t as convenient to stuff in gloves, but it’s quite pleasant to hold or stow in a jacket pocket.

Where the Super Warmer failed was consistency. Far from achieving its advertised 18-hour lifespan, the Super Warmer usually gave out between hours 10 and 11 — hardly longer than its little sibling.

That’s still plenty of time, and having an extra-large disposable warmer was handier than we thought it would be. But for the price, we’d still opt for the smaller warmers most of the time.

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Grabbers Hand Warmer

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The Grabbers warmer scored lowest in this test, but that’s not because it was particularly bad.

In fact, in the time period following activation (~30-120 minutes), Grabbers were frequently the hottest disposable hand warmers.

Sadly, after that initial peak, the Grabbers tailed off. By hour 2 or 3, they were noticeably fainter than the HotHands.

And although they exceeded their advertised lifespan of 7 hours, they couldn’t touch the 10-hour runtime of the HotHands.

The Grabbers only make sense for specialized uses. If you need a disposable warmer for relatively short periods (like a send attempt on a climb), the Grabbers warmer may be the hottest at the outset. But if you prefer a more consistent heat, turn to the HotHands.

Summary

Here are the best hand warmers:

  • Zippo 12-Hour Hand Warmer
  • Human Creations EnergyFlux Ellipse 5200mAh
  • Human Creations EnergyFlux Enduro 7800mAh
  • HotHands Hand Warmer
  • HotHands Super Warmer
  • Grabbers Hand Warmer

How to Choose the Best Hand Warmer for Your Needs

Reusablehand warmers are much more expensive than disposable ones, but you only have to buy them once. If you seldom use hand warmers, the investment may not make sense, but otherwise reusables are worth a look. They’re substantially hotter and provide a more uniform heat source.

The downsides are durability and size. Reusable warmers require maintenance, which means they can’t be forgotten or misused.

Because of the extra size, reusable warmers won’t fit in most gloves — they work best in a pocket or as a quick way to warm the digits.

There are two types of reusable hand warmers:

  • Electric:Electric hand warmers require charging, which takes hours. It’s best to charge the night before an outing, as quick charges yielded poor results. Electric warmers are susceptible to impact and moisture, requiring some care. Theycan double as mobile batteries (or a flashlight), but their batteries lose life in the cold.
  • Catalytic:Catalytic hand warmers, like the 12-Hour Zippo Hand Warmer, run on lighter fluid and must be started with a flame. Filling them up is quicker than charging the electric warmers, but it’s messier. If you carry lighter fluid and a good lighter with you, refilling can be done on the go. Once lit, the catalytic burner combusts without a flame to produce heat. The Zippo has a bit of a learning curve, but it’s reliable and burly.
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Disposable hand warmers are cheap, durable, and long-lasting. You don’t have to worry about breaking or misusing them, and if you lose one you can just open another. They’re the lightest warmers, which is an advantage on backcountry trips.

In testing, however, disposable warmers were less hot and less uniform. They were slower to warm up cold hands, and displayed more variability between peak performance and low performance.

If allowed to stiffen, heat can disappear until the warmer is re-shaken. The convenience is great, but disposable warmers are not the most efficient heating system.

All disposable warmers run on a chemical reaction that oxidizes iron powder. They require no maintenance or preparation and begin reacting on contact with air. They can take around half an hour to build up heat.

How We Tested

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Heat Output & Runtime Tests

In the first phase of testing, I did trials to test the warmers’ heat ouptut and runtime.

Heat output was difficult to measure because the surface temperature of the warmers was highly variable. I ended up trusting the impression that mattered most — which device was warmest to the skin. The ratings in the chart below are on a scale of 1 to 10 and based on skin contact while outdoors.

Chart by Visualizer

Note:The electric hand warmers’ heat output ratings are for the “High” heat setting. On the “Low” heat setting their heat output rating was 9. The Zippo’s heat output rating was taken with the warmer out of the pouch. In the pouch its heat output rating was 5.

For the runtime tests I activated all the hand warmers and timed how long it took them to die. I repeated this test multiple times, and the numbers in the chart below represent an average of trials.

Chart by Visualizer

Note:The electric hand warmers’ times are for the “Low” heat setting.

Daily Life & Field Testing

In the second phase of testing, I took the warmers out on activities from climbing to hiking to bike trips across town. I used the warmers in as many ways as I could think of and rated them in three categories: heat, consistency, and durability.

FAQs

Which hand warmers last the longest? ›

Longest Lasting

For a reusable option that doesn't require electricity, we recommend Zippo's Refillable Hand Warmer. Because it runs on lighter fluid, once you fill it up and light it, it stays warm until the fluid runs out about 12 hours later.

What hand warmers do pros use? ›

Zippo Hand Warmers are proudly used by esports champions across the globe to increase dexterity and reaction time. When it comes to heat, Zippo's got over 80 years in the game. Zippo Hand Warmers are proudly used by esports champions across the globe to increase dexterity a reaction time.

What material keeps your hands the warmest? ›

Materials that are insulating and robust are best. Something like cotton is a big no-no when it comes to gloves. Materials like wool, acrylic, polyester, and nylon are things that work best for keeping hands warm.

How many times can you reuse hand warmers? ›

Once the heat is done, simply drop your HotSnapZ hand warmer or heat pad in gently boiling water for 5-10 minutes to recharge. How many uses can I expect to get? In theory, the number of times that a HotSnapZ can reused is infinite.

How do you make hand warmers last longer? ›

In order to make the hand warmers long lasting, just double the fabric or add a liner to the inside of the fabric. I just add an extra layer of cotton. You just want to make sure that whatever you use is safe to use in the microwave. 100% cotton is usually best.

What are the two types of hand warmers? ›

There are two common types of hand warmers, one producing heat by the oxidation of a metal and the other by the crystallization of a salt. Oxidation-based hand warmer packs usually contain iron powder, water, salt, activated carbon and vermiculite [1].

How do you keep your hands warm outside in the winter? ›

Purchase a warm pair of gloves with adequate lining that will keep your original warmth inside your gloves. Avoid Water: You should invest in a pair of waterproof gloves that will keep moisture from coming in from the environment. Keeping your hands dry will in turn keep them warmer throughout the day.

How many hours do hand warmers last? ›

How long do they last? That depends on the kind you get, but most commonly, warmers last between five and eight hours. Basically, one pair should last through one day of outdoor winter activity.

How long do HotHands stay warm? ›

Q: How long do Hot Hands last? A: Hot Hands hand warmers last up to 10 hours. Hot Hands toe warmers last up to 8 hours. Hot Hands foot warmers last up to 9 hours.

How do I keep my hands and feet warm outside? ›

Our bodies react to being cold by re-directing our blood supply to our vital organs, and away from our extremities. So to keep our hands and feet warm, it's important to keep our whole body warm.
...
Keep your hands warm
  1. Wear gloves. ...
  2. Pull your sleeves down. ...
  3. Get the right fit. ...
  4. Get a wiggle on!
8 Oct 2021

How do I keep my elderly feet warm? ›

Put socks and slippers on the senior and use a blanket over legs. Make sure the senior wears a hat, scarf and gloves when going outside. Check weather reports and know that snow, rain and wind can increase heat loss.

What are the disadvantages of reusable hand warmers? ›

  • They do not get very hot.
  • The heat does not last very long.
  • Having to boil them to re-use is a bit of a pain.

What do pro players squeeze in their hands? ›

No, this isn't a weird superstition or strange stress ball but rather something called a Reflex or hand warmer. They've been known to sell at garage shops and gas stations in colder climates and have found their way into the backpacks of professional mountain climbers.

Do hand warmers only work once? ›

Once exposed to air, the iron oxidizes and releases heat in the process. After all the iron has reacted, the hand warmer is done and ready for the trash.

What is the difference between a hand warmer and a toe warmer? ›

A: The toe warmers have an adhesive side the stick to your sock so they don't shift in your boots.

Why are my hands cold even with gloves? ›

Hands that are cold all the time may be a sign of poor circulation, a thyroid problem, anemia, or Raynaud's phenomenon. It can also happen in cold weather. If your hands become really cold when outside, warm them up slowly but right away—and know the signs of frostbite.

What brand of gloves are the warmest? ›

Table Of Contents
  • Terramar Thermasilk Glove Liner.
  • Seirus Innovation All Weather Glove.
  • Isotoner Fleece Lined Spandex Gloves.
  • Readers' Top Pick: Echo Classic Wool Blend Gloves.
  • Simari Multi-Sport Running Gloves.
  • Columbia Thermarator Omni-Heat Gloves.
  • Ozero 30°F Coldproof Thermal Glove.
  • The North Face Etip Gloves.

What material is most resistant to cold? ›

Aluminum and titanium alloys are an appropriate choice for things expected to reach this temperature. -75° to -100° Celsius temperatures are cold enough that low carbon steels are typically the most reliable choice.

Do you have to keep shaking hand warmers? ›

Once removed from the packaging, the warmer needs a quick shake in order to activate the ingredients in the pouch. If you want to “pause” the heating process, place the warmer in an airtight plastic bag, and you can use it later on in the day.

Can you reheat Hothands hand warmers? ›

The wrap cuts off the air, and they go dormant. Reactivate them by unwrapping them and shaking as usual. Roll the plastic wrap onto a tube and reuse it another day. The up side is you can save and reuse hand warmers for several days.

What is the best filling for a heat pack? ›

What should I use to fill the homemade heat packs? Long-grain rice is the preferred filler, be sure it's NOT instant rice. However, you can also use other grains like beans, corn, wheat, barley, or millet. Dried Cherry Pits have also been used as filler.

Why do hand warmers stop working? ›

“Hand warmers stop generating heat for the simple reason that they run out! Once all the iron powder has rusted, or more likely, once all the water and salt have been used up in the oxidizing process, the hand warmers simply stop generating heat and eventually cool down”, explains Orbax.

What do you put inside hand warmers? ›

What You Do:
  1. Put 30 grams (approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons) iron filings in 3×5 zip-top bag.
  2. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons salt.
  3. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons sodium polyacrylate.
  4. Finish with 1 1/2 tablespoons of warm – NOT hot – water.
  5. Carefully remove air and zip bag closed.
  6. Place 3×5 bag inside 4×6 bag.

What are old fashioned hand warmers called? ›

A muff is a fashion accessory for outdoors usually made of a cylinder of fur or fabric with both ends open for keeping the hands warm. It was introduced to women's fashion in the 16th century and was popular with both men and women in the 17th and 18th centuries.

What are the different types of hand warmers? ›

There are three main types of hand warmers: air-activated, use a supersaturated solution, and battery-powered.

What are 5 things that people use hand warmers for? ›

10 Uses For Hand Warmers
  • Keeping Your Hands Warm. First things first, as you would expect from the name, hand warmers are great for keeping your hands warm. ...
  • Dry Wet Shoes. ...
  • Dry Wet Socks. ...
  • Sleeping Bag. ...
  • Heat Drinks. ...
  • Medical. ...
  • Aching Muscles. ...
  • Water Bottle.
18 Dec 2015

What is the fastest way to warm up your hands? ›

Blow warm air onto cold hands. Tuck your hands inside clothing next to warm skin, such as your chest, belly, or armpit. Warm your hands by running warm (not hot) water over them or rubbing them together. This will help improve blood flow to your hands.

How do I keep my fingers from freezing? ›

How to Keep Your Hands Warm
  1. Stay warm, don't get warm. This may sound obvious, but your No. ...
  2. Take care of your core. When your fingers are cold, it's natural to focus on what you're wearing on your hands. ...
  3. Stay dry. ...
  4. Block the wind. ...
  5. Avoid tight clothing. ...
  6. Keep moving. ...
  7. Add heat. ...
  8. Don't try to tough it out.

Does Vaseline keep your hands warm? ›

Players want to show off their arms on a national stage in the playoffs, but to avoid shaking from the cold, you need to cover up with Vaseline. It's slimy and it takes some time to scrub off after the game, but it sure does work. And it's much easier than wearing a ski mask under your helmet.

What temperature should hand warmers be? ›

The absorbent material can be pulverized wood, a polymer such as polyacrylate, or a silicon-based mineral called vermiculite. It helps retain the moisture so that the reaction can occur. The activated carbon helps to evenly disperse the heat produced, which can average 135 °F.

Do hand warmers emit carbon monoxide? ›

Consumers should not overlook the potential risk of such product just because no naked flame can be seen. Apart from carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and a weak smell of fuel could be released during operation.

How do you recharge hand warmers? ›

These pack of 2 hand warmers have the added benefit of being reusable. To 'reset' the crystallised pad to its original gel form, add the handwarmers to a pan of boiling water and allow to simmer until the crystals have completely dissolved. Allow to cool totally before handling.

Will expired hand warmers work? ›

The verdict? You should take expired hand warmers out of your emergency pack; There's no sense in lugging around all of the extra weight for something that isn't going to keep you warm. This is one item where the performance drastically drops off as the expiration date passes.

Does Sam's Club have hand warmers? ›

About this item

Air-Activated Hand Warmers - No Batteries Required! This product is covered by the Sam's Club Member Satisfaction Guarantee. "Membership is required to complete an in-club or curbside pickup purchase at Sam's Club."

What deficiency causes cold hands and feet? ›

Cold hands and feet can be a result of iron deficiency anemia. People with anemia have poor blood circulation throughout their bodies because they don't have enough red blood cells to provide oxygen to their tissue.

Does wearing 2 pairs of socks keep your feet warmer? ›

Yes. Thin first. The space between the two layers is a store for body heat. Thick layer outermost maximises this heat store's insulation.

How can I improve circulation in cold hands and feet? ›

What You Can Do To Boost Your Circulation
  1. Increase cardiovascular exercise. ...
  2. If you smoke, quit. ...
  3. Drink black or green tea. ...
  4. If you are anemic, take iron supplements or eat iron-rich food. ...
  5. Dry brush your body. ...
  6. Decrease stress. ...
  7. Include more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. ...
  8. Wear compression socks and elevate your legs.
27 Oct 2020

What helps elderly cold feet? ›

Wear Compression Socks

If you are wondering how to increase circulation in feet, start with socks. The best socks for seniors with poor circulation are called compression stockings.

Why are my feet cold with socks on? ›

Poor blood flow (circulation) in your legs and feet causes cold feet. Poor blood flow means that it takes longer for the blood to reach your feet. Your blood travels through pathways (blood vessels) in your circulatory system. These pathways can close, harden and narrow, making it difficult for blood to flow steadily.

How can the elderly improve circulation in feet? ›

To recap, here are some of the ways you can improve your circulation in older age:
  1. Try leg exercises.
  2. Use an elevating leg pillow.
  3. Buy compression socks and bandages.
  4. Leg massages and hydrotherapy.
  5. Move your feet and toes.
  6. Keep your feet warm.
  7. Massage your feet.
  8. Try specific hand exercises.
26 Jul 2019

How safe are rechargeable hand warmers? ›

Compared with the thermal storage hand warmer, although the portable rechargeable hand warmer does not have dangerous characteristics such as high-temperature liquid splashing, but because of its longer working time, it may still cause burns when used carelessly.

Are all hand warmers the same? ›

The main difference between disposable hand warmers and some reusable versions is the chemicals used to produce the heat-releasing reaction. Reusable hand warmers don't contain iron but instead use a supersaturated solution of sodium acetate that releases heat as it crystallizes.

What are 3 different types of hand warmers? ›

There are three main types of hand warmers: air-activated, use a supersaturated solution, and battery-powered.

Are reusable hand warmers worth it? ›

There are many reasons why these types of hand warmers are worth investing in, with the most obvious being their low cost and reusability. They are very easy to use and reuse. Even if the boiling process seems confusing at first, you will get the hang of it after just one or two tries.

What can you do with old hand warmers? ›

How to dispose of warmers? Warmers are made with natural ingredients and safe for the environment. Just use and dispose of in your everyday garbage.

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