Cold water head protection

I am looking for protection/insulation for my big melon of a head for water temps in the 40’s. Will the NRS Mystery Hood do the job? Do people go to a thicker neoprene for this temp range? Are there any products that are comfortable to where?

I use the NRS fleece lined neoprene
hood. Certain uncouth people call me 'Condom Man’when I wear it, but that is a redneck for you. It is very warm and comfortable.

The mystery just did not cut it.
I use a fleece lined neoprene hood over a poly or wool watch cap. When it gets below 20 deg, I use a 5mm dive hood.

Temps in the 40’s you need either a layer in addition to the Mystery Hood or an altogether thicker hood. And I pretty much live in mine except for the very warmest part of the year - it’s always on even around my neck even if not deployed if air temps are in the 60’s or water temps hit the 50’s.


best wishes



– Last Updated: Oct-13-06 11:30 AM EST –

Is this what you'd wear when there's hardly a chance of rolling, a few seconds immersion for rolling, multiple dunkings,paddling in wet wind, or floating around during the time of rescues?

If 99% of your exposure is air temps you realistically can't wear a 5mm hood in 50degree air temps with 40degree water temps without overheating or rolling to cool off.

I'd go for the layers and backups as needed. A core layer combo that can be pulled back off your head to cool off and pulled back on as conditions warrant it with a neoprene back up for immersion.
The full hood or neoprene half hood could be under the deck if things are anticipated to get worse.

A combo of heavy lycra hood liner, mystery/fuzzy rubber hood can be comfortable and adequate for short term immersion up to a few minutes with your head out of the water. One of the things about the coated fuzzy hoods is that they don't seem to have as much evaporative cooling out of the water and do a better job of slowing down rush of cold water into the ear canal as a poorly fitted neoprene hood can.

A 5mm-7mm hood might provide better heat retention when slowing floating under water but if you're going from a dry upright posture with no water under the cap to an immediate plunge into 40 degree water I find that the sudden rush of cold water into the ear canal is more disruptive than a less adequate myster/fuzzy rubber hood and liner where the water is slowed down and warmed up before it goes in the ear canal. Sudden cold water on bare forehead and neck is disturbing but it's very cold water in the ear canal that can cause vertigo and discombobulation.

Kokatat Surfskin Bill Cap

– Last Updated: Oct-13-06 11:40 AM EST –

See you on, or under, the water,

If you soak your head daily in cold
water, you will build up resistance and will not need a neoprene hoody.

That’s The “Best” For Repeated…
dunkings and what I used for winter surf. Made a big difference. However, one someone just looking for protection on a inadvertant capsize, I think a 3 mm hood will do and not be too hot while paddling.

The other thing I do is to smear 100% silicone grease over the exposed skin of my face and neck. This also really makes a difference from cold water shock on the skin area. Silicone grease is not harmful to anything I have on.


develop surfers ear…your body will destroy some things, such as hearing, to protect its core function…the vessels on the forhead in the temple area however, will still constrict. and blood flow will be restricted…some of this depends on your actual definition of cold water…I tend to think cold water begins as it drops close to the lower 40 deg F mark and rolling in 38 or 39 degree water is definately cold…spashing your face with cold water can reduce the probability for the gasp reflex…but as the water temp dips into the 30’s (F) it becomes increasingly imperitive to cover up…the answer to the original question

is the mystery hood warm enough? each person has a little differant suceptibility to cold water in the ears and on the head and neck…in 40 deg F water the mystery hood might work for a quick dunk…but not for repeated rolling, for me. All others have to determine their range of comfort and 49 deg F water is way differant than 40 or 41 deg F water. As it gets toward the 30’s each degree has a significant effect.

Best Wishes


I don’t roll , but I won’t go out on a
cold day without the hood .

I use two mystery hoods
I sometimes put on two mystery hoods, one over the other. I can pull one or both back and just leave them around my neck if the air is warm. I rolled one time in 40 degree water with both hoods on and took water in the ears, but having two hoods on helped restrict water flow around the edges and offered good protection for head/neck. I find that having multiple layers of protection are best as I can change my level of protection along with conditions that change during the day, and still remain comfortable and protected.

I have a 5/7mm neoprene hood that’s just too hot for paddling, but it would be good for rolling practice or thrashing surf.

that must explain the approach for all those surfers with surfers’ ears. Dude, just tough it out, even if you go deaf doing it.


Doc’s Plugs
For protecting ears from cold water, you really have to have properly fitting ear plugs. Over time enough water will get in thur hoods etc that even if it isn’t a chilling issue, it messes up your ears. We went to Doc’s Plugs (can find their site on the web to look for your closest dealer), the vented ones, last season and they are just great. You’ll get a thing that someone holds up to your ear to get the right size, and you can geth the in red and tethered on fish line so that are fairly easy to find if they hit the water.

Also, many find that you get dizzy faster rolling in codl water. But protecting the basic health of your ears and their hearing is the best thing you get with good ear plugs, and that requires more work if you plan on being immersed in cold water for wet work.

Where the heck is Sanjay?
I think he wrote that he uses THREE hoods for winter rolling in the Charles River. Also, he literally goes swimming in it to train his body to become (more) accustomed to shockingly frigid water.

There Is No Real “Training” Per Se…
I’ve paddle with Sanjay several times in the winter several years back. Like some other coldwater paddlers here, he makes it a point to roll several times before heading out. As he paddles thoughout the season, this “ritual” is itself an acclimation of sorts. Plus, wearing three hoods is not like saying one is “acclimated” to the point of not needing a hooding (as was suggested above by someone).

Friday, went dawn surfing. Air temps had dropped below 32 (frost on the car) but went back near 40 by the time I hit the water. All of us out on the water were saying how cold it was and how similar to winter. Fact is that we have not acclimated. I know when I surf in the dead of february, water temp hovering above freezing and air temp 20 and above (provided minimal wind) with the sun out, it feels downright pleasant. By then I have acclimated (with the appropriate immersion gear).


what do you wear UNDER
your dry suit?

depends on air temps. If it’s above 30, generally I have on thermax tights and rashguard. If it drops, below thirty, I have on rash guard and fleece bib. I also have a fleece union suit but have not had the occaison to wear it. I am pretty sweaty when surf paddling to wear much more. However, if I were just long boating and not exerting as much, I would probably wear the fleece union suit and rash guard underneath.

It’s just as important to not overdress as it is to not underdress. Overdressing means much more sweating under the drysuit (for me). That gets really damp and chilly when I slow down.