Winter is fast approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, and that means it's about to get cold. While we often wrap our bodies in warm neoprene, don gloves and booties to prevent our extremities from freezing kitesurfers often overlook their ears. It's easy to forget that one of our important senses for life is out there in the elements getting doused in cold water with a constant battering from the wind!
Surfers Ear is a well-known condition caused by a growth of the bone in the ear canal. It is caused by cold water and cold winds entering the ear canal and as a safety mechanism the human body starts to grow the bone to protect itself. The trouble is if you continue to let this happen you'll go deaf, which no one wants. Unless of course your better half is constantly nagging you not to go to the beach and to do more chores around the home!
In recent years, ear plugs have become more popular with surfers, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Options range from just sticking a load of surf wax in your ear, to high-tech offerings that are custom built just for you! As kitesurfers, we tend to overlook this aspect of our sport and we shouldn't, the cold winds have just the same effect as duck diving under frigid waters.
One of the main objections to ear plugs is that they can cause a loss of hearing, and some people find they affect their spatial awareness, which gives them a lowered sense of balance. When the wind is howling, and you are blasting along, you can't hear much, but balance is, of course, important to all of us! We've been testing out these Surf Ears for a full winter season and to say we are impressed would be an understatement.
They aren't cheap, retailing around €49.99 but then we value our hearing, and compared to a new wetsuit or kite it's peanuts. For the cost of a good meal, you could ensure you can hear them for the rest of your life! At that price, they have to be special, though, right?
Well yes, they are, firstly SurfEars, unlike lots of cheaper alternatives, allow you to hear when you have them in. By using a membrane and inner canal within the silicon, you can hear everything once you have them on. It's not a muffled slightly hampered experience either, sounds are crystal clear, and you'll quickly forget you have them in!
The ability to let sound through also helps with the balance aspect of the plugs, so wearing these you won't experience any ill effects at all. You get great protection from the elements, along with a neat carry case and a range of parts to ensure a perfect fit!
One set of SurfEars contains:
Not a bad package for your money, once you have adjusted the plugs to fit your ears, you are good to go. Simply put them in and forget about them, you'll be protected from the elements and able to hear everything. Oh and let's not forget you won't be staggering about like you've necked 5 pints and were on your way back from the pub!
The only thing about these ear plugs is when you forget to put them in, you'll notice the difference the moment you fall in the water and feel the cold inside your ear. You'll then have to make a decision to grin and bear it, or to head back to the beach and go and grab them out of the van! I know leave mine on the dashboard all the time, that way as soon as I arrive at the beach they are on my mind and in my ears before I get wet!
Another use is to protect against infection when the water isn't quite up to the blue flag standard, which round our way lately seems to be happening more often than not!
Not the cheapest solution out there, but certainly one of the best, if you value your hearing and ride in cold conditions these are an absolute must for every kitesurfer! We won't get wet without ours! SurfEars are Well designed, well packaged and with extra sizing options to fit most people.
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Rou has been kiting since the sports inception and has been working as an editor and tester for magazines since 2004. He started IKSURFMAG with his brother in 2006 and has tested hundreds of different kites and travelled all over the world to kitesurf. He's a walking encyclopedia of all things kite and is just as passionate about the sport today as he was when he first started!
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