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Winter is a beast when it comes to keeping your hands warm: On the coldest of days, even mittens won’t cut it when it comes to actually having to take your hands out of your pockets. You’ll need more than that to actually be able to use — not to mention feel — your hands on a cold day, whether you’re out hunting, skiing, running, camping, or just trying to run some errands. Hand warmers are your lifesaver on these coldest of days: The little packs bring heat where you need it most to make sure fingers stay functional.
There are a ton of different options out there, however, and it’s hard to know which one to pick. They’re not inexpensive either, so you want to be sure you’re getting the most value possible from your purchase — even disposable ones don’t run super cheap, so it’s good to have some background on a product before you make your purchase.
We’ve rounded up the best hand-warming options out there, from ones that you can recharge again and again to those that are great in case of an emergency. Read on for our picks to keep your hands warm during cold days.
Best Catalytic Warmer: Zippo Hand Warmer
Zippo’s long been at the top of the list when it comes to the best reusable hand warmers, and their flameless butane-powered warmer is really where it’s at. If you need a lot of heat over a long period of time, this will keep hands warm for up to 12 hours (a six-hour model is also available). It’s very thin, so you can slip it into tight pockets and gloves, and it fits nicely in the hand, while the metal construction holds up if you’re taking this outdoors. (If you’re hunting, don’t worry: Animals won’t be able to smell the butane.)
It’s easy to fill up, and although yes, it does have butane in it, it’s perfectly safe: The hand warmer heads catalytically, so there’s no flame to worry about (price above doesn’t include lighter fluid) — 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.
Best Reusable: Hand Warmers HotSnapZ Reusable Round and Pocket Warmers
Want the convenience of on-demand hand warmers without the hassle of butane or electricity — or just want something that doesn’t involve either of those for the kids? These genius 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 the perfect amount of time if you’re spending a bit of time outside sledding, shoveling the driveway, or at a sporting event (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 — you’ll be able to reuse them again like new in 15 minutes.
Best Single Use: HotHands Hand Warmer Value Pack
Just shake to activate these classic disposable hand warmers — and they’re classic for a reason. Although they’re a little pricey to rely on these 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 activate up to just over 100 degrees to hit a pretty comfortable temperature: It’s just enough on cold days, and on really cold days they 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 and skiing, because they slide right into gloves aren’t aren’t bulky enough to hinder hand movements.
But diehard fans aren’t afraid to get creative with the uses: 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, too.
Best Rechargeable: Cypers Double-Side Re-chargeable Hand Warmer and Portable Power Bank
Almost everyone needs a power bank for their phone these days — whether you use your phone nonstop during the day or just keep it in the glove box for emergencies. Why not get one that doubles as a hand warmer in the cold days of winter? This pebble-shaped charger/hand warmer fits easily in your hand (even into some gloves) and slips easily in your bag or glove box. It’s anti-scald and shockproof, so if you’re heading out into the woods, it can hold up under a bit of stress.
We love the triple heat settings (107 degrees, 118 degrees, and 131 degrees) that radiate warmth from both sides of the gadget in about three seconds — and should you forget to turn it off, there’s an auto-shut off after an hour. In the meantime, three blinking lights on the side will let you know how much charge is left.
Once it’s low on power, recharge it over a few hours by using the included micro-USB cord. Of course, the downside is that you’ll have to shift this from hand to hand to warm both at once — or find an excuse to buy two.
Best Charcoal: Stansport Hand Warmer with 2 Fuel Sticks
This is an old-school style of hand warmer, but it’s still effective. You just light one of the included solid-fuel sticks (usually made of charcoal) 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 you’ll want 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 with this. 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 really gets going.
Best for the Outdoors: Celestron FireCel Plus Hand Warmer/Charger/Flashlight
If you’re packing light for a hiking, backpacking, camping, or hunting excursion, you’ll want to carefully consider each and every ounce and item — so when a great three-in-one product comes your way, you’re not going to want to turn it down. 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 and then setting up camp for the night.
If you need to give your phone some extra boost — or even recharge a USB-powered camera, this 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 purpose.
Best Disposable Hand Warmers in Bulk: HotHands Hand Warmers
If you have to buy for a big family ski vacation or a sports team of potentially cold kids, going disposable might be the way to go — but you’re going to want to buy in bulk to get the most warmth for your buck. At about 66 cents a pair, this bulk box of 40 pairs of warmers is the way to go. HotHands is one of the best names on the market (we love their slightly smaller boxes for one-off use during the winter), and their shake-to-activate use is easy for kids to grasp — and the 10-hour warm time is almost unbeatable (plus there’s no lighter fluid or smoldering sticks involved, like with some other equally long-lasting picks above).
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.