When Harry Enfield’s legendary creations Kevin and Perry first hit our television screens in the 1990s the gormless teenager who hangs out aimlessly on street corners dressing identically to his mates and saying “innit” at the end of every sentence as a means of emphasising his individuality was already irritatingly familiar to those of us who live in the towns or cities.
Those who like to be accurate about these things will tell us that neither Kevin and Perry nor the equally absurd but hilarious Ali G were actually hoodies, but the one “fashion” would appear to have morphed into the other at some point along the line, and the same acne-induced “attitood” would appear to prevail today as the original pioneers of the fad slip unnoticed if a tad embarrassed into their early forties.
But there is another world in which the purpose of the hood is about more than concealing the identity of the underage gangsta as he goes about his dodgy business. There is indeed a reason why the hood was originally conceived, and it is actually quite astounding in its simplicity and innocence. It is about protecting the face and ears from the elements.
Nowhere are the elements harsher than on the hills and mountains, where the climber attempts to ascend to places where “attitood” is replaced by altitude and where it would just be so unfair to expect him or her to practice their sport without the requisite apparel.
In the grown-up world the hoody is a functional garment which can be a must when the wind and rain are unrelenting. Products such as those made by the specialist manufacturer Patagonia combine a comfortable softshell exterior with hardshell padding in those areas where it is most needed. The ultimate objective is to combine comfort and breathability with the harsh practical demands of the coat.
It is important that the garment can be worn if necessary with a helmet, and that the hood is sufficiently adjustable to prevent it from obscuring vision when it is incumbent upon the wearer to be able to see clearly in all directions. However great the temptation may be to protect every last inch of flesh the demands of safety need always to be paramount.
The real hoody is a painstakingly, even scientifically designed item of outdoor gear with a mission for providing the climber with the ultimate in weather protection whilst offering the minimum possible impediment to sporting progress.