Help for operating in cold weather - Hand warmers.

Here in DL, winter activations are often sub-zero early in the morning and with wind-chill it can get really cold.
I have been trying different gloves for some years trying to find ones that keep my hands warm but allow me to not only operate the radio but also assemble and raise the antenna and then there is the need to use a smartphone through the gloves.
I have tried göloves that have one conductive finger for the smartphone - don’t work, gloves that are electrically heated - didn’t work for long before the lipo battery was flat. The best solution I have found so far is medical cloth gloves used as inner gloves to thick winter gloves.
But at the end of the day, this all to complicated and takes too long and at some point or another the gloves are off and my hands get cold, verging on losing feeling in the fingers until I stop everything and wait for them to warm up again within gloves.
What was recommended to me is one of the newish hand warmers that are all over the Internet for just a few Euros / Pounds / Dollars. I have just bought one and was surprised at its weight. It is about the size of an IBM computer mouse and its surface feels almost like a stone (I presume this is from the heat transfer coating on the device. As this is stone sized and shaped, you simply hold this between your hands to warm them. As this uses a 5 or 10 Ah Lithium battery as its rechargeable power source, it also doubles as a “power bank” if your smartphone needs charging or for any other 5V USB-powered device (e.g. WSPRLite when testing antennas).

Here’s the one I bought, they also come with all kinds of animals printed on them as the main market appears to be children.
T98 Rechargeable Hand Warmer, Pocket Warmer, Reusable Electric Hand Warmer, Portable Power Bank with 3 Heating Modes, Warm Gift for Children, Women, Men, for Outdoor Sports, Camping : Sports & Outdoors

73 Ed.


I have a pair of Ocoopa UT3 Lite hand warmers. They are 2500mAh and are not power banks. They weigh 70g each. I take them on all my activations and they are very effective. They have 3 heat settings but I find it best to just use the warmest. I think they probably came from Amazon - they were a Christmas present.

73 Richard

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These are excellent devices. Or so my wife says. She has them for for when her arthritis gets bad in her hands or is unable to fill a hot water bottle. She says a full charge on hers gives about 3 to 4 hours of decent warmth.



I sometimes use those ‘boil in the bag’, things which you boil and let cool. They heat up upon flexing some very thin metal in the bag when you need some heat. But you only get a couple of minutes of heat.

I must get a pair of those one’s Ed has posted.

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I was considering something like those (they’re often part of emergency medical kits I think) but as you say, they only last a short time. When I heard about the electrical hand warmers and I found they are so cheap, I bought one to see how it performs.

73 Ed.

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The non-electric ones are super cool because they use pure physics. Well you could say the electric ones do too. The non-electric ones use super-saturated Sodium Acetate solution that is very pure. Sodium Acetate is normally a solid at room temperature and melts at 54C. You can supercool it such that it is still a liquid well below its melting point if it is pure enough, there’s nothing to start the crystalisation process. So the packs when liquid are supercooled liquid. The metal disc in the liquid can be flexed and it produces a shock wave in the liquid. That’s enough to cause some molecules to switch to the crystalised state. Once that happens there is something for the other moelcules to crystalise against and the whole thing becomes a solid lump of Sodium Acetate in a couple of seconds. However, it has to give up its latent heat of crystalisation so it immediately heats up to 54C. You end up with 100g or so of “hard thing” at 54C. There’s not much thermal mass so it will cool quite quickly. But if you insert them into a glove the heat lasts a lot longer.

I used to carry them but found that careful finger management with thin and thick gloves means I can do activation tasks without my hands getting too cold. However, if it’s going to be well below 0C I throw one in the bag in case I need to do something dextrous without a glove and end up with frozen fingers.

They’re still impressive being almost like magic till you know how they work.


I think you mean they are hot. :hotsprings:

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No they’re definitely cool :slight_smile: Or as the Gen-Z say fire. Maybe even rizz.

Yes, cold activations here in the Canadian Rockies as well. Over the past 50 years, I have settled on a system that works for me. Just like your body, a layering system should be considered. I choose mitts over gloves. I also use a liner mitt inside an outer mitt. I usually carry an extra liner mitt of a different thickness as a spare when hands perspire or I need more or less insulation. Sometimes I am just wearing the liner, and sometimes just the outer mitt depending on the conditions.

When I reach a summit, before activating in cold weather, I tear open a pair of the cheap disposable hand warmers and drop one in each mitt. Inevitably, you will have to use your bare hands to do some things and it is useful to stick them back in the mitts with the warmers as soon as possible. When taking down my station, I put a lot of effort into doing everything possible with the mitts on my hands because this is when your hands are the most vulnerable to the cold.


I’ve found - after much practise - that I can key the KX2 twin paddles (with its large widely-spaced paddles) wearing a thin cycling glove (with slightly higher error rate than with a bare hand) but not the smaller, more-delicate Palm Pico [which is my favourite and default one]. Even then my finger tips get cold in sub-zero temperature after a while. This has been limiting my on-air time to 20-30 minutes in recent cold weather (but thank goodness for lots of chasers).

Do you (Andy or anyone) wear gloves that solve that problem? If yes, please show and tell.

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I have a pair of fleece gloves from Decathalon. They are very thin, just a little thicker than cotton T-shirt material. I saw them once for something like £1.99 and picked them up. I should have bought 2 pairs as I haven’t seen them since :-(. They work for me with a full size Palm Paddle as they are thin. I have several pairs of thick fleece with Thinsulate gloves that I can just about send in but it is hard work. Sometimes I’ll wear a thick glove on my left hand and the thin one just on the right when it’s colder. My right hand will eventually complain about the cold but even so, the thin glove extends the time on the summit.

For slightly better weather I’ve got some wool/polyester fingerless gloves. But they don’t help if there’s a good breeze.

Every time I wander around Decathalon, I look to see if they have the thin fleece gloves back in stock., no luck yet.

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I’m just back from an activation where I used the hand warmer “stone”. It doesn’t get really hot (which is good) and after gripping the device for about 30 seconds, your hands warm up nicely and the “stone” cools down. It then needs about 10 minutes to get fully warm again.
In 2.5 hours of usage, 75% of the 5Ah battery appears to have been used up, so I’d say the maximum usage time would be 4 hours before it needs recharging (that’s leaving it switched on all of the time).

For the price, well worth it (IMHO).

73 Ed.

Fleece Mountain Backpacking Gloves MT100 | Decathlon?

They look to be heavier. Perhaps the gloves I bought are a liner glove? I checked and there is no label on them sadly.

Thanks for that. I’ve got several including some larger military ones which last longer. I hadn’t a clue how they worked.

I have a pair of fingerless gloves (fibre pile), which have a mitten attached so you can pull the mitt over your fingers if needed.

I could just about operate a desktop straight key wearing a mitten but not my small Palm PPK. As for my Palm Pico paddles, it’s strictly bare fingers.

For dexterity in the cold, I am running Outdoor Research electrically heated gloves. Each glove as a Li-ion battery in the cuff. The electrical wiring at the battery is prone to fail, but their warrantee is good if you catch the problem early. The gloves are not cheap, but they are wonderful. I have not given any thought - yet - to if I can run my FT-817 off of my glove battery. :slight_smile:

For applications not requiring dexterity, I used regular air activated hand warmers in a mitt. The sodium acetate handwarmers are neat, but I prefer the simplicity of those that use the oxidation of iron. For Canadian readers, Cabelas has them for half the price of Canadian Tire this week … and usually has them somewhat cheaper all the time. Check the expiry dates, and prod the package to make sure that the seal hasn’t failed and the heaters have gone hard.

When hunting (for deer, not activations!), I’ll wear an electrically heated glove on my trigger hand, and a mitt on my other hand, with a Fe/Fe2O3 heater. My hands were getting too cold, too quickly, too often, when I would shed my trigger mitt to get ready to, um, complete a contact with a deer. I suspect I’ll learn to write with a gloved hand in the cold, for chilly activations.


When writing or operating a key or paddle I use them with the mitten folded bag, so they are, in effect, fingerless gloves.
There’s plenty of choice:-

I was in my local Decathlon today and they had the thin gloves in stock and I picked up another pair for £2.99

The label says

“Liner Glove MT100 Fleece Black New” Item: 4361579


Forty Five years ago I along with my colleagues had a similar problem. We used to spend our day on motorcycles come rain hail or shine. In those days the establishment that employed us were not as advanced in terms of ‘worker welfare’ as they are today. Our issued clothing was woefully inadequate and we could end up spending a whole eight hour shift in wet clothing on a motorcycle.

Most of us ended up paying our own cash and purchasing a Peacock Hand Warmer. These ran on white spirits and ran for 10 hours. We used to hang them around our neck so they sat in the middle of the chest at centre mass. Keeping the central core warm, the body doesn’t cut off circulation to the extremities…in other words, even though in wet gloves in the wind, our hands stayed warm. Years later I ended up giving the warmer to a son who worked on the deck of a fishing trawler.

Up until a year ago I was using a cheaper Zippo Hand warmer - as we couldn’t purchase the original Peacock - for sitting at the forest edge all night culling deer. Again, hands stayed warm and there were no issues with trigger control with frozen fingers.

Now, trying to do more SOTA and with the advance of winter I was pleasantly surprised to see we can once again purchase Peacock Hand warmers, and from the looks of them, still the original design. This is what I will be purchasing.

With this larger model I will be able to set it going before I start and it will last the whole activation. I still firmly believe from my years of using these devices, wear it where it keeps the mass core warm and the extremities - hands and feet - stay warm as well.