When the mercury starts to fall, it's your extremities that feel the frost nibbling first (opens in new tab), so unless you enjoy having frozen fingers it might be time to take a look at some of the best hand warmers out there.
There are plenty of rechargeable and reusable hand warmers available to keep your digits toasty in the coldest weather, and they're an absolute must to have in your pocket any time you're going out in winter, whether you're off hiking or just walking the dog or standing around at a sporting event.
Naturally you could put on a pair of gloves instead – see our guides to the best cold weather gloves or the best touchscreen gloves for plenty of options. But when conditions turn properly arctic, there's nothing like a bit of heat to get the blood flowing again. And while they might seem like an extravagant option, there are plenty of great-value hand warmers available.
No matter what kind of hand warmer you're after – there are electric models as well as one that use liquid fuel, or which warm using a chemical reaction – you'll find what you need here, and our hand warmer FAQ can explain the differences if you're still not sure. We've found a range of options for various situations, with plenty of rechargeable and reusable models.
We've tested out many of these hand warmers ourselves, while other choices are based on research and customer reviews. So read on to discover the best hand warmers to keep in your pocket when the weather turns cold.
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The best hand warmers 2023 reviewed
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The best hand warmer all round is this rechargeable option from Lifesystems. It features convenient USB charging, can be turned on and off as and when you need it, and will deliver up to six hours of heat on a single charge. There are four heat levels to choose from, so you can get things as toasty as you need, and a handy visual indicator will show you how much charge is remaining.
It's ergonomically shaped, pleasant to hold, and has two internal heat plates that deliver a decent burst of even heat from both sides. Finally, it doubles up as an emergency power bank, which is not strictly necessary but surprisingly helpful. Head to our full Lifesystems rechargeable hand warmer review for more of what we thought.
The 2023 successor to our number one pick, the Lifesystems Hand Warmer XT is a pretty similar device, but with a few key differences. The main one being double the battery power: 10,000Mah to its predecessor's 5,000Mah. That means that rather than three to six hours of heat, this offers from six to 14 hours of hand warming.
So why isn't this at the top of our list? Quite simply, because we reckon most people won't be spending that many hours using a hand warmer, and so the extra cost (while fairly minimal) isn't necessary. One other drawback is that it doesn't have a handle like the Lifesystems rechargeable hand warmer, so you won't be able to hang it up around the house or off your backpack.
That said, these are only tiny niggles, and we found this hand warmer to be easy to set up and worked very well in practice. So if you don't mind spending a little more, and aren't bothered about a handle, we still highly recommend this USB-powered hand warmer. See our full Lifesystems Hand Warmer XT review (opens in new tab) for more details.
If you want the convenience of a disposable hand warmer in a reusable format, try Hot Snaps. It's a crystallisation-type hand warmer that you immerse in hot water for 10-15 minutes before you go out, then when you need a blast of warmth you can simply click the metal disc in its centre to release the heat.
Be warned, though: they don't stay warm for long: about 50-60 minutes for Pocket Warmers, 30 to 40 minutes for Hand Warmers. So this is not a good choice for lengthy outdoor adventures. But if you want something for short spells out in the cold, this is nicely portable, easy to use and endlessly reusable.
The Zippo hand warmer is shaped like Zippo's iconic cigarette lighter, with six designs to choose from, and works in a similar way. It uses specially-created Zippo fuel that burns slowly and flamelessly, so there's no need to worry about accidentally getting set on fire. And the clever refill system makes topping up the fluid pretty easy too. On a full tank, this hand warmer will provide 12 hours of warmth – great if you happen to be heading up the mountain for the day, or planning to go off-grid for a while.
Rather than fiddle about with a hand warmer, why not ensure constant warmth for your hands with these heated gloves? The Aroma Season rechargeable heated gloves pack a pair of 7.4V 3000mAh rechargeable batteries that delivers warmth to your whole hand for up to an hour at a time, after which they'll automatically cut off, presumably to save you from chilblains. You'll get up to nine hours of warmth out of a single charge, though.
They're waterproof, windproof and breathable with three heat settings, and the thumbs and forefingers feature conductive material so that you can still use your phone without getting cold hands. They might be a bit chunky for some, but if you're susceptible to the cold, particularly due to arthritis or Raynaud's disease, they could be exactly what you're looking for.
Celestron is the brand behind many of today's best telescopes and binoculars, and its easy-to-use and versatile hand warmer is similarly impressive and capable of providing continuous heat for up to a massive 12 hours. You can choose to heat up one side, or both. Its aluminium shell is rugged enough for outdoor use, but it’s equally suitable for your winter commute, or standing in the park watching the kids play sports.
And that’s not all. This is also the Swiss army knife of hand warmers, as it also features a flashlight, and works as a portable charger. The 5200 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery delivers two full charges to most smartphones and MP3 players, and also charges USB-powered cameras.
Most of the best hand warmers are designed to deliver continuous heat over a period of hours, but if all you need is the occasional revitalising blast of warmth then the Grabber might be a better option for you. Designed for occasions such as outdoor sports, hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, jogging and dog walking, these single-use, air-activated packs provide fast and immediate heat, starting off at a maximum temperature of 156° F (69° C). They're very easy to use: simply open the packet and expose it to the air. They take less than a minute to warm up, and they’ll stay warm for up to six hours, although the heat intensity will dip from the initial high level. You’ll get the best results if you keep them in a pocket or glove.
Don't want to spend much money on the best hand warmer? That's fine; if you're on a budget then you'll find these reusable gel hand warmers from Lifesystems will do the job at a decent price. Pop them in boiling water for a short spell, and the crystals formed from the chemical reaction will turn back to gel. That makes them an absolute bargain over the long term. Be warned that the heat from them doesn't usually last more than about 30 minutes. But if that's all you need, then why spend more?
Hot Hands have been around for a while. And these rectangular-shaped, single-use, air-activated heat packs continue to be a popular choice worldwide. Although they don’t emit as much heat initially as Grabber, higher up our best hand warmer list, they do stay warm for longer; up to 10 hours at a time. So if you're going to be out in the cold for lengthy periods, they're an excellent choice at a very low price. (Bear in mind, though, that they're not reusable).
If you need a hand warmer that'll keep on going for absolutely ages, you'll probably want the Peacock, which provides up to 30 hours of heat with just one tank. This liquid-fuel-powered hard warmer uses the same fuel as the Zippo lighter and comes with refilling aids to help you keep it topped up. With its flashy, elegant design, the Peacock Hand Warmer could also make a handy gadget for anyone who suffers from cold digits.
Another top option for anyone who needs a long-lasting hand warmer, the Ocoopa features a whopping 10000mAh battery that'll keep the heat flowing for up to 15 hours, beating some of the best fuel-powered hand warmers and without the smell. Its heat goes from gentle warmth up to a seriously toasty 131°F. It'll charge your devices while you're on the go. And it's a sleek-looking piece of kit, with a curved body and silicone corner protection to protect it should it get dropped.