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I get a lot of outdoor related gifts from my friends and family because they know I’m obsessed with enjoying the outdoors any way that I can, no matter how cold it is! For Christmas this year I received a pretty cool package from my brother that included two Zippo hand warmers, fuel, and a capsule to carry extra fuel. I was pretty excited because I have seen them and a couple of my brothers have them. I was always curious about how they work since it runs on fuel and you put them in your pocket. I wanted to know if they were worth the hassle. Now I’ve been fortunate to get my hands on a pair!
I’ve used the disposable hand warmers before and they were really cool, but they seemed a little wasteful and I could never remember them. So now that I have a pair of these refillable and sleek looking hand warmers I’m going to put them through the test. My first test was of course skiing since I live in Colorado and am fortunate to be 45 min away from Telluride. I’ll get back to this story in a minute because I want to run through a quick pros and cons list and then dive into my experience.
More environmentally friendly than disposable options.
They are surprisingly thin and fit well in any pocket.
The Bag helps to keep it insulated and warm.
They last for at least 10 to 12 hours if they are properly built.
If they need rebuilt there are tons of YouTube videos and better materials you can get.
Inexpensive. These run about $15 for the big 12 hour model and fuel is cheap.
They are compact and not heavy
I have two and there is a drastic difference in how long they last with the same fuel.
They can get very hot so I recommend keeping it in the supplied bag.
They do need to be rebuilt sometimes.
The little fill cup that comes with it is junk and if you aren’t careful you’ll spill fuel everywhere. Throw this away! I did.
I have the 12 hour warmers but they also come in 6 hour models. These hand warmers are catalytic which basically means they burn without a fire; it’s more of a chemical reaction. This is why you can put them in the pouch and then in your pocket. They get pretty hot when they get going and are much warmer than the disposable hand warmers. I do recommend using the pouch because even though they won’t burn you they get pretty dang hot.
The package comes with a hand warmer, a little fill container, and the bag. The bag is actually pretty cool and soft for your cold hands to hold onto. The fill container is complete junk and I don’t even use mine. Instead I found a little sealable bottle and I put about 22ml in it, which is about the same amount the filler cup measured. Zippo recommends their hand warmer fuel or their lighter fluid, but from my research, white camp fuel is less expensive and works just as well. The hand warmer is stuffed with cotton just like their classic lighters and this allows the fluid to not slosh around and leak and spill fire everywhere. The burner holds the catalyst material and this is where the fuel reacts with the catalyst to produce heat. You can rebuild these and there are guys on YouTube using carbon felt and a bigger, better catalyst in the burner. I’ll tell you how I know this after my little story.
My first trip with these was to Telluride on a windy day with snow blowing in. I personally think it makes for great skiing but visibility was bad and that wind chill was crazy. I did load my new Zippo hand warmers with fuel and got them ignited and going before I left. I actually forgot I had them until I was on the lift and noticed my midsection was really warm. Thank goodness I had them though because those lifts to the bowls get chilly! But I just took off my gloves and put my hands in my pockets with the warmers and they were toasty again in no time! This was going pretty good until about 3 pm hit and I was on another lift looking forward to warming my hands up but ,alas, one of the warmers was dead and ice cold! It only lasted about 5 hours. The other one kept on going strong for around another 5 hours.
I was pretty disappointed about the hand warmer that lasted only half as long as the other so I filled them both again and got the same result. So what else to do? Turn to the internet for all of its glorious knowledge! I found a plethora of videos on rebuilding them and what materials to use that work best. As of writing this I have not had the opportunity to rebuild them but my materials should be here next week, and from what I’ve seen it should fix the problem.
I also took these out on the river in 30 degree or less. Fishing on a frozen river with intermittent slush coming down gets your hands cold quick. I’ve tried to fish with gloves but I need to feel the line, so I usually only wear one. After cleaning ice off my line and guides it was fantastic to reach my cold hands into my pockets and warm them up with these. It was like putting my hands in front of a little stove in my pocket! I’m looking forward to having these in the upcoming hunting season.
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