Autumn brings a familiar crisp to the air and a chill to our hands. Investing in the best hand warmers for the upcoming winter season will help you make the most of a day outdoors, no matter the conditions.
If you plan to spend time outdoors this winter, only the best hand warmers should make your gear list. With better run time, heat retention, settings, and reusability, hand warmers have evolved from simple single-use pocket warmers to rechargeable electric warmth machines.
Whether you need 12 hours of heat or the classic ease of a HotHands hand warmer, we’ve got you covered.
The Best Hand Warmers of 2020
Best Hand Warmer: Zippo 12-Hour Hand Warmer ($14)
While it may seem a bit strange to keep a lit canister of lighter fluid in your pocket, in this case, you won’t regret it. The Zippo 12-hour hand warmer lives up to its name. And in some cases, it will even run beyond 12 hours.
To begin the catalytic heating process, you have to fill the fuel funnel, remove the catalytic burner, fill the tank, replace the burner, and use a lighter. So, it does take a bit of extra time to get started, but the burn time, heat retention, and price point are unbeatable.
It’s also worth noting that once you light the Zippo hand warmer, the flameless combustion cannot be stopped or turned off. So, you need to gauge how much fluid you put into the canister according to how long you need the heat to last.
Unlike electric, battery-powered, or disposable hand warmers, the Zippo works continuously even in the coldest conditions, and it is by far the longest-lasting.
- Max Temperature: 105 degrees F average; 110 degrees F maximum
- Heat/Run Time: 11-21 hours
- Weight: 2.6 oz. empty, 3.5 oz. full
- Pros: reusable, longest-lasting heat, durable, affordable
- Cons: messy to fill, takes extra work to maintain, can’t turn off
Best Rechargeable Hand Warmer: OCOOPA Rechargeable Hand Warmer ($26)
This multifunctional hand warmer has a surprising amount of heat in a small package. Not only does it help keep your hands warm for up to eight hours, but it can also charge small devices like a cell phone. It offers up three levels of heating, ranging from 95 to 131 degrees. And the light indicator makes it easy to tell which level you are on.
The only downside to any battery-powered hand warmer is that heat consistency varies as temperatures drop. As with any lithium-ion battery, the cold tends to take its toll on the lifespan. So, even if you’ve left the house with a full charge, you may not get the full eight hours of warmth if it’s too cold outside.
The curvy design is comfortable in the hand and easily fits in a pocket. Whether you’re battling Raynaud’s disease or trying to stay warm in the hunting blind, this is a solid option. With more than 3,000 reviews and a 4.6-star rating, this is clearly a popular choice.
- Max Temperature: 110 degrees F average; 131 degrees F maximum
- Heat/Run Time: 4-8 hours
- Charge Time: 2-3 hours
- Weight: 4.6 oz.
- Pros: rechargeable, can charge other devices, easy to use
- Cons: doesn’t hold a charge as long in extremely cold temperatures
Runner Up: Survival Frog QuickHeat Hand Warmer ($32)
Looking for a rechargeable warmer with even more heat? Then, the QuickHeat could be for you. With a maximum output of 140 degrees and three heat settings, your digits will stay plenty toasty.
It takes 3-4 hours to charge and has a run time of 2-4 hours depending on the heat setting. It easily fits in the palm of your hand and has a wrist strap for easy carrying.
This hand warmer also serves double duty as both a heater and a charger. Plus, it comes with a 6-month “any reason” refund guarantee.
- Max Temperature: 104 degrees F average; 140 degrees F maximum
- Heat/Run Time: 2-4 hours
- Charge Time: 3-4 hours
- Weight: 4.7 oz.
- Pros: multifunctional, easy to hold, lightweight, hot
- Cons: not as long run time
Best Disposable Warmers: HotHands ($22)
HotHands are incredibly affordable and can be found at most pharmacies, grocery stores, and big-box stores. For the price and convenience, they hold heat for an impressive amount of time.
HotHands, and other disposable hand warmers, are ideal for those that only plan to venture outside in winter a few times a year. HotHands also makes foot warmers and body warmers that are similarly priced and hold heat just as long.
- Max Temperature: 112 degrees F average; 118 degrees F maximum
- Heat/Run Time: 5-10 hours
- Weight: 1.6 oz. per pair
- Pros: affordable, lightweight, easy to use, accessible
- Cons: single use, short lifespan
Hottest Disposable Hand Warmer: Grabber ($35)
While HotHands may win in the realm of consistent heat output for a longer period, Grabber beats out all competitors for the highest heat rating. Grabber hand warmers do not hold the maximum heat rating for the entire 7-hour heating time. However, when you need a short burst of high heat (in other words, to send that climb or summit that peak), then Grabber will have your back.
Grabber hand warmers are not the best investment if you are looking for all-day, consistent heat output. In most cases, within 2-3 hours, they’re sitting at or below their average temperature and will continue to drop off after that.
- Max Temperature: 135 degrees F average; 180 degrees F maximum
- Heat/Run Time: 7 hours
- Weight: 2 oz. per pair
- Pros: hottest hand warmer, easy to use, lightweight
- Cons: heat intensity doesn’t last the entire time
Low-Tech Reusable Hand Warmer: HotSnapZ ($20)
HotSnapZ is an interesting compromise in terms of hand warmers. It is reusable but does not require any fuel, making it extremely easy to use. However, because of that, it cannot hold heat for a very long time.
To heat, you simply click the internal activation device. This starts the chemical reaction to begin releasing heat. Once the heat has expended, put it into boiling water for about 10-15 minutes to recharge.
They come in multiple sizes, and the largest size can hold heat for up to two hours (but isn’t sized to fit in a pocket). The smallest size holds heat for around 30 minutes, and the pocket-warming size holds heat for an hour. These are ideal for families that go to outdoor sporting events or for a quick winter warming. But these are not recommended for all-day or multiday outdoor activities.
- Max Temperature: 130 degrees F maximum
- Heat/Run Time: 30-60 minutes
- Weight: 4-7 oz.
- Pros: quick to heat up, easy to use, reusable
- Cons: short heat time, limited application
Hand Warmer FAQ
What are the different types of hand warmers?
Electric: They require charging of some kind, usually powered by a lithium-ion battery. They do not have consistent heat output, take long periods to charge, are susceptible to moisture/impact damage, and lose battery life in the cold.
Catalytic: They run on lighter fluid and require a flame to start flameless combustion. They provide a consistent heat source for longer periods of time, but they’re messy and somewhat complicated to fill.
Other Reusable: Short-term heat sources like the HotSnapZ use a chemical reaction to produce a rechargeable heat source by boiling in water. They are reusable, easy to use, and only take about 10 minutes to recharge. However, they have limited application and very short heat time.
Disposable: These are the cheapest, easiest to use and, in some cases, the most reliable. They take a while to heat up but have a pretty consistent temperature for their run time. They can only be used once, so if you need hand warmers often, these are not recommended.
Are hand warmers safe to use?
Most hand warmers are safe if used properly. Some people, usually children, have very sensitive skin and should not let hand warmers come into direct contact with their skin.
Some hand warmer varieties, like catalytic burner warmers, prove to be more dangerous than others. To safely use these, you must ensure that the correct fuel is used and that there is no excess fluid on the outside before you light it. If not sealed properly, there is also a risk of carbon monoxide leaking, which poses dangers if used in a confined space.
Which hand warmer is best for me?
To decide which hand warmer is best for you, ask yourself one question: what is my intended use?
If you are a climber, maybe Grabber hand warmers will be the best choice. If you’re a hunter with cold hands, a longer-lasting reusable hand warmer is likely to be the best choice. Or if you want to keep your hands warm as you watch your kids play outside, opt for the HotSnapZ.
They all have their pros and cons. It just depends on the application.
Have a favorite hand warmer? Let us know in the comments and we’ll check it out for future updates to this article.