K01 Hood Bib Pollock Version – Limited Edition Personalized. There you go. The most expensive hood I have ever owned. And it’s worth every penny. It’s almost the perfect hood. Almost. In this post, I will tell you why.
When exposed to low temperatures protecting any part of the body from heat loss is important, including your head. You may have heard the popular belief that most heat escape through the head? Well, that is a myth.
The amount of heat escape from any part of the body depends largely on its surface area. When exposed to cold you would lose more heat through an exposed leg or arm than a bare head.
But, our face, head and upper chest are much more sensitive to changes in temperature than other areas. This creates the illusion that covering up those areas traps in more heat, but protecting another part of the body does just as much to reduce the overall heat loss.
Heat loss in water
As water is denser than air, we will lose heat faster when submerged in water. A drysuit is then obviously the best thermal protection in cold water. In a drysuit, you have air encircling your body, trapped in your undergarment. However, most drysuits are equipped with neoprene wet hoods, attached or as a separate piece.
In really cold water, most divers use dry gloves. So the typical drysuit diver is dry from the neck down, but the head is still wet. Which means we will lose more heat from the head, compared to an equal surface anywhere else on the body.
Ideally, the head should also be dry. A latex hood with appropriate headwear under will often be dry (for people without facial hair). The Finnish Loitokari hood is another option. However, these options come with extra everything. Extra items, extra complexity and extra cost.
The conclusion is that dry or wet, cold water divers should choose a hood with care.
I cannot think of anything easier than just pulling a good quality wet hood (or two) on, tuck it in the warm neck, and be ready to dive. Which brings us to the K01.
When looking for a new hood I read a lot of good about the K01. And I saw divers I know are doing long, cold dives in it. My first thought was; let’s give it a try. My second thought was; wow, that’s pricey, this better be good. But then again, quality usually cost more.
The first thing I noticed was that the K01 is made of only three pieces of neoprene, stitched together with only three seams.
«…only three seams!»
Making a well-fitting hood out of only three pieces of neoprene is excellent craftsmanship.
Most hoods are designed with a face seal, often only glued to the hood. The face seal is also the most common part that is torn. The K01 has no face seal, and thus eliminates a common point of failure by design. Brilliant.
In comparison, my other preferred hood is made of 9 pieces and has 11 seams. And it’s the seams that break. With cold hands or under gloves on, your hands are not exactly surgical instruments. You will not always be able to treat your hood gently, and sooner or later you are likely to rip a seam.
The standard size I first ordered fit me impressively well. A bit tight over the jaw when standing up, but without a face seal, it needs to be a bit tight. To me, this becomes unnoticeable when I’m horizontal in the water. Again, such a good fit with only three pieces of neoprene is impressive.
The neoprene is by far the most comfortable I have ever worn. The slick inside makes it very easy to pull on and off. And minimizes the water circulation inside the hood. But, it also makes it more delicate. Removing any piercings is probably a good idea.
The perfect hood?
Is it the perfect hood? Almost. It only needs one more feature. A diver’s hood is not only about thermal protection. It’s also about safety. In the surface, you want to be seen.
Among all their options for colour and personalization, K01 does not offer any hi-visibility safety colour. I asked for a reflective colour on my second, personalized Pollock (colour splashes) version. Not available. I offered to be the Guinea pig if they would only try reflective colours. Not interested.
The K01 Pollock with reflective colour or lots of reflective colour splashes on it would be the perfect hood.
K01 is almost there. A bit of listening and a bit of will is all it takes. It’s a shame if they are not there soon. I will buy a third one in a blink. When have the perfect hood.