10 Best Hand Warmers Tested & Reviewed
Cold weather is one of the most difficult to overcome obstacles for runners. Dressing in layers so that you can remain mobile and sweat free without overheating is a challenging give and take process. Even if you have the right gloves and socks it still may not be enough. If you are looking for a means to keep warm without the inhibitions of more clothing then a hand warmer might be the right choice for you.
When people think about hand warmers, their mind often goes to the small disposable packets you can pick up next to the cash register on your way out of the store. For people who deal with harsh winter weather more frequently, there are more convenient alternatives. Electronic hand warmers become more common as batteries become smaller and longer lasting and are a practical way to fight the chill.
On our list below we have the very best in hand warmers. We know that some styles aren’t convenient to certain runners so we included a variety of types for our readers to consider, but no matter if they are electronic or disposable we know only the top performers deserve a place on our list. To assure our readers of this, below the list we provided the criteria we used to reach our conclusions. So you can be confident that our choosing process is thorough and diligent. Finally, we have the FAQ that we made of the questions we saw popping up most often and hopefully address any concerns you have when trying to choose a hand warmer. We are confident that this list has an option on it that will have you facing the chilly days with confidence and running all season long.
- 3 Heat Settings
- Osunlin Pebble
- Long Lasting Heat
- Zippo 12 Hour
10 Best Hand Warmers
Powered by a 5200 mAh battery this 2-in-1 hand warmer recharges in less than three hours. It has three heat settings signalled by three red lights, with temperatures ranging from 95-107.5 ℉ for the first level, 104-118.5 ℉ for the second and 107.5-130 ℉ for the third.
Users report that they are always able to find sufficient heat between one of the three settings. Some users find the highest setting a bit too warm for use but those with poor circulation really appreciate the high heat.
Length of Coverage:
The duration of warmth depends on the heat level and outside temperatures and can last between 4 and 8 hours. Users note they are pleasantly surprised by this device’s ability to retain its charge.
This rechargeable device is simple to operate with the switch of a button. The small size makes it possible to tuck into mittens but most find it a bit too bulky to wear with gloves. It heats up quickly and conveniently doubles as a charger for USB devices.
This is a fairly inexpensive option, especially if you plan to use it as portable charger as well.
3 heat settings
Doubles as a phone charger
4-8 hours of power
Lithium-polymer battery with longer lifetime
Too bulky to wear inside gloves
2. Osunlin Pebble
This rechargeable hand warmer is powered by a 5000 mAh lithium-ion battery. It does take some time to reach complete charge but it is easily turned on and off by a switch and heats up quickly. The warming function automatically switches off after an hour to conserve battery power. It has 3 heat settings of 107 F, 118 F and 131 F.
Reviewers love the consistent heat provided by this electrical charger. It has three heat settings to cater for all users, and conditions.
Length of coverage:
The company reports heat will last for 5-10 hours but reviewers find that it is typically closer to five or six hours.
This Onsunlin warmer is conveniently sized and comfortable to hold. It does take a few hours to reach complete charge and some users complain that the switch easily turns on or off by accident. However, if you take the time to charge it, it is a very convenient and compact hand warmer and phone charger.
This 2-in-1 charger and hand warmer is relatively inexpensive when compared to other similar devices. It holds its charge well and provides really consistent heat.
- Provides very effective heat
- 3 heat settings
- Auto shut-down after 1 hour to save battery
- Longer lasting than most rechargeable warmers
- Comfortably small
- Easy to switch on/off accidentally
- Takes a long time to charge
3. Zippo 12 Hour
The Zippo Hand Warmer is a catalytic hand warmer that operates off lighter fluid, flame and oxygen. To use, the device needs to be filled with lighter fluid according to the measuring device it comes with. Users recommend filling slowly and waiting a minute or two for any spilled fluid to evaporate before lighting. For higher heat, reviewers suggest keeping the warmer upright for a few minutes before placing in the pouch. The warmer will continue to provide heat until the fuel is burned out. Many users choose to place it in an airtight bag or container to extinguish the heat earlier.
This warmer provides steady heat as long as there is lighter fluid to burn. Users find that the heat disperses well and provides consistent and significant warmth for hours.
Length of Coverage:
Depending on the level to which it is filled, the hand warmer can provide upwards of 12 hours of heat. Users find leaving the pouch open or placing directly into a pocket prolongs the length and intensity of the heat.
The set up for this catalytic warmer is a bit more cumbersome, especially during the first couple of uses. However, reviewers find that the set up gets easier over time and it is worth the extra work up front to have consistent and long-lasting heat. The size is also ideal for slipping into gloves or mittens and can be taken anywhere.
This Zippo hand warmer is high-quality and is a great value option if you don’t mind filling it up. The warmer itself can be a bit expensive but the replacement lighter fluid is affordable and lasts a long time.
- No battery replacement needed
- 12 + hours of heat
- Consistent warmth
- No waste
- Needs to be refilled
- No easy on/off switch
- Slight odor
4. Heat Factory
These biodegradable packets are activated when exposed to air. The iron powder oxidizes when exposed to oxygen, the reaction is sped up by salt and maintains its heat through added charcoal and vermiculite.
Users find these warmers helpful when tucked into gloves, hats, socks or pockets. They do warm up very quickly and provide long-lasting heat.
Length of Coverage:
The length of heat depends on oxygen exposure but users find these warmers easily last upwards of 8 hours, and considerably longer when placed in a pocket or glove.
Disposable packets are the most convenient type of hand warmer as they require no preparation to ensure they are charged or filled. Simply throw some packets into a bag, pocket or emergency kit and open the packet when they are ready to use.
At less than 1 dollar a pair, these are a pretty affordable option. Particularly if you are not planning to use them daily, but just want some to keep on hand or stock up emergency kits. They do have a shelf-life of about 3 years, so don’t go overboard with your back stock.
- Convenient to use and store
- Long-lasting warmth
- Biodegradable packet and mixture
- Can be tucked into gloves, pockets or socks
- Do not provide the most consistent heat
This rechargeable hand warmer is powered by 5200mAh lithium-polymer battery that has a longer lifetime than the standard lithium-ion batteries. It has one switch for power and toggling between the two heat settings.
This device works well as a hand warmer but many users also find it helpful as a hot compress to target sore areas. It has 2 temperature levels: 113F and 131F.
Length of Coverage:
The company states that the charge should last for up to 6 hours of coverage but users find that it usually lasts closer to 3 or 4 hours when it's turned on the whole time.
The VShow hand warmer is very easy to use and recharge. The switch is easy to operate with cold hands and it heats up within 30 seconds of being powered on.
This option is fairly inexpensive and will save money over the disposable warmers in a few uses. It also doubles as a portable USB charger.
These disposable packets are activated when exposed to air. They contain iron inside which oxidizes when exposed to the air. Salt helps to expedite the reaction and carbon inside disperses the heat.
These small hand warmers provide moderate heat that is well dispersed. Some users find themselves wishing they were just a tad warmer while others appreciate that they can hold them comfortably against their skin.
Length of Coverage:
The package advertises coverage for up to 10 hours but user reports are a bit inconsistent. This may be due to expiry date or inconsistent quality. Some reviewers report these packets maintain warmth for upwards of 8 hours while others claim they begin to lose heat after only 4 hours.
These small packets require little preparation and are very lightweight. Simply open the packet about 15-30 minutes prior to when you want to use them and slip them in your gloves or pockets. These disposable hand warmers are easy to pack in case the weather changes while you are out on a run or hike. If you do choose to carry them, be aware the plastic wrapping can sometimes be difficult to open for cold hands.
These hand warmers are sold in value packets and can cost less than 1 dollar per pair. Just be wary that they do have an expiration date and become less effective over time, so if you don’t go through them, you may end up throwing some away.
Easy to use and pack
Great for emergency kits and sporting events
No preparation needed
Fits inside mittens, gloves and socks
They do expire after a few years
Inconsistent length of coverage
Not very economical to use regularly
7. Hot SnapZ
These reusable hand warmers are initially activated by clicking a small metal disc in the pad to trigger precipitation of sodium acetate crystals. The precipitation of these crystals releases energy which is stored as heat and is self regulated to reach a maximum temperature of 130 F. After the initial use, these pads can be “recharged” by boiling them in water for 10-15 minutes. This will restore them to their previous state so they can be reused indefinitely.
These soft pads do provide significant heat. They reach up to 130 F but surface temperature usually stays around 115-120 F.
Length of Coverage:
With only 30-60 minutes of heat, the length of coverage is the biggest downfall of these neat little pads.
Boiling these pads for reuse takes a bit more effort than plugging into a charger. However, they do make up for this slight inconvenience with their compact size and easy activation. The small, soft pads are ideal for packing away in pockets or gloves and can be activated with one hand. They have most of the convenience of disposable warmers without the waste.
These pads are a great value as you get 8 pads for the price of one battery-operated warmer and they pay for themselves after two uses when compared to the disposable variety.
- Easy to store and use
- Self-regulated reaction reaching up to 130 F
- No waste
- Fit easily into gloves and pockets
- More economical than disposable warmers
- Require 10-15 minutes of boiling to reactivate
- Only provide 30-60 minutes of heat
8. Zippo 6 Hour
This hand warmer is powered by 5200 mAh lithium-ion battery and can be recharged through any USB charging device. Clicking the power button once shows the battery charge and each subsequent click takes you through the 5 levels of heat.
With 5 heat settings up to 120 F, this device gives off a good amount of heat.
Length of Coverage:
Depending on the level of heat, this hand warmer will function for up to 6 hours. Many users find themselves using it for short spurts and turning it off to conserve power.
This hand warmer is easy to operate with the click of a button and has 5 heat settings - so you can fine-tune how much snugness you want. It has an ergonomic bean shape that fits comfortably into the palm of your hand but it is a bit bulky to wear under gloves. Some users also feel it needs to be gripped somewhat tightly to get significant heat from it, which limits its usefulness. It is easy to charge and works well as a portable phone or USB charger as well.
The price of this 2-in-1 hand warmer and phone charger tends to vary. The battery does seem to hold up well but some users find it a bit too expensive to heat one hand at a time.
- Loads of different levels to vary the warmth
- Fits comfortably
- Doubles as a portable charger
- Can be recharged with any USB device
- Can be a bit expensive
- Slightly bulky
- Has to be gripped tight
The Pisen Hand Warmer is powered by a 7500 mAh rechargeable battery. When charged, quickly pressing the button will display 5 green LED lights to indicate the level of power. Holding the button down for 1.5 seconds begins heating and holding again for 1.5 seconds will turn the device off. It does have an auto shut-off safety feature after 1 hour but it can easily be turned back on.
This hand warmer warms to 122 F and maintains a comfortable and well-dispersed heat throughout. Reviewers love the pebble shape as it is easy to hold or place in a pocket.
Length of Coverage:
When fully charged, this warmer can maintain a temperature of 122 F for 5 hours.
It has a comfortable shape similar to a computer mouse but it is much too big to fit inside gloves or mittens. It can take upwards of 5 hours to charge completely and seems to be best used in cold houses or offices.
This 2-in-1 charger and warmer is a bit more expensive than some of the other rechargeable options but it has a more powerful battery that can provide longer-lasting warmth.
- No waste
- 5 hours of warmth
- Comfortable pebble shape
- Safety shut-off feature after 1 hour
- Doubles as a phone charger
- Long charging time
- Only one heat setting
10. EnergyFlux Ellipse
The EnergyFlux Ellipse is powered by 5200mAh rechargeable battery and is also capable of charging digital products. The hand warmer is activated by a push button and has two heat settings at 107F and 118F. Blue and red LED lights indicate charge and heat setting respectively.
This hand warmer works very well in mild to moderate cold but begins to lose battery power much quicker in very cold temperatures.
Length of Coverage:
EnergyFlux reports this device should provide about 6.5 hours of heat at its lower setting and about 5 hours at the highest. Some reviewers note the battery can be a bit temperamental. The charge does not last as long in cold temperatures and, if not charged every few months, will lose its ability to hold charge over time.
This hand warmer is very easy to use and charge. The button is easy to press with cold fingers and it does not require any refilling. It fits into the palm of your hand but some users find it a bit too wide to comfortably wrap their hand around. It is small enough to fit into mittens but is not as comfortable to hold inside gloves.
This device is more expensive up front but users who rely on it regularly find they end up saving money over the disposable hand warmers. Unfortunately, the battery is a bit high maintenance and requires charging every 1-2 months to keep it in good condition. Otherwise, it begins to hold less charge.
No refilling needed
Also charges cell phones and other digital devices
2 heat settings
Holds less charge in cold weather
Battery requires charging every few months
Things to Consider When Choosing a Hand Warmer
How It Heats
There are multiple methods of achieving heat to warm cold digits. Each one has its benefits and pitfalls, making each best suited for one particular type of activity. The most common methods for creating heat are:
Certain chemical reactions, known as exothermic reactions, release heat to their surroundings. Some hand warmer manufacturers utilize these reactions to give off heat in their hand warmers. These warmers typically contain a mixture of chemicals that are packaged away and ready to react with a simple trigger, such as exposure to air. Because the heat is dependent on the reaction and there is a finite amount of chemicals in any given packet, these chemical hand warmers typically cannot be reused (although there are some exceptions, such as the HotSnapz reusable warmers). In general, chemical hand warmers are best for keeping in a pocket or emergency kit. They are more wasteful and less economical when used daily.
Catalytic warmers, such as the Zippo hand warmer, produce heat through a catalyzed chemical reaction. In the case of the Zippo, the combustion of the lighter fluid produces heat. This type of hand warmer requires a bit more preparation to make sure it has enough fuel to burn, but it gives off more heat and is not as wasteful as the disposable packets.
There are many hand warmers on the market that utilize the same type of battery as your smartphone to produce heat. These often double as portable chargers as well and are very convenient for day-to-day use. They don’t typically last as long as catalytic or chemical warmers and the battery often loses charge in very cold temperatures, making them preferable only when used indoors.
The best measure of a good hand warmer is, obviously, how well they warm your hands. We looked at the temperatures achieved by each warmer and user reviews on how well heat was dispersed to determine the most effective warmers.
Length of Coverage
Depending on the type of warmer and the design, hand warmers can provide warmth anywhere from 2 to upwards of 12 hours. For people needing hand warmers for long stints outside, such as camping or even attending football games, this may be an important factor.
Convenience is key when choosing a hand warmer. There is no use investing in a rechargeable charger if you are never going to remember to charge it. On the other hand, the convenience of disposable warmers may not be worth all the extra waste if you are using them regularly. Consider what is realistic for you and your lifestyle.
When do you need a hand warmer?
It is important to consider the situations which require hand warmers. For people who just need some on hand for the occasional ski day or to have on hand for camping, disposable warmers will work great. If you need reliable heat for a long period of time, investing in a catalytic lighter will be worth it in the long run. Others with poor circulation may just want something on hand in their car or home to warm up after some time outside or even use in a cold office. For these people, a rechargeable warmer may be best.
Gloves vs Mittens
If you are really trying to stay warm, you will want some hand warmers that can be slipped into gloves or mittens. Choosing mittens over gloves give you more space for hand warmers and keeping your digits in the same cozy compartment will keep you much warmer over time.
Q. What does mAh mean for batteries?
A. mAh stands for milliampere per hour and is a unit used to measure the capacity of a battery. mAh specifically measures the rate of discharge and the length of time that this rate of discharge can be kept up. So with “batteries” instead of a higher measurement being better or stronger as is typical, a lower number means the battery will keep up for longer.
Q. How do I use my hand warmer safely?
A. Keeping yourself “safe” when it comes to hand warmer use isn’t too difficult as long as you follow some simple guidelines. Always make sure to read any product information and instructions so as you know how to use the product safety. Never expose your skin directly to any warming device. Along with these, many electronic hand warmers will also implement automatic shut-off times so as to not become too hot. These safety features, and rules, as long as they are adhered to will allow you to use a hand warmer without too much concern.
Q. Are hand warmers waterproof?
A. When it comes to any specifics of design you should always consult the instructions and specific available information about whether or not that particular model is waterproof, but generally, hand warmers cannot and should be used in or around water. They are safe to use if your hands are simply wet and you wish to keep them warm, though, so for most cold weather use, this is not an issue.
Q. Are hand warmers good to use with gloves?
A. A lot of people will say that that they stick their hand warmers in their gloves before they go outside or go to work but almost all hand warmers advise you not to apply them directly to the skin so we cannot advise doing this, even with the disposable ones. Since you are supposed to have a layer between your skin and the warmer, we do think it is a great idea to hold the warmer with gloved hands in order to provide the most protection and warmth to your hands. When not in immediate need we recommend keeping the warmer in a small bag or sack for your safety.
Q. What happens when my charge cable no longer works? Can I get a new one without having to buy to new warmer?
A. If you are using a battery based hand warmer, then we have good news and bad news. The bad news is that most retailers don’t seem to offer the option to order just a new cord in the event that you need a replacement. The good news is that many hand warmers charge via the same input port as phones so ordering a replacement charge cord is pretty no hassle. These type of ports mean that some of these phone warmers have the option to act as a phone charger as well as a hand warmer, which is a nice added plus. So while replacements can be limited you should be able to easily to find a new cord that will do the job all the same.
- The Chemical Reactions That Make Hand Warmers Heat Up, Website, Jan 01, 1970 ,
- Are Zippo Hand Warmers Worth The Investment?, Website, Jun 14, 2002 ,