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3 Popular Outdoor Hoods to Keep You Warm

The head represents about 10% of the body's total surface area and leaving this exposed to the cold can rapidly reduce your body temperature. Here are three different types of hoods you can wear in the outdoors to keep you warm.

Paul Bodnar       Educational       7/27/2021
Paul Bodnar
Educational
7/27/2021
A bear wearing a beany

Beanie

A beanie is lightweight and doesn’t take up much space. Beanies are commonly made from synthetic fibers which makes them very durable.

Weight: 58 grams (2.0 ounces)

Retail: $17

Pros:

  • More durable than a down hood
  • Lighter than a balaclava and down hood
  • Compact & affordable

Cons:

  • Beanie doesn’t keep the face warm like a balaclava or down hood
a hoodie on a bear costume

Balaclava

A balaclava covers the head and face making it retain more heat than the beanie. They are commonly made from synthetic fibers and are very durable.

Weight: 76 grams (2.7 ounces)

Retail: $20

Pros:

  • Keeps the face warm
  • More durable than a down hood

Cons:

  • Weighs more than a beanie
A sleeping camping pullover on a bear mask

Down Hood

A down hood covers the head and the face. The draw string can be tightened or loosened to fine tune the desired face coverage. The down hood weighs about the same as a synthetic balaclava but provides superior warmth.

Hood Weight: 75 grams (2.6 ounces)

Retail: $23

Pros:

  • Superior warmth and compacts to a small size
  • Adjustable drawstring to fine tune face coverage

Cons:

  • Shell fabric not as durable as a beanie or balaclava

Summary

The head makes up about 10% of your body area. Having your head uncovered in cold conditions will cause you to lose a lot body heat. Wearing a hood will help you better retain your body heat, especially at night.

The down hood will provide the best overall warmth when compared to the heavier synthetic beanie or balaclava. Another advantage of the down hood is that the drawstring makes adjusting the face coverage easier.

The only major downside of the down hood is the thin shell. Because of the thin shell, the down hood has to be treated with a lot more care to avoid damage. The synthetic beanie and balaclava that we tested were a lot more durable.

The down hood provides a lot of advantages over the synthetic beanie and balaclava. However, the best hood for you will depend on your individual needs.


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About the Author
A man wearing an Arizona Trail baseball cap stands in a field in front of a mountain.

Paul Bodnar

Paul has always liked hiking and thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 1997 after college. After years of working in chemistry, he wanted to create a career involving the outdoors, so he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail again in 2010 to do research for his guide book Pocket PCT. He realized that creating a smartphone app for navigating the outdoors would make it easier to keep the data current and provide a better way to navigate. While hiking with Ryan (aka Guthook) in 2010, they decided to work together to create the first comprehensive smartphone guide for the Pacific Crest Trail. Now with the help of a team of great people they have created over 90 guides for trails around the world.