Top 5 Gadgets to Keep Hands and Feet Warm in Winter

Updated on September 25, 2019
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

I like to get outdoors whatever the weather. Here are some tips to stay warm and comfortable in cold weather.

Cold weather needn't mean icy fingers and toes if you use hand and foot warmers.
Cold weather needn't mean icy fingers and toes if you use hand and foot warmers. | Source

Best Mini or Pocket-Sized Gadgets for Warm Feet and Hands

  1. Single Use Hand and Feet Warmers
  2. Reusable Chemically Activated Heat Warmers
  3. Battery Operated or USB Rechargeable Electric Socks
  4. Lighter Fuel Hand Warmers
  5. USB Heated Electric Slipper Foot Warmers

1. Single Use Hand and Toe Warmers

Single use warmer pouches are good for people who only occasionally need to warm up their fingers and toes. A single use pack consists of two chemicals that are inert (stable and non-reactive) until they're mixed together.

The chemicals are held separately in sealed compartments within a larger cover. To activate the pack, you simply break the seal between the two compartments and an exothermic chemical reaction occurs. Exothermic is a scientific term that means heat is produced as a by-product of the chemicals mixing together.

There are many commercially produced single use warmers available. I particularly like Hot Hands hand warmers and toe warmers. These are convenient to use and cost less than a dollar each. They can be popped inside your gloves, socks, or jacket pockets. They're also great to help warm up cold wellies on a snowy day.

Single use hand and feet warmers are a good standby to keep in your backpack or car trunk in case of unexpected bad weather. These single use warmers last from 10 to 18 hours depending on the brand bought and on how cold the weather is.

Winter Tip : HotHands Hand & Feet Warmers

2. Reusable Chemically Activated Heat Warmers

If you're likely to use hand or feet warmers on a regular basis then it's cheaper to buy reusable ones (and better for the planet.) Reusable chemically activated warmers work on the same principle as described in the paragraph above, i.e. an exothermic chemical reaction is used to produce heat as a result of a liquid being turned into a solid. I like the HotSnapZ reusable hand-warmer. Although reusable warmers cost a bit more upfront, in the long run they work out cheaper compared to single-use, disposable ones.

Now for the science bit. Reusable hand warmers produce an exothermic chemical reaction. A solution of sodium acetate crystallizes into a solid, producing 130 degrees Fahrenheit in 5 seconds. The reaction is started by flexing or bending a small metal disc within the pack. As the crystals form, heat radiates from the pouch onto your hands or feet and the warmth produced is effective for several hours.

To reuse the pouch and reactivate the chemicals, the warmer needs to be boiled. The sodium acetate is returned to a liquid form by boiling in a pan of water for 10 minutes. The video below demonstrates how simple a reusable hand warmer pouch is to activate and reactivate.

How to Click the Clicker Inside a HotSnapZ Hand Warmer

3. Battery Operated or Rechargeable Heated Socks

If you don't like the idea of carrying chemicals around in your gloves or boots, you may prefer to buy a battery operated hand or foot warmer. These are a similar size to the chemical versions. Many also have the option to choose high or low heat levels. To charge before use, they are connected to a USB charger or a conventional electric wall plug. In use, they draw power from a battery placed within a small pocket hidden in the sock or glove.

Rechargeable heated socks are ideal for keeping your feet warm and cozy inside wellington boots or similar. The Rabbitroom Unisex Rechargeable Battery Electric Heated Socks kit is my favorite. It is made of a thick cotton fabric and has three heat settings. There is a small pocket at the top of each sock for a cell battery. When activated, heat spreads throughout the sock fabric. It is your personal foot-shaped electric blanket. Battery operated socks are ideal for outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, hiking, and sporting events.

Feet and hand warmers can be useful on outdoor vacations and camping holidays.
Feet and hand warmers can be useful on outdoor vacations and camping holidays. | Source

4. Lighter-Fuel Hand Warmers

The Zippo brand, well known for making lighters, also makes hand-warming devices. They work on the same principle as a cigarette lighters. Each hand warmer contains a catalytic burner which uses lighter fuel for combustion and heat generation.

I recommend the Zippo Refillable Hand Warmer. It provides value for money as it is well made and lasts a long time. It is reused by refilling with premium lighter fuel. You need to be careful when refilling as lighter fuel can be dangerous if spilled. There are other cheaper brands on the market, but as the saying goes "you get what you pay for."

The Zippo hand warmer is a small metal box about the size of a pack of playing cards and fits easily inside your glove or coat pocket. The burning fire within the box is completely enclosed and the smouldering heat generated lasts for up to twelve hours.

Zippo refillable hand-warmer. It uses lighter fuel to produce heat for up to 12 hours.
Zippo refillable hand-warmer. It uses lighter fuel to produce heat for up to 12 hours. | Source

I purchased 4 of these and I can think of quite a few uses for them. One is going in my car. Another in my backpack. A third I'll keep at the office and the 4th will serve as a backup, if necessary. These had warmers are awesome. Absolutely awesome. They can get quite hot so make sure you don't lose the felt carrying pouch they come with. Filling them with Zippo lighter fluid is simple as is getting the catalytic burner going.

— Review of Zippo reusable hand warmers by Amazon customer

5. USB Heated Slipper Footwarmers

Last, but not least I recommend USB heated slippers for a cozy night-in. These fluffy slippers are great as they can be powered up from any USB point (like your laptop or PC.) However, they are not as flexible in use as the other gadgets mentioned as you need to remain connected to a power source while using the device.

My top pick for warm slippers is the One Size Plush USB Electric Heating Slippers. The power cable on these is nearly 2 meters long so you can sit a little distance away from your power source. I wear them every winter to keep my feet toasty and warm. The slippers can be safely worn while they are being charged, so no electricity is wasted waiting for them to be ready to wear. They look just like standard furry slippers and when switched on remain at a steady and comfortable temperature of 42 degrees.

USB slippers are also made as uni-slippers like the pair below. Two feet in one pocket makes you less mobile, but they're a fun accessory for an evening at home with family in front of the TV.

USB heated plush uni-slipper. Great for people with cold feet.
USB heated plush uni-slipper. Great for people with cold feet. | Source

Other Uses for Pocket-Sized Heat Warmers

Pocket-sized or mini heat warmers are designed to be put inside gloves or shoes, but they can also be used for many other things. Here are a few suggestions.

1. Use them to dry out wet walking boots overnight. Put one in each damp boot before you go to bed. Your boots will be warm and dry when you wake up next morning.

2. Place a couple of hand warmers in the foot area of your sleeping bag when camping outdoors. They will help keep your feet warm overnight. They will stay hot for longer than a conventional hot water bottle.

3. Use them as a heat pack to soothe sore muscles and aching joints. This works well for for rheumatic and arthritic aches and pains. The small size of hand and feet warmers means they can be placed directly on the target area and can provide instant relief.

4. Warm up a pair of cold slippers with a heat pack before you put them on your bare feet. This works like magic if you have to get out of a warm bed into an unheated room on a cold winter's morning.

5. And I'm sure your pet cat or dog would love a warming heat pack placed in their bed in wintertime too! Your pet will be your best friend forever if you treat them to this luxury.

There must be a better way to warm up frozen fingers! You may need more than a hot drink to keep warm on a cold day.
There must be a better way to warm up frozen fingers! You may need more than a hot drink to keep warm on a cold day. | Source

DIY Method to Make Cheap Glove and Sock Warmers

Do you like saving money and enjoy doing DIY? Then you can make your own single use hand or feet warmers using Calcium Chloride and water. It's not too difficult to do and the materials are easily available.

You will need

  • Calcium chloride pellets
  • A couple of self-closing bags
  • Water

The video below shows you how it's done.

DIY Instant Hand Warmers

Warming Gadgets Can Help You If Your Car Breaks Down

All of the above hand and feet warmers operate without the need for a mains power source. They are a good "extra" to add to your winter car emergency kit. Along with a snow shovel and thermos flask, having a way to warm up cold fingers and toes could help you survive a car break-down emergency on a cold night.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Submit a Comment
  • WritingInRichmond profile image

    WritingInRichmond 

    5 years ago

    This is great information. The DIY Instant Hand Warmers are going to be on my list of projects to get ready for the cold weather. Also, the EZ Heat Reusable Hand Warmer are awesome! Didn’t know these existed … will be swinging by REI to get some. Thanks again. Voted up!

  • annart profile image

    Ann Carr 

    5 years ago from SW England

    Love the idea for drying wet boots and for warming sleeping bags.

    Useful hub packed with all the info we need!

    Ann

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