Have you been surfing for over a decade? Are you familiar with surfer's ear or exostosis? If not, get yourself a pair of good ear plugs before it is too late. Discover the best ear plugs for surfing.
First advice: don't watch surgical footage of an abnormal bone growth being removed from the ear canal. You'll freak out even knowing the whole process requires general anesthesia.
Surfer's ear - scientifically known as exostosis - is a condition caused by cold wind and water that results in abnormal growth of bone in the ear canal.
With time and exposure to adverse weather conditions, your ear canal gets constricted and traps water and wax. As a result, you'll develop infections, otitis, and in the worst cases, deafness.
The problem usually starts to occur in surfers and watermen/waterwomen in their 30s, but exostosis is possible at any age.
Surfer's ear is a very common condition in North America, Europe, and Northeast Asia, but it can affect surfers who travel to regions where average air temperatures go below 66 °F (19 °C).
Do you really want a bony growth blocking your ears and affecting hearing and balance?
Of course not. But you'll need to start wearing ear protection.
What Makes Good Ear Plugs
The good news is that modern surf ear plugs will allow you to ride waves in cold air and water temperatures without sacrificing performance.
They're quite comfortable, easy to use, and washable. And they're a medical device.
But above all else, they've got to block wind and water effectively, adjust comfortably to the ear canal, and allow you to hear.
Each brand has its own ergonomic design, but in the end, they've got to stay in your ears for the whole session. A few models offer adjustable parts so that you can choose the right size for your ears.
Some high-end waterproof ear plugs come inside handy cases, which is a good thing because they allow you to keep them protected and accessible after getting out of the water.
In fact, they're so small that you can lose them easily.
Take a look at the best ear plugs for surfing in 2021:
Surf Ears 3
Surf Ears 3 are made in Sweden. They were designed to let the sound in and keep water out.
They feature a fixation wing, an acoustic mesh with a non-stick hydrophobic coating, and a sealing gel that protects the ear canal. The kit comes in a perfect storage case.
Doc's Pro Plugs
Doc's Pro Plugs protect your ears by keeping a warm pocket of air in the canal and leaving most cold water out without impeding hearing and balance.
The soft hypoallergenic plastic model floats, and it is extremely comfortable. It's the best protection against surfer's ear in the market.
Oken Ear Plugs
Oken ear plugs allow sound to enter but will prevent water from entering the ear canal while you're surfing, keeping it safe from infections.
It's available in three different sizes (small, medium, and large) to ensure a perfect fit in your ears shape.
Mack's Ear Seals
Mack's Ear Seals are made from two different types of silicone - one for the rigid inner core and another for the soft seal rings - and do not contain any latex.
They come with a detachable leash and can be washed and reused. The storage case will protect the kit from the elements.
JBL Hydro Seals
JBL Hydro Seals prevent water from entering the inner ear and were developed by American audio equipment company JBL.
These earplugs are hypoallergenic, don't block sound, and are made from soft silicon.
Mack's Aquablock ear plugs are made of silicone and promise increased sealing ability.
They are washable and reusable for extended wear.
Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone
Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone ear plugs are effective, but they work differently. Each silicone unit is pliable and moldable to your ear.
It will not let cold water or air in, which means you won't hear very well. It's a radical protection for the most conservative surfers.
EQ Seals offer an innovative design made of medical silicone. The one-size model will fit 95 percent of users.
However, this might not be an option for medium-to-large surf: the absence of a leash will result in losing the ear plugs.
Gooq Premium surf ear plugs were designed for surfers, swimmers, and water athletes.
They block water, cold air, and dirt bacteria but let sound through.
Alpine SurfSafe ear plugs are comfortable and effective hearing protection against the relentless effects that cold wind and waters have on your auditory system.
They're made with a flexible silicone-free material that fits in any ear.
The surf ear plug review has been updated on March 28, 2021.