Best Hand Warmers of 2024 - Outdoors Magic

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Best Hand Warmers of 2024

Perfect for hiking, walking, skiing and more - here’s our favourite hand warmers on the market this winter.

The winter months are often the best months to appreciate our unique landscapes here in the UK. Popular hikes that are otherwise famous for their green valleys, spiky-grey ridge lines and wildflower backdrops, become seas of white fields, snow-capped peaks and hardy winter shrubs. Our local walks quickly become whole new worlds to explore.

They also open up a whole host of different technical adventures like winter mountaineering, skiing, ice climbing and more. Whilst exciting and rewarding, if we’re being perfectly honest, these activities can also get a bit… cold. And in between taking your gloves off to use your phone, have a snack or take a photo, for example, our hands are often the first to feel it.

So why not opt for a bit of extra warmth? Hand warmers are a great – and quick – way to get the feeling back in your fingers and enjoy the outdoors for that little bit longer. They’re also very handy (pun intended, sorry) for those of us with poor circulation who need some extra help keeping toasty in the cold.

Admittedly, however, there’s an overwhelming amount of options out there to choose from. We’ve tried to narrow it down to our favourites here though, including a variety of different heat sources to suit your individual, adventuring needs.


The Best Hand Warmers On The Market

With a variety of different weights, price points and heat sources, here’s our favourite hand warmers on the outdoor market at the moment.

  • Lifesystems Rechargeable – Our Best Overall Hand Warmer
  • Zippo 12-Hour Hand Warmer – A Close Second
  • Powerpaw 602R
  • Lifesystems Reusable
  • Zippo HeatBank 6
  • HotSnapz Round Reusable
  • OCOOPA UT3 Lite Twin Pack
  • Hi-Gear Charcoal Hand Warmer

Before diving into our list of the best hand warmers, if you’re looking for extra ways to keep warm then we’ve got loads of articles and round ups to help you there. We’ve compiled a guide on how to keep warm in winter, for instance, and we’ve also got full in-depth guides to the best winter gloves, best down jackets overall and best down jackets for women – plus there’s also our full low down on the best winter coats out there too.

Best Overall Hand Warmer 

Lifesystems Rechargeable Hand Warmer

Price: £20
Weight: 141g
Heat Source: Electricity
Run Time: 6 hours

With its long run time, simplicity to charge and low environmental footprint compared to other options out there, the Lifesystems Rechargeable Hand Warmer is, in the eyes of our review team, the best hand warmer currently on the market. There’s also the fact that it handily doubles up as a portable charger too.

It has two internal heat plates for even heat distribution, four different temperature options, a useful battery indicator, and is ergonomically designed to fit in the palm of your hand.

It’s not entirely waterproof but should heat up in just 10 seconds, and can be turned on and off as you please. Ideal for a day’s hike, there’s also a USB charging port, though it can’t be used at the same time as the heater.

Ultimately, we think the price for this is good considering the performance and the lifespan that you’ll get out of it.



Another Excellent Option We Recommend

Zippo 12-Hour Hand Warmer

Price: £26
Weight: 73.7g
Heat Source: Lighter fluid
Run Time: 12 hours

This hand warmer from Zippo is a close runner up in this comparative test. We love the timelessness of it and also its durability and robustness. It has a solid, reliable design and, while it’s a little fiddly compared to some other designs, it’s still fun to use and is the kind of item that will stay with you for life.

More commonly known for their iconic lighters, Zippo are experts in the realms of fire and heat. Their 12-hour hand warmer maintains this classic metal aesthetic, and operates by soaking a cotton layer in lighter fluid, which then provides the fumes for the catalytic burner to break down the molecules and produce heat.

After filling the warmer with fuel, you then place the burner on top, light it with a flame, and put the outer case back on to protect your hands. The burner will produce a flameless heat in this combustion process, which is nonetheless very hot. In fact, there’s also a fabric pouch included for further protection against burning.

It’s worth noting that once it’s on, the Zippo 12-hour burner can’t be turned off, though you can slightly control its run time by limiting how much fuel you add in. This, we think, is one of the main downsides of this hand warmer, though after a few uses we were able to gauge how much fuel we needed in relation to our trip or day out.

Lighter fluid, in case you’ve not needed to buy any before, is widely available in most grocery stores and newsagents, and it usually costs around £3 for a 100ml amount that will give you numerous usages.



Powerpaw 602R

Price: £25
Weight: 100g
Heat Source: electricity
Run Time: 9 hours

This fully rechargeable hand warmer initially started out as a kickstarter fundraiser. The project took off and today you can now buy the device from a number of online retailers and in Costco stores too. 

During our tests, what impressed us the most was the fact that you can flick between four different levels of warmth. The top setting, we found, gave about four hours of warmth and then the other settings were true to the brand’s description: 7 hours on level 3, 8 hours in level 2 and 9 hours in level 1. The warmest setting felt impressively warm at 52.2C and it did exactly what was needed within our coat pocket. The lowest setting was just above body temperature – that’s OK for those days where you just want something to thaw out chilly fingers gently. 

We also liked the little lights that indicate the charge level and the silicone case too, which made it easy to keep clean. The previous version of this (the 600) didn’t double as a phone charger but this new one fortunately does, offering an output of 18.5Wh.




Lifesystems Reusable Crystallised Hand Warmer

Price: £4.99
Weight: 118g (each)
Heat Source: Super-saturated solution
Run Time: 45 minutes

Considering they can be used over and over again and require no extra accessories to operate, the Lifesystems reusable hand warmers are great value for your money in the long run. We found that they were able to provide a good whack of heat for 45 minutes at most. This, we think, means they are best suited to lunch breaks on day hikes, for example, or on multi-day treks when you’ve got a stove handy to ‘recharge’ the warmers when needed. They’re also very compact so are perfect for slipping inside your gloves or coat pockets.

It’s handy that you can activate them when you need them, simply by gently flexing them to click the metal disc within them. The solution then should crystallise and become opaque after massaging the warmer for about 10 seconds.

To fully recharge them, all you need to do is boil them in water for 8 minutes and they’re ready to go again.

Simple, easy to use, long lasting and good value, these are another reliable option that are tried and tested.




Zippo HeatBank® 6 Rechargeable Hand Warmer

Price: £21
Weight: 140g
Heat Source: Rechargeable lithium ion battery
Run Time: 6 hours

The Zippo HeatBank 6 is a neat design that offers up to 50°C heat with three different settings for adjustable warmth. What’s more, it also doubles as a power pack, so you can use it to recharge your mobile phone or head torch.

The run time is a decent six hours – not the the longest in this round up but it’s up there – and it weighs only 140g so it’s not a burden to lug about in your walking trousers. Handily, little lights will indicate not just the heat setting your own, but the amount of charge left too.



Hothands Super Warmer

Price: £5 (x6 pack)
Weight: 136g
Heat Source: Oxidised iron filings
Run Time: 18 hours

Whether you’re an avid skier, a hiker, or maybe you’ve just sat through a football game in the cold one too many times; either way, you’ve probably come across a Hothands hand warmer at some point in your life. And, though disposable, they’re actually a pretty reliable source of compact heat that can last for a mighty long time.

We’ve gone for the super warmers here which, though bigger than the regular size, can probably still be stuffed into most average-sized gloves. Simply expose the hand warmer to the air and shake it a little to activate the heat.



HotSnapz Reusable Warmers

Price: £16 (four included)
Weight: approx. 113g each
Heat Source: Super-saturated solution
Run Time: 30 to 40 minutes

HotSnapz reusable hand warmers come in a variety of different sizes, however, we’ve chosen the 4-inch round warmers here to ensure they’ll fit cosily in your winter hiking gloves. In theory, the number of times you can reuse these is infinite, however, given the hardiness of outdoor activities, most people get between 200 to 300 uses out of these.

Aside from their normal snap-the-metal activation technique mentioned earlier, you can actually microwave HotSnapz to reset them too. Though not relevant to the wilds of nature, it’s pretty handy if you’re staying in some YHA accommodation for the night, for example, and want to prepare your hand warmers for the days ahead.

To ensure they last the longest, HotSnapz recommend boiling their products soon after they’ve finished and storing them in their clear liquid state.



OCOOPA UT3 Lite Twin Pack

Price: £27
Weight: 132g
Heat source: Lithium polymer battery
Run time: 8 hours

This set of handwarmers gives off a lovely dose of heat, up to 52°C in fact, and their burn time goes up to a whole 8 hours, so you can be covered for a whole day’s hiking. 

What we particularly like about them is that they both snap together with magnets, so you can combine them into one for a big hit of heat – perfect for stashing in your sleeping bag with you – or simply just to keep them both together when you’re not using them.

They’re powered by a lithium polymer battery which takes between 2 to 3 hours to fully charge up. That’s pretty speedy given how long the burn time is. The company behind them also promises to pay the equivalent amount of carbon emissions for every one of these that’s purchased. 



Hi-Gear Pocket Hand Warmer

Price: £3.50 (excluding fuel sticks)
Weight: approx. 120g
Heat Source: Fuel sticks
Run Time: 3 to 4 hours

If you’re a bushcraft-y type of person, and enjoy a more old-school approach to the outdoors, the Hi-Gear pocket hand warmer might be the one for you. It works by lighting a fuel stick (sold separately), letting it air out for a couple of minutes, and then sealing it inside a felt-coated fireproof box. That’s about it really. A simple but solid approach to hand warming.

It’s worth noting that for optimal heating results, most people recommend burning at least 1cm of the fuel stick before sealing the box shut. You’ll also inevitably have to stock up on fuel sticks if you’re going on a big trip, however, that’s the trade-off for the nostalgic satisfaction you get from lighting these warmers up on a cold winter’s eve.



The Different Types Of Hand Warmers

While considerations such as the price and weight are common with any outdoor product you might buy, with hand warmers, you might also want to consider the shape and comfort of each product depending on your specific hand size. Much like choosing the perfect camping chair, ergonomic factors are key when it comes to our different bodies and their comfort levels.

The duration the hand warmer heats for and its maximum temperature are also important and will depend on the length of your outdoor activity and how much heat you think you’ll need. If you’re going on a day’s hike up Helvellyn mountain – a 3 to 5 hour hike on average – , for example, and you know your hands lose heat quickly, how hot your hand warmer gets is probably more important for you than whether or not it lasts for 12 hours.

If, on the other hand, you’re going on a multi-day hiking trip along the Kungsleden Trail, you’re probably going to focus on a hand warmer with a longer life to keep you toasty day in and day out. You might also fancy a hand warmer that can switch on or off to preserve that precious heat – an option that will entirely depend on your choice of heat source.

Chemical Reaction Based

Hand warmers that use chemical reactions for their heat source tend to come in two forms: air-activated disposable heat packets, or reusable hand warmers that crystallise using a supersaturated solution.

The air-activated heat packets come in sachets containing iron filings, cellulose, activated carbon, vermiculite and salt. When exposed to the air and shook gently, the iron filings oxidise and create heat. They generally take around half an hour to heat up and only tend to last for a couple of hours. People often buy them in bulk as each sachet can’t be reused, and you’ll typically see them being used for skiing as they’re lightweight and small enough to fit in your gloves or jacket pockets.

The solution-based hand warmers, on the other hand, work by mixing a super-saturated solution of sodium acetate with water and metal. When the internal metal strip is bent or ‘clicked’, tiny bits of metal are released which creates a chemical reaction that releases stored heat energy from the solution. Once the heat fades out, the hand warmers can be reset by boiling them until the solution has re-liquified and the crystals have gone. These ones are handy for multi-day trips when you’re likely to have a stove in your kit.


Catalytic hand warmers are started using a flame and burning either a flammable liquid or some fuel sticks (usually made of charcoal). They’re pretty straightforward and generally burn for a long time, though you’ll need to continually refill the gas/ charcoal sticks if you want to reuse it. They also tend to come with protective cases that are wrapped in fabric to prevent your skin from burning.


Electric hand warmers use electricity to harness power in the form of heat. They’re arguably the most environmentally-friendly in this sense, though tend to land on the more expensive side of things. They can be turned on and off, and are also generally a bit chunkier – a trade-off for longer lasting power and durability.

The battery capacity of electric hand warmers ranges from 3000 to 8000 mAh (milliamp hours) so once the juice runs low, they’ll need to be recharged for optimum performance. Here’s our favourite portable power packs for some lightweight charging options.


Updates to original article added by Will Renwick.



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