Hoods are an essential part of coldwater surfing. Since your head is the most sensitive part of your entire body to changes in temperature, a good hood can be worth its weight in gold. We’ve reviewed all the hoods we carry to find the cream of the crop. If you’re sick of ice cream headaches, it’s time to check out our list of the best surf hoods.
Before we get into the best hoods for surfing we want to cover some of the basic questions surfers may have about hoods.
Why wear a hood?
As we mentioned earlier, your head is really sensitive to changes in water temperature, so keeping it warm can be the difference between a great session and a freezing, uncomfortable session. Hoods are also important because they minimize the effect that cold water has on a surfer’s ear canals, and help prevent the onset of surfer’s ear.
When do I need to start wearing a hood?
Hoods like a lot of pieces of gear in surfing ultimately come down to personal preference, so when and where you’ll want a hood depends on the individual. That being said, most surfers start wearing one if the water gets down into the ’50s and below. Obviously other factors can come into play that would make you choose to wear a hood in warmer or colder temperatures like wind, weather, and the thickness of your wetsuit.
How do I size a hood?
Sizing a hood is easy! Just grab some measuring tape and run it around the circumference of your head from the forehead (just between your eyebrows) back around, above the ears. After you have your measurement, compare it with the size chart on the product’s page and you’re set. Ideally, you want a hood to fit pretty snug like the rest of your wetsuit.
O’Neill Psycho Hood
“The Shop Favorite”
O’Neill’s Psycho hood is about as good as a hood can get. Warm, flexible, and surprisingly durable, the Psycho is strong in every category. This is the employee’s choice as it’s the most comfortable hood at the shop and feels really lightweight and un-obstructive once it’s on your head.
The Psycho is easily the most flexible hood on this list and is made of the same TechnoButter material as O’Neill’s most expensive wetsuits. The cool thing about this hood though is that it’s surprisingly tough for how stretchy it is. It’s so durable that we’ve used them for years in our rental fleet. The cut of this hood is probably the best of any hood and feels second nature once it’s on your d. If it’s a little too roomy, there’s a handy cinch cord to adjust the fit. Available as a 1.5mm or 3mm hood, the Psycho is a no-brainer any surfer in need of a hood.
Patagonia Water Heater Hooded Vest
“Warmest and Eco-Friendly”
Alright, I know this one is technically more than just a hood, but if you’re rocking a back zip or chest zip and need some extra warmth, the Water Heater Hooded Vest is an excellent choice. This design gives your core an extra 1.5mm of warmth and the attached 2mm hood makes it convenient for anyone looking to retrofit a non-hooded 4/3mm or 5/4mm for use in colder temperatures. The best part is that the hood is attached to the vest, so once it’s on the hood won’t be sliding around and it’ll create a more water-tight seal at the neck.
Like all of Patagonia’s products, this hood is made of their Yulex rubber instead of traditional neoprene like the other hoods on this list. Yulex is unique because it’s a much more sustainably sourced material, making the water heater hooded vest the warmest and most environmentally friendly hood out there.
Billabong Furnace Ultra 2mm Hood
“Practical Extra-Long Cut”
The Furnace Ultra is Billabong’s top hood and unique on this list as it has a very long cut to it. That may sound like a small detail but the extra material is a welcome feature as it creates a better seal at the collar of the suit and is less prone to flushing.
The fit of the Furnace Ultra is a little wide so if you have a wider head, this might be a good pick. The inside of the cap is lined with Billabong’s Graphene material which is the same liner you’ll find on the best Billabong suits. Basically, this liner is lighter and warmer than traditional liners with insane strength properties to it. Finally, for 2020, this hood has been re-designed to feature a more comfortable profile, most notably in the chin for hours of comfortable use.
Rip Curl Flash Bomb 3mm Hood
“ Quick Drying and Toasty Warm”
The Flash Bomb hood is made of the same ingredients as Rip Curl’s top suit. E5 neoprene rubber which is light and flexible combo’d with the excellent E5 liner throughout the hood. The E5 liner is the orange material you’ve no doubt seen for years, at surf shops or in your local lineup, and does a great job of retaining warmth. This orange material also dries very quickly (as short as 15 mins) in the sun. So if you want a hood that you can count on being dry for the next session, the Flash Bomb hood is the call.
O’Neill 2mm Sport Cap
For the minimalist, the Sport Cap from O’Neill is about as non-invasive as a hood can get. Essentially a swim cap with a chin strap, the Sport Cap is a really good pick for surfers who don’t like the feel of a full hood or just need something quick and inexpensive. The chin strap is secured with velcro which does a good job of holding and also gives you a wide range of fit adjustment. This is a popular pick for surfers but we also get a lot of customers using this hood for kayaking, ocean swimming, rafting, etc. where a full hood isn’t ideal. At $40 you can’t go wrong!
Having a hood can make or break a session in cold conditions so owning a good one is important. Hopefully, after this review, you’re able to find one that works well for you. If you have any questions about any of the hoods on our site or sizing, feel free to reach out to us with a comment, an email to email@example.com, or giving us a call at 1-888-546-6176. Stay warm!