IN MY CONTINUING QUEST for ways to keep warm I was reminded of the existence of hand warmers. My hands are always cold, even in hot weather. So yeah! Hand warmers! Gimme a couple of those!

Thanks to modern technology, hand warmers have progressed from the fuel burning fire hazards of the past. Now they’re neat, clean, lithium battery powered gizmos that, unlike some cell phones, get hot on purpose.

Amazon suggested the ThermoGear hand warmers. They look like they could’ve been an Apple product. At 3.5 inches long, 1.6 inches wide and 0.3 inches thick, they’re a little larger than a first generation iPod Shuffle and a little smaller than an iPod Mini. I got two of them, because two hands. And they were only about $15 each — less than other hand warmers. 

Who is ThermoGear?

The story goes that founder Mel Campf was too cold at a football game in the Pacific Northwest and decided to assemble a team of R&D people to solve the problem. On their site, ThermoGear states:

The company’s broad mission is applying advanced research and development to portable warming devices for the healthcare, veterinary, recreational, commercial and sports related industries.

Making the heater hotter

The ThermoGear hand warmer charging cord has a USB-A plug on one end and a micro-USB plug on the other. There’s no AC-to-DC converter cube, but I still have some converters that work. The package says it takes about four hours for a full charge that would last two to four hours. There’s an on-off button, a red light to indicate it’s charging, and a green light that means it’s charged and producing heat.

The test

I left the hand warmer to charged overnight. Then, in the chilly morning, I turned it on and gave it a minute or so to heat up. The specifications say the maximum heat is 104°F/40°C and, yeah, that felt good. If that temperature feels too hot, there’s a tiny sock you can slip over the hand warmer. The sock also cushions the grip and probably lessens the chance of it slipping out of a pocket.

After a while the hand warmer doesn’t feel as hot. I don’t know if that’s because my hands had warmed up, reducing the temperature contrast between my fingers and the warmer, or whether the hand warmer cycles to a lower output to reduce power usage. Whatever the reason, my hands were still comfortable. It even kept my hands warm while accompanying my friend to an appointment in the way-to-cold oncology department of the local hospital. So I’d say this thing works well.

Can it warm something besides hands?

The small size that allows the ThermoGear hand warmer to slip into small spaces makes it a very localized heat source. It won’t warm a vehicle or even a bed. I suppose you could put them in your socks as long as you didn’t try walking with them there. I discovered it worked well  for soothing pain in my neck and head. It might keep a burrito warm. Maybe a cup of coffee or tea? Help thaw frozen foods? I think these hand warmers invite invention.

Stuffing your hands into your arm pits is effective and free way to warm your hands but it severely limits what you can do. Gloves (of which I have several kinds) are a simple, proven, no-tech way to keep hands warm — unless you need to do things that require manual dexterity, like typing this blog post. Rechargeable electric hand warmers aren’t the answer in all cold hand situations, but they have a place. The ThermoGear hand warmer works well and costs less than others. It’s something to consider for your own cold hands-on evaluation.