Best hand warmers 2021: Keep cosy in the bitterest winter weather

With one of the best hand warmers in your pocket or your gloves you can banish those winter chills

The best hand warmers for winter

Having one of the best hand warmers on standby means that you should never have to cope with frozen fingers once the cold winter months start getting down to business. While they're generally designed for outdoors activities in cold weather, they're also the perfect way to keep your hands nice and toasty if you're working from home and want to save on the heating bill. There are various types of hand warmers available, but they're all small enough to put inside your gloves or keep in your pocket to quickly get the blood flowing in your fingers again.

Complete your winter kit with a pair of the best cold weather gloves (or the best touchscreen gloves, if you want to be able to use your phone). 

What are the different types of hand warmers?

When it comes to hand warmers, some of us instantly think of little clickable pouches of liquid that heat up by themselves, or you might picture those old-fashioned, velvet-covered pocket warmers loved by anglers, with a slow-burning stick of fuel inside. You can still get those but you wouldn't want to use them indoors unless you love the stink of charcoal and paraffin.

These days, though, it's all about the reusable hand warmers. They're environmentally friendly and stylish-looking, and with a bit of fuel inside they'll keep your mitts warm for hours on end. Zippo is probably the most recognisable brand when it comes to reusable hand warmers; its main product, the Zippo Hand Warmer, offers 10 times more heat than a disposable hand warmer, and on a full tank can provide a full 12 hours of heat. These types of hand warmers are good if you’re going off-grid for a while, so long as you have a backup of fuel for topping up. 

However if you can't be doing with all that refueling, a battery-powered hand warmer is the way to go. Thanks to the efficiency of lithium-ion batteries, rechargeable hand warmers such as the Outdoors Way Electric Hand Warmer can keep going for absolutely ages, and if you're out and about they can also charge your devices and some also have a flashlight built in.

Of course if you’re a traditionalist at heart and don’t fancy paying any more than necessary on a hand warmer, you can’t really go wrong with Hot Hands Instant Hand Warmers, which use the old click method to generate heat. 

So, with all your options laid out in front of you, let’s consult Amazon and some outdoorsy retailers for the best hand warmers your hard-earned cash can buy. 

The best hand warmers to buy right now

The best hand warmer

1. Zippo Hand Warmer

The best hand warmer for long-term use

Specifications
Best for: Sleek and lightweight
Type: Fuel
Hours of use: 12
Reusable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Up to 12 hours of warmth+Refillable+Lightweight

Styled like an old-fashioned cigarette lighter, this is a fairly hip hand warmer made more popular by the 6 different designs you can choose from. It works by slowly burning the specific Zippo fuel created for use in hand warmers. The warmth is flameless, so you don’t need to worry about it setting your pockets on fire, and Zippo has even invested a refill system to make transferring the fluid as easy as possible once it's run out. On a full tank, it’ll 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. 

Best hand warmers: Outdoors Way Electric Hand Warmer

(Image credit: Outdoors Way)

2. Outdoors Way Electric Hand Warmer

The most versatile hand warmer we've seen

Specifications
Best for: All-round functionality
Type: Battery powered
Hours of use: 7
Reusable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Double-sided heat+Two heat settings+Integrated flashlight

This multi-purpose device from Colorado-based The Outdoors Way is definitely the most versatile hand warmer we've seen. Powered by a 7200mAh lithium-ion battery, it'll provide plenty of warmth for a winter day out, with double sided heat and two settings giving you up to 115°F to keep the chill away, plus a maximum battery life of seven hours. Not only will it recharge your devices as well, it also had a built-in 55 lumen flashlight complete with an SOS strobe setting. Ideal if you're out and about.

The best hand warmers for winter: Human Creations EnergyFlux Ellipse Hand Warmer

3. Human Creations EnergyFlux Ellipse Hand Warmer

Use this versatile gadget to charge your phone and heat your hands

Specifications
Best for: Rechargeable hand warmer
Type: Battery powered
Hours of use: 6.5
Reusable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Dual heat settings+Integrated USB charger

If you don’t like the idea of filling up your hand warmer with oil each time you want to reuse it, this battery-powered hand warmer is a good alternative. Harnessing the power of a lithium-ion battery, all you need to do is plug it in before you head out on your winter walk. There’s an LED light system to indicate when the hand warmer is heating up, whether it's on low heat or high heat, and when it’s getting low on charge. While it lasts 6.5 hours on low heat, high heat will naturally eat up the charge quicker – factor in an iPhone charging on the USB port, and it won’t last long at all. Still, for convenience's sake, and for short stints out in the biting cold, you can’t go wrong. 

The best hand warmers for winter: Hot Hands Instant Hand Warmers

4. Hot Hands Instant Hand Warmers

Keep this disposable hand warmer in your coat pocket for cold snaps

Specifications
Best for: Winter sports
Type: Disposable
Hours of use: 10
Reusable: No
Reasons to buy
+10 hours' of warmth+Instant heat+Simple to use
Reasons to avoid
- 

Hot Hands have been around for a while and still continue to be an extremely popular choice when it comes to investing in hand warmers, especially if you’re only hitting colder climes for a couple of days. Relatively cheap to buy and providing a day’s worth of heat, they certainly get the job done, but don’t tend to emit as much heat as reusable hand warmers. While they aren’t reusable, they are made from natural materials, and as such are non-toxic, even when the heat produced is done so via chemical reaction. 

The best hand warmers for winter: Peacock Hand Warmer

5. Peacock Hand Warmer

The best hand warmer for multi-day outdoors adventures

Specifications
Best for: Long-lasting
Type: Fuel
Hours of use: 30
Reusable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+30 hours' of heat+Elegant design+Refillable

Whether you’re off exploring cold, mountainous areas or simply don’t want to have to worry with refuelling every couple of days, this Peacock hand warmer provides up to 30 hours of heat with just one tank. It 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 with cold hand syndrome.

Best hand warmers: OCOOPA 10000mAh Hand Warmer

(Image credit: Ocoopa)

6. OCOOPA 10000mAh Hand Warmer

This one will keep going for up to 15 hours on a single charge

Specifications
Best for: Battery life
Type: Battery powered
Hours of use: 15
Reusable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Long battery life+Three heat settings up to 131°F

Looking for the maximum battery life from your hand warmer? Look no further: this model from 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.

The best hand warmers for winter: Lifesystems Reusable Hand Warmers

7. Lifesystems Reusable Hand Warmers

The best reusable gel hand warmers that won't break the bank

Specifications
Best for: Instant heat
Type: Gel
Hours of use: 1.5
Reusable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Simple to activate+Easy to reset
Reasons to avoid
- 

If you’re looking for a quick fix, you can’t go wrong with these budget friendly hand warmers from Lifesystems. The Reusable Hand Warmers have been around for a while, and use a chemical reaction to generate heat. While they don’t last as long as the other gel hand warmers, they are resettable. That means you can pop them in boiling water for a short spell, where the crystals formed from the chemical reaction turn back to gel... And you can reuse them again to keep your hands toasty when outside.