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Innovations by Fin Finbar Hood REVIEW

A big (almost 7-ounce), synthetic hood for cold weather.

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by Stuart Bilby | 2006-05-15 03:00:00-06

Innovations by Fin Finbar Hood REVIEW - 1
Tukuche, Dhaulagiri and a Finbar hood. Nepal.

Introduction

Sure they mocked my fashion sense at low altitude but once we got up in the snow and bitter cold the envy started. The question turned to "Is it warm in there?"

The Innovations by Fin Finbar Hood is a big, insulated synthetic hood. Does it have a place in a lightweight pack?

What's Good

  • Warm, so warm
  • Great companion for a quilt or hoodless sleeping bag
  • Maintains-loft-when-wet synthetic insulation
  • Rolls with you at night
  • Adjustable insulation thickness

What's Not So Good

  • Heavier than necessary
  • Toggle digs into head when reading in bed

Specifications

  Manufacturer

Innovations by Fin

  Year/Model

2005 Finbar Hood Hunter/Walker model

  Weight

6.8 oz (192 g) measured weight (includes 0.9 oz, 26 g removable insulation)

  Fabric

Supplex nylon

  Insulation

Two layers of 3M Lite-Loft insulation plus a removable layer of polyester fiberfill

  Loft

1.3 inches (3.4 cm) single layer with removable insulation included

  Size

One size only

  Features

Shoulder straps, dual drawcords, uninsulated shoulder shield

  MSRP

$45

Performance

The Innovations by Fin Finbar hood is an innovative, well thought-out hood. I took it on numerous winter trips in New Zealand and on a two-month trip across western Nepal. Despite its nearly 7-ounce weight, it became a firm favorite.

Innovations by Fin Finbar Hood REVIEW - 2
2005 Innovations by Fin Finbar Hood.

On a cold night putting the Finbar hood on is like moving into another world, noise is muffled and I soon become warm and cozy. The great value of the Finbar hood compared to a sleeping bag hood is that you can wear it as you move around. It becomes a dual use item: a boost to your sleeping bag at night as well as great for wearing on cold mornings and at lunch stops in the snow. It sure dampens the shock of transition from sleeping bag to outside world to be able to keep the warm hood on while eating breakfast and packing.

The Finbar Hood has a generous uninsulated shoulder shield that helps seal the hood into a sleeping bag to prevent drafts. The hood also has straps under the armpits that prevent it rotating in the night so that you wake to find your eyes blindfolded and the fabric covered in drool.

I found the Finbar hood wonderful for use with a hoodless sleeping bag or quilt. It is valuable when worn in a hooded bag as well to help boost the rating in marginal conditions.

The Hunter/Walker model tested has two drawcords: one to pull the hood into a small circular breathing hole in front of the mouth and a second drawcord which, when the hood is cinched up, pulls the standard circular opening into a horizontal slit that keeps the eyes clear and allows some peripheral vision. This is much more practical for walking around while leaving a minimum of face exposed. The horizontal toggle tended to dig into my head when lying down. I plan to replace it with a smaller toggle.

With a single walled tent I often have condensation or ice accumulate on the inside walls overnight, and accidentally rubbing it off with my hat or hood is common. Because of this the Finbar hood got quite wet on occasions but the Lite-Loft synthetic insulation meant that the hood maintained loft and stayed warm. A down hood would be lighter (e.g. the Nunatak Down Balaclava at 4 oz, 113 g or the Jacks 'R' Better JRB Hood 2.3 oz, 66 g) but the down is much more susceptible to loft loss from moisture. Still, it would be nice to have a more water resistant outer fabric on the Finbar hood, especially on the top where it is most susceptible to getting wet. The comparable down hoods as well as being more expensive, also lack the adjustable face hole, the shoulder shield and shoulder straps, and the ability to vary the insulation thickness.

Innovations by Fin Finbar Hood REVIEW - 3
The Finbar Hood can be cinched up to just leave the mouth exposed or adjusted to a horizontal slot to keep the eyes clear.

The Finbar hood is quite bulky but instantly justifies its place in my pack when it saves carrying a warmer sleeping bag or extra insulating jacket just for camp. It allows me to use a hoodless bag or quilt to below freezing and greatly extends the conditions I can enjoy being out of my sleeping bag at a cold campsite. I also found it good insurance when using a down sleeping bag in conditions where I was worried the down could get soaked. Whether stopped for lunch in a Himalayan snowstorm or watching stars on a frosty night the Finbar hood is a pleasure to wear.

What's Unique?

The Innovations by Fin Finbar Hood is unique as a synthetic insulated hood that seals to your upper body rather than simply being a hat. An uninsulated shoulder shield seals it into a sleeping bag and under armpit straps keep the hood in place when rolling in your sleeping bag at night. It also has dual drawcords to adjust the shape of the face hole and a removable layer of insulation to adjust for warmer weather.

Recommendations for Improvement

The Finbar Hood has a well thought-out and executed design. Some further refinements I would recommend are:

  • Lighter weight fabrics
  • Smaller shoulder shield to save weight
  • Primaloft or PolarGuard insulation for slightly improved performance
  • More water resistant fabric, especially for the top panel. I would love to see a Pertex Quantum version of this hood.

Citation

"Innovations by Fin Finbar Hood REVIEW," by Stuart Bilby. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/innovations_by_fin_finbar_hood_review.html, 2006-05-15 03:00:00-06.

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