Best Hand Warmers
If you ski, climb, or even just live somewhere where it snows, you probably have seen HotHands Long Lasting warmer. 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 re-charged, re-filled, or boiled, and will last a long time. The biggest advantage this product offers is its size. It is a perfect size for your boot, glove, a small pocket, or even a chalk bag. It also usually 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.
While testing HotHands Long Lasting, we found that although the product advertises 10 hours, the heat is usually gone between hours nine and 10. This could be because it is smaller most than other disposable warmers, making it great for an in-the-glove option. 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, all at a very reasonable price. This is a great product for skiing and snowy hikes because it is small in size but maintain 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. Each packet can heat up in a quick five minutes and stay above 110 degrees for eight hours. It is portable, disposable, and easy to use, making it our favorite choice for long, chilly days outdoors.
If there were one thing that we would consider a drawback about the Tundras Hot Hand warmer, it is that it isn't 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.
While testing the Zippo 12-Hour warmer, we were reminded of enduring the rugged wilderness for weeks, hunting in the bitter cold, or fighting zombies at the break of dawn. 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 charge it or throw it out. It also lasts for the full 12 hours as advertised.
The Zippo 12-Hour warmer can also be a less than ideal option for the backcountry. First of all, because you need to carry extra supplies like lighter fluid, the small fluid applicator, and a lighter (although you probably are already carrying that) and, second of all, because it doesn't get that warm. It only reached about 105 degrees Fahrenheit during our testing, but maintained its heat nicely as long as it was kept in a pocket in the small velvet warming bag.
The Jomst New 7800mAh is an environmentally friendly option for a long-lasting warmer. This product also works as a portable battery pack. The advantage of this particular rechargeable warmer is that it lasts extra long. You can feel it heat up in seconds, and it only takes three minutes to get to 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 New 7800mAh is on the larger side, making it less convenient for more hands-on activities. 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 built for the everyday commuter, dog walker, or hiker. It is a great option for anyone living in colder climates that has to be outside for any 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 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 need to charge your phone on the go, you can, and it has a handy-dandy place to attach keys or a tile or just a pretty 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, pull it out to walk to the coffee shop sort of warmer. Because it is so bulky, it is not ideal for more hands-on activities and requires a charging outlet.
We loved the concept of the Hotsnapz Reusable warmer. It is disposable yet reusable, and it heats up incredibly fast to a hot 130 degrees. It also comes in two different sizes. This product works through a chemical reaction in which the gel packet will stiffen as it heats up, and once it is completely hard, it will cool down. To reuse it, you stick the product in boiling water, which should turn the warmer back to gel.
Although the Hotsnapz Reusable warmer does get hot fast, it works better as 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 minutes to two hours of warmth, we found 30 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.
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, the Saferell Rechargeable warmer was the hottest of all the products we tested, but only lasted about two hours - half the time of the OCOOPA Rechargeable Warmer. THe OCCOPA has the same battery capacity, but at its warmest, runs 10 degrees cooler than the Sarelle. We also found that the product that heated up very quickly (in under a minute) tended to burn out first as well. The Hotsnapz Reuseable warmers heat up in seconds, and get hot, but burn out at about 30 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 the disposable warmers, such as the HotHands Long Lasting and the Tundras Hot Hand warmers are not reusable, they typically last a very long time. They, therefore, have great single-use sustainability but don't have good multi-use sustainability. To test the sustainability, we charted each warmer's warmth every hour until its temperature dropped below 90 degrees. On certain products, such as Hotsnapz 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 Hotsnapz Reuseable warmer's sustainability, as it only lasted a short 30 minutes and didn't work as well as advertised during re-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 New 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.
When considering the size of the rechargeable products, we liked the size of the OCOOPA Rechargeable warmer because it fits nicely in one hand. However, the other two rechargeable warmers would be a better size for someone looking to place both hands on the product at once.
The rechargeable warmers get extra points in the special features category because they double as a portable battery pack. 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.
Both the Jomst New 7800mAh and the Saferell Rechargeable are slightly more convenient because they have a built-in USB port, whereas the OCOOPA Rechargeable includes an adapter attachment in case you want to plug in a phone.
Depending on your lifestyle and your priorities, each of these products offer 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