Refillable catalyst handwarmer. These are easy to…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: less than $15
Refillable catalyst handwarmer. These are easy to use and work pretty well.
- Ease of use
- Long lasting
- Fuel is expensive
- Outer lid is loose
The large Zippo handwarmer works really well. In the '70s my grandfather gave me two Jon-e handwarmers for backpacking. Those were great. Yhey probably still work, but I cannot find them.
I have two of the Zippo handwarmers and have used them both. My wife uses one and I use the other. It is fairly easy to fill. The newer models have a hole in the fuel absorption material that allows for faster easier filling, but these seem to take longer to get fully going.
Fuel (naptha) is about $3 for 4 ounces for Zippo brand. Ronsonol is a little cheaper and I think is also made by Zippo. I cannot tell a difference in the two fuels. Point 7 (.7) ounces of fuel is supposed to give 12 hours of burn time. These items need oxygen to burn, so burn time is subjective at best. If in a pocket it can taken out and waved around to get more oxygen and then when put back in the pocket you can feel the extra warmth generated.
Not lightweight (65g), and carrying the extra fuel is not light either, but when you start pulling tent stakes it is nice to have warm pocket to put your hand into. I use this in the tent for my feet. I put my feet in a stuff sack with the heater while I cook in the vestibule. I have never had it in my sleeping bag, but have heard others say they do. Too stinky for me to do that.
It can take 30 minutes for it to really heat up after started. The bag it comes in is functional and the ball slider works very well to hold the bag shut. The metal on the unit can be pretty hot and the top lid that covers the catalytic burner is loose fitting, so I always keep it in the bag. There are vents on the top so the bag does not fully close to allow air to enter for combustion.
$15 at REI for one and the other was $12, summer sale, at Walmart. I would recommend this product.
It does what it advertises, but I would add a couple…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: Too long ago to remember
It does what it advertises, but I would add a couple of caveats.
- Can be recharged with fuel
- Produces water vapor
- Altitude sensitive
These hand warmers actually "burn" the propane, not with a flame, but they cause the naptha to combine with oxygen in the presence of a catalyst. The burning of an organic fuel produces carbon dioxide and water.
If you keep this device inside your clothing the water vapor will eventually diminish the insulating properties of your outerwear. Kept in a jacket's outer pocket, as a hand warmer rather than a body warmer, it should be fine. Also, since it needs oxygen to work, I have found these things tend to go out at higher altitudes, say above five or six thousand feet.
Instead I have been using the HotHands products here in Colorado. They work by rusting iron particles inside a porous envelope, a reaction that doesn't produce water. They don't seem to be as sensitive to altitude although I don't recall ever using them above seven or eight thousand feet. These HotHands warmers last for many hours after which they are just thrown away -- no fuel to replenish.