5 Top Foot Warmers to Keep You Warm on the Coldest Days

Last Updated on

Foot warmers are the best way to help athletes, skiers, construction workers, and anyone wanting to keep their feet warm during outdoor activities. The most popular type of foot warmers don’t need any external energy to activate and are designed to fit inside shoes or boots so that you can wear them at football games, during outdoor winter sports, camping, or cold weather hunting. You can also get battery-operated foot warmers that are great if you would prefer to have a product that you can reuse for many years.

Before you buy

Reusable vs. Disposable– Our top picks include a few reusable and a few disposable products available.  The better value will depend on how often you are going to be using the product. If you are only going to be using them infrequently, then you should probably stick with disposable designs. If you are skiing a lot, then you may want to look at the Hotronic Foot Warmer S4 Custom. The Hotronic devices are much more expensive upfront, but if you can get many years use out of them, they may end up being comparable in price to the disposable options.

Uses– Foot warmers can be used for pretty much any outdoor activity you can think of. They work really well for fishing, camping, hiking, skating, skiing, and boarding.

Length of time they stay warm– The amount of heat that you can get from these types of products varies from around 5 hours to a maximum of about 18 hours.

Safety – There are a few safety precautions you need to follow if you are going to be using the air-activated products. You aren’t supposed to apply the product directly onto the skin as it could burn the skin. Infants, the elderly, and Diabetics should avoid using these types of warmers. For whatever product you buy, read and follow all instructions for use.

Best Foot Warmers

Hothands

Hothands make two types of foot warmers Hothands Foot Warmers and Hothands Insole Warmers. Their Foot style is a rectangular shape that can give up to 6 hours of continuous warmth for the feet (it looks a little bit like their hand heater and is an unusual design for these types of products). Hothands more popular model for the foot is the Insole design. The insole style is a full-length shoe warmer that is designed to fit inside shoes or boots. They are single-use, air-activated heat packs that provide up to 9 hours of continuous warmth for the feet. The Insoles are ultra-thin so that they will be comfortable, and you shouldn’t notice them. The ingredients in the products are iron powder, water, salt, activated charcoal, and vermiculite. The components become activated by the air and begin the reaction that produces the heat when they come out of the packaging. The only problem with the Hothands warmers is that they are one-size-fits-all, so they aren’t the best if you have very small or very large feet. The size is 9.75 in x 4.5 inches. The maximum heat it will get to is 109 F, while the average is 99 F.

Available from Amazon

Grabber Foot Warmers

Grabber and Hothands are both subsidiaries of Heatmax, Inc. Not surprisingly, the two different brands are pretty similar to how they are made, pricing, and packaging. The Hothands brand came out after the Grabber brand, and I think they perform a little bit better since they last 9 hours compared to the Grabbers foot warmers that will only give you 5 hours.  The big advantage that the Grabbers designs have over the Hothands is that you have the option to choose a small, medium, or large sizing. It is important for those users whose feet are very small or very large. They work well for hunting, fishing, camping, and hiking.

Find on Amazon

Heat Factory Insole Foot Warmer

The other air-activated design that is worth a look is the Heat Factory design.  The ingredients are the same as the Grabber and Hothands products (iron powder, charcoal, salt, and vermiculite) with the addition of sawdust. They are a soft, lightweight insole with maybe a bit more thickness than the other two brands.  If left unopened, they have a shelf life of approximately three years or more. Once activated, the warmers will provide heat for about 8 hours. They are one-size-fits-all, and the sizing is 8 x 3 inches.

Find on Amazon

Hotronic S4 Custom


If you are looking specifically for something that would work well with a massive boot like a ski boot with a removable liner, check out the Hotronic Footwarmer S4 Custom, it is Hotronic’s newest model (it came out in 2016). This latest model is more powerful and has a longer-lasting battery. If you are using it on the lowest setting, you may be able to get up to eighteen hours of heat.

Available from Amazon

XBUTY Heated Socks for Men/Women

Another option if you are open to the battery-operated designs is the XBUTY Heated Socks for Men/Women. These socks have three different heat settings and can keep you warm for up to 16 hours. They are suitable for skiing, hiking, biking, and most outdoor winter activities.

What to look for

Sizing

These types of products often come in a one-size-fits-all option. Some brands to offer different sizes for different sized feet. They are designed specifically for use in winter boots and heavy shoes, so you shouldn’t have much trouble getting a pair that will fit.

Foot vs. Toe vs. Hand Warmers

To warm your feet, you should look for products that are designed to warm feet. Many people like to use hand warmers on their feet, but it isn’t recommended because products that are created for your hands are made to work in an area that gets more airflow. Foot warmers are made for environments that have restricted airflow, like a boot. If you just have a problem with your toes getting cold (a common problem for cyclists), you should check out Toe Warmers, they will help with cold feet, and they are a little bit cheaper than foot options.

Are they safe for children?

Yes, as long as you are supervising the child and they understand that they should tell you if the product gets too hot. Brands that offer one-size-fits-all will probably be too big for children because you cannot trim them to be a smaller size.

What is inside an air-activated warming product

There are a few different kinds of hand and toe warmers, but the most popular ones contain iron, water, activated carbon, salt, a water reservoir, and vermiculite. When iron is exposed to oxygen, it begins to oxidize and produce heat.

How long do they take to heat up?

As soon as the product comes out of the package, the oxidation process begins. The heat will gradually start to build up for approximately 20 minutes. You should be able to feel the heat on your skin after a few minutes of being exposed to the air. Once it is inside the shoe or boot, it will get to between 100 F and 107 Fahrenheit.  You should be careful with foot warmers because they are intended to work in environments that have low oxygen, so if they are let out in the open too long, they may reach temperatures of 165 F, which could be extremely hot if you put that into a boot or a shoe at that temperature. On the other hand, if you are having trouble getting a heating product to heat up, you can leave it out in the open to heat it, once you feel the heat start to activate you can place it in the boot or the shoe.

Other Safety Precautions

If you are using the air-activated heaters, there are a few safety precautions that you should follow:

  • You should follow all directions on the package to avoid serious injuries or burns.
  • Do not apply directly to the skin.
  • Do not use in shoes during vigorous activities such as running
  • Do not use in shoes that have air ventilation holes
  • Never use in oxygen-rich environments
  • For any of the different types of warmers, you should use extreme caution and use under supervision with the elderly, infants, children, people with sensitive skin, and anyone unable to feel the heat.
  • Consult with your doctor before using a warmer if you have diabetes, frostbite, scars, open wounds, or circulatory issues.
  • Remove product immediately if they become too hot or feel uncomfortable.
  • Don’t try to open the pouch on the air-activated warmers; if they do become open, don’t let the ingredients come in contact with your eyes or mouth.
  • Keep all warmers out of reach of children and pets.
  • If any of the ingredients of the disposable product are swallowed, call a poison control center immediately.

The Bottom Line

Foot warmers are well worth the investment, whether you have to spend hours outside working or you enjoying hunting, skiing, boarding, or hiking in cold weather. You will be surprised at how much these products can improve the experience of a severe weather outdoor activity.