During the winter season, outdoor activities such as hunting, backpacking, hiking, and skiing can often become a challenge, because of the challenge in keeping your hands warm and functional in cold weather. This is especially the case if you use hand-operated equipment such as your rifle, your trekking poles or ski-poles, even with thermal gloves on. For such situations, hand warmers are a perfect item to have.
So, which are the best hand warmers for hunting, hiking and other outdoor activities?
In this article, we will share some of the best best hand warmers available in the market. We will cover both disposable hand warmers which are essentially single use and reusable hand warmers, which can be used multiple times. We will also explain the criteria to consider while picking the best handwarmers for hunting, hiking or any other outdoor activity and share our top picks. Read On!
Best hand warmers comparison listOur picks for the best hand warmers for hunting, hiking and other outdoor activities and how they stack against each other.
|HotHands Body & Hand Super Warmers||Air-activated|
| - Single use, disposable hand warmers which provide safe, natural heat. Made in the US.|
- Contain non-combustible, nontoxic and odorless ingredients which get heated up quickly.
- Each warmer can last up to 18 hours
- Come in different shapes, sizes and also as a variety pack
|Grabber Outdoors 7 Hour Hand Warmers||Air-activated|
| - Disposable hand warmers made up non-toxic, odorless natural ingredients that are non-combustible|
- Perfectly sized to fit in pocket, glove, shoe or boot
- Each warmer can last up to 7 hours.
|Heat Factory Premium Hand Warmers||Air-activated|
| - Single-use disposable hand warmers made up with biodegradable ingredients|
- Non-toxic, odorless and provide up to 10 hours of reliable even heat
- Small size to fit in gloves, pocket or shoes easily.
|Little Hotties Hand Warmers||Air-activated|
| - Single-use hand warmers made with Odorless, environmentally safe ingredients|
- Can provide heat for up to 7 hours.
- Small size to fit in gloves, pocket or shoes easily.
|Hakkin Peacock Standard hand warmer||Lighter fluid-based|
|- Sleek, lightweight, made in Japan, reusable hand warmer that uses clean platinum catalysis to provide heat.|
- Odorless, stays warm for up to 20 hours.
- Extremely lightweight at 1.9 ounces, can fit in pockets or gloves.
- Backed by a lifetime warranty on the body, except the burner.
|Zippo Hand Warmer||Lighter fluid-based|
|- Small, sleek, reusable hand warmer that uses the lighter fluid to provide heat.|
- Virtually odorless and stays warm for up to 12 hours
- Can fit in pockets or gloves.
- Backed by a lifetime warranty on the body, except the burner.
|EnergyFlux Ellipse Rechargeable Hand Warmer||Battery rechargeable|
| - Perfectly-sized, reusable, USB rechargeable hand warmer.|
- Warms on both sides of the unit, with two settings providing warmth up to 6 hours
- Can also recharge digital products such as phones and digital cameras.
- Available in multiple fashionable colors.
- 1 year warranty
|Kozy Rechargeable Hand Warmer||Battery rechargeable|
| - Smartly-designed, reliable rechargeable hand warmer.|
- Provides consistent, soothing heat on all sides for 6-10 hours.
- Also contains a bright LED Flashlight & Emergency SOS Strobe Light
- Bonus warmer included in the pack.
- 1 year warranty
|Defrost Labs Rechargeable Hand Warmer||Battery rechargeable|
|- A multi-purpose rechargeable hand warmer with a 6000/9000 mAh, Polymer Battery|
- Once recharged, can keep a temperature of 100+ Fahrenheit for up to 7 hours.
- Features an emergency flashlight and comes with a velvet storage pouch.
- Can also act as a power bank
- Comes with 1 year international warranty.
|BoneView HotPocket Hand Warmer||Battery rechargeable|
|- Aluminum-body, rechargeable hand warmer with a 7200mAh lithium ion battery.|
- Once recharged can last for 6-7 hours. Has two temperature settings – Low (109 F) and High (120 F).
- Comes with an in-built LED flashlight with strobe function. Has a battery life indicator.
- Can work as a power bank through the USB port.
- Backed by a lifetime warranty.
What are hand warmers and why do you need one?
Hand warmers are small disposable or reusable units that generate on-demand heat to warm hands and other body parts. Hand warmers are especially useful while hiking, hunting and camping in cold weather. They are also pretty useful for other outdoor activities such as cycling, skiing, and fishing. Moreover, if you suffer from medical conditions such as Raynaud’s disease, hand (and toe) warmers can be a lifesaver in the winters.
To summarize, you can use hand warmers in following situations:
- Hunting and fishing
- Skiing and other outdoor winter sports
- Camping, hiking and backpacking
- Tailgating at events
- Working in the yard or around the house
- Outdoor trips with your pets
- Medical conditions such as arthiritis and Raynaud’s disease
Three types of hand warmers are common in the market – air-activated, catalytic (lighter fuel-based) and electric (battery-powered). Air-activated hand warmers are disposable, single use hand warmers while catalytic and electric hand warmers are reusable hand warmers.
- Air-activated disposable hand warmers: Air-activated disposable hand warmers contain a concoction of iron, cellulose, water, and salt and produce heat from exothermic oxidation of iron when exposed to oxygen in the air. Such hand warmers can last anywhere between 4-12 hours. Such hand warmers are inexpensive, lightweight and efficient – these disposable hand warmers can quickly reach temperatures of 120-degrees in about 2-3 minutes. Air-activated hand warmers are made of bio-degradable materials and hence can be disposed off without worrying about environment impact. These hand warmers are, essentially single use hand warmers and cannot be turned off or regulated.
- Catalytic reusable hand warmers:Catalytic reusable hand warmers are traditional, lighter-fuel based hand warmers. These hand warmers require a flame to initiate warming. Catalytic hand warmers are reusable (multi-use) and can work for a long time till the fuel last (up to 12-15 hours). They may not attain the heating temperatures of disposable hand warmers, but they are still more efficient than the battery-powered rechargeable hand warmers. These hand warmers, however, provide very little control over the heat levels and are sometimes difficult to turn off. And because of the lighter-fluid, these types of hand warmers are not TSA-friendly.
- Battery-powered rechargeable hand warmers:Battery-powered rechargeable hand warmers are essentially electrically resistive heating devices that use battery charge to convert electric energy into heat for 6-8 hours. Such hand warmers are reusable and multi-use (can last up to 500 recharges) and provide excellent control over heat levels. The battery-powered hand warmers can also double-up as power backups. They are, however, costlier than other types and may not be as efficient and long-lasting. Furthermore, for best battery life, you would need to recharge the battery regularly- at least once every 1-2 months.
The following infographic summarizes these different types of hand warmers and their respective pros and cons:
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In the next sections, we will look at the major factors to consider before picking the best disposable hand warmers and reusable hand warmers and share our favorite picks
How to pick the best hand warmers for hunting, hiking and backpacking?
With so many different options available for disposable and reusable hand warmers, picking the best hand warmers can be a challenge.Picking the best hand warmer depends on your personal needs, preference and budgetary requirements such as cost and purpose.
Once you have an understanding of that, you can keep the following additional considerations in mind before picking the best option for yourself or anybody else you are buying it for:
- Type of hand warmer
- Duration of the warmth provided
- Disposable or Reusable
- Additional Considerations
Type of hand warmers
As discussed above, the three most common type of hand warmers used in outdoor activities are air-activated, catalytic (lighter fuel-based) and electric (rechargeable battery-powered). Air-activated hand warmers are disposable or single use hand warmers while catalytic and electric hand warmers are reusable hand warmers.
As mentioned above, the air-activated hand warmers are generally single use and once activated, they can provide efficient heating for a long time. These are generally cheaper and come in pairs with different shapes and sizes, so they can be also be used for warming other body parts. They are also lightweight enough to fit in gloves, shoes or pockets. These disposable hand warmers are made of biodegradable materials, so you do not have to worry about the environment impact.
The catalytic (lighter fuel-based) hand warmers are multi-use/reusable and can last for a long time, up to 15 hours depending upon the fuel supply. They are pretty efficient and can provide a high level of heat. However, starting and turning them off can be a hassle and you have to be mindful of their fuel requirement as well.
The battery-powered rechargeable hand warmers are also reusable and they generally support recharging for up to 500 times. Once activated, they can provide heat for 6-8 hours. Moreover, they can be easily turned off. Another advantage of rechargeable battery-powered hand warmers is that they can be used as small power banks to recharge digital products such as phones, mp3 players, and digital cameras. However, these hand warmers are not as efficient as the air-activated and catalytic hand warmers and you may find their thermal capacity a little inadequate at times. And they are costlier too!
So, depending upon your purpose and the considerations discussed above, you can pick the right type of hand warmers you would like to go with.
Duration of the warmth provided
The activation time and the warmth duration provided by a hand warmer are also important, especially in freezing temperatures.
The air-activated disposable hand warmers typically take about 4-5 minutes to activate fully on a little bit of shaking in the open air, but can provide warmth for 8-9 hours in most cases and even up to 12 hours in some cases. In addition, air-activated warmers come in pairs, so you can use them for both hands, pockets or gloves. Furthermore, they are extremely lightweight, soft and compact to fit easily into your gloves or pockets. However, you do not have a lot of control on the thermal temperatures and they cannot be turned off. Among air-activated hand warmers, the HotHands Body & Hand Super Warmers are one of the hottest, most efficient disposable hand warmers and hence our top pick.
The catalytic, lighter-fuel based hand warmers take 1-2 minutes to heat up fully after lighting up and last as long as the fuel is available – typically 8-12 hours on full fuel. Both the lighter-fuel based reusable hand warmers that we listed are pretty efficient and reliable.
In case of rechargeable battery-powered hand warmers, once charged they can be used almost immediately, but are not as efficient and can provide warmth only for up to 7 hours on the lowest setting. Catalytic and electric hand warmers typically have a double-sided thermal surface, so you would have to switch between hands to keep both the hands warm. Reliability is a major issue for these types of hand warmers and hence you should stick to the recommendations listed above, such as our top picks – the EnergyFlux Ellipse Rechargeable Hand Warmer.
Keep these thermal capabilities in mind before picking the most suitable hand warmers for your needs.
Disposable or Reusable
As discussed above, air-activated hand warmers are generally disposable/single-use while lighter fuel based and rechargeable battery-powered hand warmers can be reused multiple times, and hence also something to keep in mind before picking the best option for your needs.
Though air-activated hand warmers are single-use, as a hack, some people tend to use air-activated hand warmers a couple of times by cooling them in ice and then packing them in Ziploc bags to starve them of oxygen, though this is not always advisable. Most air-activated hand warmers are biodegradable, so you do not worry a whole lot about the environment impact while disposing them, though you should always dispose them responsibly, away from the local wild-life.
Lighter fuel-based and battery-powered hand warmers are reusable hand warmers, so they can be used more than once. Some battery-powered hand warmers even have different thermal levels – Low (up to 110 F) and High (up to 120 F). In addition, most of the battery-powered hand warmers come with additional features such as LED Flashlight & Emergency SOS Strobe Light. Of course, because of these features and functionalities, battery-powered hand warmers are generally costlier than air-activated warmers.
So, based on your preferences, you can pick the disposable air-activated hand warmers, lighter-based reusable hand warmers or battery-powered rechargeable hand warmers.
In addition to the major factors discussed above, there are some other miscellaneous considerations that can make a particular model a preferable choice over others.
One such consideration is the reliability of hand warmers, even after prolonged non-use. For disposable hand warmers this can be expressed in terms of the shelf-life, while for reusable hand warmers this is generally governed by the manufacturer warranty and supported maximum recharges/reuses.
The best disposable hand warmers typically have a shelf-life of 2-3 years. Our top pick – the HotHands Body & Hand Super Warmers is considered one of the most reliable disposable hand warmer in the market because of its longer shelf life.
Most catalytic lighter-fuel hand warmers can last about an year on one set of internal “circuit” and then you would have to replace them. When it comes to the battery-powered, rechargeable hand warmers, they can last for up to 400-500 recharges and most manufacturers offer a one-year warranty on their products. EnergyFlux Ellipse Rechargeable Hand Warmer is one example of a reliable rechargeable hand warmer.
Another consideration to keep in mind is the airline-friendliness (read TSA approval) of hand warmers. The disposable hand warmers are TSA approved and can be carried unopened in the carry-on luggage. Similarly, rechargeable hand warmers are treated as power banks and governed by the rules around them. However, the catalytic, lighter-fuel based hand warmers, like the fuel lighters, are not permitted in carry-on.
Finally, for battery-powered hand warmers, the additional features such as SOS flashlight, efficient power bank battery, fancy colors and accessories are also something that can sweeten the deal.
Keep this small considerations also in mind before picking the best disposable or reusable hand warmer for your needs.
Which are the best hand warmers for hunting, hiking and backpacking and what our picks are?
HotHands is undoubtedly the leader in the field of air-activated disposable hand warmers for over 20 years, and these hand warmers are no exceptions. The Super Warmer Series of hand warmers is one of their most popular range of disposable hand warmers.
The HotHands air-activated warmers are made in the US using domestic and imported materials. Specifically, these hand warmers contain a concoction of Iron Powder, Water, Salt, Activated Charcoal, and Wood Fiber. All the ingredients are non-combustible, non-toxic and odorless ingredients which get heated up quickly. They are also environment friendly and can be easily disposed off in the garbage can. You should, however, dispose them off responsibly in the wilderness to prevent them from being accidentally ingested by the local wild animals.
The HotHands Super warmers take anywhere from 5-10 minutes of exposure to attain moderate temperatures (120-130 degrees Fahrenheit and 15-20 minutes to attain the maximum temperatures of up to 150-degree Fahrenheit. These hand warmers can stay hot for as long as 12-18 hours, so you do not have to worry about cold hand, feet or body once these disposable hand warmers start their work!
The HotHands Super warmers have a shelf life of 3-4 years and are TSA-approved, so you can carry the un-exposed hand warmers with you on a flight. This is a major plus over the lighter-fluid hand warmers. You just need to make sure that you purchase these hand warmers from the manufacturer or authorized re-sellers only.
The HotHands Hand Warmers come in different shapes and sizes and the typical hand warmers can fit perfectly in gloves, pockets or shoes, making them a suitable choice for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. They are also competitively priced, though you may find them slightly costlier than other disposable hand warmers. Still, it is a small price to pay for the quality and reliability you get with these hand warmers.
Hakkin Peacock Standard hand warmer : Editor’s choice pick for best liquid-fuel based reusable hand warmer
It takes something special to beat the ultra-popular Zippo and believe us, the Hakkin Peacock hand warmer has the features that score over the Zippo hand warmer.
The Hakkin Peacock Standard hand warmer is a lightweight, durable and reliable reusable hand warmer. Made in Japan since 1923, this hand warmer features a totally brass-nickel finished metallic body. At 1.9 ounces, it is ultralight and sleek enough to fit your pocket or even gloves.
It has a superior platinum catalysis heating mechanism ( the newest model uses a platinum-catalyzed glass fiber burner) that is quicker to light up and fast to heat. Another advantage of the platinum catalysis process is that the platinum catalysis does not cause any air pollution or leaves a residue. The hand warmer can get hot within 5-10 minutes and can attain a temperature in excess of 140-degree Fahrenheit.
The Hakkin Peacock hand warmer can work in extreme weather conditions as well (up to -40-degree F) and once lit, it can provide heat for up to 20 hours while using only 25 ml. of fuel. With its simple-to-use refilling system and a superior Velcro pouch that restores heat for hours, it is easier to handle and use than the Zippo hand warmer.
The Hakkin Peacock hand warmer is backed by a lifetime warranty, except for the replacement burner that can typically last for about an year.
EnergyFlux Ellipse Rechargeable Hand Warmer – Editor’s choice pick for best rechargeable hand warmers
The EnergyFlux Ellipse Rechargeable Hand Warmer by Human Creations is a perfectly-shaped, reusable, rechargeable hand warmer.
Unlike many other rechargeable hand warmers which use a 7200 mAh battery, the EnergyFlux Ellipse has only a 5200 mAh battery. But it is many times more reliable and durable when compared to other hand warmers. And at 6.94 ounces, it is pretty lightweight too. Once charged, it can provide heat up to 6.5 hours on both the surfaces. It comes with adjustable two temperature settings: Low (107F): 6.5 hours, High (118F): 5 hours.
It can also double up as a power bank and can be used to recharge digital products such as phones, mp3 players, and digital cameras. EnergyFlux Ellipse Rechargeable Hand Warmer can be reused by recharging it for up to 500 times. For best results, make sure you keep charging the hand warmer regularly, at least once every 1-2 months.
Since the EnergyFlux Ellipse rechargeable hand warmer uses a rechargeable battery like a power-bank, it is treated like one and allowed to be carried on the airplane by TSA.
The EnergyFlux Ellipse rechargeable hand warmer is available in four vibrant colors and backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty. The package includes a hand warmer, a micro USB recharging cable and a user manual. A wall-charger is however not included.
What about Foot and Toe Warmers?
Your hands are not the only body parts that may require some warming up. If you are looking for something for your feet and toes, air-activated hand warmers are the way to go.
For feet, some of the best insole warmer options are listed below. These warmers come in different sizes (for small, medium and large feet) so pick the size that would fit you best:
If you are looking for something specifically for your toes, check out the following options:
Do It Yourself (DIY) Hand warmers
If you are someone who loves to try out some innovative solutions, you can very well make your own reusable hand warmers using some discarded fabric and rice.
Simply take a piece of cloth and cut it into the desired shape, stitch a pocket and fill it with some rice (up to 75% of capacity) and enclose/double-stitch from all sides and you have your own re-heatable hand warmer. Cotton Flannel, woolen and fleece fabric are most suitable for this purpose. To use, simply heat the hand-warmers in a microwave for 20-40 seconds and you have some workable hand warmers. In the field, you can heat them in a dry pan for 40-50 seconds.
And if you want to have some fun with chemistry, you can check Popular Science’s article on DIY hand warmers.
Final thoughts on the best hand warmers for hunting, hiking and backpacking
One of the major challenges with hunting, hiking, skiing or cycling in winter/cold weather is to keep the hands warm and functional. You cannot always rely on the gloves and glove liners to provide you the necessary heat. Enter hand warmers to the scene.
In this post, we looked at some of the best hand warmers for hunting, hiking and backpacking and other different outdoor activities. We listed out ten options based on specific types – both disposable hand warmers and reusable hand warmers and listed out the key features of each product. We also listed the major factors to keep in mind before opting for the best option and shared our top picks for each of the three categories of hand warmers – air-activated, catalytic and electric hand warmers.
We hope that this article would help you pick the best handwarmers for your needs when you plan your next outdoor trip in cold weather. Do let us know how you found this article by commenting below and if you would want us to consider anything else.