To drag out a seriously over-used but currently accurate phrase… winter is coming. That means fireside hot chocolate and/or hot toddies, skiing and sledding, holiday cheer, and fingers aching in frigid misery as you grasp an icy steering wheel, heft a shovel heavy with snow, or dig your wretched claws into the pockets of your coat during a gray morning trudge ten blocks across town to your office.
Ah, but the winter chill need not be so cruel to those digits of yours, not when you have the best hand warmers on hand to fight back against the cold. These great hand warmers can keep your all-important extremities feeling fine all winter long in a surprising variety of ways: one uses battery power, another uses flame; still another uses chemical reactions, while one is just a damn fine pair of gloves. And the fifth? A fine pair of gloves that also uses battery heating.
These gloves were developed for mountain climbers who need to be able to count on their gear while thousands of feet up in frigid, icy conditions, not to mention being scores of miles from the nearest possible aid. If the Super Couloir Gloves are good enough for a high alpine ascent, they’re good enough for your morning commute or to keep your hands warm as you walk the dog or shovel snow. And because these gloves are designed for use during technical ascents, they are not only warm, but highly dexterous. My pair of Mountain Equipment gloves are the most comfortable, flexible warm gloves I own, with a micro fleece inner lining, a goatskin palm exterior, and curved, articulated fingers and thumbs that preserve maximum dexterity and fine motor control.
Zippo gets zero points for creativity on their very uncleverly named “Hand Warmer.” But, who cares when it means you’ll have up to 12 hours of flameless warmth inside your gloves? The easy-to-use hand warmer is just a basic, compact catalytic heating unit encased in rugged metal. The kit includes a plastic fill cup and soft carry sleeve that also protects your skin when placed inside your glove or mitten. They’re sold in 6-hour (for rookies) and 12-hour versions. In real-world conditions, many people find that both versions last much longer than Zippo claims. They’re sold individually, so be sure to buy a pair if you have two hands.
If the idea of a flameless “lighter” in your pocket (a la a catalytic-style hand warmer) doesn’t sit well with you, opt for a battery-powered alternative. The EnergyFlux Ellipse is essentially a repurposed backup battery pack designed to throw off tons of heat. The 5200mAh capacity keeps both sides of the unit warm via two heat settings. At room temperature, low reaches 107°F (for approximately 6.5 hours), while high tops out at 118°F (for around five hours). Colder outdoor temperatures will, of course, hamper the unit’s effectiveness. While this electric alternative won’t outlast its catalytic competition, it can double as a backup battery to top off your smartphone or tablet. A deluxe, 7,800mAh option is also available, although it’s likely too large for the average person.
Using a HotHands Hand Warmer is pretty easy. First, you take the little pouch out of its plastic wrapper and shake it around some, then you’re done. You probably remember this type of air-activated chemical reaction hand warmer from ski trips or sledding sessions when you were a kid. What you might not realize is that these things are so cheap you can absolutely afford them now what your hand warmth is your own responsibility, you grown up, you! A 40-pack costs about $24 (which is $1.60 per hand warmer) while you can even get a 100-pack for $114 (a mere $1.14 each). Though you need to plan ahead some, as a HotHands Hand Warmer can take a full half hour to reach full heat, most will last nearly ten hours, so they can be used on the way to and from work. Unless you have really long hours, in which case… sorry about that. Once your little hand warmer packet is heated, you can tuck it into a glove, into a pocket, or just grasp the thing in your warm little paw. Or your large paw. Or in between paw.
If a cigarette-pack-sized warmer isn’t disco enough for you and you don’t mind spending a bit more, opt instead for a pair of electric, insulated gloves. Flambeau’s Heated Gear Gloves are relatively lightweight, but plenty thick for keeping your hands toasty while hiking, skiing, or clearing snow off your truck. They’re also waterproof, breathable, and feature an adjustable wrist cuff to trap heat. But, the real win is the unique heating element. A web of carbon fiber threads runs along the wearer’s palm and the undersides of the fingers. Because they’re electric, the run-time isn’t fantastic (3-4 hours), but Flambeau sells a backup battery to keep you going all day if need be.