Until I actually tried a proper spearfishing wetsuit hood, I was a little perplexed as to why they’d be good. Ever since, I’ve been a big fan. I’ll admit, the first time I saw another guy spearfishing with a wetsuit hood I wondered why on earth he’d need that much protection.
I had gotten used to using a surfer-style wetsuit, as that’s just what I had in the garage, and it provided just enough protection from the water temperature. But I did get cold during winter.
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What’s with the spearfishing wetsuit hood? Learn why it’s a game changer.
The first time getting into a spearfishing wetsuit, it was rather difficult to squeeze into, as they’re designed to be skin-tight. You will need soap to lubricate up the neoprene. And getting it off again at the end of the dive can be a challenge, but it took my spearfishing game to a whole new level.
I was comfortable in the water. The cold never even came close to affecting me, and the hood actually made me feel a little more protected when I was sticking my head into caves and exploring the underwater wonderland.
In fact, if I had been wearing a hood when I swam into the tentacles of that bluebottle jellyfish, I’d probably have not been stung at all. Instead, I had a lovely track pattern that went from my hairline, over my ear, and down the back of my neck, that itched for days. A spearfishing wetsuit hood would have saved me from that lovely experience.
These days, I’m sporting a Salvimar N.A.T. two-piece spearfishing wetsuit. It’s an open cell wetsuit and while many people tell me its too thick, I love being toasty warm when I dive.
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The benefits of a spearfishing wetsuit hood
You’ll stay warmer when you’re spearfishing which makes for a much more comfortable dive. When your head is exposed it speeds up the loss of body heat you get in the water. If you’re in a tropical climate, this isn’t a big issue, unless you’re diving deep where the water cools down dramatically.
A spearfishing wetsuit hood helps you stay aerodynamic in the water, by cutting down drag and also keeping any loose hair from getting up in your face when you’re spearing. My wife always ties her hair back, but the hood is just an additional layer to keep it out of the way.
The downsides of a spearfishing wetsuit hood
I’ve heard complaints from a couple of people in my spearing club that their wetsuit hoods have made equalizing rather difficult, as the tightness of the hood forms a seal over their ears. I can’t say I’ve experience this myself, I actually like having the tight hood as it cuts down the amount of water constantly rushing past my ears when I’m diving down. What they’ve had to do is take a hot needle, and burn a few tiny holes in the neoprene above where their ears sit to ensure the water pressure can equalize. I wouldn’t recommend this unless you’ve no other option.
What I have noticed, is how hot you can get when you’re spearfishing with a wetsuit hood on. Especially during summer. The hood works a little too well, and it can actually feel like you’re working up a sweat while you’re spearfishing.
Stupidly, and on the advice of a close friend, I took a knife to my first hooded wetsuit and removed the hood altogether one particularly hot summer. I was sick of pulling the hood off when I heated up, and having it bunched up on the back of my neck was uncomfortable. Especially as it felt tighter on my throat when I wore it like this.
It was a silly mistake though. The cut weakened the structure around the neck, and a few dives later I tore the suit when I was taking it off. An expensive lesson learned.
These days I’ve trained myself to get used to the wetsuit hood. And I actually prefer it. I love the covered feeling of protection, and that the back of my neck no longer gets burnt to a crisp when I dive. During summer, I’ve found that pulling my chin down to flush fresh water into my wetsuit is a good compromise, and once the water gets too hot to spear in a full wetsuit, I’ve been using a neoprene jacket only, like this one from Mako. It’s more than enough to keep me warm for a couple of hours in the water.
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The only thing to remember once you start changing out your wetsuit for either thinner versions or only using a vest, is that you’ll need to adjust your weights.
All up, I’m rather font of spearfishing wetsuits with hoods. They protect me better, keep the sun off, and make my dives comfortable and warm, so I’m able to stay in the water for longer chasing the next biggest fish. And that’s what it’s all about.