Lycra bound hoods – why?

There are some features on gear that are about as much use as a chocolate fire guard. For me, Lycra bound hoods fall into this category and turn otherwise great products into less than ideal ones. Why do otherwise sensible companies persist with this design flaw?

PHD produce some really excellent insulative clothing. I have the Minimus and Yukon down jackets. Both are superb, except the hoods are Lycra bound rather than having an adjustable cord. The hoods just about work if you don’t want to move. Once you move they have a tendency to pull down over your eyes.

For the sake of a few grams and a little extra work, an adjustable elastic cord would enable the hood to fit a greater variety of head sizes and shapes. I’ve just bought a PHD Sigma thinsulate smock in the sale with a hood. It’s Lycra bound as well and possibly worse. I’ve thought of a small mod, which should make it fit better.

It’s not just PHD. Rohan make a very good windproof jacket, the Windshadow. It has a foldaway hood. You guessed, it’s Lycra bound. It’s even worse than the PHD hoods as it is far too loose and practically useless in a strong wind. Again I’ve made a mod, which is a bit Heath Robinson, but makes it serviceable.

I see that Montane have caught the bug with the new Minimus smock following the Spektr with an elastic trimmed hood, as does the the Slipstream Quantum smock. It looks like Rab have seen sense and dropped the Cirrus wind top which also had an elasticated hood.

My plea to manufacturers is by all means think about a Lycra bound hood, but then reject it in favour of an adjustable one even if it weighs a few grams more. Unless your head is exactly the right size, THEY JUST DON’T WORK! Don’t put weight saving above function. BAN LYCRA BOUND HOODS, YOU KNOW IT MAKES SENSE.


10 thoughts on “Lycra bound hoods – why?”

  1. I completely agree! Lycra bound hoods are the pits and are even worse if, like me, you wear glasses! Cant understand the current trend to put them on unless its an ease of manufacture thing?

    Whilst on the subject of lycra bound things, I also dont like lycra bound cuffs either! I just far prefer velcro type fastenings on my cuffs as they are adjustable and far more comfortable. Well for me anyway 🙂

  2. Sorry Robin but I can’t agree with you on this one. Not all buyers of PHD or Montane smocks and jackets are dyed-in-the-wool backpackers or hillwalkers. I’ve just come back from a three day orienteering festival where a lot of runners had PHD, Montane or similar smocks to quickly put on at the end of their race. They aren’t bothered about the fastening; they just want something to keep them cosy while they wait for friends to finish their run or to have on the long walk back to the car park (or park and ride!)
    Similarly mountain marathon competitors just seek simplicity and lightness without being smacked in the face by toggle-ends. It’s good to have lycra cuffs to push up too.
    I’ve a PHD Minimus jacket and a Montane Fireball smock and I like them just as they are. PHD in particular are a very flexible company and I’m sure would consider an alternative if requested via their design-your-own-jacket scheme.
    So let’s have options and choice, not limiting ourselves to one or the other.
    (And don’t get me started on the energy policy or I might have to disagree with you again !)

    1. You wouldn’t get smacked in the face if the cord ends were captured like they are on good designs 🙂

      I can just about understand Lycra bound hoods on fashion brands but I don’t see PHD or Montane as primarily fashion brands. Rohan or TNF might have an excuse. Good idea to see if PHD would do bespoke hoods or even retro fit. I’ll contact them.

      On insulated jackets, I don’t mind Lycra cuffs, but not on waterproofs and windproofs. It seems to be a trend on very lightweight waterproofs and almost universal on windproofs.

      It seems to me that the functionality of adjustable hoods/cuffs is preferable in most cases.

  3. Robin,

    Talking about jackets, it looks from Rab’s website that they may have discontinued their Event Demand Pull-on smock. This is disappointing to me. I know Rab are now doing a Pulse Pull-on in Pertex Shield 2.5L but I am not sure if this material is more suited to day walks rather than long distance backpacking. It seems a shame to me that Rab could not have reduced their vast jacket range by one but retained their Demand smock.

    For what it’s worth, I like the hood on my PHD Minimus jacket as it makes me look like a pointy headed alien.

    As a glasses wearer, I find the rigid wired peaks on the best waterproof jackets are still inadequate to deflect sufficient rain away from my glasses so I end up wearing a Paramo cap making the rigid wired peak on the jacket somewhat superfluous. These new Lycra bound hoods work quite efficiently with my Paramo cap.

    1. The trouble with Lycra bound hoods on waterproofs is you are forced to wear a cap and unless they are a perfect fit, they are too tight or too loose. The hood on the OMM Cypher is the best I’ve used with a wired and stiffened peak and volume adjusters.

      It seems to me, there’s no downside in hoods with proper elastic cord adjusters (ends captured) and plenty of advantages relative to one size fits all Lycra hoods.

      Personally, I think eVent is much better than Pertex Shield, which I’ve found to be a bit sweaty.

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