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Lifesystems Reusable Hand Warmers review: a budget-friendly way to warm up your mitts?

Lifesystems Reusable Catalytic Hand Warmers are easy to activate and heat up in minutes, but would the recharging process leave us feeling cold? MNHQ writer Lucy put them through their paces this winter to find out.

By Lucy Cotterill | Last updated Feb 7, 2024

Lifesystems Reusable Hand Warmers

Price on writing: £6 for a pair | Buy now from Amazon

Whether you’re walking to school in winter or shivering on the sidelines of your child’s Sunday morning football match, the good old British weather can certainly leave your hands feeling chilly and uncomfortable. 

If you’re put off by the disposable nature of some hand warmers, such as the single-use Hot Hands sachets, but don’t want the price tag of an electric warmer, the catalytic reusable option from Lifesystems can make a budget-friendly compromise. 

While they do need boiling to recharge after each use, Lifesystems Reusable Hand Warmers are a popular choice amongst Mumsnet users looking for a short-term heat boost, while Amazon reviewers praise them for their ease of use and affordability. But are they really that simple to use? Would the recharging process be more of a hindrance than a help? I put them to the test to find out. Using them over the course of a week both inside and outside the home, I evaluated their warmth generation, longevity, ease of use and overall value for money.

Looking for more tried-and-tested ways to keep warm this winter? We’ve also tracked down the best women’s slippers and most efficient electric blankets.

What we like
  • Easy to activate when needed

  • Heats up in less than 10 seconds 

  • Rechargeable (boil to recharge)

  • Lightweight for pockets or holding inside palms

  • Affordable price tag 

  • Well suited to occasions where you only need short-term warmth 

What we don't like
  • Require ‘recharging’ before they can be used again

  • Heat doesn’t last as long as other hand warmers 

  • Too big to fit inside gloves 

Our verdict

Lifesystems Reusable Hand Warmers in use
  • Warmth: 4/5 

  • Longevity: 2/5 

  • Ease of use: 5/5 

  • Value for money: 4/5 

A pair of catalytic hand warmers that can used again and again, these Lifesystems pods are easy to activate and are well suited to situations requiring a short period of use. They generate heat for around 40 to 45 minutes, which is far less than other hand warmers I've tested, but they are cheaper than most reusable options.

While I found the reusable nature a big plus point, I found boiling to recharge them, although straightforward, can feel like a bit of a faff. That being said, with their relatively low price tag, you may want to consider having a second pair so you’ve always got some ready to go whenever you need them. 

What are Lifesystems Reusable Hand Warmers? 

Lifesystems Reusable Hand Warmers are a form of catalytic hand warmer – small gel-filled pouches with a silver metal disk inside. Once the metal disk is ‘clicked’ to activate, a chemical reaction occurs, crystalising the liquid and generating heat in the process. 

Related: The best hot water bottles for chilly days

How easy are Lifesystems Reusable Hand Warmers to use?

Lifesystems Reusable Hand Warmers being boiled to recharge

I found the Lifesystems Reusable Hand Warmers very easy to use, with the instructions clearly outlined on both the packaging and the pouches' exterior.

To activate, you simply locate the small silver disc inside the pouch and click it or bend it. The impact is almost instantaneous – I could visually see the reaction as the liquid began to crystalise, the effect spreading across the surface like ice across a pond as the contents solidified inside. Additionally, Lifesystems recommend you massage the pouch for ten seconds once the initial reaction has occurred to help ensure an even distribution across the surface. 

After use, the Lifesystems Reusable Hand Warmers can be reactivated to enable repeat use. While the process of recharging was relatively straightforward, it was an extra step that required some time and could be off-putting for some. It could also be easy to forget, so I would recommend that you do this straight away so they’re ready for the next time you need them. 

To recharge, you simply add the pouches to a saucepan of boiling water and simmer until the filling returns to a clear liquid. This process took around ten minutes, with some additional time at the end to allow the pouches to cool. You mustn’t take them out too soon, or the filling will simply reharden.

Related: Best heated throw for cosy nights in

How warm are the Lifesystems Reusable Hand Warmers?

The heat generated from the Lifesystems Reusable Hand Warmers is impressive, with the whole pouch heating up evenly to a comfortable yet substantial temperature within just a few seconds. 

Compared to the Hot Hands Instant Hand Warmers which I also tested, the Lifesystems pouches are larger in size – around 9cm square. As they go slightly rigid once activated, I found they were too big to pop inside my fingerless gloves, however, they made a very welcome addition to the pocket of my winter coat. They also felt lovely to simply hold between my palms – ideal for those who spend their Sunday mornings spectating outdoor sports. 

Related: Best draught excluder for insulating your home

How long do the Lifesystems Reusable Hand Warmers stay hot?

Lifesystems Reusable Hand Warmers in use

I tested the Lifesystems Reusable Hand Warmers on several occasions both inside and outside the home, and they stayed warm fairly consistently for between 40 and 50 minutes, tending to cool down more quickly in outdoor weather conditions. The heat gradually fades away until the pouch completely cools down. 

Of all the hand warmers I tested, Lifesystems have the shortest period of heat generation, making them less suited to long days outside or working from home. 

Related: Best thermal socks for warming your feet

Price: are the Lifesystems Reusable Hand Warmers worth it?

At the time of writing, a pack of two Lifesystems Reusable Hand Warmers costs £6, which is a low initial investment for a hand warmer that can be used time and time again. 

That said, there are some additional steps involved to recharge them and they don’t stay warm for long when compared to heated gloves or electric hand warmers such as the HotRox or Ocoopa (featured below). 

If you only need a hand warmer for a short duration (such as school runs, spectating sports or daily exercise in cold weather conditions), Lifesystems Hand Warmers are a great budget-friendly solution. If you want to keep your hands warm for longer periods, however, you may want to consider some of the other options on our best hand warmers round-up. 

How we tested

Selection of the hand warmers our tester Lucy tried out

I tested the Lifesystems Reusable Hand Warmers in Birmingham across a chilly week in early February, using them in a variety of conditions. I then carefully evaluated them on their warmth, how long the heat lasted, their ease of use, and overall value for money.

  • Tested across a week in winter

  • Used both indoors when working from home and outdoors during the daily school run 

  • Cross-compared with other hand warmer products I've tested

About the author

Lucy Cotterill is a mum of two and a Content Writer at Mumsnet, specialising in parenting and lifestyle product reviews and round-ups. Having written product reviews on her own blog Real Mum Reviews since 2012, Lucy loves to research and explore the pros and cons of products, scrutinising reviews and consumer feedback to help people make confident purchases.  

Completing two daily school runs on foot and working from home in her garden office, Lucy has put several hand warmers through their paces this winter season, along with researching the best blanket hoodies, cosiest thermals for women, and most effective foot warmers, analysing their ability to keep you warm without needing to turn up the thermostat. 

Originally from a HR background with a degree in Business Studies, Lucy developed a real passion for blogging and writing when her children were young, going on to write for several online publications including US parenting site Pregistry and the Evening Standard. When she’s not manically tapping the keys of her laptop, Lucy loves nothing more than to cosy up with her Kindle and enjoy the latest thriller, head for a swim at the local gym or compete in Nintendo Switch rallies with her daughters aged six and 10.

About Mumsnet Reviews

All Mumsnet product reviews are written by real people after weeks of research and testing. We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust. Sometimes, we earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. However, we never allow this to influence our coverage.

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