1. What is a wetsuit hood?
A wetsuit hood is a useful addition to your main wetsuit.  It consists of a neoprene head covering (very much like a balaclava) that goes over the head and neck, leaving only your face exposed.  Wetsuit hoods are very effective at insulating your head and helping to keep your body temperature regular when you are in the water.  Wetsuit hoods will also protect against wind chill when you are out in the open air as well.

2. Why should I use a wetsuit hood?
One of the areas where we lose the most heat from our bodies is our heads.  This is why it is important to wear a wetsuit hood when you are diving, surfing or taking part in any water sport in cold water conditions.  Wetsuit hoods can significantly increase the overall heat retention properties of your wetsuit and keep you much warmer when you are in the water.  Some people can also suffer from sudden head pains when they submerge their heads in cold water.  Wetsuits hoods can help to prevent this from occurring.  Wetsuit hoods are also a good idea for those people with long hair, as it will help to keep your hair safely contained and out of your face when you are taking part in sports.

3. Can wetsuit hoods help to prevent ‘surfers ear’?
If you spend a lot of time in the water than you can experience a condition which is commonly known as ‘surfers ear’.  This can be caused by overexposure to cold water and wind chill.  Symptoms include ear ache, increased vulnerability to infections and a loss of hearing.  Wetsuit hoods can help to keep your ears dry and warm and protect them from cold conditions.

4. What wetsuit hood should I choose?
There are a few different types of wetsuit hoods available.  You can opt for those that are made out of stretchy neoprene as they will fit more closely to your head and will help to prevent cold water from seeping in.  A long neck design is also a good option as this will allow you to tuck the hood effectively into your wetsuit.  This will help to keep in heat and prevent cold water from entering the bottom of the hood when you move your head around.  Choosing the right size wetsuit hood can be tricky as it will need to be tight enough to fit your head well, but not so tight that it is uncomfortable or restricts your head movements.  Look out for designs that can offer adjusting cords to help you tighten and loosen the face part of the hood when you need to.

5.  Should you tuck hoods into your wetsuit?
If you tuck your hood directly into your wetsuit then you will improve the thermal insulation properties and make sure you are nice and warm.  However the problem with this is that if any water does get into your hood it can be directed down into your wetsuit.  This can cause flushing, which is when the warm water in your suit is flushed through with cold water decreasing heat insulation.  It is important if you are going to tuck in your hood that you make sure the fit is good to avoid too much cold water from getting inside.  If you are wearing the hood in warmer waters mainly to keep your hair back and protect your ears then it is not essential to tuck it inside your wetsuit.

6.  Can wetsuit hoods affect your breathing?
Some people can find it difficult to breathe deeply with a wetsuit hood on.  This is because the hood will be quite tight fitting around your chin to help prevent water flushing.  This is why it is important to make sure your hood fits properly, as if it is too tight you could find it more difficult to breathe through your mouth.  Some people slide the hood under their chins to assist with breathing and most designs will let you do this without letting too much water in.

7. Can I use a wetsuit hood in an outdoor swimming pool?
Small bodies of water such as swimming pools can cool down significantly in the winter, so they can actually be colder than the ocean in the same area if they do no have any heating element.  Many people who swim regularly in outdoor pools wear wetsuits in the winter to keep them warm whilst they are exercising.  Wetsuit hoods can also help to keep your head warm when swimming in cold water conditions.  However wetsuit hoods are typically made from neoprene. Chlorine used to treat swimming pools can cause neoprene to dry out and become less flexible.  It can also bleach the colour of the suit making it look pale and ‘washed out’.  Chlorine will not ruin your wetsuit and hood straight away but it can weaken them over time.  It is important that you soak your wetsuit and hood in a tub of fresh water for about half an hour after every time you use it in the pool.  You should also wash it thoroughly now and again with a proper wetsuit wash detergent.

8. Can I wash my wetsuit hood in the washing machine?
It is not recommended to wash neoprene wetsuits or hoods in a conventional washing machine.  The hot settings and harsh detergents can damage the synthetic rubber and reduce elasticity.  However some people do regularly use washing machines (especially rental companies) for cleaning wetsuits, hoods, gloves and boots.  To make sure you don’t damage items made from neoprene only use detergents designed for wetsuits, don’t use the spin cycles and select a cool wash option (40 degrees and under).  Never put wetsuit hoods and other items made from neoprene in a conventional dryer.  You can buy special wetsuit dryers if you need to dry these items quickly.

9.  Can I rent wetsuit hoods?
Wetsuit rental companies do offer a wide range of accessories for hire alongside wetsuits including wetsuit hoods.  However there may not be a very good selection available and you could find it difficult to get a wetsuit hood that fits your head well enough to prevent flushing.  If you are going to be wearing a wetsuit hood regularly it is best to buy your own so that you can get one that fits properly.

10.  Are wetsuit hoods UV protective?
Wetsuits hoods are made from neoprene that is treated against UV light.  This means a wetsuit hood will help to protect your head against the sun when you taking part in water sports.  This is important in sunny conditions if you want to spend long periods out on the water.  Hoods will help to prevent over exposure to the sun which can cause sunburn and heatstroke.