Cold Hands

Hi SOTA folk.

I have been writing a series of short articles on my Facebook page that may be of interest to SOTA people. The following is an example. To see more sign up (LIKE the page) at:

I really suffer badly with colds hands when activating. It seems that some people suffer more than others in this respect. I have really good gloves but once my hands get cold (while the gloves are off) they takes ages to warm
up again.

Over the years I have tried many things to combat this problem. The little bags of some powery chemicals that need shaking to activate always seemed too fiddly - I have cold fingers right? They also only last around an hour - if that. The liquid ones that crystalise when you click a metal thing inside give off lots of heat but they are heavy and only last about 30 minutes (even less when it is really cold). I also always hate the amount of energy you have to waste to reactivate them.

With Christmas on the way I started looking once again at solutions to my problem. My daughter has ordered me one of the hand warmers that have a charcoal stick inside: report on that after Christmas.

Today, while walking through Macclesfield I noticed that an outdoor equipment shop had a sale on so I went in and, with a bit of haggling, got a good deal on a Zippo handwarmer. First impressions have been very good. After one false start lighting it (not quite as easy as the advert suggests) it has been providing plenty of heat in my pocket for the last three hours. The heat output seems to vary somewhat - I think dependent on how much oxygen it has. The bag it comes with regulates the oxygen level somewhat and it you take it out it gets a lot hotter quite quickly.

I am also of the impression that it could be marketed as far more than a hand warmer. In a mid layer pocket its heat would help keep your whole body warm - remember it will give heat out all day unlike any of the alternatives.

There are lots of similar products. If you suffer from cold hands, check them out. Warm hands = better CW after all.

73 Richard G3CWI

PS I have no commercial interest in Zippo hand warmers!

In reply to G3CWI:

Me too - cold hands, that is. It seems to be even worse since my mishap. I’ve now had continuously cold hands for the last five weeks. Even a brisk walk up the hill this afternoon didn’t do it. :frowning: Thanks for the suggestion. Next time I’m in town I’ll check out the only remaining outdoor shop we still have in Cheltenham.

73, Richard (also without a commercial interest in Zippo …)

In reply to G4ERP:

Seems to be catching - Raynauds Rules OK! I think I need to move to a warmer climate as it affects my feet as well, so much so that 3 pairs of socks and 4 season thermally lined boots are ineffective!

I’ve been considering the S-Boston version of the hand warmer. It costs twice as much, but it is battery ignition and has a dinky filler. Definitely a must for when I take the Rolls out on an activation. :slight_smile:

73, Gerald G4OIG (didn’t mention the other brand…)

Yeah, I’m a member of this club as well. If your hands aren’t getting much circulation, adding additional insulation isn’t going to help much. The way to get more circulation to the hands is to warm up the body (move around0. But if you’re just sitting still activating or worse yet, exposing your hands for 30mins while erecting the antenna, it’s tough.

That being said, I’m heading south to W4 next week to warm up my hands and warm up the radio, so keep an eye out for a slew of activity.

Barry N1EU

And there was me thinking I was the odd one out. That’s because I often activate with the 'EYP family and, to a man, they have “gynecologist’s hands” …always warm.

73 Richard G3CWI

Another sufferer here. My father gave me the parts for a crystal set - I doubt whether he realised what he was to unleash, and I thank him for that. He also passed on heart problems, for which there are no thanks. I never had the warmest of hands and feet, but two stents and Beta blockers mean they are permanently cold except in warm weather, and once they are cold, it takes a long time to get them warm again.

You all have my sympathy

Regards, Dave, G6DTN

In reply to G3CWI:
I don’t see it mentioned here, but maybe it goes without saying…you have twice as many problems keeping warm hands if you separate the fingers, as in conventional gloves. Find something that keeps the fingers together, like mittens on steroids. I learned this from a trauma physician who deals with lots of frostbite and chilblains.
Elliott, K6ILM
Be a Hero
Get Glass

In reply to G3CWI:

A small outdoor candle latern might help to warm the hands (or at least the spirit) on the summit. Should try that sometimes.

73, Jaakko OH7BF/F5VGL

In reply to F5VGL:
Certainly one idea. However I need to warm my hands up while leaving the summit most times. And I would not want a lighted candle in my pocket!

73 Richard G3CWI

I have only done one zero-point activation in SOTA, but I mostly operate outdoors, even at home, so most of my chasing is done outdoors.

I agree with K6ILM. I tend to combine the approaches with wearing wool gloves inside an outer canvas mitten - then I drop a chemical hand warmer between the layers. (The outer mittens also are available in Gore Tex.)

Mittens do affect dexterity though, so with a fiddly radio I have to use my pencil for both operating the radio controls and for writing - the eraser rubber helps press those buttons and turn the VFO :slight_smile:

A quick look on the internet shows that there are many models of “trigger finger mittens” or “shooting mittens” available, which combine glove and mitten into one product where you can flip out a finger on demand and bring it inside to warm with the other fingers afterwards.

Also I bring a separate pair of winter work gloves for putting up the antenna. These are of a different design, with insulation inside a rubber exterior glove. These gloves makes your hands clammy after wearing them for a few minutes, but since the rubber also prevents evaporation, and they are only worn for a short time, they don’t freeze. After using these I dry my hands before putting on the wool and canvas mitten.

Drinking a cup of hot beverage and moving around also helps.

How about using a bivy bag (fjellduk)? It would help keep you insulated, but you’d might need to bring a head lamp because it gets dark inside.

In reply to G3CWI:
I’m quite lucky, not got a massive problem, but I do get cold hands. Problem recently solved though!
My XYL has knitted me a lovely pair of fingerless gloves.


In reply to G3CWI:

Interesting. My Grandfather once told me about the homemade hand warmers they used to make when he was a joiner working outside in all weathers back in the 1930’s.

They’d take a small metal tin (tobacco tin?) and punch holes in it. Then they’d then fill it with wood shavings or charcoal or something and place an ember in the center. Then holding it in both hands they’d blow in through
one end. The extra oxygen would cause the ember to burn faster and generate plenty of heat.

Not sure about the details but you get the idea. I think I may have seen Ray Mears do something similar. Anyone got a design for one of these?

I did the contest tonight on The Cloud G/SP-015. It got down to around -6 degrees. I must admit, my hands did start to feel a bit cold around 10.15pm, over two hours into the event. Two minutes respite in my padded gloves while 70cm SSB was quiet cured all that.

Of course, CW activations are much easier to deal with, as the very act of paddling spares your hands from getting cold.


Thanks for the Zippo tip.
I’ve ordered one from Amazon.
currently £12.91.
Full report to follow, or if I’m on the hill, hopefully your report will be 599 vice HONMZ eeee

Is it still possible to find silk gloves? Always found that these, as a base glove, provided surprising insulation and my hands would warm up.

These days, when shooting, I use woollen mittens with a removable cover on the index finger - look weird but work.


Barry GM4TOE

In reply to GM4TOE:

Is it still possible to find silk gloves?

Yes! Google “silk gloves”!!!

Used to be standard issue in Antarctica. Worst job there was de-icing carburetors for 'doos in the field. A fiddly job made much worse by the cooling effect of the evaporating petrol that inevitably gets on your fingers.

Got the tee-shirt (somewhere).


Richard G3CWI

In reply to GM4TOE:
“a Zippo handwarmer”

Thought Zippo were into fire-lighters? Sounds like they have branched out somewhat with handwarmers. Think that you might want to be cautious in case you have a problem of instantaneous combustion and fried fingers - hi!

And as Gunner LA9XSA mentions, I find also keeping your hands in mitts allows the individual fingers to rub against each other to assist in keeping them all warm and allows for quicker re-heating with associated ‘tingle’ or if really cold - excruciating pain!!! Edges of frostnip.

As mentioned in previous postings, I use shooting mitts that have a ‘Thermalite’ insulation flap that folds over the four digits when they are not in use. In extreme cold I also wear thin cotton gloves under these shooting mitts. This keeps the the surface skin of the exposed digits slightly protected from wind chill when erecting aerials or operating. And in even more extreme conditions, over the mitts I have a large nylon over cover mitts for when on the move(Scott of the Antarctic stuff - hi!) This arrangement seems to work for me.

What we do for a hobby - hi hi!!



In reply to GM4COX:

… if really cold - excruciating pain!!! Edges of frostnip.

Ascended Drygarn Fawr GW/MW-003 when it was minus 7C and had the deep joy of this experience during the ascent as my hands started to warm up. I now take the attitude that prevention is much better than cure!

I use shooting mitts that have a ‘Thermalite’ insulation flap that folds over the four digits when they are not in use.

As a result of the previous postings on this subject, I ordered a pair to try out. The initial trial at the end of October produced good results and they look to be promising for cold conditions. :slight_smile:

… And in even more extreme conditions, over the mitts I have a large nylon over cover mitts for when on the move…

This is what I am thinking of doing. I do not find it easy to walk with my hands in my pockets, so an overlayer may be the solution. That would make a pocket warmer unnecessary for the ascents and descents, but it would still be a useful aid at the summit. The type I was looking at is easy to start and stop, so lends itself to that type of use.

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G4OIG:
Bit of a novice doing only the two activations, but I always bring along my Kelly kettle for making a brew, it is very easy to warm your hands on the side of the kettle and can be fuelled with any material once lit ( hard to lite with cold hands). After the water has boiled I leave any remaining water to use like a hot water bottle to warm the hands. Kelly Kettle® Camping Kettle & Stove | Camp Equipment | Camp Cookware | Survival kit | Original & Best

In reply to M6WKR:

I have a pair of flip-mittens as mentioned above. The inside is a glove, the mitten goes over top and flips out of the way when you need fine finger control.

We use hot water bottles when winter camping.

Fill a Nalgene bottle or 2 with very hot water before the hike. Use Nalgene bottles, not some cheaper thing, because the heat might deform them, and then your gear gets wet. Put them in your pack for the hike. Wrap in a towel to insulate, or see the idea below. They should stay warm for several hours. In a winter sleeping bag, they will be warm from bedtime to almost sunrise. When you summit, pull them out and put them in your pockets for handwarmers.

One of our kids made a holder for two hot Nalgenes by sewing 2 long wool socks together hole-to-hole about 2/3 of the way around. This allows you to slip the bottles into the sock tube. Then sling the thing over your neck, inside your coat. The bottles will “ride” right about at your hips. It sounds and looks crazy, but it is comfortable, and when your hands go in your coat the bottles are right there. The heat against your midsection will help keep your whole body warm. The thing works fine when you are done hiking, and not moving around so much, such as Activating. Hiking is usually enough for me to keep warm until I stop for a while.

I’ll be doing a few W3 Winter activations --Mt. Davis and Blue Knob – hoping for the bonus in a week or 2.

Give it a try!

KB3UYT / Eric…