You may have heard the old bit of folk wisdom about how most of your body heat leaves through your head. It turns out that, in general, this is completely false. The amount of body heat you lose depends on the surface area you have exposed, so a larger surface area, like your leg, naturally loses more heat than your head.
But if you’re already wearing a full wetsuit, then your head probably is your biggest source of heat-loss—it’s the largest uncovered surface on your body. That’s why a good wetsuit hood is one of the unsung heroes of winter surfing in California (or year-round surfing in colder climates).
If you live in California—and not in the far-flung northern reasons—your go-to wetsuit probably doesn’t have a built-in hood. Most of the year it’s unnecessary and only gets in the way. But for a few months of the year, having a hood can make the difference between a fun session and a session where you dread every duck dive.
That’s why we carry a number of hoods that you can use with your current wetsuit. The Rip Curl Flash Bomb 3mm, for example, is a great hood to wear with your 3/2 fullsuit. It has flash lining, which means that the hood is warm and comfy, and that it dries in around fifteen minutes. Which is great, because the only thing worse than putting on a wet wetsuit is also putting on a cold hood.
If you want something super warm to go with a 4/3 or 5/4 wetsuit, we recommend the Hyperflex 5/3mm Bibbed Surf Hood. Not only is it a bit thicker for additional warmth, but it has a bib. Basically, the bib tucks under the neckline of your wetsuit and extends to your upper chest, which means that there’s no gap in your neckline to allow water into your wetsuit or into the hood.
For a hood that you can use year-round for warmth and sun protection, check out the O’Neill 2mm Sport Cap. It’s super light and unobstructive, but it’ll protect your ears and face from the sun, and it’ll give you a bit of warmth on windy days or early mornings.
Hoods are relatively inexpensive, and they’re a great addition to any non-hooded wetsuit—and you won’t have to worry about exactly how much heat you lose through your head.