November 30, 2019

Review: ThermaCuff issues fair warming to pipers and drummers

Available exclusively from
$14.95 (two elastic polyester wrist cuffs and two hand warmer pads)
Manufactured and distributed in Canada

Sometimes the most obvious things are the best, and the ThermaCuff – an obvious and ingenious solution for cold hands – could be a godsend for good pipers and drummers otherwise caught with frozen fingers, unable to play at their best.

The challenge for a musician who needs to keep their hands warm is of course finger dexterity. Fingerless gloves – an age-old item – are the closest thing to a solution for cold hands. But, while okay, these inhibit full finger movement, they can get wet and cold themselves and even become counter-productive mid-performance. They also makes pipers and drummers look like some sort of kilted Artful Dodger.

The ThermaCuff is simple: a wrist band that keeps hand-warmer pads in place. Hands and fingers get cold because the blood flowing to them is cold. Solution: warm the blood before it gets to the hands and, voila! Warm fingers.

The instructions are as straightforward and obvious as the product itself. The package comes with two black polyester elastic fabric cuffs (available in medium or large), and two “Hot Shots” hand-warmer pads. The pads that come with the product are, according to the details included, environmentally friendly, warming stuff made from natural materials.

Once the pads are activated with a simple shake, the user inserts them into the cuff, slips them on the wrists, and that’s pretty much that. The pads will keep radiating heat for up to 10 hours, or about as long as a march past at Glasgow Green.

In -4°C (25°F) conditions, we tried them out. We hung around outside for a good long time. Our hands indeed stayed nice and toasty. We got the pipes out, and there was no restriction at all. The ThermaCuffs worked exactly as promised.

The warmth is not hot, and that’s a good thing. According to the instruction, temperature will not go to more than 70°C (158°F), which is about the temperature of hot tap water.

The pipes, of course, aren’t much good in -4° conditions, but if you’re caught with your band having to do a Santa Claus parade in November or a Remembrance Day ceremony, you’ll at least be able to get through with gracenotes intact.

Competing in the UK or at early-season events in northern North America are usually a challenge with raw and chilly conditions. Drummers and pipers outfitted with the ThermaCuff and fresh warming pads (refills are available from ThermaCuff for $2 or from places like Home Depot, sporting goods shops or camping stores) will at least have their hands ready to take on the elements. Maintaining lips, pipes and drums are another matter.

The product is manufactured and distributed in Canada by John Elliott, the well known reedmaker and former pipe-major of Grade 1 bands Peel Regional Police and Toronto & District Caledonia. He knows a thing or two about playing in cold weather, so the product comes with a lot of experience to back it up.

Many a band or soloist has practiced forever to compete at the World’s or the Argyllshire Gathering of other often chilly place, only to find they can barely feel the holes of their chanter or grip their sticks. One would think that a band spending a hundred grand to get to Scotland from some warmer climate would come with players equipped with this inexpensive product and a bunch of cheap refills.

We fully expect ThermaCuffs to be the next must-have piece of equipment in pipe boxes and drum cases everywhere next year.

You’ve been warmed.

Editor’s note: ThermaCuff is an advertiser with pipes|drums.





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