Camping & Hiking Tech

6 Best Hand Warmers for the Outdoors of 2018—Field Tested & Reviewed

6 best hand warmers for the outdoors of 2018

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We purchased six of the greatest hand heaters on the market and examined them over the course of a month. We used them in day by day life, measured their runtimes and warmth output, and took them outdoor for some climbing and mountaineering to see how they maintain up in the chilly. The general winner was the Zippo 12-Hour Hand Hotter, which runs on lighter fluid (bought individually).

Warming up palms is a subject close to and pricey to my coronary heart. I’ve a light case of Raynaud’s Syndrome in my fingers, which signifies that my arteries don’t flow into effectively to the extremities.

This poses a problem as a result of, as a climber, I typically discover myself outside in cooler climate. Fall brings the greatest climbing temperatures, however it means battling numbness with each outing.

The utility of hand heaters isn’t restricted to climbing. On ski days, mountain journeys, and even simply chilly cookouts, hand heaters are a serious quality-of-life improve. On this check, I used to be out to seek out the greatest hand hotter for as many outside purposes as I might.

This can be a sentence I don’t get to put in writing typically, however each product made a robust argument for itself. All of them have pronounced strengths and weaknesses, which lend themselves to totally different types and actions.

Curious which can work for you? Learn on.

6 best hand warmers for the outdoors of 2018

The 6 hand heaters we examined.

Zippo 12-Hour Hand Warmer

I’ll be trustworthy:

At the starting of this check, I used to be nervous about placing a tool that burned lighter fluid in my jacket pocket.

However by the finish of testing, the Zippo was my favourite hotter.

The Zippo does require additional work. You should first fill the small plastic gasoline funnel, take away the gadget’s catalytic burner, fill the tank, substitute the burner, and use a lighter to start the catalytic course of.

As soon as lit, the (flameless) combustion can’t be stopped or turned off.

The Zippo is messy to fill, smells somewhat like lighter fluid, and requires filling earlier than every journey. The catalytic burner will ultimately must be changed (Zippo sells extras), and you must purchase lighter fluid individually.

These are minor inconveniences, however they add up. If you need a hotter that requires no effort, this isn’t the one.

However as soon as lit, the Zippo was the most dependable and helpful hand hotter in the check. It didn’t fairly reside as much as its identify, however I obtained about 11 hours value of warmth from a tank of fluid. That’s the longest in the check, and the Zippo remained at a constant warmth.

It comes with a cloth pouch to unfold warmth throughout use. Positioned inside, it emits a mild glow of warmth.

Holding the Zippo 12-Hour Hand Warmer in its fabric pouch

The Zippo’s mushy diffusive pouch is snug to carry.

When my arms have been severely chilly, I most popular to take the chrome hand hotter out of the pouch, the place it turned one of the warmest units in the check. Warmth may be roughly adjusted by how a lot oxygen the burner receives.

Even higher, the Zippo isn’t fragile. The electrical hand heaters couldn’t deal with chilly, had inconsistent battery life, and needed to be shielded from falls.

The Zippo was easy, dependable, and supremely sturdy. To cap all of it off, as of this writing the Zippo is the least expensive of the reusable hand heaters.

These virtues overcame the inconveniences and gained our hearts. The Zippo is messier than most hand heaters, nevertheless it makes up for it with enduring warmth and wonderful reliability.

Human Creations EnergyFlux Ellipse 5200mAh

Right here’s a riddle: why did the electrical hotter with the smaller battery last more?

I don’t know the reply, however that’s what occurred in our testing.

With exceptional consistency, the smaller Human Creations hand hotter would outlast its sibling by thirty minutes to an hour.

It’s simply as scorching, a pair ounces lighter, and retails for $5 much less. Consequently, it takes house our award for the greatest electrical hand hotter.

One of the best half about electrical heaters is the warmth. Outdoors in the chilly, they have been hottest to the contact. The conductive metallic floor dissipates warmth shortly, however heat all the time returns after a second or two. The Human Creations heaters have been often the quickest option to heat up numb fingers.

The EnergyFlux Ellipse is the extra diminutive of the two, nevertheless it’s a pleasant form. The controls are easy: maintain the energy button for warmth, faucet it once more to enter the Excessive setting, and maintain once more to show it off. Three blue lights denote battery ranges.

The place the electrical heaters struggled was consistency. Human Creations advertises a 6.5-hour lifespan at room temperature, which I discovered the Ellipse might routinely exceed.

However outdoor in the chilly, it struggled to interrupt 6 hours and typically died an hour or two earlier. This can be a quirk of electrical heaters, and Human Creations acknowledges the reality with an asterisk of their advertising.

Nonetheless, it’s irritating to be unsure when your hand hotter will give out.

As a small bonus, the electrical heaters can be utilized as battery packs to cost units. 5200 mAh isn’t that a lot, however it will get the job executed in a pinch.

(In case you’re wanting for a standalone battery pack take a look at our critiques and proposals in our information to the greatest moveable battery packs.)

For his or her warmth and straightforward reusability, electrical hand heaters are value a glance, and the Ellipse was our favourite.

HotHands Hand Warmer

HotHands is a favourite in the world of disposable heaters, they usually managed to greatest their rival Grabbers in our testing.

The normal HotHands hand heaters weren’t the hottest. They don’t present as a lot floor space as the Tremendous Hotter or the reusable heaters. In the first hour or two after activation, the Grabber heaters typically felt hotter to the contact.

However the HotHands was constant: it was scorching sufficient and remained scorching all through its lifespan.

Against this, the Grabber hand heaters tended to have an preliminary flare after which subside.

The smaller heaters aren’t fairly as scorching as the bigger HotHands Tremendous Hotter, however in our testing they have been extra constant. Additionally they acquired near their marketed 10-hour lifetime.

The good benefit of disposable material hand heaters is sturdiness. In the event you’re tossing a hotter in your chalk bag (which I often do when climbing outside), you’ll be throwing it out at the finish of the day.

When one hotter runs out, you possibly can simply begin one other — at lower than an oz, the HotHands heaters are mild sufficient that you would be able to take a lot.

The smaller hotter is an effective measurement for many purposes like putting in gloves or chalk luggage. Add in the reality that you simply get twice as many heaters per package deal, and it’s clear why the HotHands heaters took are our favourite disposable choice. They’re fairly scorching, constant, and sturdy sufficient to go anyplace.

Evaluations of the three Different Hand Warmers We Tested

Human Creations EnergyFlux Enduro 7800mAh

Human Creations EnergyFlux Enduro 7800mAh

For a product named the Enduro, this hotter was a bit of a letdown.

It’s versatile and scorching, however it did not match the lifespan or consistency of the smaller electrical hotter.

Like the Ellipse, the Enduro has two warmth settings, a charging port, and a USB output for charging units.

The Enduro is simpler as a transportable battery because of its bigger capability. It additionally has a flashlight, which is a nifty addition however didn’t really feel strictly vital.

Together with the Ellipse, the Enduro was the hottest hotter in the check, particularly on excessive. Sadly, it couldn’t match the Ellipse’s runtime.

Its battery indicators have been much less dependable too, altering out of the blue from two dots to blinking empty.

At 196 grams, it’s the heaviest hotter in the check. The chunky curves are good to carry, however the Enduro doesn’t match nicely into pockets, and overlook about gloves.

The nail in the coffin is the worth: at near $40 retail as of this writing, the Enduro is the costliest hotter on this check.

It scored properly based mostly on its warmth and usefulness, however until you want the additional battery capability, the Ellipse is our electrical hotter of selection.

HotHands Tremendous Hotter

HotHands Super Warmer

So far as I can inform, the Tremendous Hotter is actually two HotHands Hand Warmers stitched collectively into a bigger pouch.

It behaves virtually precisely the similar, with respectable warmth and a big floor space.

The Tremendous Hotter isn’t as handy to stuff in gloves, however it’s fairly nice to carry or stow in a jacket pocket.

The place the Tremendous Hotter failed was consistency. Removed from attaining its marketed 18-hour lifespan, the Tremendous Hotter often gave out between hours 10 and 11 — hardly longer than its little sibling.

That’s nonetheless a lot of time, and having an extra-large disposable hotter was handier than we thought it might be. However for the worth, we’d nonetheless choose for the smaller heaters most of the time.

Size comparison of the three disposable hand warmers we tested

Measurement comparability of the three disposable hand heaters we examined. Clockwise from prime: HotHands Tremendous Hotter, HotHands Hand Hotter, Grabbers Hand Hotter

Grabbers Hand Hotter

Grabbers Hand Warmer

The Grabbers hotter scored lowest on this check, however that’s not as a result of it was notably dangerous.

In reality, in the time interval following activation (~30-120 minutes), Grabbers have been often the hottest disposable hand heaters.

Sadly, after that preliminary peak, the Grabbers tailed off. By hour 2 or three, they have been noticeably fainter than the HotHands.

And though they exceeded their marketed lifespan of 7 hours, they couldn’t contact the 10-hour runtime of the HotHands.

The Grabbers solely make sense for specialised makes use of. When you want a disposable hotter for comparatively brief durations (like a ship try on a climb), the Grabbers hotter could also be the hottest at the outset. However in the event you want a extra constant warmth, flip to the HotHands.


Listed here are the greatest hand heaters:

  • Zippo 12-Hour Hand Hotter
  • Human Creations EnergyFlux Ellipse 5200mAh
  • Human Creations EnergyFlux Enduro 7800mAh
  • HotHands Hand Hotter
  • HotHands Tremendous Hotter
  • Grabbers Hand Hotter

Methods to Select the Best Hand Hotter for Your Wants

Reusable hand heaters are rather more costly than disposable ones, however you solely have to purchase them as soon as. For those who seldom use hand heaters, the funding might not make sense, however in any other case reusables are value a glance. They’re considerably hotter and supply a extra uniform warmth supply.

The downsides are sturdiness and measurement. Reusable heaters require upkeep, which suggests they will’t be forgotten or misused.

As a result of of the additional measurement, reusable heaters gained’t slot in most gloves — they work greatest in a pocket or as a fast strategy to heat the digits.

There are two varieties of reusable hand heaters:

  • Electrical: Electrical hand heaters require charging, which takes hours. It’s greatest to cost the night time earlier than an outing, as fast expenses yielded poor outcomes. Electrical heaters are vulnerable to influence and moisture, requiring some care. They can double as cellular batteries (or a flashlight), however their batteries lose life in the chilly.
  • Catalytic: Catalytic hand heaters, like the 12-Hour Zippo Hand Hotter, run on lighter fluid and have to be began with a flame. Filling them up is faster than charging the electrical heaters, however it’s messier. In case you carry lighter fluid and an excellent lighter with you, refilling might be finished on the go. As soon as lit, the catalytic burner combusts with no flame to supply warmth. The Zippo has a bit of a studying curve, nevertheless it’s dependable and burly.
Charging the Human Creations EnergyFlux Ellipse 5200mAh Hand Warmer

Electrical hand heaters require charging the night time earlier than.

Disposable hand heaters are low cost, sturdy, and long-lasting. You don’t have to fret about breaking or misusing them, and in the event you lose one you possibly can simply open one other. They’re the lightest heaters, which is a bonus on backcountry journeys.

In testing, nevertheless, disposable heaters have been much less scorching and fewer uniform. They have been slower to heat up chilly arms, and displayed extra variability between peak efficiency and low efficiency.

If allowed to stiffen, warmth can disappear till the hotter is re-shaken. The comfort is nice, however disposable heaters will not be the most effective heating system.

All disposable heaters run on a chemical response that oxidizes iron powder. They require no upkeep or preparation and start reacting on contact with air. They will take round half an hour to construct up warmth.

How We Tested

Chalking up before climbing a route outdoors.

There’s a hand hotter in there.

Warmth Output & Runtime Checks

In the first part of testing, I did trials to check the heaters’ warmth ouptut and runtime.

Warmth output was troublesome to measure as a result of the floor temperature of the heaters was extremely variable. I ended up trusting the impression that mattered most — which gadget was warmest to the pores and skin. The scores in the chart under are on a scale of 1 to 10 and based mostly on pores and skin contact whereas outside.


Observe: The electrical hand heaters’ warmth output scores are for the “High” warmth setting. On the “Low” warmth setting their warmth output score was 9. The Zippo’s warmth output score was taken with the hotter out of the pouch. In the pouch its warmth output score was 5.

For the runtime checks I activated all the hand heaters and timed how lengthy it took them to die. I repeated this check a number of occasions, and the numbers in the chart under symbolize a mean of trials.


Observe: The electrical hand heaters’ occasions are for the “Low” warmth setting.

Every day Life & Subject Testing

In the second part of testing, I took the heaters out on actions from climbing to climbing to bike journeys throughout city. I used the heaters in as some ways as I might assume of and rated them in three classes: warmth, consistency, and sturdiness.