Comfortable Neoprene Hood?

I’m hoping that my kayak brothers and sisters can help me out. I’m considering a neoprene skull cap for cold water protection so yesterday I went to our local dive/surf shop. They had 2 mm and 3 mm full coverage hoods with visors. I told the salesgirl that they looked extremely uncomfortable and she told me that THEY AREN’T MEANT TO BE COMFORTABLE!

Is there one that’s comfy…maybe 1 mm or 0.5 mm? I’m just looking for a little cold shock protection, I don’t need more long term immersion protection.

I don’t know about any of the thin ones, but I have the NRS Storm Hood. I think they said it’s 2.5mm. My head is 24 inches in circumference, and the large fits a bit tight, but it is very comfortable and kept my head warm when submerged in 40 degree water this past weekend. My only complaint with it is that the neck seems too long, so it curls up at the bottom.

Rip Curl E-Bomb 2 mm neoprene hood.
It’s very flexible material. I find it perfectly comfortable. It’s not stiff with an unceasingly tight feeling like some dive hoods can be. The neck is the right length so that it easily tucks between your drysuit or dry top neck and gasket, without a bunch of extra material that makes it difficult to deal with. I should also mention that I almost always am wearing sunglasses - over the outside of the hood - without finding any extra need to fiddle with them throughout the day. So that part works fine for me. It can seem strange when you’re first putting glasses on when you’re used to the tactile feeling of the temples of the glasses against your skin above your ears. But slip on a retainer cord, which I use anyway on the water, and your mind can be at ease. It’s every bit as comfortable as the .5mm NRS hydroskin hood I used to wear. But it has better cold water protection.

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You should be choosing thickness based on how much warmth you want. Divers are in the water 100%, so they usually need a lot more warmth than we do.

I don’t need a lot of warmth, so I am using thin caps or neoprene helmet liners. I also wear glasses, so want something that works around these (I haven’t found a full hood that works).

This is the type of cap I would get for my needs

They don’t say thickness, but I would guess .5 or 1mm.

I prefer ones with straps, as these would help hold my glasses on, but haven’t seen any on the market for a while. With a strapless one like that Kokatat, I would wear it under a helmet or strapped hat.


Dive hoods are thicker than you need for paddling, except for wet work in really cold water.

I have some from my more aggressive days. But I use the basic Kokatat hood these days, or its equivalent from NRS.

Thank you all for your feedback and for sharing your experience.

I have the O’Neil Coldwater 3mm hood and find it comfortable for extended cold water paddling. They also offer the Psycho 1.5mm hood, but I would be concerned about durability with any hood that thin. Men's Wetsuit Boots, Hoods, & Gloves | O'Neill

Thank you. I went with the NRS 0.5 mm helmet liner to fulfill my immediate want to just add a little robustness against cold water shock on some Spring or Fall days. I like it; it’s comfy.

I’ll get one of the more serious hoods recommended on this thread before next winter. Even under calm conditions, when there is shore ice and floating ice like this pic from January I think I’ll be wearing a full hood in the future for a little extra peace of mind.

I like it when different types of paddlers can help each other. In my view that’s a strength of this site. :slightly_smiling_face:


Keep in mind that the cause of gasp reflex is cold water contacting your neck and chest, not your head. A helmet liner obviously won’t prevent that.

I need to put in a plug for the convenience of a design like Kokatat’s Surfskin Baklava, that goes fully around the head and covers the neck. Given that this is not heavy stiff stuff, it is extremely easy to wear. I put one on around my neck starting a paddle and it can just stay there for the duration. I don’t have to fish around anywhere to find the thing if conditions change on the water and I want to pull it up.

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Do you have a reference you can share? I would think that the relative importance of a neoprene cap would depend on the specific scenario including how close to “borderline” someone is for the rest of the key factors. If I fell out of a canoe I’d expect my head might take one quick dip and then I’d have to deal with the 1-2 minute period where cold shock might occur. Seems like anything that retains a little heat would be better than a cold wet head for getting through the first minute or two.

It looks great Celia. Thanks for posting. Question - is the Kokatat balaclava your most heavy duty piece of headgear for cold weather paddling?

I’d like to get the Kokatat but I’d also like to avoid collecting hoods.


I don’t do winter paddling these days. Probably would go heavier again for that. This is fine for water 55 and up.

But if you want to paddle year round you will need gear for each season. If in the north part of the country that is a winter weight hood and a transition season hood.

Yep, you’re right. Fortunately they don’t cost too much. Thx again.