The Best Hand Warmers to Help You Through the Coldest Days

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Winter is a beast when it comes to keeping your hands warm. On the coldest of days, sometimes even mittens won’t cut it when you have to take your hands out of your pockets. You’ll need more than that in order to actually use—not to mention feel—your hands in subzero temperatures, whether you’re out hunting, skiing, camping, or just running some errands. That's where hand warmers come in. The little packs bring heat where you need it most to make sure fingers stay functional. However, there are a ton of different options out there ,and it’s hard to know which one to get. To help narrow down your search, we rounded up our favorite options.

Read on for our picks of the best hand warmers available. 

Best Overall: HotHands Hand Warmers

HotHands Hand Warmers

Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy to use

  • Lightweight

  • Comes in bulk

What We Don't Like
  • Takes 15 minutes to hit peak warmth

If you have to buy for a big family ski vacation or a sports team of potentially cold kids, this bulk box of 40 pairs of warmers is the way to go. HotHands is one of the best names on the market, and their shake-to-activate system is easy for kids to grasp. Plus, the 10-hour warm time is almost unbeatable. It does take a bit longer to warm up than some—it takes about 15 minutes to hit peak warmth—but if you feel the heat flag, you can just expose it to some cold air, give it another shake, and it should be good to go. 

Heat source: Air-activated | Duration: Up to 10 hours | Max temperature: 158 degrees

Best Catalytic: Zippo 12-Hour Refillable Hand Warmer

Zippo 12-Hour Refillable Hand Warmer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Flameless

  • Refillable

  • Sleek, thin design fits into the smallest pockets

What We Don't Like
  • Once ignited, there is no way to stop the heating action

Zippo has long been at the top of the list when it comes to the best reusable hand warmers, and their flameless butane-powered warmer is a great option. If you need a lot of heat over a long period of time, this will keep hands warm for up to 12 hours. It’s very thin, so you can slip it into tight pockets and gloves, while the metal construction holds up if you’re taking it on vigorous outdoor adventures. If you’re hunting, don’t worry: animals won’t be able to smell the butane.

It’s easy to fill up, and though it does have butane in it, it’s safe: The hand warmer heats catalytically, so there’s no flame to worry about, since it only smolders to produce heat. Although we thought 12 hours was great, some users report getting up to 18 hours of burn time, which makes this pick even better for a long day of hiking or hunting.

Heat source: Lighter fluid | Duration: Up to 12 hours | Max temperature: Not listed

Best Reusable: Hotsnapz Reusable Hand and Pocket Warmers

Hotsnapz Reusable Hand and Pocket Warmers

Amazon

What We Like
  • Snap to activate

  • Heats up quickly

What We Don't Like
  • The heat does not last long

Want the convenience of on-demand hand warmers without the hassle of butane or electricity? These genius reusable hand warmers, which come in a set of eight, are a great solution. In both square (great for pockets) and circular (perfect for palms) shapes, the hand warmers are activated by snapping a silver button to catalyze a chemical reaction and heat up to 130 degrees.

Once activated, they last for up to an hour for the pocket-size ones; the circular hand warmers last up to 40 minutes. It’s a good amount of time if you’re outside sledding or shoveling the driveway, and they’re so portable you can just bring extras with you to swap out or share. At the end of the day, you just throw them in a pot of boiling water, which causes everything to reset, and you’ll be able to reuse them again in 15 minutes.

Heat source: Chemical | Duration: 40 minutes to an hour | Max temperature: 130 degrees

Best Disposable: L.L. Bean Wicked Good Hand Warmers

L.L. Bean Wicked Good Hand Warmers

 Courtesy of L.L. Bean

What We Like
  • Simply open the wrapper to activate

  • Long lasting

  • Can store in pocket, gloves, or socks

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive for daily use

Just unwrap to activate these classic disposable hand warmers. Although they’re a little pricey to use on a daily basis (at least when the option of reusable warmers exists), they provide up to 10 hours of heat on cold days. They also heat up to just over 156 degrees, enough on cold days, and on really cold days, to take quite a bit of the edge off.

Unlike other disposable hand warmers, they lose their heat very slowly over time—just a few degrees an hour. We love these hand warmers for outdoor activities like shoveling the driveway, hunting, and skiing because they slide right into gloves and aren’t bulky enough to hinder hand movements. Users love to put these in their back pockets for protection against cold bleachers during a winter outdoor sporting event, too. They’re also eco-friendly, which takes a bit off the hit of using disposable warmers.

Heat source: Chemical | Duration: Up to 10 hours | Max temperature: 156 degrees

Best Charcoal: Stansport Charcoal Fuel Stick Hand Warmer

Stansport Solid Fuel Hand Warmer

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Don't Like
  • Easy to use

  • Long lasting

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Strong smell

This is an old-school style of hand warmer, but it’s still effective. You just light one of the included charcoal fuel sticks and make sure it’s going strong—you can tell if you lightly blow on it and there’s at least a centimeter of red coals. Then, without letting it touch anything, place it inside its fiberglass case and let it smolder. The included two solid-fuel sticks will get you started, but if you need more, they’re relatively cheap and available at most sporting goods stores.

Although this is too large to keep inside your gloves, it’s great for pockets or sleeping bags—the stick will burn up to eight hours, so you can get a good night’s sleep. Just keep in mind you’ll definitely want a layer of fabric between you and this hand warmer: it gets incredibly hot and there’s a slight burn risk if you pick it up with bare hands once it gets going.

Heat source: Charcoal | Duration: Up to 8 hours | Max temperature: Not listed

Best for the Outdoors: Celestron FireCel Plus

Celestron FireCel Plus

Amazon

What We Like
  • Can serve as a power bank and flashlight

  • Has five modes

  • Made for outdoor adventures

What We Don't Like
  • Relatively low temperature

If you’re packing light for hiking, backpacking, camping, or hunting excursions, you’ll want to carefully consider how much stuff you'll need. Enter Celetron’s FireCel Plus: it’s a hand warmer, phone charger, and flashlight all in one. The hand warmer has two different heat settings and can provide heat continuously for up to 12 hours—a full day of hiking plus setting up camp for the night.

If you need to give your phone some extra boost—or even recharge a USB-powered camera, this device can do that, too. Finally, the flashlight has multiple settings for whatever situation you find yourself in: white lights for setting up shelter in the dark, red lights for stargazing, and even an SOS setting should disaster strike. All in all, it’s a solid purchase with a lot of uses.

Heat source: Battery | Duration: Up to 12 hours | Max temperature: 113 degrees

Final Verdict

Ultimately, the type of hand warmer you need could vary. It comes down to a matter of which option is best suited for the environment and occasion. We like the HotHands warmers (view at Amazon) for their versatility, reliability, and ability to fit in just about any glove or mitten.

What to Look for in a Hand Warmer 

Source of Heat

The most common types of hand warmers are fueled by battery, air, or fuel. Air-activated hand warmers usually come in a set of individual, portable pouches (quantity varies) that you vigorously shake to generate heat. These can provide warmth for up to a couple of hours, and should be small enough to fit inside your gloves or pockets. Also, these are not susceptible to weather conditions. The downside is the warmth only lasts until the heat eventually dissipates.  

As the name suggests, battery-powered hand warmers use a rechargeable battery, often lithium-ion, to generate heat, with the press of a button. They are also rechargeable. Some can even double as a power bank for your phone. Likewise, these are not susceptible to weather conditions. These are often pricier than other options. 

And last but not least, there are hand warmers that use fuel sources such as charcoal or lighter fluid to generate heat. You simply light these and they provide continuous heat.  However, once light, you have to wait for the heat to fizzle out on its own. Plus, this type of hand warmer is more susceptible to the elements. 

Duration of Heat 

For the most part, a good hand warmer should last between five and eight hours. Some can last over more than ten hours. Ultimately, the duration of heat depends on the kind and brand you get. Basically, one pair should last you through one day of outdoor winter activity before needing to be replaced or recharged.

Max temperature

Generally speaking, hand warmers can reach temperatures between 135 up to 180 degrees, which is less hot than boiling water. Battery-powered ones tend to reach higher maximum temperatures than the other ones. 

Why Trust TripSavvy?

Krystin Arneson is a freelance editor and writer based out of Berlin, Germany. During the week, you'll find her traveling as often as possible; during the weekend, she serves as editor for Glamour.com. Besides TripSavvy and Glamour, she's also been published on Conde Nast Traveler, Jetsetter, National Geographic Traveler, Oyster.com, and more.

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