Winter Paddling Hood Rec's

I plan to embark on some winter paddling this winter. Got all the clothes below my neck, now looking for some head gear recommendations.

I have plenty of synthetic Windstopper fleece hats and balaclava’s that cover my ears and and chin and neck but think that I need a neoprene or some other 'prene hood.

I was looking at the NRS site and they have a few types that may fit the bill. One in particular is the Storm Hood. It has a “flange” that around the neck and the rest appears tight fitting around the head and face. I was leaning toward this one, but the “flange” confuses me on how it would work with a drysuit neck gasket. I am guessing over the neck gasket, but why the need for the large flange then?

Does the neoprene have any insulative properties on your head? Do I need also to wear a fleece/wool hat over the storm hood?

Any recommendations?


The best in my opinion

– Last Updated: Dec-30-05 4:46 PM EST –

is a very tightly fitted 5mm hyperstretch non-titanium hood from henderson, Fit it tight!!! it will stretch to fit. If your chin is not comfy make a form from paperback books and put a huge thread spool in at the "chin" to stretch it. For abusive situations use a rapidstyle survival hood under this; you will admit almost no water. You can cut as much of the bib off as you like and wear a brimmed hat or visor over it.

Sing has a hood he really likes with attacheed brim and cinchable drawcord around face. Quite possibly more surfproof but I doubt it is more comfy.

So you are from around boston? You got a drysuit or super heavy wetsuit? In 40 degree water a quarter mile from shore with a 3mm farmer john and a dry top and a hood and no boat, I doubt I'd make it to shore. People die in the lake near my hous most years. Hang out with your gear in the water for a while.

The balaclava’s at NRS
are pretty much worthless for surf and rolling. I have the mystery storm hood and quickly found it allows water into my ears and then holds it there. Even worse, when hitting big surf or rolling face-towards the water, it pushes the top off my head, leaving it hanging around my neck.

I went to the local dive shop and picked up a real dive hood with a zip in the back. It is contoured to grip around one’s face, and has thicker neoprene throughout, which provides good insulation. Although I still get a little flushing around the ears (particularly if I don’t shave the whiskers), padding and swimming in 30F air and 35F water is a much warmer experience.

Biggest complaint is that they are very hard to hear through, but the same could be said for most any hood or tuliq.

I like my mystery hood
maybe not the thing for extended roll sessions but I have rolled in it in cold water. I wear it pulled back around my neck so I can slip it on if I want it. The smooth skin does minimize evaporative cooling. Also, I wear glasses so nothing is going to prevent water entry to my ears.

I haven’t bothered to trim the neck flange; I tuck it under the cloth flap around the neck gasket or just let it flop around.

As a seller of Reed Chillcheater products I may be biased, but I love the Aquatherm hoods. They are lightweight, snug fitting, wind proof and can easily be pulled over a fleece hood for extra warmth. When not neccessary the hood can be pulled back and worn as a neck gaiter. You can have a look at


Hoods and ears
In really cold water, you can have a balance issue very quickly from water getting in your ears. If you plan on being upside down, wear ear plugs.

As to hoods - in general for winter paddling the best stuff you’ll find is in a scuba shop. Henderson hoods are nice and thick, well-favored out of that bunch.

You still have the issue of water getting around your eyes and exposed mid-face area and creating a gasp risk. You can either use some (vegetable-based) silicone cream that divers use, or you can look like Freddie from the movies and get an ice cap that goes under your regular hood. It covers all but the area that would go under a diver’s mask, the area immediately around your eyes and your nose. We got the ice masks and love them, though haven’t been out in anything cold enough to want to wear them outside of rolling yet. Somewhere around 38 degrees the racks came off the car this year while we wait for snowshoing stuff.

I have a Reed HVN hood (for about 3 1/2 years)…very comfy, it does stretch nicely…but it’s not very warm for really cold water and it does let alittle water in. The henderson surf hood with the visor and face cord is better for cold water rolling (or beter yet , a Tuilik with a face cord)

Best Wishes


I have several items by Reed (ocean cockpit skirt, touring cag, Yellow full coverage hood) love them all…when I can afford it, I will probably order the full suit…love the materal

Kokatat balaclava works well for me.
I’ve paddled and rolled (as practice not spontaneously) in 3 degree water and haven’t needed to go to the extreme lengths of some of the other posters. these folks have undoubtedly looked into the most serious cold water head wear available, which is good to know, i hadn’t considered these options.

i do have the balaclava from Kokatat which is made of that fuzzy rubber material and it is snug fitting, full coverage and awesome. the flange i put inside the overcuff in the drysuit and it minimizes flush though and keeps my neck very warm. i also have Docs pro plugs surfing ear plugs but haven’t even worn them under the balaclava yet because i wasn’t rolling more than a few times.

mind you the water sting on the face and overall rapid chilling even through the suit is uncomfortable enough that should i do it more often (as opposed to the uncommon early May practice on a still ice filled Lake Superior) i would probably seek out even greater protection for my head and face. also, i do find that the Kgear balaclava is rather tight and i don’t have the largest head.

good luck keepin your noggin warm. happy new years.

While I and others have used silicone
I question whetrer it is vegetable sourced and would love to learn more.

O’neil’s Coldwater Hood…

– Last Updated: Jan-01-06 12:11 PM EST – what I'm using now. I like it, but be aware that the sizing runs rather small. I have a size 7 5/8 head and their XL is just barely large enough. It fits tight over the ears and snug enough around the neck that there is very little water infiltration. I like the brim, too.

Henderson makes a similar, but thicker superstretch (or hyperstretch) hood that's about half the price. It's defintely worth checking out.

I don't find 3mm hood to be especially warm above water. When I roll with it in cold water, I don't feel the water through the hood at all, at least not with such short immersion. Hoods with bare neoprene on the outside are not subject to the conventive cooling that hoods with nylon on the outside create, since the water just runs off the bare neoprene. I find that if I need warmth, I have to wear a hat over the hood.

It seems that almost everything I’ve purchased from NRS in Neo has had some kind of problem with it. I got a Storm Hood for Christmas and it has deep impressions in it that won’t come out.

Problems in the past with holes in gloves and boots.

NO MORE NRS for me.

My mileage varies
I’ve had good experience with NRS. I like the fact that the person you talk to on the phone is located at their facility. “Hang on, let me run into the back and check on that…”

I’m also located very close so the delivery is nearly instant gratification - I’ve received things before the email saying they had been shipped.

Not had any problems with quality, either.

NRS No Problems
I’ve bought lot’s of immersion clothing from NRS; PFDs, hydroskin stuff—tops, farmerjohn, footwear, gloves, paddling jacket etc etc. No problems. Have not bought a neoprene hood though.

In my experience
NRS has awesome customer service. I have had 2 pairs of NRS HydroSkin Gloves that the stitching came apart on. The second pair was received under warranty. I won’t bash NRS for it, but I won’t be buying those gloves any more either.

O’Neil gear pretty great
Like Brian say O"Neil does rock. They have quite a few wonderful products, visor hoods, liner hoods with visors, pretty great thin neoprene, great super frigid boots, interesting lobster mitts and full mitts. Worth a look.


I have two Mystery Storm hoods
As well as 3 pair of neoprene socks, fleece socks, Extreme gloves, Sealskin gloves, 3mil Ultra John, 2mil neoprene jacket and some neoprene water shoes–all from NRS and very good quality with no problems.

My neck gasket on my current dry top is a bit loose, so I put one storm hood on first, then the dry top over it so the neck gasket of the dry top is actually in contact with the ‘neck portion’ of the storm hood. When it’s really cold, the second hood goes on over, so I can remove it easily if I choose.

The NRS mystery storm hood is 1mm of their “Hydroskin” material with a rubber-like coating on the outside. Not very warm, but it sheds water and blocks wind. I am comfortable with two hoods in 35degree air with 20mph winds.