best surf ear plugs
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The Best Surf Ear Plugs and Why You Need Them

Adverse weather conditions can negatively impact surfers’ ears, and ear plugs can help prevent serious problems. Let’s see why you need earplugs as well as the best earplug options on the market.

As surfers, not everything we do is aesthetically motivated, pleasing, or pleasant. Sometimes, to lessen the effect of ultraviolet light and the ocean glare, we need to wear surf hats and risk looking like a hipster on their way to the concert of a fringe band that only has 69 followers on Spotify. Sometimes we need to put on tasteless but functional wetsuits and not worry about whether we look like a modest whale when we're wiped out or not.

Earplugs are another piece of equipment that doesn't suit the mainstream image of a cool surfer, but they're useful regardless. Yes, they might restrain your hearing capacity, you might end up with an ominous whooshing in your ears, and you might not look as sexy as you'd like to. However, there's no use in contesting their benefits.

Basic ear problems like ear inflammation are not pleasant at all either. Especially when you're exposed to cold wind, cold air, cold water, or too much saltwater, you might suffer from a condition commonly referred to as "surfer's ear," which is basically an abnormal bone growth inside your ears. In the end, you might even need to undergo ear surgery.

To prevent such a fate, you definitely need surf earplugs. Read on as we're going to tell you more about how to protect your ears and provide you with a list of our favorite earplugs.

What Is Surfer's Ear?

Due to our profession, we're more exposed to certain combinations of natural forces, resulting in different complications. One of those is surfer's eye, which is basically a conglomeration of the adverse effects of sun, glare, water, and wind on our eyes. Even though non-surfers may develop it as well, it's associated with surfing due to our constant exposure to its main culprits.

Surfer's ear, scientifically known as exostosis, is another one of those conditions. Especially those who surf in cold temperatures without ear plugs and are constantly exposed to the combination of cold wind and water show its symptoms.

Too much exposure to such cold causes your ear canal to shrivel up. As a result, water, wax, and even air might get trapped in your ear and lead to certain infections, impeding hearing. In some cases, these infections might turn into a bony growth in your inner ear and might require surgical interventions.

The unpleasantries are not limited to hearing-related issues either. As you might have heard before, ears, especially the inner parts, are responsible for many brain functions, including balance. If it goes untreated, surfer's ear might affect surfers' balance, too, which is one of our most important assets.

Therefore, you must protect your ears when the water and weather conditions are likely to cause complications. You can do it either by deciding against paddling out or learning all about surf earplugs and picking the best one.

What Makes a Good Surf Ear Plug?

No matter what equipment you're considering purchasing, there are some basic aspects you need to keep in mind. We know that sometimes just going for the most good-looking option is quite tempting, but will it serve its purpose as well as a mediocre-looking one? After all, we're talking about protecting your health and potentially, preemptively, saving your surf career; you shouldn't be making hasty decisions, should you?

Well then, let us tell you what matters the most in a good surf earplug. First of all, it should do its job effectively: not letting in water or air. Of course, to decide based on this particular criterion, you need to go and test all the earplugs on the market. Luckily for you, though, we did that, so you can read on instead.

Okay, it might do its job in the most effective manner possible, but what good would it be if you feel uncomfortable about it when you're riding waves? A good earplug shouldn't attract your attention when it's protecting your ears, so you can focus on surfing.

In addition, hearing what other surfers are screaming at you is crucial when you're in the water. They might be warning you against a rogue longboard, a shark, or they might just be informing you about the zombie apocalypse that broke out on land. If your earplugs restrict your hearing, the apocalypse might just surprise you.

The Best Surf Earplugs of 2022

Creatures of Leisure SurfEars Water Out Sound In Earplugs

doc’s proplugs earplugs

SurfEars (or Surf Ears as they are sometimes referred to) is a relatively young company having been founded only in 2011, but even in such a short period, they have become one of the best. See, the founder, Christian Dittrich, was having a nice vacation surfing on the Moroccan beaches in 2011; soon, though, that nice vacation turned into an unpleasant one because he started suffering from a serious ear infection that caused a hearing loss for a whole week.

When a passionate surfer encounters such a problem, and they have the means to gather up a few scientists (Swedish ones, mind you), you can be sure that the solutions they'll come up with will be the best ones. The SurfEars Earplugs is the evidence: the "Water Out, Sound In" doesn't only remain as a fancy product title; it perfectly captures the provided quality.

It has a unique design with a double curved wing that ensures no water sneaks in, a tilted core, as well as soft seal rings so that you don't feel any fitting issues or discomfort. Moreover, the design ensures that the protective properties of the earplug don't impede your hearing.

Most other ear plugs on the market come with a "one size fits all" policy—well, SurfEars is not one of those. Besides adjustable cords that ensure a secure fit, it comes in four different sizes for the silicone tips and two for the wings. Additionally, if you're worried about the sensitivity of the equipment and how you're going to take care of it, especially when you're traveling, let us tell you that the package includes a high-quality case as well.

Check Out SurfEars Earplugs on Amazon

Doc's ProPlugs Preformed Protective Vented Earplugs Clear With Leash

mack’s ear seals dual purpose earplugs

Doc's ProPlugs has a similar history to that of SurfEars, albeit a much longer one. It was founded in 1977 by Robert Scott, MD; he was also into many water sports such as swimming, diving, and surfing. Most importantly, he was one of the first medical professionals who made the connection between cold water and exostosis. As exostosis sits at the intersection of his profession and hobbies, who could have been in a better position to develop a solution back then?

Despite almost half a century in the industry and thanks to the efforts of the Doc's daughter, Brenda Scott-Rogers, who was a World Cup Surfing Champion back in 1978, the Doc's earplugs still continue to be some of the best options on the market. They might not have the fancy designs or the appeal of their contemporary counterparts, but they are made with the utmost anatomical knowledge of the human ear, and they are surely functional.

That's why their earplugs have been the choice of many workers who work in noisy conditions, scuba divers, and those living dangerously close to a zone that may or may not hold an industrial metal concert anytime. When you head to their website, you'll see that two main categories come up: non-vented and vented earplugs. Whereas the former excel in keeping noise out (who really wants to hear a new Ministry album? In 2022? In this economy?), the latter is more suited to water sports.

The vented designs keep a warm pocket between cold water and the inner ear while still allowing sounds that are in the normal frequency inside. That means you’ll be able to hear other surfers talk to you but not other over-the-top sounds. Isn't that just perfect?

Check Out Doc's ProPlugs Vented Earplugs on Amazon

Mack's Ear Seals Dual Purpose Earplugs

mack's ear seal dual purpose earplugs

Mack's has been around even longer than Doc's ProPlugs has, and they surely have targeted a bigger group of consumers in those six decades. They're not only a company founded as a response to surfer's ear, unlike the two above, but also offer products to aid sleep, among other medically-oriented purposes. Still, they're the number one in the USA when it comes to earplugs, and considering the cost-benefit ratio, they might just be deserving of that title.

Similar to the Doc's ProPlugs above, you can use the Ear Seal for more than one purpose. They're ideal for people who are exposed to high decibels due to work as it provides a noise reduction of 26 decibels. The detachable cord makes it easier to remove them once the noise is gone. Thanks to the sturdy and soft seal rings, they're also great for sealing the water out.

The most outstanding feature of the Ear Seals is that, even though they don't have any wings which secure plugs in place, they don't come out easily. The seal rings just sit comfortably in your ears, and unless you want to remove them, they're going to stay during your whole surfing session.

However, they might not be as good as the options above when it comes to letting sound in. So, be mindful of that.

Check Out Mack's Ear Seals on Amazon

HearProtek Upgraded Custom-Fit Water Protection Earplugs

hearprotek upgraded custom fit earplugs

HearProtek should be one of the best company names in the industry because it perfectly sums up what they offer: hearing protection, professionalism, and an emphasis on innovative technology. Also, the transparent version of their Upgraded Custom-Fit earplugs looks like they could be an underwater creature. Even if they fall out of your ears and pollute the habitat of the real underwater life forms, they at least won't stand out.

Don't worry, though, as they're not falling out of your ears that easily. It's another one of those winged earplugs, and there are three wing options included in the packaging. As long as you get the size right, it'll fit comfortably and securely to your ears. Moreover, the contoured design ensures that they stay right where they’re intended to stay.

The design innovations aren't limited to the wings and contours, either. The core of these plugs is made of mesh, which is ideal for keeping the cold water out and allowing the sound in. The water-proof qualities of the mesh core are supplemented by the double flange design for further protection. These flanges are made of soft silicone bud, so you can be sure that they won't cause you any discomfort when the wave of your dreams is rolling towards you.

The only downside is that the particular double flange design of the HearProtek earplugs might feel too awkward for some, especially in the first go. You might get used to it later on, though.

Check Out the HearProtek Upgraded Custom-Fit Earplugs on Amazon

Oken Swimming Earplugs

The Oken Earplugs might seem like a cheap and untrustworthy alternative to your AirPods. Still, they're actually quite ordinary-looking earplugs, and they do a decent job keeping the water out. Unlike the other options on our list, they don't have flappy flanges or long stems. However, they just sit on the entrance of the ear canal, and the frequent contours around its core block water.

It has waterproof mesh in its core as well, but most of the blocking is still done by the contoured stem. On the downside, that particular design also blocks sound to a great deal, maybe more than all the other options on our list.

Moreover, although it comes in three different size options, it's prone to falls because it doesn't go deep into the ear, and the hook design is not adjustable. All in all, though, if you're looking for a cheap option for small sessions on cold and windy days, it'll be efficient to protect your ears.

Check Out Oken Swimming Earplugs on Amazon

Wrapping Up...

Needless to say, a surfer needs to take great care of their health, but you might have realized that there aren't many great options on the market when it comes to protecting ears. The SurfEars earplugs shine out as the only premium option a surfer can pick with peace of mind, and it's quite expansive, especially in comparison to the other options on our list.

However, if you want to surf when the water is cold and the winds bite, there is no better option for you. With those plugs in your ears, you can protect your ears by keeping the water out, prevent potential cases of surfer's ear, and maybe even save your whole surfing career without even knowing it.

Don't forget, no matter how itching you are to paddle out through adverse weather, your health comes first, and it's your most important asset on your path to success and joy.

Written by
Jeremy Dean
surf coaching