The best hand warmers in 2024, tried and tested

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Alex Rennie/CNN Underscored
Alex Rennie/CNN Underscored

Nothing ruins an outdoor activity quite like the unpleasant feeling of cold, uncomfortable hands. Whether you’re skiing, tailgating, working outside or just walking the dog, keeping your hands warm and toasty lets you enjoy and focus on what you’re doing, instead of just counting down the minutes until you can go back inside. Hand warmers do just that, providing a compact heat source to hold in your hand, keep inside your running glove, or stash in a jacket pocket for instant warmth. There are several types of hand warmers available, so once you understand how they work, it’s pretty easy to choose the best one for your specific needs.

To find the best hand warmers, I sourced a variety of options — nine in total — and ran them each through a hands-on (literally) testing process. After measuring their duration, heating speed and max temperature with a Bluetooth thermometer, and field-testing them on dozens of early-morning runs and late-night dog walks, I landed on the HotHands Hand Warmer as the top hand warmer overall. The Hot to Go Reusable Heat Packs and Ocoopa Rechargeable Hand Warmers 2-Pack were close runner-ups and excellent choices for those interested in a reusable or battery-powered option.


HotHands Hand Warmers 10-Pack
Best hand warmers

HotHands
HotHands

Packing an impressive amount of heat and long-lasting runtime into a compact and lightweight package, HotHands Hand Warmers are versatile enough to be used in basically every situation.


$8 at Amazon
$7 at Walmart



Hot to Go Reusable Heat Packs, 8-Pack
Best reusable hand warmers

Amazon
Amazon

Unlike disposable options, the Hot to Go Reusable Heat Packs can be used time and time again — a 10-minute dip in boiling water reverts them to their original state — and once activated, come to temperature very quickly.




Ocoopa Rechargeable Hand Warmers 2-Pack
Best rechargeable hand warmers

Ocoopa
Ocoopa

The Ocoopa Rechargeable Hand Warmers 2-Pack comes in two pieces so you can put one half in each pocket, provides a consistent 9-hour runtime, and the internal battery not only charges back up in just 3 hours but also functions as a power bank for external devices.



Best hand warmers: HotHands Hand Warmers

$10 $8 at Amazon; $10 $7 at Walmart; $7 at Target

Alex Rennie/CNN Underscored
Alex Rennie/CNN Underscored

Simple to use, compact and with an impressively long runtime, the air-activated HotHands Hand Warmers are useful for pretty much any situation. A quick shake of the packet activates the oxidation process, and other than an occasional shake every couple of hours or so, these small hand warmers continue to generate heat for up to 13 hours. This lengthy duration was only surpassed by the lighter-fluid-fueled Zippo 12-Hour Refillable Hand Warmer during my testing. The Ignik Resealable Multiple-Use Hand Warmers lasted 13 hours as well, but the heating speed of the HotHands Hand Warmers was much quicker. Reaching 97 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 30 minutes (compared to the Ignik’s 76 degrees Fahrenheit in the same amount of time), the HotHands Hand Warmers ultimately reached a peak temperature of a toasty 126 degrees Fahrenheit. Another air-activated option, the Grabber Hand Warmers, exceeded this peak temperature by a few degrees, but I felt that its much shorter 9-hour runtime gave HotHands the edge overall.

Alex Rennie/CNN Underscored
Alex Rennie/CNN Underscored

The soft fabric of the HotHands Hand Warmers (and all other air-activated packets) is comfortable to hold and their compact size makes them much more versatile than other hand warmer types. At just 3.5 by 2 inches around and less than a 1/4-inch thick, HotHands can fit practically anywhere, which is a major difference between it and the other hand warmers we tried. Unlike the heavier and bulkier battery and supersaturated models, HotHands can slip inside a glove without affecting your dexterity too much, allowing you to work or play uninterrupted. I will say that this compact size does translate into a smaller surface area though, and some users may prefer to sacrifice temperature or runtime for more skin contact.

Practically weightless, the .75-ounce HotHands packets are well-suited for hikers, skiers or anyone who wants to carry or haul as little weight as possible. I personally found this light weight to be especially convenient for holding in my fist during chilly morning jogging sessions. The porous construction of HotHands packets also allows you to comfortably hold them at peak temperature. This was a stark contrast to the metal body of the Zippo 12-Hour Refillable Hand Warmer which became painful to touch with bare skin (although its protective pouch helps prevent this).

If you’re looking for a hand warmer that can provide effective, long-lasting heat and that’s small enough to fit practically anywhere, look no further than HotHands Hand Warmers.

Best reusable hand warmer: Hot to Go Reusable Heat Packs

$20 at Amazon

Alex Rennie/CNN Underscored
Alex Rennie/CNN Underscored

These supersaturated hand warmers are simple — and honestly pretty fun — to activate, and since they’re reusable, cut down on waste and spending. A quick bend of the metal chip floating inside immediately triggers a chemical reaction, turning the cool liquid into a piping-hot solid mass. I appreciated how easy the chip was to locate, grab and bend, which was a stark contrast to the almost identical-looking HotSnapZ Reusable Hand Warmers, half of which failed to activate even after completely snapping the chip in half. The circular, 4-inch diameter shape of Hot to Go Reusable Heat Packs is a little less ergonomic to hold than soft packets and oval battery-powered units, although their slim 1/2-inch thickness is still easy to slide into the pocket of your pants or jacket.

Although they look more vulnerable than fabric pouches or hard-sided warmers, I found the Hot to Go Reusable Heat Packs to be solidly durable. I did my best to “accidentally” poke it with a pen in my pocket, kicked it across the room and tossed it on concrete and didn’t experience any puncture or leakage.

Alex Rennie/CNN Underscored
Alex Rennie/CNN Underscored

After their initial activation, re-using the Hot to Go Reusable Heat Packs isn’t exactly hassle-free — they must be boiled in hot water for ten minutes to return to their liquid state, and cooled down for another ten before use — but that still only takes about 20 minutes total. Once it’s boiled and cooled back down, just snap the metal chip again to reactivate the warmer. This process is also more effective than I expected, and even after three separate boil cycles, my testing didn’t reveal any dropoff in performance.

The main drawback of the Hot to Go Reusable Heat Packs was their runtime, which was the shortest of all options I tested (although I believe this is pretty standard for supersaturated types). After quickly peaking at 115 degrees, it eventually dropped below 100 degrees in about 1.5 hours. This runtime ultimately kept the Hot to Go Reusable Heat Packs out of my top spot, but if you know you’ll be using your hand warmer for shorter periods of time, such as watching a kid’s soccer game or walking the dog, and don’t want to use a disposable option, these are a great pick.

Best rechargeable hand warmer: Ocoopa Rechargeable Hand Warmers 2-Pack

$40 at Amazon

Alex Rennie/CNN Underscored
Alex Rennie/CNN Underscored

The Ocoopa Rechargeable Hand Warmers 2-Pack is more expensive — at least per unit — than other types, but considering that you can use them for years instead of rebuying disposables or reboiling supersaturated warmers, they could be a smart investment.

Even better, thanks to the 2-piece design the Ocoopa Rechargeable Hand Warmers 2-Pack allows you to keep both hands warm at all times. The other battery-powered options in our testing pool were sold as single units, which in extra chilly weather, forces you to choose which hand to keep warm. Strong magnets also keep both sides of the Ocoopa Rechargeable Hand Warmers connected on their flat sides, making it harder to lose track of one when not in use. Their rounded, Twinkies-like shape was relatively comfortable to wrap my fingers around during testing, although not as natural a feel as the curved Zippo HeatBank 9s Plus. Also, unlike flatter hand warmers, these are a little less comfortable to slip into a pants pocket.

Alex Rennie/CNN Underscored
Alex Rennie/CNN Underscored

A single control button and four colored LEDs make it easy to select which of the four heat levels you prefer, as well as keep an eye on the current battery level. The 9-hour runtime of the Ocoopas beat the other battery units by 2.5 hours, although it was slower to heat up than the SkyGenius Rechargeable Hand Warmer (108 versus 121 degrees Fahrenheit after 30 minutes).

Each unit can also act as a separate power bank, boasting a 5,000 mAh capacity — 10,000 mAh total — for charging external devices if needed. It’s worth noting that a fully charged Ocoopa unit only raised the 3,200 mAh battery of my iPhone 14 Pro by 86% during testing. I certainly wouldn’t consider this 5,000 mAh claim misleading, but be aware that many factors can affect charging performance, and you’re likely not going to be getting an exact transfer of energy.

Alex Rennie/CNN Underscored
Alex Rennie/CNN Underscored

My favorite feature of the Ocoopa Rechargeable Hand Warmers 2-Pack was that each unit includes a USB-C port in addition to a USB-A (as opposed to the Micro-USB found on the Zippo Heatbank and Skygenius). If you’re someone who has more USB-C cords lying around than Micro-USB cords, this could be a major benefit.

If you plan on using your hand warmer frequently, and for longer periods of time, the Ocoopa Rechargeable Hand Warmers 2-Pack is a convenient, effective, and reliable option. Plus, since you can reuse it for years and you won’t have to constantly buy new packs, it can save you money in the long run.

How do hand warmers work?

There are several types of hand warmers — battery-powered, air-activated, supersaturated solution and lighter fuel — and each generates heat in different ways.

Battery-powered hand warmers use an internal rechargeable battery to convert electricity into heat. Many of these hand warmers also feature output ports for using the battery to charge an external device, like a smartphone. Battery-powered hand warmers are typically the most expensive (and bulky), but since their rechargeable batteries allow you to use them over and over, they can be a great value.

Air-activated hand warmers are small fabric packets, filled with iron powder or shavings (among a few other ingredients). When these packets are removed from their airtight packaging and shaken up, oxygen molecules react with the iron and trigger an exothermic oxidation, generating heat. This reaction can last up to 12 hours, and the pouch is disposed of after use. The compact size and slim shape make air-activated warmers great for storing inside a glove, something you can’t do with other hand warmers. This also makes them perfect for tossing into an emergency kit or go-bag.

Alex Rennie/CNN Underscored
Alex Rennie/CNN Underscored

Supersaturated solution hand warmers are soft, transparent pouches filled with a sodium acetate liquid, with a small metal disc floating inside. To activate, you use your fingers to flex the disc, which initiates a chemical reaction that quickly crystallizes the liquid solution into a solid, generating heat. These warmers work very quickly, but last much shorter than air-activated warmers. Unlike disposable warmers, supersaturated options can be reused by placing them in boiling water for about 10 minutes. This process returns the pouch to its original liquid state, ready to be activated again.

Lighter fluid hand warmers are made of metal and fueled by lighter fluid stored inside. To activate the heating process, a flame is applied to a catalytic burner (protected by a removable lid), which triggers a flameless combustion process that generates heat. The lid is placed back on, and the fluid inside continues to fuel this process until it runs out. These hand warmers can get very hot and should be kept inside of their soft fabric pouch to prevent injury. They also can’t be turned off once they’re activated, and last a very long time (my 12-hour Zippo unit ended up lasting 20 hours before dropping below 100 degrees).

Which hand warmers are best for me?

Since hand warmers can be used in a wide variety of settings and differ in performance from one type to another, the best one for you depends on a few factors.

Time: Hand warmers can vary widely in their overall runtime, so make sure you choose one that makes sense with your cold-weather time frame. If you’re going to be outside all day and need a long-lasting option, air-activated and lighter-fuel warmers last the longest, followed by battery-powered units (which have the advantage of turning off when you don’t need them to conserve power). A supersaturated warmer would be more useful for short periods of exposure, especially in particularly cold temperatures where their fast-acting operation would really come in handy.

Size: You should also think about how you plan on carrying your hand warmer. Air-activated packets are about as small as they come, and flat enough to fit inside of things like a ski gloves or mittens. Supersaturated and battery-powered warmers are larger, and would need to either be handheld or kept in a pocket. The flat shape of a lighter-fluid hand warmer is especially well-suited for slipping into any pocket easily, and also light enough to not weigh you down too much.

Fuel: The type of fuel will affect how effective the warmer will be, as well as how convenient it is for you to operate. While air-activated and supersaturated units generate their own energy, battery and lighter fuel units require an external source. This means that, unlike those chemical options, they’re not always ready to go when you are, and if you forget to charge them up or refill them with fuel, you’re out of luck. However, an advantage of battery-powered warmers is that you can power them off when you don’t need the heat, as well as adjust the temperature setting, allowing you to conserve battery power and extend the runtime.

Reusability: If you prefer to reuse the same hand warmer instead of tossing a disposable item in the trash, avoid an air-activated option. That being said, it’s worth noting that Ignik’s air-activated warmers come in an airtight resealable pouch, so you can effectively pause the chemical reaction and resume heating when you take them back out. This doesn’t really count as reusable – you’re still getting the same runtime at the end of the day – but they’re a bit less disposable than other air-activated options.

Power bank capability: Battery-powered hand warmers can also be used as a standalone charger for your phone or other small electronic device. This feature could be especially handy for hikers, campers, those who work in isolated areas, or just anyone who would prefer to have a backup power source handy.

How long do hand warmers last?

Depending on the type, as well as the specific model, hand warmer runtimes can vary significantly. In general — and my testing backed this up — lighter-fluid fueled options last the longest, followed by air-activated packets, battery-powered units and finally, supersaturated warmers. It’s also important to remember that the runtime advertised by a brand should be taken with a grain of salt, and will likely differ from your real-world experience. Since that claimed runtime doesn’t state the temperature range, it could include time when the temperature has dropped far below a usable level.

To get a better idea of actual, useful runtimes, I used a 100-degree Fahrenheit cutoff in my own analysis. The lighter fluid-fueled Zippo 12-Hour Refillable Hand Warmer, blew away the competition with a 20-hour runtime, followed by the HotHands Hand Warmers and Ignik Resealable Multiple-Use Hand Warmers (both 13 hours), the Ocoopa Rechargeable Hand Warmers 2-Pack and Grabber Hand Warmers (both 9 hours), Zippo HeatBank 9s Plus and SkyGenius Rechargeable Hand Warmer (6.5 hours) HotSnapZ Reusable Hand Warmers (2 hours) and finally, Hot to Go Reusable Heat Packs (1.5 hours).

How we tested

Hand warmers can vary in several ways, and if you’re not familiar with how they work, it can be a challenge to differentiate one from another. We ran nine popular models through a comprehensive testing process to help choose the best, as well as confidently recommend others for specific situations and users.

Since hand warmers are typically used outdoors and in cold temperatures — and you probably don’t want to spend more time than is necessary fumbling with unfamiliar controls— it’s important that they’re easy to use. Comparing usability doesn’t translate perfectly from one type of hand warmer to another, but overall, I did my best to evaluate if any units were particularly complicated or confusing to activate and operate.

I then performed a series of tests to determine each unit’s overall heating ability. First, I activated each hand warmer and placed it inside a winter glove with a Bluetooth thermometer and closed the end with a rubber band. This thermometer provided a real-time record of the temperature inside the glove, which I used to determine how quickly each warmer heated up, the maximum temperature it reached, and how long they continued to generate heat (since some retained a low heat for a long time, I used 100 degrees Fahrenheit as the cutoff). After compiling this data into a chart, it was simple to declare the winner in each of these categories. I also used each unit during my own early-morning runs and late-night dog walks to get a real-world idea of how comfortable they were to hold and operate.

To compare the durability of each hand warmer, I tossed the battery-powered models on concrete, poked the liquid warmers with a pencil (I assume the most likely culprit in the event of pocket damage), and tried my best to rip and tear the cloth pouch warmers.

For the three battery-powered models, I also timed how long it took them to charge back up after depleting completely. Additionally, since all three are capable of functioning as a power bank, I used each one to charge my iPhone 14. Since iPhone 14 Pros have a 3,200 mAh battery, this allowed me to see how each warmer’s claimed mAh stacked up in a real-world charging situation.

Finally, I compared each unit’s overall pricing, including any additional fuel expenses. For smaller pouches that come in large quantities, I made sure to calculate the individual cost for each pouch.

Other hand warmers we tested

Zippo HeatBank 9s Plus

$36 on Amazon

This battery-powered Zippo model has a curved, ergonomic shape that’s more comfortable to hold than the Ocoopa Rechargeable Hand Warmers 2-Pack and SkyGenius Rechargeable Hand Warmer, and with six heat settings to choose from (four heat levels and either one or two-sided heating) offers more customization as well. It has a nice bright-colored LED display with battery level status and current heat setting and a large lanyard hole for securing it to your wrist. A double press of the power button also activates an LED flashlight, which isn’t especially bright but could certainly come in handy. Its 5,200 mAh rechargeable battery can be used as a power bank (although it only charged my iPhone 14 by 70%) and two USB ports allow for dual device charging. It doesn’t include a USB-C port like the Ocoopa Rechargeable Hand Warmer 2-Pack though, so, depending on your current cord situation, might not be convenient. Although the two-sided heating of this unit helps warm both hands at once, the Ocoopa Rechargeable Hand Warmer 2-Pack provides two separate units, which we prefer since you can keep each in a separate pocket.

SkyGenius Rechargeable Hand Warmer

$10 on Amazon

The battery-powered SkyGenius Rechargeable Hand Warmer is about as basic as it gets, but the rock-bottom price and impressive performance make it a decent low-budget option. During testing this model reached its peak temperature of 121 degrees (higher than both the Ocoopa Rechargeable Hand Warmer 2-Pack and Zippo HeatBank 9s Plus) in less than 30 minutes, and maintained that temperature for over 5 hours. Three red LEDs indicate your current heat setting (both of the battery-powered units offer more settings) and a USB-A port supports external charging. Although the lack of warranty and cheap, somewhat flimsy feel of its plastic construction doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence in the durability department, at a cost of a little over $10, this model could be worth the price if you’re on a budget.

Ignik Resealable Multiple-Use Hand Warmers

$13 on Amazon

These air-activated pouches boasted a 13-hour runtime before dropping below 100 degrees (identical to our top pick) and their 124-degree peak temperature was only slightly lower than the 133 degrees generated by the Grabber Hand Warmers. They did work slower than every other model in my testing pool, only reaching 76 degrees after 30 minutes. An interesting feature of these warmers, and one not found on the other two air-activated products I tested, was that they come in resealable storage bags. This means that after you’ve activated the warmer you can return it to the bag, and its airtight seal effectively pauses the chemical reaction. You can then remove it later on and reactivate it. I found that this worked well in my testing, and after activating the warmer for 4 hours, sealing it in the bag for 4 four hours, and re-activating it again, the combined duration was identical to my consecutive test. Ignik also claims that the contents of these hand warmers are safe for composting after they’ve been used.

Grabber Hand Warmers

$34 on Amazon

A close runner-up to our top pick, the Grabber Hand Warmers reached an impressive 120 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 30 minutes, and a peak temperature of 133 degrees, the highest of any model in my testing pool. At just .45 cents, this hand warmer is also the cheapest per unit I tested. The fabric pouch is similar in size and feel to the other air-activated warmers I tried, and stood up well to my best attempts to rip and tear it. The 9-hour runtime was the only clear drawback, and ultimately the reason why the HotHands Hand Warmer and its 13-hour duration took our top spot. That being said, if you’d prefer a faster-acting, hotter hand warmer and you’re fine losing a few hours of runtime, this is a great choice.

HotSnapZ Reusable Hand Warmers

$22 on Amazon

Although they look very similar to the Hot to Go Reusable Heat Packs, the HotSnapZ Reusable Hand Warmers are far inferior, and the first three I tested failed to activate at all. Bending their metal chips failed to create the chemical reaction needed to generate heat, and even after they snapped completely in half the liquid inside remained inert. The one that I actually got to work performed similarly to the Hot to Go Reusable Heat Packs, although it took 10 minutes longer to reset in boiling water. With such poor quality control in place, I can’t recommend these at all. If this is the type of rechargeable hand warmer you’re interested in, choose the Hot to Go Reusable Heat Packs.

Zippo 12-Hour Refillable Hand Warmer

$19 on Amazon

With a mind-boggling 20.5-hour runtime, the lighter-fluid powered Zippo 12-Hour Refillable Hand Warmer lasted 7 hours longer than any other unit I tested. Filling it up was easier than I expected too, and instead of having to squeeze the lighter fluid directly into the reservoir of the hand warmer, a helpful fill cup is included. With a fill line and tiny spout, this cup makes it easy to measure the precise amount of fuel needed, as well as accurately pour it into the warmer without spilling a drop. Lighting the catalytic burner took a little trial and error (with no flame it’s hard to tell if it’s been activated or not) but once you feel the heating emitting you know combustion has begun. It’s not for the faint of heart — this thing gets really hot — so you’ll need to use the included warming pouch when holding it in your hand. The slim, 1 ⁄ 2-inch thick shape is comfortable to hold in your hands or store in a pocket, and the 2.6-ounce weight is barely noticeable. The primary difference between this and other reusable warmers is the additional cost and hassle of ensuring you have a supply of fluid on hand for refilling. But, if that’s not a dealbreaker, the low $20 price of the unit, and its durable all-metal construction make it a great investment for those who want consistent heat for long periods of time.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed price at the time of publication.

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