Best Hand Warmers of 2023 - Outdoors Magic

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Best Hand Warmers of 2023

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.

Related: How To Keep Warm In Winter

Related: Winter Kit Checklist

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.


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.

The 10 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.

  • Zippo 12-Hour Hand Warmer
  • Lifesystems Rechargeable
  • Lifesystems Reusable
  • Human Creations Energyflux G3 Series
  • Zippo HeatBank® 9s Rechargeable Heat Bank
  • Hothands Super Warmer
  • HotSnapz Round Reusable
  • Celestron Elements Firecel+
  • OCOOPA Pro IP45 Waterproof Rechargable
  • Hi-Gear Charcoal Hand Warmer

Zippo 12-Hour Hand Warmer

Price: £41.95 (excluding fuel)
Weight: 73.7g
Heat Source: Lighter fluid
Run Time: 12 hours

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 fuel, specifically Zippo’s own 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.



Lifesystems Rechargeable Hand Warmer

Price: £19.99
Weight: 141g
Heat Source: Electricity
Run Time: 6 hours

Doubling up as a power bank, the Lifesystems rechargeable hand warmer is one of the lightest electric options here. 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.



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. They last for up to 45 minutes so 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.

Once the metal disc has been ‘clicked’, the solution should crystallise and become opaque after massaging the warmer for about 10 seconds. It should then be boiled for 8 minutes in water to fully recharge again.




Human Creations Energyflux G3 Series

Price: £35.95
Weight: 161g
Heat Source: Electricity
Run Time: 3 to 4 hours

With multiple colour options, a power bank option, and an ergonomically designed fit, this Human Creations rechargeable hand warmer is a great option for straightforward warming. It has two temperature options: low (41.6 °C) and high (47°C). Using the low setting, the hand warmer should run for up to 4 hours, whilst it’ll last up to 3 hours when used on the higher setting.

It should take roughly 4 hours to fully charge again, and there’s a 1-year guarantee in case anything goes wrong. Other than that, there’s really not too many fancy features to note here: you simply charge it up, pick your heat setting and of you go. Though a nice fit in your hands, it might be a bit too big for beneath your gloves if they’re a tight fit by the way.




Zippo HeatBank® 9s Rechargeable Hand Warmer

Price: £39.90
Weight: 156g
Heat Source: Electricity
Run Time: 9 hours

The Zippo HeatBank® 9s is another neat-looking rechargeable option to consider here, though it’s got a much more sleek design than most on the market at the moment. If you take a look at the image, you can see that it’s uniquely designed to fit securely at the top and bottom parts of your hand, ensuring it doesn’t slip out easily, whilst still remaining compact enough to fit in the pocked of your walking trousers.

With an additional battery pack option, it’s also got a dual-sided heat of up to 50°C, six different temperature options to choose from, battery and heat indicator lights and a lanyard for wearing around the neck.



Hothands Super Warmer

Price: £13.80
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.



Celestron Elements Firecel+

Price: £30
Weight: 100g
Heat Source: Electricity
Run Time: 6 to 12 hours

The Elements Fircel+ is choc-a-bloc full of technical features – impressive considering its size and weight (just 65.5mm x 88.6mm x 23mm at 100g). It’s a 3-in-1 hand warmer with an additional multi-mode flashlight and a portably power supply for charging your electricals.

In terms of heating capacities, it’s a dual mode hand warmer and can heat one side of the gadget for 12 hours (mode 2), or both sides for 6 hours (mode 1). It can also deliver 2 full charges for most smartphones and has bright red and white LED flashlights with 5 modes in total: red light only, white light only, red light blinking, white light blinking, and an SOS light.

The shell is made from a hardy but lightweight aluminium, whilst the design is compact enough to fit in your hand, glove or pocket.



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.



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