No matter what you’re doing outdoors, when the weather gets cold, hand warmers are a great way to keep you comfortable and safe. It doesn’t matter if you’re skiing, camping, ice fishing, or even just sitting at a late night high school football game, hand warmers will help keep you warm and let you spend more time out with your friends and family. Whether you choose rechargeable hand warmers or prefer the simple disposable hand warmers, you will most certainly feel the benefit with toasty warmth surrounding your hands. After all, who wants to have cold hands when they don’t need to?
Facts About Frostbite
Hand warmers can also keep you safe when the weather gets dangerously cold. Frostbite is a condition where your flesh can freeze and eventually become necrotic or die later when your skin warms up. The hands are one of the primary places you can get frostbite because they are more exposed to the environment then other parts or your body. Other parts of your body that are susceptible are the nose, ears, feet, and chin. The body’s natural response to cold is to limit the blood flow to your extremities to provide more blood-flow and warmth to your organs as a defense mechanism.
According to the Mayo Clinic the frostbite severity can fit into several stages of severity:
- Frostnip. During this stage your skin pales or turns red and feels very cold. This is a common stage but does not warrant worry. Your skin can become numb and even sometimes painful. As your hands warm up they can feel prickly and uncomfortable. This does not permanently damage the skin.
- Superficial frostbite. This stage can also present as red skin that turns white or pale. Your skin may feel warm which is a sign of your body is reacting to the damage of your tissue. At this stage you should find a way to warm your skin. After rewarming the surface of your skin may appear mottled, blue or purple. And you may notice stinging, burning and swelling. A fluid-filled blister may appear 24 to 36 hours after rewarming.
- Severe (deep) frostbite. As frostbite progresses, it affects all layers of the skin, including the tissues that lie below. You may experience numbness, losing all sensation of cold, pain or discomfort in the affected area. Joints or muscles may no longer work. Large blisters form 24 to 48 hours after rewarming. Afterward, the area turns black and hard as the tissue dies.
In addition to the stage listed above here are some symptoms to look out for on your next outdoor adventure:
- Cold skin and a prickling feeling
- Red, white, bluish-white or grayish-yellow skin
- Hard or waxy-looking skin
- Clumsiness due to joint and muscle stiffness
- Blistering after rewarming, in severe cases
The following chart from the National Weather Service provides a guide on frostbite for various temperatures:
Buying hand warmers for your feet, for little ones, or just having them on hand is a good idea of you are going to be out in the cold.
Hand Warmer Suggestions
There are a few things to consider when choosing a hand warmer. First, decide what size is best for you. Hand warmers work best if you keep them inside of gloves or in your pockets. You can find hand warmers that are made to fit both! It probably goes without saying but if you have big hands, you should choose a bigger hand warmer.
The other decision you’ll have to make is whether you want to use one that is disposable or not. Disposable hand warmers must be thrown away when the heat is gone. The best ones are environmentally-friendly and generate heat from natural chemical reactions.
If you want to go the reusable route, there are two choices. One is the gel pillow-like warmers that are activated pressing a button or squeezing them. Once the heat runs out, they can easily be “reset” by placing them in boiling water. You can use them over and over again so they’re very cost effective.
The other option is to get an electric hand warmer. These run on power lithium-ion batteries and often have a lot of other features that make them well worth the investment.
No matter what kind of hand warmers you choose, we bet you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. Here are some of the best hand warmers available in a range of styles. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it here!
Hands down, HotHands deserves the top spot. Why? For starters, they’re made of all natural materials: iron powder, water, salt, wood fiber, and activated charcoal. After you take them out of the packaging, simply give them a shake and expose them to air. The ingredients react when air is introduced which is what produces the heat. After about 10 to 20 minutes, they’ll hit their optimal temperature of about 135 degrees and provide heat for up to 10 hours.
If you want them to be really effective, place them either in your pockets or in your gloves. That way, the heat will be somewhat contained which means it will stay warmer, longer. If you feel that you’re losing some of the heat, simply give the packet a shake to reactivate it.
Because they’re made of all natural materials, they’re safe to the environment and just simply be tossed in the garbage when it’s time to dispose of them. They’re designed for one-time use. Once they are exposed to air, a chemical reaction occurs to produce the heat and cannot be reversed. But don’t worry—they’re available in large multipacks so you can stock up and take as many as you’ll need with you when you head outdoors.
If you’re looking for a hand warmer that you can use over and over again, check out this electric one from the Outdoors Way. It runs on a powerful, rechargeable lithium-ion battery that will last and last. There are some great features to this hand warmer. For starters, it produces double-sided heat. You can also choose between 2 different temperature settings: warm (105 degrees) and hot (115 degrees).
One of the best things about electric hand warmers is you can turn them off when you don’t need them anymore. This isn’t possible with warmers that rely on chemical reactions to produce heat. Often, a lot of the heat gets wasted because you’re coming in from outside or the temperature has warmed up enough that you don’t need the warmer anymore.
This electric hand warmer has some surprising features. There’s a small flashlight built into it that even has an SOS setting. And guess what else? It even has a USB port so you can use it to charge your other electronics, like your cell phone or tablet. On the low heat setting, this warmer can last up to 7 hours without needing to be recharged. And that’s not all. It comes with a 1-year warranty. If anything goes wrong, they’ll replace it, free of charge.
HotSnapZ Pocket Hand Warmers are perfect to slip into your pocket or gloves to keep your hands nice and toasty in cold weather. They’re really easy to activate—just click the button and wait for them to heat up. They reach temperatures as high as 130 degrees F and, once activated, will provide heat for about an hour.
One of the best things about them is that they’re reusable. Simply place them in boiling water and they’re ready to go again. No waste, which is better for the environment than discarding disposable warmers.
These pocket warmers were recently redesigned. Now, they’re bigger and better than ever. With 15% more liquid, they last up to 25% longer than before!
Another great option for disposable hand warmers comes from Heated Inc. Never has a company had a more appropriate name! What’s so cool about these is that they use a chemical reaction to create heat. What exactly is the chemical reaction? Basically, it creates rust! The ingredients in each pouch include water, iron, salt, and activated carbon. The reaction is activated when the oxygen in the air reactions with the other chemicals. Once they heat up, they’ll continue to keep you warm for up to 8 hours.
This is a very natural process and all of the ingredients are environmentally safe and biodegradable. In fact, the same chemical reaction used to create heat is actually happening naturally in the world all the time! Plus, the exterior pouch is even made of cotton so it’s really comfortable. It’s also safe to dispose of in the garbage once it’s no longer giving off heat.
Other winter Gear
Are you looking for other winter gear for your next outdoor winter trip? If you are planning on going on a ski trip or snowshoeing adventure you are also going to want to keep your legs warm and dry so you can focus more in enjoying your trip. Check out these articles for mens and womens ski pants “Best Women’s Ski Pants” and “Best Men’s Ski Pants”. Also for any other equipment reviews check out the Outdoor Gear Page.