The Best Hand Warmers to Keep Warm in the Workshop and Beyond

A chill in the air can spell pain for hands and especially fingers. Today’s hand warmers bring welcome relief.

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The Best Hand Warmers Option

Photo: amazon.com

Bitter temps lead to cold hands and numb, painful fingers, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The best hand warmers keep hands toasty and comfortable, even in frigid temps.

The best hand warmers depend on the type and duration of outdoor activity and the current weather conditions. Ahead, learn what to look for when shopping for hand warmers and find out why any of the following picks would be a welcome asset when Old Man Winter is in town.

  1. BEST OVERALL: BESKAR Rechargeable Hand Warmer
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: HotHands Hand Warmers, 10-Count 
  3. BEST UPGRADE: OCOOPA Quick Charge Hand Warmers
  4. BEST MULTIUSE: The Outdoors Way Hand Warmer Flashlight Phone Charger
  5. BEST TUBE WARMER: Titleist Golf Hand Warmer
  6. BEST MICROWAVABLE: PhysioNatural Microwavable Therapy Mittens for Hands
  7. BEST MINI: orastone Rechargeable Hand Warmer Electronic Portable
  8. BEST IN DESIGN: FVSA Rechargeable Hand Warmer with Lights
The Best Hand Warmers Option

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Buying Hand Warmers 

Most hand warmers are relatively small and designed to slip into a pocket or rest in the palm of a hand. Others are large, tubular pockets secured on the body around the waist; to hold onto their own body heat, users hide their hands in this cylinder. Some look like heated gloves but are intended for indoor use and warmed via an electrical cord or microwave. Those who need to be outdoors for extended periods can pair hand warmers with layered clothing, a heated vest or heated coat, and a hat to trap body heat. For those who want to stay warm in a workshop, in addition to hand warmers, consider an electric heater to raise the temp to a tolerable level.

Type

Not all hand warmers are right for all uses. Some are disposable and designed for use when it’s not practical to recharge a battery-operated warmer. Others generate heat for hours at a time, as long as they’re charged before each use. Here’s what you need to know about different types of hand warmers.

  • Air activated: These handy little disposable packets contain carbon and iron that generate heat as soon as the iron makes contact with air. The user crushes the pack, which breaks an inner capsule and causes a chemical reaction that generates heat. Air-activated hand warmers are affordable, often less than $1 per pair, and emit heat for six to eight hours on average.
  • Supersaturated solution: These hand warmers feature a sodium acetate solution that produces heat as the sodium particles crystalize. These warmers are rechargeable, but not in the traditional sense. Rather than plugging them in, simply submerge them in cold water to return the sodium acetate to a dormant state. Once recharged, the user taps the warmer to trigger the crystallization process, which causes the packet to produce heat. The heating lasts up to two hours, after which the packet can be recooled and used again. This type of hand warmer is well suited to off-the-grid use where it’s possible to rechill the unit after each use.
  • Battery-powered: One of the most common types of hand warmers today is the rechargeable warmer that depends on battery power. The user charges the warmer, which usually takes three to four hours. Once charged, the warmer will produce heat for six to 12 hours depending on battery capacity.
  • Charcoal: An older type of warming technology, charcoal hand warmers involve lighting a charcoal fuel stick and putting it in a perforated case where it smolders for several hours to produce heat. These hand warmers often serve as backup heat when other types of warmers are not available. They’re commonly available where survivalist items are sold.
    Electric: Limited to use where an electric outlet is available, electric hand warmers may resemble mittens or a single larger muff with internal wires that heat up when the warmer is plugged in and turned on.
  • Microwave: These bean-bag type warmers are filled with a mix, such as buckwheat hulls or rice, that retains heat. The user heats the mitts in the microwave for a minute or two before slipping them on like regular mittens. Microwave-type mittens retain heat for up to 30 minutes or so, after which they can be reheated an indefinite number of times.

Heat Output

Battery-powered hand warmers vary in heat output from around 85 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (F), depending on their battery capacity, available settings, and whether they heat on both sides. Here’s what to know about the features that affect heat output.

  • Heat settings: A low setting commonly heats to around 104 degrees F, medium may heat up to 122 degrees F, and high could go up to around 140 degrees F. This all depends on the product. Hand warmers with heat settings give users more control.
  • Battery capacity: Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries range in capacity from around 300 to 10,000 milliamp-hours (mAh). The more powerful the battery, the higher the heat output and the longer the heating cycle.
  • Double-sided heat: Some rechargeable warmers heat on only one side, but many battery-operated warmers offer double-sided heat for the best overall heating effect.

Run Time

A disposable air-activated heating pack lasts from six to eight hours. Battery-powered warmers run as long as 10 hours, and even more on a low setting. Lithium-ion batteries tend to last three to five years before losing their oomph. As a battery gets older, it doesn’t retain a charge for as long and the run time gets shorter.

Additional Features 

Rechargeable, battery-powered hand warmers often come with additional features. Many have a built-in flashlight. Some of the best hand warmers double as a power bank for recharging cellphones and other devices. Hand warmers may include an LED display that shows the temperature of the warmer and its remaining battery charge. Some even come with colorful lights. But any additional feature that uses battery power will also reduce the heating element’s run time, so consider which features are most important before buying.

Our Top Picks

The top picks are reliable, easy to use, and produce sufficient heat to keep hands and fingers warm. The best hand warmer depends on individual needs and preferences, but the following choices are tops in their class. Any one of them will be an asset on cold winter days.

Best Overall

The Best Hand Warmers Options: BESKAR Rechargeable Hand Warmer
Photo: amazon.com

The BESKAR hand warmer heats on both sides for extra heat and efficiency. With a smooth, soft exterior, the gently contoured unit measures 5.4 inches long by 3.5 inches wide by 2 inches thick to easily slip in a coat pocket or rest in the palm of a hand. The BESKAR hand warmer heats up to a toasty 95 degrees F in just three seconds for quick relief. Three heat settings allow users to choose their desired temperature between 95 and 131 degrees F. The high-capacity LG 21700 battery reaches a full charge in four to five hours and generates heat for up to 12 hours on a single charge.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Hand Warmers Options: HotHands Hand Warmers, 10-Count
Photo: amazon.com

No need to spend a lot to keep hands warm in chilly weather. Air-activated HotHands Hand Warmers slip comfortably into pockets, mittens, or even socks to keep hands (and feet) warm when temps are frigid. Just crush a packet to release the encapsulated iron oxide, which immediately starts generating heat. The packet reaches maximum warmth, approximately 135 degrees F, about 15 minutes after activation, and remains warm for up to 10 hours. Best of all, these hand warmers come at an attractive price point. One pack includes ten HotHands (five pairs). No recharging is necessary with these disposable warmers, so they can go anywhere.

Best Upgrade

The Best Hand Warmers Options: OCOOPA Quick Charge Hand Warmers
Photo: amazon.com

The OCOOPA hand warmer generates up to 15 hours of double-sided heat on a single charge. That’s the longest run time of any hand warmer in the lineup. The OCOOPA warmer features a large-capacity 10000mAh rechargeable battery that fully charges in three to four hours. Adjustable heat settings let users escalate the heat from about 95 degrees F to as high as 131 degrees F. With its smooth surface and curved shape, this warmer is comfortable and easy to grasp. The attached wrist cord keeps it in hand and off the ground. A silicone bumper further protects it from accidents. This warmer doubles as an emergency phone charger in a pinch, and it comes with a handy travel case.

Best Multiuse

The Best Hand Warmers Options: The Outdoors Way Hand Warmer Flashlight Phone
Photo: amazon.com

When traveling light is a virtue, the Outdoors Way Hand Warmer is just the ticket. Hikers, hunters, campers, fishers, and other adventurers get several pieces of gear in one with this multiuse hand warmer. This pocket-size warmer generates heat for up to seven hours and doubles as both an LED flashlight with SOS strobe setting and an emergency charger for a phone, tablet, or iPad. Two heat settings range from 105 to 115 degrees F. The smooth flask-shaped casing measures 6.75 inches by 3.25 inches by 1.25 inches and gives off heat on both sides.

Best Tube Warmer

The Best Hand Warmers Options: Titleist Golf Hand Warmer
Photo: amazon.com

Rather than generate heat, the Titleist Golf Hand Warmer maximizes the user’s own body heat to keep hands warm and toasty. This tube-shaped mitt straps around the waist. Users then insert each hand into either side of the fleece-lined cylinder. For enhanced heat, slip a couple of air-activated hand warmers, such as HotHands (the best bang for the buck pick above), into the mitt. The Titleist hand warmer keeps hands warm from the stands of an outdoor sporting event or between swings on the golf course.

Best Microwavable

The Best Hand Warmers Options: PhysioNatural Microwavable Therapy Mittens for Hands
Photo: amazon.com

Those looking for indoor hand warming will want to check out the PhysioNatural microwavable Heat Therapy Mittens. The silky-soft, padded mittens are filled with flaxseed and clay beads that retain warmth for up to 30 minutes. Just heat the mittens in the microwave for 90 seconds to warm the seeds and beads to a toasty temp. The mittens completely encompass hands to provide a quick warm-up for anyone who comes in out of the cold. They are also well suited to people who live with chronic conditions such as Raynaud’s syndrome or osteoarthritis. The PhysioNatural mittens come infused with heat-activated lavender essential oil to create a spa-like experience.

Best Mini

The Best Hand Warmers Options: orastone Rechargeable Hand Warmer Electronic Portable
Photo: amazon.com

At just 2.4 by 2.4 inches and less than 1 inch thick, the orastone hand warmer is just the right size for holding in the hand or slipping into a pair of mittens. This diminutive, rechargeable hand warmer comes with a handy flashlight and an attached wrist strap to keep it in place. The orastone double-sided warmer heats up to 108 degrees F in just a couple of minutes and runs up to four hours on a single charge. For best results, buy one for each hand.

Best in Design

The Best Hand Warmers Options: FVSA Rechargeable Hand Warmer with Lights
Photo: amazon.com

The multicolor “breathing” lights on the FVSA are the main attraction. They fade in and out to lend stylish flair to this smooth, curved warmer. Three heat settings range from 104 to 140 degrees F. A display shows the temperature as the little device warms. The warmer’s 10,000 mAh battery runs for up to 18 hours on the lowest setting. The curved warmer measures 4 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 1 inch thick to slip into a jacket pocket or grip with both hands. Other useful features include a wrist strap, a USB port to charge a phone or tablet, a protective silicone bumper, and a soft storage bag.

FAQs About Hand Warmers

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about the best hand warmers.

Q. What are the different types of hand warmers?

Among the most common types are disposable, air-activated packets, and rechargeable battery-operated models. Less common are charcoal and supersaturated solution warmers that can be found where hunting or survivalist items are sold. For indoor use, electrical and microwave warmers top the list.

Q. Do hand warmers work when wet?

It depends on the type of warmer. An air-activated warmer comes in a sealed packet that will work when wet or dry, while a battery-operated warmer isn’t meant to be waterproof and may be damaged by moisture.

Q. Can hand warmers burn you?

It’s unlikely, although charcoal warmers feature smoldering fuel sticks. If a fuel stick slips out of its protective case, there’s a chance it could burn flesh. Neither air-activated nor battery-powered hand warmers reach temps over about 140 degrees F, so there’s little chance of burning.

Q. How long do reusable hand warmers stay warm? 

A reuseable, battery-powered warmer can run as long as 10 hours, depending on battery capacity.