During my last surf trip to Spain I was testing the latest version of SurfEars. Here are my thoughts about these earplugs.

I like to be well prepared no matter what I do. So I read a lot not only about surfing but also about surfing equipment and the sports related events. One day I found information about a conference for surfing startups held in Lisbon. Scrolling through the event page I found couple of interesting speakers that were supposed to give a lecture during that meeting. One of them represented SurfEars. I read about the product and it grabbed my attention. It was different from what I knew about earplugs. „Let sound in. Keep water out” is the promise that Swedish startup give when you decide to buy it’s product. I thought: Wow, this would be awesome! To hear what happens around me while in the water. To be able to talk freely withe my instructor or fellow surfers while sitting on the lineup. I decided that I need to learn more about it.

I read about the company and the story behind the product. It occurred that SurfEars have been developed by surfers. One of them suffered from surfer’s ear and that was an impulse to create a new kind of ear protection product that will change surfers’ experience with earplugs.

Picture of SurfEars case on a rock

I’ve already been aware of problems that can be caused by so called surfer’s ear (exostosis). For about 2 years I have been using “traditional” earplugs.

What is surfer’s ear?

Instead of quoting wikipedia definition here I’ll rather quote Tom Carroll (2 x surfing world champion and big wave surfer) who is also brand’s ambassador. In one of interviews he described it like this: The exostosis is a bone growth (in the ear) that is created by the body to protect two of the most important senses for survival, which is balance and hearing. The worst thing about the exostosis? Out of the water for couple of weeks and surgical intervention to get rid of it. So yeah, I’m wearing earplugs.

First impression

I like well designed products. I pay attention to details like aesthetics, branding and packaging. After opening the shipment I was impressed. SurfEars 2.0 come in a slick package, which gives you this feeling of holding a premium quality good. All the elements that are inside are very consistently designed. I really like the combination of black and red as the main color theme.

So, what can you find in this package? First, of course, are the earplugs. Second is a practical user instruction, which includes many useful tips like „how to use the leash”, „how to change buds and wings” and „how to fit your SurfEars”. Third is a cool sticker with the product logo which I personally find excellently designed.

Picture showing what is inside a SurfEars package

Custom fit

SurfEars can be customized for a perfect fit. It means that you can change the buds and wings depending of your ears „parameters”. The storage case that you get contains:

  • 1 pair of SurfEars pre-fit to size M
  • 2 x small wings
  • 2 x small buds
  • 2 x large buds (I needed to change medium buds to large)
  • 1 x leash

Any changes you want to do are simple. The parts are easy to remove and put together again. I have never tried earplugs with those specific wings so at the first time I had to look into the mirror to make sure that the plug fits the right way. After that first „controlled” attempt it’s getting easy and you do it on the touch.

Picture of SurfEars earplug lying on a shoulder of a surfer

Picture showing a surfer putting earplug into the ear

Picture showing a surfer putting earplug into the ear

Picture showing a surfer with an earplug into the ear

The performance

On the SurfEars website you can read that independent tests show that SurfEars have far superior performance compared to other ear plugs. SurfEars have close to zero acoustic loss in the frequency range of human speech while the best competitor cuts away about 20-30dB. To give you a reference, 30dB is roughly the difference between the loudest and lowest volume setting on your smartphone.

SurfEars work great. My tests showed undisturbed hearing no matter if I were in the water between pumping waves or at the beach warming up and talking with the instructor about our goals for the coming session. SurfEars fit well in the ear. What’s more is that thanks to the wings that keep the earplug in place I had only two wipeouts situation (one of them came just few seconds after the below picture was taken) after which one of my plugs felt out of the ear. No worries though. Subtle yet strong leash made it simple to “locate” and put back in again.

Picture of a surfer riding the wave in Conil, Spain

Potential improvement

As far as I am really satisfied with this product I must add one little thing that in my opinion could use some improvement. I felt small discomfort after putting the wing of the plug into the ear. Maybe it is the matter of material it is made of or maybe my ear 😉 Luckily within minutes this feeling disappeared and the plug felt comfortable.

The sooner, the better

Earplugs are a good prevention tool. I don’t surf every day but wearing them make me feel calm about my ears 🙂 In my opinion the sooner you’ll start using them the better. That’s why I like the idea of SurfEars Junior – smaller version of earplugs for children. This is something that may especially interest parents of those little lucky surfers that can surf every day.

Thanks for reading. Now go surf!