The cold weather always alters certain parameters of our lives during warm weather – one has to prepare the clothing such as insulated jackets and warmers, living environment such as a well-heated home, and transportation and consider many different factors. Life, however, does not stop because of cold weather, and as such, activities continue, as usual, be it shopping, going out for a run or even visiting a holiday resort. Even more exciting, sports such as snowboard, skiing, and winter hiking were designed specifically for the weather.
Add-ons that are sometimes underrated such as hand warmers are quite essential to make us more comfortable during the cold weather. Their role ranges from warming our hands and feet to reducing pain from ailments such as arthritic pain or menstrual cramps. These mostly pocket-sized and portable hand warmers are real lifesavers.
However, how does one know how to choose the right-hand warmer? We have outlined below how to choose the right hand warmer for you and if that’s not enough, we have included the 8 best hand warmers in 2021 to give you a head start.
How To Choose The Best Hand Warmer – Buying Guide
If chosen right, having the best hand warmer can be quite versatile and offer many different uses. Some of the key uses are of course providing warmth to your hands and feet especially in the cold outdoors, accelerating to the drying of gloves and socks, and as pain relievers.
Notably, skiers and snowboard riders always use compact and disposable hand warmers which they slip in their boots and gloves to keep warm all day whilst out on the slopes or park. This practice especially helps people who suffer from conditions such as cold feet by providing the same house warmth and comfort their heaters at home would provide.
Along with other clothing that provides enough insulation, when engaging in outdoor activities that consume long hours such as ice fishing, hunting, camping or even being a spectator of an outdoor concert, it is good to have feet and hand warmers to keep you warm as you are stationary for prolonged periods of time. Wearing clothes and having add-ons such as hand warmers is especially important if one is not very active, typically in activities such as ice fishing. Both rechargeable hand warmers and disposable hand warmers are ideal to work at this capacity.
Depending on the situation, each type of hand warmer can quite a useful warming devices. If you are winter hiking, single-use hand warmers can be activated and slipped into your backpack, next to your water bottle, to ensure your water doesn’t freeze. The best hand warmers on the other hand can be put into your backpack next to your clothing such as blankets or slipped into your portable sleeping bags so that they are warm when you are ready to rest overnight.
Thos annoying days during winter whereby your batteries would be so cold that they’d stop working are over! Place a single-use hand warmer next to your batteries inside your back or pockets, to keep your batteries temperature at an optimum. So when you want to use your electronics, you will not be disappointed.
And since we are talking about hacks, hand warmers are excellent moisture wicking devices. Keep a packet of single-use hand warmer in your camera bag or in the bag of any other screened electronic device to remove moisture. You can do the same for food, before sealing the food bag, to absorb oxygen and maintain freshness.
The best rechargeable hand warmer if purchased for long term used is highly cost-effective. In fact, those types of hand warmers are reusable, environmentally friendly, and are pocket-sized; they can be used anywhere, even on your daily subway commute to work!
Hand warmers can be highly useful and effective in medical emergencies such as hypothermia. Simply wrap up the hand warmer in a pair of clothing such as socks and put them on the pressure areas such as armpits of a person suffering from hypothermia to rapidly increase their body temperature.
Hand warmers work as effective pain relievers. Heat up your hand warmer and gently place it on your temples to reduce headaches and migraines. Additionally, hand warmers work regulating and reducing ailments such as menstrual cycle cramps, Raynaud’s syndrome, and many similar ailments.
Additionally, hand warmers also work as muscle relaxants. After a long day of hiking or snowboarding for the first time, your muscles are bound to ache and feel sore. Place a hand warmer on the affected area to relieve the pain and decrease soreness.
If you are in the absolute isolated wilderness for camping or simply on the back of your truck, stuck with wet socks and gloves that you want to dry to keep warm, simply slip in a hand warmer inside to quickly and thoroughly dry your socks and gloves. And if your boots get wet from hours of hiking on wet terrains, through in a hand warmer to thoroughly dry your boots, so they are dry and comfortable for your hike on the following day.
When choosing the perfect hand warmers to invest in, it is best to scrutinize their features. Go for hand warmers with features that work best for you – if going for a rechargeable hand warmer, ask yourself- is the battery powerful enough? Do I need a 5200 mAh or 7800 mAh battery? Think of where you will be using the hand warmer – is it convenient and realistic to bring with an electric warmer or a disposable one?
It is also important to think of the environment, so in the midst of choosing what features work best for you, consider this – is the product environmentally safe? Can I compromise and still do with a reusable hand warmer rather than a single-use hand warmer?
Different hand warmers come with different power source options. Both options are functional, however; you have to consider how they work best for you as well as their limitations.
Chemical hand warmers
These are powered by the energy produced by exothermic reactions within the hand warmer. A good example of such hand warmers is HotHands Air. Typically, hand warmers contain the mixture in a package, and to activate them, one simply opens up the package so the contents mix and react with air, i.e. an exothermic reaction.
Most chemical hand warmers contain cellulose, iron powder, water, activated carbon, and salt. When Iron (contents) is exposed to air and thus reacts with oxygen resulting in its oxidation and the forming of iron rust. The oxidation is the exothermic reaction that releases the heat energy to provide warmth. Salt is added to the contents to catalyze and speed up the process. This reaction typically takes minutes to happen and to release energy.
Because, the reaction is non-reversible, chemical hand warmers are normally non-reusable. Additionally, they can be quite costly if intended for long term use, as one will have to buy a lot of packages, which also makes them wasteful.
However, there are less known reusable chemical hand warmers such as the HotSnapZ Round, which use crystallization. Such chemical hand warmers are recharged by immersing them in extremely hot water until contents reform. They are then allowed to cool and be used again. The heat from these type of hand warmers is released by flexing a small metal disc inside the hand warmer which creates a structure in the center which initiates crystallization thus, releasing heat.
Catalytic hand warmers
Catalytic hand warmers produce heat energy through a catalyzed chemical reaction, the catalyst mostly being fluid for lighters. These hand warmers normally require the refilling of the fluid which enables the right energy to be released. Typically, for these catalytic hand warmers, the fluid used is petroleum naphtha.
Considered as some of the best hand warmers, catalytic hand warmers normally release more energy compared to chemical hand warmers due to the burning of the lighter fluid which is more energized. Additionally, catalytic hand warmers release heats for longer periods of time, up to half or a whole day, as compared to chemical hand warmers or electric hand warmers.
Electric or battery hand warmers
Rechargeable hand warmers, which use different sized energy, are also an option. Electric or battery had warmers are powered by batteries which are charged by either 110V main power source or 5V USB power supply. Their duration and amount of heat supply vary according to battery strength, size, and usage. Most of these hand warmers double as power banks and flashlights and can be very convenient – all you have to do is charge them and they are ready for use. Like most electronic devices, they eventually lose their battery power and in cold weather or over long periods, they stop being useful. They are, however, the best hand warmers for indoor use.
Length of Heat
When choosing the right hand warmer, think of where you will use it. This helps you determine the ideal length of heat. If you are thinking of using it on a day’s hike at the nearby hiking trail, then an 8-hour heat-producing hand warmer is ideal. If you are thinking of using it for a few hours out of grocery shopping, then hand warmers with a length of the heat of at least 4 hours are ideal.
The length of heat varies depending on the hand warmer with a range from 1 hour to 8 hours. If unsure, you can double the effort by carrying your everyday rechargeable hand warmer and supplementing it with single-use heat warmer packs in case its energy runs out.
Additionally, it is good to measure circumstances and understand how much each of the heat each situation you are in might require heat. For instance, passive activities such as fishing or camping are better off with catalytic or fuel hand warmers do quite a good job of producing a lot of heat over a long period of time all depending o the lighter fluid.
Electric vs Catalytic vs Chemical
Each hand warmer has its pros and cons but you know what, each is individually strengthened for specific warming functions. Below is a swift comparison between the three power source options.
Electric hand warmers
- Rechargeable and reusable
- Comes in a 2-in 1 or 3 in -1 make as a hand warmer, portable charger, and flashlight
- Able to charge all types of handsets as well as other similar devices such as iPods
- No chemical, fuels of scents associated with the hand warmer
- Ideal for indoors
- A shorter length of heating than catalytic hand warmers
- Require electrical charging before use
- Not as efficient in cold weather
- Battery strength wears out over time
- Hand warmer option with the longer lights of the heat of up to 15 hours
- Can be refilled with lighter fluid which is every available
- Emits most heat compared to other power source thanks to the powerful combustion process
- The lighter fluid smell may be too intense for some
- Uncomfortable to store in pockets or bags due to their combustible fluid content
- Simple, fast, and easy to use
- Very affordable
- Abundantly available
- Smallest available hand warmer size
- Ideal to include in first aid packs
- Can e expensive if chosen for long term use
- If packets accidentally rip, they have a tendency off leaving dark stains on gloves and socks
Reusable vs Single-Use Hand Warmers
As stated above, disposable hand warmers are normally chemical warmers whilst catalytic and electric hand warmers are reusable ones. They are key factors that set these two kinds of warmers apart – cost, waste, simplicity, and functionality.
For short term or one-time usage, single-use hand warmers are a better option in terms of cost compared to reusable hand warmers. Long term usage, however, favors investment of a reusable hand warmer of which you will only pay for once and use multiple times – all you have to do is either recharge or refill your lighter fluid.
Single-use hand warmers additionally are ore wasteful whilst reusable ones are not at all. Imagine hiking Mt.Everest with an 80 pack HotHands Air warmers or simply 2 rechargeable or refillable hand warmers – the latter is most definitely a better choice.
Single-use hand warmers have the advantage of the ease of use, simply tear off the package to expose the contents, the contents then react with air and boom! You have a working hand warmer. Additionally, their small compact sizes make them ideal to carry anywhere. These little yet effective warmers can even fit into your glove pockets. Thus, single-use hand warmers are quite practical for outdoor sports such as snowboarding and skiing.
When it comes to functionality, reusable hand warmers are much favored than single-use warmers. The best rechargeable hand warmers are multi-functional, thus, you are able to use them as warmers, portable chargers for small electronic devices, and some even as flashlights. Reusable hand warmers maybe a little larger than single-use hand warmers, thus, it is wise to consider where you will use them to get the right kind.
The majority of hand warmers provide a temperature heating range of 100 degrees Fahrenheit to 130 degrees Fahrenheit – and this is with reason! A temperature below 100 won’t be warm enough to provide the heat you need whilst a temperature of above 130 is bound to burn your hands.
Furthermore, the temperature range of a heat warmer largely depends on the power sources. A catalytic hand warmer tends to provide more energy thus more temperature rating capability compared to chemical or electric hand warmers. Plus due to their heat strength and higher temperature rating, they are able to cover more space than the others can.
To be able to work for you in different conditions and according to your needs, some electric hand warmers are fitted with temperature settings that allow you to choose the temperature mode you want – from low to high. Disposable hand warmers, on the other hand, will only be able to provide you with one temperature rating.
Q: Where Do I Put My Hand Warmer?
For a hand warmer to work effectively, each type has its ideal place to be put. Typically, especially in the outdoors, the best place would be in the zippered pockets of hand gloves. Manufacturers are even producing outdoor gear tailored to host warmers such as the more comfortable zippered pocket feature on the back of the hand in many winter gloves.
Storing your warmers in glove pockets, however, only works with chemical/single-use warmers or battery/electric warmers. It may be unsafe to store catalytic warmers in your glove pockets. Additionally, catalytic warmers may be too large to fit into a glove pocket, thus, they fit in your clothing pockets such as ski pants or wrap them with your gloved hands.
Special care and constant checking are highly advised when you have these warmers in your pockets. You never know when they might rip, drain, or stop working due to damage or low charge – especially when you are outside, you don’t want cold hands.
Q: Are Chemical Hand Warmers Bad For The Environment?
Chemical warmers are bad for the environment to a certain degree. Although they use safe and everyday substances such as iron oxide and salts, most chemical warmers come in packages, mostly fiber, which may be damaging or misuse of the environment.
Additionally, a lot of wastage happens by using chemical warmers. During active spots, they may slip off from the pockets of your gloves thus, creating garbage around the area you are in. Since they are single-use warmers, you require a new pack after each use, which causes material wastage.
All and all, we have to be vigilant and conscious of the environment. Reduce as much littering and wastage as possible by always being attentive so your warmers don’t slip off, or take extra measures such as investing in zippered gloves. Plus, make sure you dispose of your used disposable hand warmer the right way!
Q: Can I Use Hand Warmers In My Boots?
Absolutely, but using your warmers in your boots is limited to single-use/chemical warmers because they are small enough to fit into your socks. Other manufacturers have now begun to produce even smaller sized chemical warmers that are a sticky and that will perfectly fit into your socks to properly warm your feet.
So the next time you are out skiing or snowboarding, you needn’t worry about keeping your feet warm, especially for those suffering from cold feet. And if you want to further complement, the heating down there, invest in good foot warmers that simply replace the padding under your feet when wearing boots.
Q: How Long Will My Hand Warmers Last In Storage?
It all depends on usage. The best electric hand warmers do not have an expiration date and will last you a while, depending on how you use them. Catalytic warmers just like electric warmers will last you even longer, as they basically mechanical and do not involve or house any electronics or chemicals.
However, for a catalytic hand warmer, it is important that the liquid fluid is either used or changed within a reasonable period of time. Chemical warmers are more complicated when it comes to storage. These little warmers are best to be used as rapidly as possible – see them within the most immediate upcoming season to prevent disappointment as they go bad really fast. Additionally, a lot of chemical warmers come in package deals such as an 80 pc warmer. Do not overstock on these as they will definitely go bad on you.
Q: When Is The Best Time To Use A Catalytic Or Fuel Hand Warmer?
Throughout the warmers' reviews so far, we have not seen much of the usage or the appropriateness of catalytic or fuel warmers. This in part is due to their size as well as their design construction, i.e. they use fuel. Catalytic or fuel warmers do have a purpose, however!
Obviously, you can’t imagine yourself skidding down a snowy terrain with your skis whilst holding on to your fuel or catalytic hand warmer, which would simply be weird and impractical! Fuel and catalytic warmers are designed for more passive or activities.
Picture yourself out in the wilderness – fishing or listening to stories from your father about his deployment in desert storm, now holding on to fuel or a catalytic hand warmer in these situations makes sense. Catalytic and full warmers are made for such activities where most of the time you are seated and you have the capability to occasionally be wrapping the around a cloth or simply wrapping them with your gloved hands for warmth.
Additionally, out of the three common types of warmers, catalytic and fuel warmers provide them most heat. The most heat you will definitely need through passivity in the cold outdoors.
The reviews of the best hand warmers above have definitely proven how important these little bad boys are. Additionally, these hand warmers offer so much warmth and comfort that just the thought of purchasing one even for use in your living room during winter when watching the next episode of your favorite show excites you.
The ingenious invention of these “warmers” definitely gives a perspective of how we should take care of ourselves and our bodies during the cold weather – all the more reason why you should definitely invest in one of the best hand warmers. And when it comes to the health benefits, be it first aid or therapeutic pain reliever, these warmers become magical.
Furthermore, the 8 best hand warmers in 2021, help to further prove their purpose with the individual characteristic and advantage of each – you can’t go wrong with either option. And that is why you need to order your companion for this year’s cold season!