6 quick tips to keep your hands warm in winter


October 31, 2023


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How to warm up your hands

During the cold winter months, some people shelter inside, and others brave the wind and snow to go on awesome outdoor adventures. Whether you’re a hard-core winter camping enthusiast heading out in -40℃ weather, or a casual snowshoer taking in the sights after a fresh layer of snow has just fallen, cold hands are a reality most of us must contend with at some point. Here’s what to do should you find yourself with frozen fingers during your winter outing.

In this article, you will discover the techniques to use to warm up your hands:

  1. Make sure you stay warm and dry
  2. Blow on your hands or rub them together
  3. Get moving
  4. Use your body heat
  5. Get a little help
  6. Invest in some heating products

Make sure you stay warm and dry

This may sound obvious, but it is much easier to stay warm than it is to warm up your hands once they’ve gotten cold. And it’s not just about your hands either; should your internal temperature drop, your body will focus on keeping your core warm, meaning your extremities may not get their fair share of heat. Use the layering system to stay comfortable without overheating, and add a hat and warm socks to your kit.

For more info on how to layer clothes to stay warm, read our article.

It’s also important to start off with a good quality pair of winter gloves or mittens. Depending on the weather conditions and on your chosen activity, you may opt for a waterproof or windproof pair to protect your hands from the elements. For some help on choosing the right winter gloves for your needs, have a look at SAIL’s blog.

Blow on your hands or rub them together

Blow on your hands

It happens to all of us: you’ve misjudged the weather, and now your hands are cold. First, gently blow on them and use your breath to warm them up. For another quick boost of heat, try rubbing them together. However, bear in mind that this probably won’t last for very long, so unless you’re only a few minutes from home or your car, you may want to look at step 3 for a more effective fix.

Get moving

Snowshoe hiking

If blowing on your hands or rubbing them together isn’t enough, there is only one thing to do: get your blood pumping! Increasing blood circulation will send heat to your entire body, including your extremities. Jump up and down a few times, or go all in with a few energetic jumping jacks.

Also, make sure your hands do not remain motionless for too long and keep wiggling your fingers from time to time. This is particularly relevant when holding skiing or trekking poles as your hands will stay locked in a specific position for a while and could get cold much more quickly.

Use your body heat

So, you’ve moved about and your fingers still feel as frozen as fish fingers. In that case, it may be time to remove your gloves or mittens and place your hands directly on your warm skin, either underneath your armpits, on your tummy or around your neck. Leave them there for a few minutes until fully recovered.

Get a little help

be warm with a coffee

If you are not too far from civilization, heading inside to grab a steaming cup of joe (or tea) could be the perfect way to both warm up your hands and to enjoy a break. You could also run warm (not hot) water over them, or use the dryer in a restroom. However, if your hands are very cold, use extreme caution and make sure you warm your extremities up gradually.

If none of this has worked, don’t try and tough it out. Head inside as soon as possible and invest in a better pair of winter gloves or mittens, or some heating products for your next cold-weather outing.

Invest in some heating products

Technology is a wonderful thing, and while heating products used to be a luxury, they are now regularly worn on ski slopes, on the trails, or while snowmobiling. Whatever your chosen winter activity, there is a heating product to make your life easier. Skiers can opt for battery-operated socks, mittens or gloves (control their temperature from a phone application for the ultimate in winter comfort), and ice fishing enthusiasts can take a portable heater with them during long static outings. On the more budget-friendly side of the scale, hand warmers are a cheap and easy way to enjoy your time outside. Slip one in each mitten, inside your pockets or even in your boots to keep your fingers and toes toasty warm.

You could also consider Merino wool glove liners to add a few degrees to your winter gloves’ temperature rating.


How can I quickly warm my hands up?

How can your hands get used to the cold?

How to warm up your frozen hands?


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