Last year I carried on conducting underwater gear tests throughout the winter months without necessarily travelling to exotic warm destinations. Instead I submersed myself at UK inland sites.
Late February saw a cold snap arrive, and I can remember getting a severe ice-cream headache as I descended below the surface at Wraysbury.
I duly made a note to investigate the availability of warmer hoods before I suffered the same fate again.
That was 10 months ago, and I’d forgotten all about it – until the guys at Portland-based O’Three, who had clearly been reading my mind, sent me their latest Extreme hood to check out.

The Design
The Extreme is constructed using two different thicknesses of materials. The main body is built using O’Three’s own 7mm Super Supple neoprene, while the yoke is made from its 5mm Flex Glide Skin. The various panels are then connected with glued and blind-stitched seams to create an ergonomic fit.
Ultra Soft and stretchy neoprene has been used in the throat panel so that it doesn’t restrict breathing, and 7mm Glide Skin material is employed for the contour-hugging face-seal. The rest of the interior of the hood has a bright orange soft thermal plush lining.
Like O’Three’s entire range of top-end hoods, the rear centre panel has a double-lined, perforated ventilation system. O’Three calls this an Air-prene vent.
The Extreme is finished with tasteful, discreet silver and orange screen-printed livery.

In Use
In mid-November I took the Extreme Hood with me, again to Wraysbury, and although the water temperature hadn’t dropped to the sub-Arctic levels we had experienced last winter it was still a bit on the nippy side. This hood was as warm as a warm thing, keeping my head and neck more than toasty, although to be honest that was to be expected, so no surprises there.
What astounded me was just how non-restrictive and supremely comfortable this hood was to wear. It was a far cry from the thick, stiff 7mm versions I’d worn in the past, hoods that had limited my head movement and, as DIVER Editor Steve Weinman reminded me, would stretch the skin on the face, pulling the eyes apart until they could hardly focus!
This version actually felt every bit the same to wear as my favourite 5mm classic hood from the same maker, but it was a lot warmer.
The face- and yoke-seals kept water-flushing to non-existent levels, and the Air-prene vent simply released any air trapped inside the hood or transferred from mask-clearing, so avoiding that beehive look.
The throat section that I had expected to crush my windpipe felt as if it wasn’t even there. I’m pleased to tell you that this hood was a joy to dive in; it kept my head extremely warm and was supremely comfortable to wear.

Conclusion
Those little Dorset neoprene Munchkins have knocked this hood out of the park. I was so impressed with this technically inspired product that I’ve been boring my diving friends to tears as I extol its virtues.
My regular dive-buddy told me to shut up, saying: “It’s just a 7mm hood, Nige – who on Earth needs one?”
My answer to him is: “Anyone who dives throughout the year in UK waters, anyone who stays under water for long periods or does multiple dives, and anyone who’s planning a coldwater trip abroad.”
In the words of O’Three: “A 7mm hood is no longer seen as a one-time, one-use purchase.”
I would have argued that this wasn’t the case, with most year-round divers I know opting to avoid the discomfort of a traditional 7mm hood and run the coldwater gauntlet with their year-round 5mm models. Now I know better, and this brilliant hood will probably replace my 5mm as first choice for all but late-summer UK diving.
When my buddy and I get under water together this winter to collect a few scallops, I know he’ll be begging me for a go with this hood. That’s so not going to happen, because I’ll have a fight on my hands to get it back.

SPECS

PRICE: £40
MATERIALS: Super Supple 7mm neoprene, 5mm Flex Glide skin yoke
COLOURS: Black
SEAMS: Glued, blind-stitched
SIZES: S, M, L, XL, XXL
CONTACT: www.othree.co.uk
DIVER GUIDE 10/10 

See more hoods in Divernet Showcase