I recently got my hands on one of Zippo’s hand warmer units to try it out whilst out and about exploring. I have never really been a glove wearer, being a fisherman with all the knot tying, baiting up and unhooking fish it just seems like they would spend more time off than on, but a hand warmer is perfect for me. I really wanted to find out how the Zippo hand warmer stacked up against the old school charcoal hand warmers that I have used for years.
The concept behind the Zippo Hand Warmer is that through the combustion (ignition) of zippo fluid (light petroleum distillate) it becomes a catalytic heater, relying on a catalyzed chemical reaction to break down molecules and create heat.
The Zippo hand warmer came neatly packaged, in the box was also a plastic filling cup and a little black fabric pouch. Zippo do not provide any lighter fluid with the hand warmer, this must be purchased separately.
The hand warmer itself is a great looking item, styled on the shape of Zippo lighters with a removable lid, and a good size too (100 mm tall x 70 mm wide), with plenty of surface area to radiate heat covering pretty much the whole of my hand when held.
The procedure for igniting the hand warmer is pretty straight forward, provided you follow instructions. It is important to ensure that the correct amount of fuel is used for your requirements, but not over filling the unit because it will continue to burn until the fuel reservoir has been fully exhausted. The plastic filling cup is marked to show 12 hours worth of fuel, and you can easily estimate half of that.
To fuel up the hand warmer you need to remove the lid, and also the catalytic burner (just pull them and they pop right off). With the plastic filling cup (filled with your desired amount of fuel), just pour the fuel through the little nozzle into the white cotton-like material making sure that the fuel is poured fairly evenly inside. The just replace catalytic burner and leave the hand warmer stood upright for a couple of minutes to allow the fuel/ fumes to evaporate upwards into the burner. After 2 minutes just put a flame to the burner to ignite (using a lighter or a match), then replace the lid.
Sometimes it may be tricky to light it for the very first time, I have read that some people put a couple of tiny drops of fuel on the burner and light that, it will burn down in a few seconds and leave a small glowing area on the burner (can be seen better in the dark). This means that the hand warmer is lit and ready for use, just pop it into the fabric pouch and tighten up the drawstring with the little white bead.
Burn times are estimated and may vary depending on the amount of ventilation. If you stuff the hand warmer in a tight pocket, along with other items that might constrict the air flow, it will burn slower, use less fuel, and burn for a longer period. I used mine without the fabric pouch for a few hours during the coldest part of the day in loose pocket and I still got 11 hours out of a 12 hour measurement of fuel (not bad at all).
When you use the hand warmer without the pouch, it can get very warm very quickly. I did this and found that it just about bearable and does a great job of warming my hands (and my pocket), by rotating pockets (left to right) and turning the hand warmer in hand, the heat radiated quickly.
Verdict: I am really impressed with the Zippo hand warmer, it works really well and simple to use. I definitely prefer it to the charcoal burners, it put out more heat and burned for far longer. Lighter fuel is cheap and it makes the unit cheap to run too. The price of the hand warmer is around £22-23 which in my opinion makes it easily affordable, in fact a great price for something that is so well made. Fantastic!
Note: The hand warmer was sent to me by Zippo for the purpose of the review, all opinions are my own.