The best way to keep your toes warm in cold weather during outdoor activities is to get yourself some air activated toe warmers that you insert into your shoes or boots. These types of toe warmers use the same sort of heat reaction process to create heat as the super popular disposable hand warmers.
The great thing about toe warmers is that they are specially designed to be worn in shoes or boots. So not only are they more comfortable than just putting hand warmers into your boots, they also have a thin rounded toe shape with adhesive backing, to make sure they don’t slip around in your footwear. Toe warmers can provide warmth to your feet from 6 to 8 hours, making them great for a day out cycling, skiing, hunting or any kind of outdoor activity when the weather is chilly. In this post we review everything you need to know to help you find the best toe warmers.
How do Toe Warmers Work?
When the ingredients (usually iron powder, water, salt, activated charcoal and vermiculite) in the air activated toe warmers are exposed to air they react to produce heat, this happens because of a very quick oxidation process. It takes from 10 to 20 minutes for the toe warmers to heat up.
Grabber Toe Warmers
Grabber is one of the most popular brands of toe warmers. They are an air-activated, non-toxic heat source that uses all natural ingredients to help keep your toes warm for 6 hours or more. Each toe warmer is 3″ x 4″ with a thin rounded toe and adhesive backing that stick to the outside of your sock, under or over your toes. They are designed to be worn in boots and shoes where there isn’t a lot of oxygen. The average temperature of the warmers is 100 F/38 C and they can go up to 107 F/42 C. Grabber warmers are pre-mixed, so you don’t need to shake them.
HotHands Toe Warmers
HotHands Toe Warmers are made by the same corporation that makes the Grabber Toe Warmers that are listed above. Both products are very similar (air activated, very thin, single use) with the main difference being the duration of time that the warmer will last for. The Grabber Warmers will last for around 6 hours, while the Hothands can last for up to 8. The recommended uses for Hothands are for outdoor sports, hunting, fishing, tailgating, walking, shopping or commuting to work. They are very thin, so you will hardly feel them in your shoes; you should just feel the heat. They are made in the USA.
Little Hotties Adhesive Toe Warmers
Little Hotties are the same kind of product as the two listed above. They are safe, natural, and odorless, and you can use them for all kinds of outdoor activities. They last for approximately 5 hours and are a little thicker than the ultra-thin Hothands or Grabber toe warmers, so you probably won’t want to wear them with any type of footwear that doesn’t have a bit of extra space.. A lot of people really like the Little Hotties for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding because they are able to get to a good heat and then maintain the heat for the full 5 hours or a little longer.
L.L Bean Wicked Good Toe Warmers
Another option are these L.L Bean confidently named Wicked Good Toe Warmers. They last for 6+ hours and come in a pack of 18 pairs for around $30. They are made of all-natural and nontoxic ingredients. The heat they can produce ranges from 100° and 107°F.
Available from L.L Bean
Meister Thermal Neoprene Toe Warmer Booties
If you like the idea of a toe warmer, but would prefer to have a product that you can re-use, have a look at these Meister Booties. They are designed for biking, running, walking and hiking on cold days. They are relatively inexpensive and come as a one-size-fits-all. The thickness and the sizing may not be that great for some customers, if you have bigger feet or your feet sweat a lot, then they probably aren’t the best option. But if you want a cheap reusable way to keep your toes warm, they are worth considering.
You could also try Heat Factory Adhesive Toe Warmers or YakTrax Toe Warmers. You can find them at places like Walmart or REI. They don’t tend to have as glowing reviews as the Hothands or Grabbers products, but all of the air activated toe warmers essentially work in the same way using the same types of ingredients, so there really isn’t a huge difference between the different products other than thickness and time that they stay activated.
Things to be Aware of When Shopping for Toe Warmers
Expiry date: Disposable toe warmers come with expiry dates. The expiry date can be anywhere from approximately 2-4 years from purchase (this may vary). If you are considering buying large quantities of warmers, you may want to keep the expiry date in mind and confirm with the seller what the expiry date is.
Safety: None of the air activated warmers are designed to be worn directly on the skin. It is especially important that they not be used with individuals who have circulation issues or anyone who is unable to feel heat, as they can get very hot. They should also not be used on infants.
Different types of warmers: You are probably already aware that you can buy a lot of different types of hand warmers; most people don’t realize that similar types of products are available for the toes and the entire foot. You can also buy rectangular shaped body warmers that you can place where you may need it. Some individuals use hand warmers in their boots or shoes, but this isn’t generally recommended because they are designed for different types of air-exposure levels. The toe and foot warmers are made to work in the lowest air-flow environment, so if you use the hand warmers in your boots they may not get the amount of oxygen they need to warm up properly. Also the toe warmers have an adhesive surface so you stick them either under or over your sock and they won’t move around. If you put hand warmers into your boots it might get very uncomfortable, especially if you are moving around a lot.
How to Use: It is important that you don’t use more than more toe warmer per foot. If you feel that it isn’t enough coverage then look at foot warmers or heated insoles.
Sizing: Toe warmers are usually one-size-fits-all. One-size-fits-all isn’t the best for many different types of products, but unless your feet are very big or very small you shouldn’t have a problem.
Reusing Air Activated Disposable products: Unfortunately you cannot reuse these types of products because once the product is opened and exposed to air, the heat reaction begins. The heat won’t last much beyond when the reaction stops, even if the warmer is deprived of air.
Pricing: The price of the air activated warmers varies quite a bit depending on the amount of pairs you buy at once. There is a whole range of packaging sizes options. As a rough guide, you can probably expect to pay somewhere around $1 per pair if you are buying 10 pairs or less. As you increase the quantity of pairs in a package, the price should go down a bit.
Water : If you need a product that will work to keep your toes warm in water, don’t try the air activated warmers, instead look at the Meister Thermal Neoprene Toe Warmer Booties that can be used for ice baths as well as other times your feet may be submerged in water.
Temperature range: Generally the temperature range you get from these types of products is between 100° and 107°F or 38 C to 42 C. They can around 10 to 20 minutes to warm up after first being exposed to the air. If you find your toe warmers aren’t heating up you may need to leave them outside of your shoes or boots for a few minutes. This will allow them to get enough oxygen once they are removed from the packaging to start the oxidation heat generating process.
Arthritis: Toe warmers are safe to use if you have arthritis in your feet. They may help with pain, although there are no specific claims of pain relief from any of the manufacturers.
Raynaud’s Disease: Toe warmers can be very useful to help you keep your feet warm if you have Raynaud’s disease. Check with your doctor before using.
Toes vs Full Foot – The toe warmers are really just intended for those people who have cold toes. If you find that your entire foot gets cold, you should probably look at foot insoles. They are a little bit more expensive, but they will give you more coverage and more heat.
Environmental Impact– Air activated warmers are made from natural ingredients (iron powder, water, salt, activated charcoal and vermiculite) and are considered safe for the environment. You dispose of them by putting them in regular garbage.
To help you keep your toes warm during winter activities it is well worth trying out some of the different toe warmers that are available. They are easy to inserts into your boots or shoes, are safe to use and can make a huge difference to whether you have a great day doing one of your favorite outdoor activities or cutting things short because your feet are too cold.