The Goose Hood is the best down hood we've tested for three-season backpacking. It weighs a mere 1.4 ounces on our scale, is filled with 900-fill down, and is made with one of the best lightweight fabrics available. Two key features set this hood apart from others we've tested: the drawcord at the face, which seals our cold air and the hang loops that can secure the hood under a sleeping bag's neck closure. We recommend this hood to anyone that sleeps cold or wants to take a hood-less sleeping bag into below freezing conditions.
ZPacks Goose Hood Review
Cons: Longer length would be warmer for use with a hoodless jacket.
Our Analysis and Test Results
Applications for Down Hoods
Down hoods are like the ultimate balaclava except warmer, softer, and lighter. Our testers generally use them with hood-less sleeping bags when the temperatures drop around or below freezing. You can also wear it while walking or climbing in cold conditions. Down hoods are also a lightweight way to increase the warmth of sleeping bags with poorly designed hoods. We bring them with us while testing bags in case one has a terrible hood and we get really cold.
The Goose Hood is lightweight, warm in temperatures down to the teens, and (critically) has a drawcord adjustment around the face that seals out cold air. This latter feature makes the hood much warmer and more comfortable than other hoods that have fixed openings that aren't adjustable.
A small loop on the front and back of the hood allows you to make an "underarm harness" to secure the bottom of the hood underneath a sleeping bag's neck closure with some elastic. We've found that this is useful because it keeps the hood attached to your body. Take it off in the middle of the night if you get hot. Later, if you get cold, the hood will be right beside your neck and you can put it back on without groping around in the dark to find it.
Similarly, another significant advantage of this hood is the size of the opening for your face. You can stick your head out of the opening, which eliminates the need for elastic attachment cords to keep it nearby at night; just poke your head through the hole and you have a cozy down balaclava. This technique also greatly enhances the comfort of a hoodless jacket.
The hood weighs a mere 1.4 ounces!! It packs a tremendous amount of warmth into something that weighs less than a Snickers bar. This hood has much more loft than most hoods on ultralight down jackets, like the Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoodie and Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer. Its warmth is more comparable to midweight down parkas.
Everyone has a different shaped head and a different neck length. If you have a giraffe-like neck, like this author does, you'd likely benefit from a slightly longer hood. Without specifying the exact dimensions for a custom hood, the Goose Hood does a great job at fitting a wide variety of people.
Other Hoods to Test?
We've tested four down hoods: this one, the Katabatic Windom, the Katabatic Crestone (a winter hood) and the Jacks 'R' Better Down Hood. The Nunatak Down Balaclava is too heavy and too warm for backpacking. Let us know if you think we should test other hoods.
Where To Get It
The Goose Hood is only available from ZPacks' website.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale