Tuesday, February 17, 2009

IFR Hood Reviews

For a long time, I have been in search of the best hood. Yes, those pesky things we have to put over/around our eyes to pretend we are in the clouds. Most of them have one problem or another. I have not seen a good comparison of IFR hoods, and I think it could be useful. So, I thought I would post a review of different IFR hoods I own or have borrowed and used. Most on-line shops have some in their catalog. I found a decent selection of hoods at pilotstore.com and a decent selection of hoods at aircraft spruce and a decent selection at MyPilotStore with reviews, but not a consolidated view of a person who has tried many.

IFR Hoods I Have Used:

  • Best Ifr Hood (Own it) BestIFRHood IFR Hood
  • Viban (Own it) Viban IFR Hood
  • Hood Lamb (Own it) Hoodlamb IFR Hood
  • Foggles (Used it) Foggles IFR Hood
  • Asa Overcasters (Own it) Overcasters IFR Hood
  • Asa Jiffy Hood (Used it) JiffyHood IFR Hood
  • Francis IFR Hood (Used it) Francis IFR Hood

Things To Look For In A Hood

Most of all, it should restrict your vision to only the instrument panel. That is the whole purpose, and if you plan to really use your IFR in the clouds, you want to simulate that effect as best as possible. Cheating and seeing outside only hurts your practice of your abilities, and real IFR is not forgiving.

Under the hood, it needs to be comfortable to look at the instruments. To me this has been a factor as well. I find that two things have caused problems with this.

For comfortable view of the instruments, I find that black hoods are not as good as white hoods. Black causes a big contrast between the hood and the instruments and is not similar to outside unless you are at night.

The other thing for comfortable view is I do not like items that block the vision near my eyes. It messes with my eyes focusing a little bit. Most of the time it does not, but my eyes can try to focus on the near object instead of the instrument panel. It is subtle, but I do not like this. This occurs with Foggles, Overcasters, but not full hoods; Vibans are in between.

Next is to look for one that is comfortable. You sit with these things on for a while, and the last thing you need is a distraction from your main task of navigating by the instruments. If the hood is heavy or does not interact with your headset well, it can be a pain literally. I find that some cause pressure points around my ears under the headsets and others do not interact well with sunglasses.

Also, it is best if the hood is easy to take on and off. You have to only do that mainly at the beginning and the end, so it is not quite as important. But it is a pain if it is awkward. In the beginning, it might also be useful to take off when you are at your minimum altitude, but you can always leave it on and move your head and peak at the runway.

Finally, storing the hood is hopefully not hard. It is nice if it is not bulky and is not easily damaged.

Comparison Table:
IFR Hood comparison table
Click Image for better view.

My preference:

Right now, my preference is the Best IFR Hood. It is my favorite because it seems to do well with all the categories. It goes on easy after you get used to it, it is not heavy, the strap goes on over your headset, works with/without sunglasses, and folds up smaller than any other hood. It is cheap and I think everybody should try a pair at the bargain price of $5 with shipping. And I have no ties to this company.

Next choice would probably be the Viban for me. I was using this before getting the Best IFR Hood.

And of course, remember to get some time in the real clouds! Nothing substitutes for the real thing. Of course, after the appropriate practice and/or with an instructor.

If you have other experiences and feelings on hoods, please let me know especially if you have tried some of the ones I have tried.



Angus said...

Hi Brian. I have spent 30+ hours under this one, the Super Hood which is available at Sporty's. I find it very easy to put on and take off (the hood separates from the visor), it's well cushioned and doesn't interfer with eye glases or head set.

Super Hood

Brian said...

That does look like a good one. I have noticed it in the past, but did not see the detail that the hood portion separates.

I'll have to keep my eye out for that one to borrow sometime or pick up my own.


Anonymous said...

The personal preference and the criteria matter immensely. Over 15 years, I have used many of the devices you list. The Hoodlamb and ASA allow me easily to flip up the device at minimums or to quickly "go visual" should I need to. "Close to eyes" also means "not cumbersome/easy to wear" and so there is a tradeoff there These are the devices I prefer. I used Hoodlamb until switching to Bose headsets from David Clark. Since I always wear glasses of some type, I now use the ASA product (or one like it).

The color of the device and how close it is to my eyes are, for me, much less important. Since I find that my focus and attention during IFR recurrency training is on the instruments (no cheating), the view blocking capability of the device also is not too important to me.

jim said...

Hi Brian,

A friend has the hoodlamb, and it works great for me. However, it is apparently no longer available. Would you be willing to part with yours?


Brian said...

Sure! Just send me an E-mail (brian@cruik.org) and we can figure it out.