For winter sports fans: the best body warmers


The annual ski jumps of the Salisbury Winter Sports Association are coming up, Feb. 10 to 12 at Satre Hill. If you want to know the schedule of jumps and other events (including target jumping under the lights and the Human Dog Sled Race), go to www.jumpfest.org.

If you want to know the best products to buy to keep your body warm while you watch the athletes sail past you, then read on.

I first began to think about body warming products when photojournalist Anne Day mentioned that she had worn a stick-on heat pad while covering the women’s march in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21. 

A little research online — including visits to sites frequented by hunters and hikers and other outdoor sports enthusiasts — has led me to the conclusion that the best products you can get are from the company called HotHands. 

When you read the ingredients list, it almost makes you feel like you’re reading a recipe for a fertilizer bomb. But all these disposable body warmers seem to be made the same way, with iron powder, water, salt, activated charcoal and vermiculite (in the case of HotHands). There’s nothing toxic in them; theoretically, you can even snip them open and sprinkle the ingredients over your (frost-covered) flower beds, although most people throw them out with their regular trash.

The way they work is that you simply expose the ingredients to air by opening the packet; you can also stop them from working (so you don’t waste them) by putting them in a resealable airtight bag and squeezing all the air out.

HotHands gets higher rating than similar disposable products, including the Grabber warmers, which reviews say have diminished in quality over the years. They don’t stay warm for as long as they used to.

Best of all within the HotHands family of products are, apparently, the ones in the HeatMax line.

It’s hard to know exactly how hot these products get and how hot they stay, and what that feels like on your body. Outside magazine, at their www.outsideonline.com website, has the results of a pretty thorough testing that involved heating up the warmers and then putting them in the freezer and testing their temperature periodically. 

The Grabber products hit a maximum of 98 degrees in their test, but quickly cooled down. At the end of an hour and a half, they were 70 degrees.

The HotHand hand warmers peaked at 103 degrees and maintained that temperature for a half hour. After two hours, they had cooled to 100 degrees. Those numbers confirm the online review consensus, which is that the HotHands products stay warm longer than other disposable warmer brands.

There are lots of different HotHand products that you can use on your toes, feet, hands and body (if you want to see the full line, you can go to the company website at www.hothands.com.

Some of their products have sticky stuff on them, so they won’t slide around in your shoes or under your shirt. All the websites warn that you can burn yourself with these pads, and that it’s better to keep a layer of fabric  (such as a shirt of a pair of socks) between them and your body than to stick them directly on your skin. Be careful also with children (who have thinner skin, sometimes by as much as 400 percent, than adults), the elderly and diabetics, who might not be able to tell that the pad has become too hot and is burning their skin.

If you’re a parent and you’re really worried about this, HotHands has a line of products for children with Disney designs.


There do seem to be slight differences between the HotHand products in terms of how quickly they warm up. I’m not completely sure about this, but it’s even possible that all HotHand hand warmers,for example, are not created equal and that some individual packets might not get as hot as others. Overall, though, this line of products gets the best rating for reliability.