“Cover your head!” How many times have you heard that? How much heat do you lose through your head? “As much as 45 percent of body heat is lost through your head.” It appears that this is bullshit. This myth was trashed not a very long time ago. If this was true, humans would be just as cold if they went without a hat as if they went without trousers. Which is of course ridiculous. You lose as much heat through your head as you do through other body parts. The only difference is that the blood vessels in your head are closer to the surface and you have less fat on it. This can account for up to 10% faster heat loss and that’s it. Still…. in cold water most surfers will wear a neoprene hood to help keep them warm. No one likes ice cream headaches.
Neoprene hood help insulate your head and help you feel warmer. If you have ever surfed in very cold water you might have noticed that when you wipeout or get submerged in water you can get an ‘ice cream’ headache due to the rapid change in temperature. A good wetsuit hood will help prevent that.
Buying a Wetsuit Hood
Try it before you buy it!
A hood with a long neck that you can tuck into your wetsuit or at least cover your entire neck is always a good idea.
Proper Fit – You want to make sure the hood fits properly. If it is too large the water will slip right in and it will not keep you very warm. If it is too small it won’t be comfortable, it might be even difficult to breathe in it.
Adjustable – You can get an elastic cord around your face so you can adjust the size to fit properly.
Tucking the hood or not
When you have a long necked hood some people feel you should tuck the hood into your wetsuit and others think it is a bad idea. Tucking it in will definitely keep you warmer, but any water that gets in around your face will slide right down into your wetsuit. The seal is a little looser around your face than other parts of a wetsuit so this could be a problem for some people.
The bottom line is there is no right or wrong answer to this question. Give it a try one way the first day and the other way the next and see which one you prefer.
Breathing with a hood
Some people have trouble breathing through their mouth while wearing a hood because it puts pressure on your lower jaw which can make it difficult to get a full breath of air. Breathing through your nose is not affected, and if you feel like you’re not getting enough air you can typically pull the piece around your chin down to make it easier. Make sure you try breathing through both your nose and your mouth while trying on different hoods to find one you are comfortable with.
That’s pretty much it when it comes to hoods. If you have any questions use the comments.
If you want to learn more about which wetsuit goes with which water temperature and what are the factors that influence the feeling of cold check this article.