A heat pack, sometimes called a hand warmer or heating pad, provides heat and is extremely practical for outdoor sports enthusiasts during very cold weather. History, typology, composition, use: we’ve got all the answers !
History of heat packs
Heat packs, as the name suggests, were designed to provide heat. In the beginning, they were wooden and metal boxes that were filled with hot coals and placed in the area that needed to be heated. Often, they were used to warm up ice-cold beds. They were mainly used in the home and very few of these boxes made heating outside possible. The idea of creating a mobile heat source came about thanks to technical advances and new, more reliable materials that offered better performance. After a few decades, heat packs became more suitable to a greater number of users. Today, there are many types of heat packs that can meet the precise needs of each user.
Did you know? Heat packs and other heating pads are a hot item in Japan and China where they are mainly used for medical reasons because heat helps relax muscles and ease pain.
A small heat pack that makes a big difference in cold weather!
Coats, gloves, and socks all help keep out the cold but don’t create heat. What were heat packs designed to do? Produce heat and take it with you. During outdoor sports, such as winter sports, biking, hiking, running or hunting, heat packs let you keep your extremities that are most exposed to cold (hands, feet) warm. A heat pack in your pocket, gloves, shoes or even under your clothing can help you stay warmer longer in cold weather.
Which is better – a chemical or electric heat pack? How to make the right choice
With all the different heat pack options on the market, it’s easy to get confused. To make the choice easier, here are the differences between the chemical and electric heat packs.
Chemical heat packs
There are two types of chemical heat packs:
- The first is a heat pack filled with a supersaturated solution of water and sodium acetate. These packs are often made of soft plastic pouches with a metal disc inside. When the disc is flipped, the liquid begins to crystallise and solidify. The matter phase change is what causes heat to be generated. When solidification is finished, the pouch cools down again.
One advantage of this type of heat pack is that it is reusable; however, heating time is limited to about 30 minutes to an hour and a half when uncovered and up to around three hours or so depending on its size and environment. To be reused, the heat pack must be put into boiling water, which makes this type of pack less practical and mobile for outdoor sports. They are useful for short trips or activities of short duration because the heating time is limited and you’ll need the appropriate equipment to be able to reuse it.
- The second type of heat pack is one which heats upon contact with air. Rather than relying on a chemical reaction, this type of pack uses physics. It is made of natural substances (water, salt, activated carbon, vermiculite and iron powder), doesn’t pollute, isn’t noxious and provides stronger, longer lasting warmth.
“Air-activated” heat packs have the major advantage of being extremely mobile and last for several hours: these single-use packs have five times the heating time for hands and feet (5 hours) and ten times for the body (10 hours). There are a couple of things you can do to reuse this type of heat pack if you haven’t exhausted its heating capacity. See the end of this article.
Electric heat packs
Electric heat packs are devices that require a source of electricity, whether radiant, pulsed air or halogen. Because they need electricity and a portable battery to work, these heat packs are not as mobile or practical outdoors. There are heat packs that can be used at home as well as pocket-sized versions.
What are the pros and cons of each?
Reusable heat pack : Reusable; short heating duration (30 minutes to 1 hour in general); limiting reuse system
Air-activated heat pack : Long heating duration (from 5 to 10 hours minimum); lightweight; single use; easy to use
Electric heat pack : Heating duration varies depending on the product (from 3 to 12 hours); requires electricity source; generally requires a portable battery; heavier
Aptonia, always trying to better meet athletes’ needs and expectations, has chosen to design an air-activated heat pack for optimal performance.
Aptonia heat pack : close-up
Aptonia has created an air-activated heat pack. As soon as the pack is taken out of its packaging, air (ie, oxygen) comes into contact with the natural substances in the product (iron powder, vermiculite, activated carbon, water and salt) and sets off a chemical reaction, which in turn generates heat. Aptonia’s heat pack provides heat for an average of five hours and easily slips in anywhere you want it. This small and lightweight pack means you’ll have heat wherever you go. It is easy to use and accessible, giving you warmth whenever you need it throughout your activity.
How do you use the Aptonia heat pack ?
Nothing could be easier:
- Open the packaging
- Shake the heat pack
- Get warm!
Check out this short video that shows you how to use the heat pack.
Hand, foot or body warmers: to each his own !
Aptonia has created specific warmers for where you need them:
- The hand warmer, adapts to gloves and mittens (5 hours of heat)
- The foot warmer, to slip into your socks (5 hours of heat)
- The body warmer, to slip under your pullovers, T-shirts or tights (10 hours of heat)
Please note: You’ll have optimal heat in a glove or pocket because the heat is concentrated.
Tip for reusing your heat pack
Although Aptonia’s heat packs are single use, you can reuse them if you haven’t exhausted the heating time. You can either place it in an airtight plastic bag or place it in the original packaging and close with tape. By doing so, you’ll be able to reuse your heat pack several times.
Where can you buy an Aptonia heat pack ?
Buy Aptonia hand, foot and body warmers in any Decathlon store.