If you spend lots of time in the sea or open water, you may have experienced ear problems. When you are suffering with inner ear problems, nothing else matters. You realise how important your health is and you want to do anything to get rid of the pain. Well thankfully, we have tested the best surfing earplugs available to help battle the problem of “surfers ear”.
What Is Surfers Ear?
Well one myth to dispel straight away is that this condition is limited to only surfers. Any activity that involves exposing your ear to cold water can cause potential inner ear problems. So if you are a Paddleboarder, kayaker or open water swimming you too could benefit from a set of surfing ear plugs.
Surfers ear, or as it is medically known, exostosis is caused by bone growth within the inner ear. There are different types of gradings of exostosis which range from 0-3. The higher the gradings, the more obstruction there is within the inner ear due to the bone growth.
These obstructions can lead to infections. The infections are caused by irritation from cold wind and water. When the cold water reaches the exposed bone within the ear canal, it causes new bumps to form on the bone.
This is very common within surfers due to the repeated exposure to the cold and wind. In some, it will cause absolutely no problems at all. You may look at a product like the surfers ear plug and think, “why the hell do I need to buy those, what a waste of money”.
However, if you are someone who has ever experienced ear pain, you will be looking at any available method to help prevent ear problems when you are surfing or out in the cold water.
Designed alongside doctors to protect from surfers ear
The highest performing surfing earplug when tested in the water
What are the Symptoms of Surfers Ear?
As stated already, many people will be suffering with surfers’ ears and may be unaware. I feel that I have my own issues that I contend with at a low level, which is why I decided to invest in a set of surfing earplugs.
One symptom you may have experienced is a decrease in your hearing. Now this could be temporary or ongoing. Do you go for a surf and find hearing is difficult after? Maybe you are a regular surfer who has noticed drop in your hearing but put it down to age. It might be worth having a hearing examine to find out.
Another symptom of surfers’ ear is an increase in the prevalence of ear infections causing ear pain. Ear infections happen, however it shouldn’t be a regular occurrence, so it could be a sign that you have a bad case of exostosis that needs looking at.
One final symptom, and the one which I suffer from is difficulty getting water from inside the ear. I’m not the only one to get water stuck in their ear after a swim or surf. However, I found that it was really hard to get it out of my ear. This would leave my ear with a plugging sensation that eventually turned into an ear infection.
This would then be made worse by a need for antibiotics. It got to a point where I couldn’t go in the water as much, which is not the way I wanted to live my life.
How Do You Stop Surfers Ear?
Like most things in life, prevention is better than the cure. Anyone who wants to continue to enjoy cold water sports should consider buying some ear plugs.
You can also consider using a wetsuit hood, as this will reduce exposure to the cold winds and also stop a lot of additional water from entering the ear. Wetsuit hoods are great in the winter, however you might not want to be wearing one during the summer months, so the ear plugs really are a worthwhile investment.
Of course, if you are suffering from a loss of hearing I’d really recommend a full ear exam from an ENT specialist so that you receive the best possible advice for you health.
The Best Surfing Earplugs
Surf Ears 3.0 Surf and Water Sports Ear Plugs
These are the newest version of the SurfEars product so you get their best attempt at producing quality ear plugs. In fairness to them, they are one of the best surfing earplugs on the market, or at least that’s how I feel.
SurfEars 3 does a very good job at preventing surfers ears. Part of this is because you will be able to find a size that specifically fits your ear. One problem when looking for ear plugs is finding the right anatomical fit to ensure you get a good seal to keep water out. If you buy these ear plugs you get a choice of 4 ear gel sizes, so one is bound to mould to your own ear dimensions.
One feature I like is that they are colour coded to ensure you get the right fit. This may sound daft, but compared to some of the other surf ear plugs they don’t have this feature, so you may have on and feel like something feels wrong, but not be able to put your finger on it.
If you are surfing with friends, these ear plugs will at least allow you to talk when in the water. They have a good sound quality. By that I mean they don’t completely plug the ear from noise like some cheaper ear plugs.
One final point to mention with these is the nice silicone case that comes with them. It’s a nice touch to keep the ear plugs in one place and also protected. You won’t want sand on the plugs you are about to stick in your ear. The case does a great job of keeping them clean. The magnetic closing system keeps them locked away, just like the apple air pods do.
Overall this is a quality surf and water sport earplug.
EQ Seals Ear Plug
This innovative design puts the EQ Seals at the top end of the list when it comes to protecting your ears in cold water sports. There are quite a few funky features to explain why these are such a high end product.
Firstly the design. These have clearly been designed by professionals who understand what is needed from a surfing earplug. The ergonomic design of the ear plug and the soft silicone make them enjoyable to wear. Apart from the initial few times you wear them, they have a natural feel to them. So much so you might be in the water double checking to see if they are still on.
The soft silicone means that once you have them on, you don’t feel the pressure on the walls of your ear duct. They are obviously waterproof and resistant to salt water so suitable for all water sports. They also have a breathable material to allow air to circulate.
The overall sound quality is high. If you want to wear these out with friends they will be perfect. I went out with friends in them and having a conversation was not a problem.
I am a sucker for products that have extra features or something unique and these defiantly do. They have a miniature screw top case that comes as a key ring. This is perfect for helping you to keep them safe. If they are on your keys, you will always be able to head into the water.
Zoggs Aqua Plugz
Zoggs are designed with swimmers in mind, so they understand that keeping water out of your ears is a priority. Swimmers spend hours in the water at a time so ear protection is important.
In terms of a cheap pair of ear plugs I really rate them. Fundamentally they help to keep water out of your ear, which will help to protect from exostosis.
They have an anatomical fit and each one is labelled (Left and Right) so they sit nicely in the ear. When in the ear they didn’t fall out and I was able to talk to friends without being “plugged” up and not able to hear properly.
Some of the issues you might find is longevity. These are designed for swimmers. I’d like to test these out over a longer period of time to see the effects of salt water on them. But if you need a budget set of surfing earplugs, these will serve you well.
Doc’s Pro Plugs
The Doc Pro Ear Plugs are not only used by surfers, wind surfers and kayakers….they are also used by musicians. Part of the appeal of these earplugs are that they still allow for the person to have good hearing while they are on.
The red ear plugs are buoyant, so if one was to fall out, they will at least stay on top of the water.
These ear plugs felt comfortable when on and formed a nice seal on the ear. If you want to keep costs down, these are a happy middle ground between a budget earplug and the more premium brands such as SurfEars and EQ Seal.
Macks Aqua Block Earplugs
In terms of value for money ear plugs, these come out top for me. You get two pairs included at very low price.
They have a unique flex stem that should help you mould the earplug to suit your ear size. The plugs are made from a pre-moulded silicone that is hard wearing. So despite the low cost, they are durable and should last you a good period of time.
They help to keep the water and wind out of your ear….if you are only slightly concerned about inner ear issues then these will do fine. If you are experiencing regular problems however I would opt for a more premium ear plug.
Specially designed with water sports in mind, these are a good pair of earplugs. The plugs have a waterproof mesh layer that forms a good seal on the ear. We didn’t find any leakage when worn in the water.
The overall quality of the ear plug is good. The silicone was comfortable when in the ear and after a while you do forget that you have them in.
They come with a carry case, so you get some storage to keep them safe, which some of the other budget options don’t have.
Speedo Unisex Ergo Earplugs
The last product we trialled was this set of swimming ear plugs from Speedo.
A very simple design that help to plug your ear and reduce water from entering your ears. There is nothing to suggest these will not perform well. They sit comfortably in the ear and are very easy to use.
For kayaking or stand up paddleboarding I think these will do just fine. There small design also means that they fit under a wetsuit hood nicely.
What are Surfing Earplugs?
Surfing earplugs are usually moulded earplugs that are designed to sit within the ear to block water from going inside. Their aim is to keep wind and water from entering the ear canal.
When we tested these products we made sure that they were exposed to a proper surf session, so there were plenty of wipe-outs and tumbles to ensure that a proper seal was formed and the water stayed out. We also made sure they stayed in, as there is little point in buying an ear plug for water if they fall out when you go in the water!