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How to Keep Your Hands Warm in the Winter


Winter weather and cold hands isn’t an enjoyable mix. If you spend a significant time outdoors — whether for work or recreation — you know that keeping your hands warm when it’s cold outside can be a struggle. Here are some tips to keep your hands warm in freezing outside temps.

Don’t Rely on Cotton

Wearing a cotton glove is, quite simply, an invitation for cold hands. Eventually, a cotton glove starts to absorb a person’s sweat — leading to a wet glove. And once wet, the glove loses all insulating ability. Cotton lawn or garden gloves are best during the summer months because they allow your hands to breathe; but they will not keep hands warm in the winter. Instead, find gloves that have synthetic, fur or fleece insulation — or made of wool — to keep your hands warm and dry in cold temperatures.

Get a Good Fit Remember, it is the body heat from your hands that keeps a glove or mitten warm. If gloves or mittens are too large for your hands — with too much air space inside — the harder it will be to retain warmth. Your body heat needs to heat that air to keep your hands warm. And the more air, the more heat is needed. The result is that on cold days your body heat can’t keep up with the heat loss from the glove — especially in the fingers — leading to cold fingertips. Ideally, there should be just a tiny air gap between your finger and the inside fabric of the glove. Just enough of an air gap to allow your finger to move freely but not so much that a big air bubble lurks inside each finger.

Glove Liners Glove liners function as a lightweight “inner-glove.” Using a glove liner is an excellent method to add extra warmth to any pair of gloves you own. A glove liner designed for cold weather provides extra insulating ability. Typically, the best and warmest glove liners are made from Merino Wool, but synthetic and silk insulation also work well.

Chemical Hand Warmers Activated by air, chemical hand warmers have kept hands warm for decades. To use a chemical hand warmer, just tear open the package, give the warmer a good shake, and stuff it inside a pocket or a mitten. If you plan to use them inside a glove, be sure to buy ones designed for that. Many chemical warmers are too big to wear inside a glove.

The benefits of chemical hand warmers include:

  • No external power required

  • Silent and odorless

  • Ideal for hunting, outdoor photographers and people spending extended periods of time outdoors in cold weather

  • Long lasting - 8 to 16 hours of heat, on average

  • Inexpensive - .60 to .75 cents each when bought in bulk

USB Rechargeable Battery Hand Warmers

Battery operated hand warmers aren’t a new invention. However, older designs often worked poorly, drained batteries in a few hours, and were often quite heavy. Technology has led to new options like USB rechargeable hand warmers that provide warmth in a lightweight, slim design. USB hand warmers also do double-duty since they can also recharge phones and other USB powered devices.

The downside? If you need a hand warmer for wet or rainy weather, then stick with a chemical hand warmer. Water and electronics don’t mix. Hunters and others who are outside from dawn to dusk also likely will want to use chemical hand warmers, since they provide heat for longer periods. Finally, USB hand warmers aren’t meant for use inside a glove. Thus, if cold weather strikes and you need a heating source inside the glove, a USB hand warmer won’t work well.

Keeping your hands warm while outside in cold temps for extended periods of time is essential to avoiding frost bite. Plan ahead and have everything you need before spending a day on the slopes or working outside during the winter.


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