Reviews

5

Looking for a way to prevent frostbite? This might…

Rating: rated 4 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $35

Summary

Looking for a way to prevent frostbite? This might keep those fingers and toes safe for a while longer!

Pros

  • Portable and lightweight
  • Reusable
  • Variety of shapes and sizes
  • Heats up in a few seconds

Cons

  • A little bit expensive
  • Can take up to twelve minutes to boil in order to reuse
  • Only lasts about an hour
  • Can sometimes activate for no reason

I was looking for a method to keep my hands warm without having to carry fuel or disposable products and found these nifty little hand warmers at a recent survival expo I attended. A variety of shapes and sizes are available, ranging from these circular ones that are perfect for gloves or pockets, all the way up to larger pads that are about the size of a small heating pad. 

They contain water, a small metal disc, and sodium acetate, a safe food grade salt ingredient. When you flex the metal disc, it activates a chemical reaction that heats the pack up to somewhere between 120 and 130 degrees in just a few seconds. As the pack heats up, it becomes more rigid, but still flexes a bit.

IMG_20160114_141409452.jpg

What is most impressive about these things is that they are reusable, and I've read many a review where the owner got hundreds (if not thousands) of uses out of them before they finally stopped working. In order to "renew" or "restore" them back to their original liquid state, simply boil them for five to twelve minutes, and presto! Like new again!!!

While the set that I got cost me about $35, it came with eight packs (four round ones and four green rectangular ones that were slightly larger), and in my opinion, the "reusable" aspect made them a better product than other alternatives. Since they're non-toxic (and technically "food grade"), my thoughts are that I could boil them on my Solo stove, then use the water to prepare food or drink afterwards.  I've done some research on this, and it appears to be safe to do since there are no toxins involved.

My only complaint so far is that the website for this product claims that you can get up to two hours of heat out of each use. I've not been that lucky so far, with each use lasting a little over an hour for me. Still though, that's more than I've frequently experienced with disposable hand warmers, and that's saying something!

If you're looking for a reusable, non-toxic, lightweight alternative to hand warmers, you may want to check these out!

Alicia TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thanks for your review of this interesting product, Andrew. I used to have a similar pair which I liked for the reusable aspect, but not for the length of use. How much do yours weigh?


2 years ago
Andrew Beattie

I've not weighed them yet, but I'll do so this evening and report back. What I've found to work to improve the length of use is to boil them a few minutes prior to when I intend to use them, then just start using them for as long as they'll stay warm from the boiling process prior to activating them. Adds an extra 30 minutes or so of heat. Not ideal when you're on the trail, but still an option once you're hunkered down for the night.


2 years ago
G00SE MODERATOR

I carry a similar product for caving emergencies. Fortunately, I've never had to use them, except to test them to make sure they still work. I've had them for years.


2 years ago
Alicia TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thanks for the tips, Andrew.


2 years ago
Andrew Beattie

Finally got around to weighing the ones in the picture, and they way about 5 ounces according to my kitchen scale. Hope that helps!


2 years ago
Go Time! (Jesse Maloney)

I was super excited about these until I read how long it stays warm (urg.) The science behind them is really cool though. I would like to get some just to teach my students about exothermic reactions in my science class. Thanks for the info.


2 years ago
Joseph Renow

Great review Andrew. I use these in place of a hot-water bottle on cold nights (where the chance of a leak could be life threatening). To extend the warmth time I made a small fleece case for mine (tiny pillow-case)...by reducing the amount of air that moves around the warmers (convection) the heat cannot escape as fast and stays warmer much longer.


2 years ago
Andrew Beattie

You're quite welcome, Go Time! Joseph, that's a great tip, and I think I'll be repurposing one my old wool socks that no longer has a match to do exactly what you did. Thanks!


2 years ago

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