Best Hand Warmers
If you ski, climb, or even just live somewhere where it snows, you're probably familiar with HotHands Long Lasting warmers. And for a good reason. While we were excited to test the reusable products in our lineup, it quickly became clear why this model is so popular. Each packet is small, doesn't need to be recharged, re-filled, or boiled, and will last a long time. The biggest advantage this product has over its competitors is its size. It is a perfect size for your boot, glove, a small pocket, or even your climbing chalk bag. It also comes in a pair so that you can have one for each of your hands or feet, and all you have to do to use them is pull them out of their packaging and shake. They are portable, disposable, and easy to use, making them our favorite choice for long, chilly days outdoors.
Although HotHands Long Lasting advertises 10 hours of warmth, the heat is usually gone between hours nine and 10. This seems to be the trade-off between size and duration. These warmers are small, making them great for an in-the-glove option, but their small size also detracts from their heat prolongation. We also would have liked it if this product was somehow reusable.
Whether you're just keeping your pockets warm or your boots toasty, the Tundras Hot Hand disposable warmer can help keep you warm for hours for a very reasonable price. This is a great product for skiing and snowy hikes because it is small in size but maintains its heat for a good length of time. This product is advertised to provide at least eight hours of warmth, but we found that it can stay above 90 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 10 hours if kept in a moderately protected spot, like your pocket, and frequently shaken. Each packet can heat up in a quick five minutes and stay above 110 degrees for eight hours. This is a great budget option for outdoor enthusiasts and casual dog walkers alike.
If there were one thing that we would consider a drawback about the Tundras Hot Hand warmer, it's that it's not rechargeable or reusable. Once the initial heat reaction wears off, it is done and needs to be disposed of. This model is so toasty that it is hard not to use it on every cold occasion, but opening a new pack so often isn't sustainable.
The Jomst 7800mAh Rechargeable is an environmentally friendly option for a long-lasting rechargeable warmer. This product also works as a portable battery pack to charge your phone or another device. The advantage of this particular rechargeable warmer is that it has a larger battery that helps it last longer than other rechargeables. You can feel it heat up in seconds, and it only takes three minutes to reach a hot 128 degrees Fahrenheit. This product would be a good option for short camping trips, long hiking days, or regular around-town activities.
Unfortunately, the Jomst 7800mAh Rechargeable is on the larger side at 4.6 inches long and 2.6 inches wide, making it less convenient than disposable models for more hands-on activities such as running and skiing or even hiking with poles. And although it stays warm for an extra-long time, this particular rechargeable warmer does not get quite as hot as some of the other warmers we tested.
The OCOOPA Rechargeable warmer is ideal for the everyday commuter, dog walker, or hiker with its rechargeable battery and more convenient size. It is a great option for anyone living in colder climates that have to be outside for an extended period of time, and it doubles as a portable battery bank. It is small and fits in your hand easily but still packs a punch and keeps you warm. On the highest setting, this product can get up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit in just minutes, but maintains steady heat at around 135, and can maintain this temperature for about four hours on its highest setting. We found this warmer to be very efficient and loved taking it with us on dog walks and in the car in the morning.
The OCOOPA Rechargeable warmer comes with a small velvet sleeve, supposedly to keep the warmth in, but we found that the product is much warmer without the sleeve by about 10 to 20 degrees. This also would not be the choice product for skiing, running, or climbing, because it doesn't store away easily under your gloves, socks, or in a chalk bag. Not to mention, you need regular access to an outlet to keep this baby warm.
The Zippo 12-Hour warmer is a refillable fuel-powered warmer that lasts all day, making it ideal for wilderness excursions, winter camping, or bitter-cold hunting trips. This backcountry warmer runs off lighter fluid and is ignited with a lighter. It is reusable, as long as you have some lighter fluid, and is slim, so it will fit nicely in your pocket. This is a great product for backpacking or days in the cold because you don't need to recharge it at an outlet or dispose of it when you're done. In our testing, it also lasted for a full 12 hours as advertised.
The Zippo 12-Hour warmer would make a great choice when you're already carrying other gear or equipment but might not be ideal if you're planning on traveling fast and light. The Zippo requires extra supplies like lighter fluid, a small fluid applicator, and a lighter, which you are probably already carrying on an extended camping or hunting trip, but might be burdensome on a shorter day trip. This model also doesn't get as warm as others, reaching only about 105 degrees Fahrenheit during our testing. However, this product maintained its heat nicely as long as it was kept in a pocket in the small velvet warming bag, providing consistent all-day warmth.
The Saferell Rechargeable hand warmer gets HOT. It gets up to 147 degrees Fahrenheit on its highest setting, which is seven degrees more than any other hand warmer we tested. This product also doubles as a portable battery pack. It has a USB port so that if you can charge your phone on the go, and it has a handy-dandy place to attach keys, a carabiner, or a lanyard.
The only thing you have to watch out for with the Saferell Rechargeable is draining the battery. Because it gets so hot, the battery drains fast. If you start the warmer on the highest setting on a full battery, it will die in two short hours. This product would do best as a day-to-day sort of warmer — ideal for neighborhood walks or daily use around town. Because it is so bulky, it is not ideal for more active, hands-on activities, and it requires charging fairly frequently.
We loved the concept of the Hot To Go Reusable warmer. It's offered in two different sizes, is disposable yet reusable, and heats up incredibly fast to a hot 130 degrees. This product works through a chemical reaction in which the gel packet will stiffen as it heats up, and as it becomes completely hard, it cools down. To reuse it, you stick the product in boiling water, which should turn the warmer back to gel.
Although the Hot To Go Reusable warmer does get hot fast, it works better as a heat pack for a sprained ankle or a chemistry experiment than a cold-weather hand warmer. Unfortunately, the two different sizes don't equate to more or less warmth — they both offer about the same amount of warmth for about the same amount of time — and although the product advertises 30 to 40 minutes of warmth, we found 20 minutes was closer to the mark. We also found that after the first use, if not boiled properly, the hand warmer can become hard and thus unusable if it is exposed to really cold temperatures, which is not what you want in sub-freezing conditions. However, this product might be an excellent addition to your first aid kit and could be great as a form of heat application on sprains and strains.
Why You Should Trust Us
Head tester Liv Mertens loves spending time outdoors, whether that means snowboarding, skiing, running, climbing, or just walking the dog, but one thing she has never been good at is dealing with the cold. For years she has been working on ways to stay warm outdoors when it is cold because she knows that activities are just more enjoyable when you are comfortable. Over the years, hand warmers have become an important part of her warmth assembly, and she has learned what to look for.
Liv and the testing team made sure to test for both maximum warmth and duration of warmth. They took the products with them on their adventures and used them around the house and around town. The team charted how fast each product heated up and how long it took them to cool off. The outdoor accessories team focused on four main factors: warmth, sustainability, size, and special features, while also taking into account useability and function. All of these together gave us a comprehensive picture of each of the products.
Analysis and Test Results
By doing some research and by taking the products out on our adventures, we learned the advantages and disadvantages of each warmer and where each product performed the best. We found that some of the warmers were better for city life, some for long days on the trail, and still others were more ideal for the slopes. We loved the concept of rechargeable and reusable products but found them to be much bulkier and less convenient than smaller disposable ones. We found that the warmer the product, the better, but in colder climates, even just 100 degrees Fahrenheit is usually enough to feel warm. We also came to appreciate simplicity in the accessory, as these little pockets of warmth were designed to make our day in the cold easier, not more complicated.
To test the warmth of each of the products, we created a chart, tracking each warmer's temperature from the moment it was turned on till it was under 90 degrees Fahrenheit. We used an infrared thermometer to take measurements every minute on the minute for the first 5 minutes, then every 5 minutes until 30 minutes, and then every hour on the hour to see how fast the products heated up and then how long they could maintain that heat.
For warmth, we found that in general, the warmer the product, the shorter the heating duration. For example, of all the products we tested, the Saferell Rechargeable heated to the hottest temp, but it was short-lived, lasting only about two hours — half the time of the OCOOPA Rechargeable Warmer. The OCOOPA has the same battery capacity, but at its warmest, runs 10 degrees cooler than the Saferell. We also found that the product that heated up very quickly (in under a minute) tended to burn out first, too. The Hot To Go Reusable warmers get hot in seconds, but burn out at about 20 minutes.
Both the disposable products and the Zippo 12-Hour warmer ran the coolest, the disposables coming in at 120 degrees Fahrenheit and the Zippo 12-Hour only at 105 degrees. However, these are the products with the best single-use sustainability.
Sustainability was a combination of two factors. We looked at both reusability and duration of warmth for a single-use. Although disposable warmers such as the HotHands Long Lasting and the Tundras Hot Hand are not reusable, they typically last a very long time. They, therefore, have great single-use sustainability but lack good multi-use sustainability. To test sustainability, we charted each warmer's warmth every hour until its temperature dropped below 90 degrees. On certain products, such as Hot To Go Reusable, we did find it pertinent to test the second-use warmth and sustainability. We were not completely surprised to find that both the duration and the temperature decreased in the second use for this product. We were ultimately disappointed with the Hot to Go Reusable warmer's sustainability, as it only lasted a short 20 minutes and didn't work as well as advertised during subsequent uses.
In general, our findings for this performance metric revealed that the hotter the temperature, the shorter its life. Most of the reusable products fell into this category, with one exception — the Zippo 12-Hour warmer. This product has the best overall sustainability. It not only lasts a full 12 hours but also is reusable as long as you have lighter fluid.
If you are looking to get a more modern, rechargeable product and need it to last a while, we suggest the Jomst 7800mAh and recommend avoiding the Saferell Rechargeable. Although the Saferell Rechargeable runs hot, it burns through its battery considerably faster than the other rechargeable products.
When considering the size of the products, we were specifically looking at portability, weight, and how the different sizes translated into different uses. The rechargeable products trend on the larger side, allowing for the user to hold them in both hands, while the disposable ones are smaller, making it easier to store them under your gloves or in your pocket.
Although both the disposable, non-reusable products are conceivably an appropriate size for mittens and boots, the HotHands Long Lasting warmers do run a little smaller than the Tundras Hot Hand warmers, in both width and length, making them a more comfortable fit in the tighter spaces.
When considering the size of the rechargeable products, we liked the size of the OCOOPA Rechargeable warmer because it fits nicely in one hand. The other two rechargeable warmers would be a better size for someone looking to place both hands on the product at once. However, if you plan to take your rechargeable warmer on walks around town with you or in a jacket pocket, the smaller size of the OCOOPA warmer is definitely an advantage.
Our special features section focuses on anything extra the products have to offer. Some of the warmers, for example, can double as a portable battery pack for charging small accessories such as a phone or blue tooth headphones. In this metric, we also made sure to include some extra points for any product that is rechargeable. The rechargeable warmers that offer portable battery capabilities get extra points because they double as a portable battery pack and are easily rechargeable at any outlet. It is incredibly handy to have an extra battery pack in this day and age, and even better if it doubles as something to keep your hands warm. Although this extra feature does seem to make the rechargeable products bulky and a bit cumbersome, the extra girth could be worth it if your phone dies quickly or you just frequently forget to charge your phone at night.
Not all rechargeable warmers are created equal. Both the Jomst 7800mAh Rechargeable and the Saferell Rechargeable are slightly more convenient as a portable battery pack because they have a built-in USB port, whereas the OCOOPA Rechargeable does not. Instead, it includes an adapter attachment in case you need to plug in a phone, which is not very useful if you forget the attachment at home or, worse, lose it.
Depending on your lifestyle and your priorities, each of these products offers certain advantages. The larger rechargeable products are generally a better option for around town, especially since they double as battery packs. In contrast, smaller disposable ones tend to be the choice option for outdoor activities. We thought most of the products did their job well, although some were more versatile than others. Ultimately, which of these winter accessories works for you depends on how and where you want to use it.
— Liv Mertens
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