Regardless of whether you dive in warm or cold water, you'll probably want to wear a hood when you're diving. It is estimated that 20% to 40% of a divers body heat escapes through his or her head. By insulating your heat-producing head, you entire body will remain warmer and less fatigued because it isn't working to replace the heat that is lost out of your hoodless head.
Water robs your body of heat, and if you're not taking steps to retain body heat, you might feel chilled, either at depth or during your surface interval. Divers sometimes forget that we lose heat from our bodies much quicker in the water than we do on land. Even though the air temperature might be very warm, the water can take the heat away from you 20 times quicker than in air.
Most dive hoods are made out of neoprene, which is a very spongy material. The reason neoprene is such a popular dive attire material is because is it made of countless air bubbles, which trap the heat produced by the diver's body. The trapped heat, in turn, heats the water that is trapped between the diver's head and the neoprene. The neoprene traps the diver's natural heat and keeps the heat from transferring to the open water.
If you dive in cold water, a thick neoprene hood that covers your head and neck will be the most practical. The thicker the neoprene, the warmer you head will be. For example, a 3 mm hood won't keep you as warm as a 7 mm hood.
Cold water dive hoods typically have a sizable bib, which can be tucked into the wetsuit at the neck opening. The bib reduces the transfer of water and keeps the diver that much warmer. Cold-water hoods cover some or all of the diver's forehead and jaw/chin areas, as well as a considerable amount of the diver's cheeks. Very little of the diver's face is exposed to the cold water with this style of hood.
Warm water dive hoods are much thinner than cold-water hoods and typically do not offer the large bib that cold-water hoods provide. Warm-water hoods are made from thin neoprene (3mm, for example) or nylon. The nylon option does not insulate as well as the neoprene option, but it is much less cumbersome. Warm water hoods also tend to cover less of the diver's face. Some warm-water hoods do not cover any of the chin and very little of the jaw.
The body reacts to cold and heat by adjusting the blood stream to different parts of the body, like hands, fingers and feet. But the body can not adjust the blood stream to your head. This to ensure the brains function during all conditions. That is why the colder it gets, the more heat you loose from the head by radiation, or even worse, by conduction in the water. You keep warmer with an effective hood.
A dive hood should offer a snug fit. If a hood is too loose, water will be able to freely flow in and out of the hood. That continual transfer of water will not allow your head to heat the water and keep it trapped. If the hood creates discomfort along the face or neck/throat, it is too small. If water freely flows in and out of the hood, it is too big.
A hood that fits snugly against the outer ear can greatly restrict the movement of this water, hampering the diver's ability to equalise. One of the easiest remedies to this is to insert a finger under the hood near the ear, which will allow the water to move more easily. Another solution some divers choose to implement is to cut a hole from the inside of the hood, near the ear canal, through the inner lining and the neoprene but leaving the outer fabric or covering intact. The hole allows the water to move with little restriction.
Our picks for the best dive hoods are:
Best Dive Hood for Warm Water
Probe Insulator Hood - 0.5mm (Unisex)
RRP: $35, Our Price: $33.25, You Save $1.75 (5%).
Great for added protection and comfort in warm water. Also popular as an extra layer of protection when worn under a conventional thicker hood in temperate and cold waters.
Best 3 mm Dive Hood for Temperate Water
Probe iDry Quick-Dry Hood - 3mm (Unisex)
RRP: $60, Our Price: $54, You Save $6 (10%).
The world's fastest drying dive hood — dries in minutes! The gripper print on the back of the head helps to keep your mask strap in place. The Quick-Dry fleece inner lining makes it easier to don and doff.
Best 5 mm Dive Hood for Temperate Water
Probe iDry Quick-Dry Hood - 5mm (Unisex)
RRP: $65, Our Price: $58, You Save $7 (11%).
This is the 5mm version of the 3mm one above. We love them both for the same features and reasons. It's just how much you feel the cold, and what the water temperature currently is, that dictates your choice between the 3mm and 5mm versions.
Best 5/7 mm Dive Hood for Cold Water
Waterproof H1 Venting Hood with Bib - 5/7mm
RRP: $129, Our Price: $122, You Save $7 (5%).
This Waterproof Hood has all of the features for really cold/ice water diving, or for those who really feel the cold in temerate waters. It features a 5 mm double layered protection in critical heat loss areas and glideskin seals for the neck and face.
Best Ice Cold Water Dive Hood Accessory
Waterproof H1 Icehood - 2mm
RRP: $87.95, Our Price: $83, You Save $4.95 (6%).
A one size fits all stretchy 2 mm over-hood that covers all exposed skin. It's for use when immersed in ice cold water of 0 degrees C. Just pull the Icehood over your regular neoprene hood to get additional protection in severe cold diving conditions.
For more options, please see Hoods.
When you are done diving, you want to take care of your hood to ensure that it lasts for a long time, especially if you have been diving in salt water. If you leave the salt in the dive hood, then not only can it degrade the hood, but it can also irritate your head. After your dive, you should rinse the hood off with some fresh water. This will remove any dirt and salt from the hood. You should also make sure to rinse inside and outside of the hood. Even better, use some wetsuit wash/shampoo.
When the hood is rinsed, you should let the hood dry before placing it into storage. If you are putting your dive hood into storage for a long time, then really make sure that it's dry before doing so. Store it out of direct sunlight, and make sure not to store it under a lot of weight.
Underwater Kinetics Super Accessory Hanger
RRP: $35.50, Our Price: $32, You Save $3.50 (10%).
This hanger keeps hold of your dive hood, boots, gloves, and fins. This sturdy hanger allows for proper drying or your dive hood and keeps your precious gear off the floor to prevent damage.
Adrenalin Wetsuit and Gear Wash Concentrate - 250ml
Our Price: $11
Because neoprene is very porous, it can also absorb and trap smells. Keep your hood smelling fresh by bathing it in water with added neoprene shampoo. Simply rinsing your hood with fresh water will reduce the amount of residue, but won't remove odours.