Nothing is quite like spending the summer by the pool or spending your fitness time swimming laps. Swimming is an excellent way to have fun and stay in shape. For many swimmers, though, their time in the pool is cut short by a horrible condition called Swimmers Ear.
Top Swimming EarPlug Comparison Chart
Swimming EarPlug Buying Guide
Swimmers Ear will have you at the doctor’s office, certain you have an ear infection. It can be horribly painful and lead to ringing and other issues like balance and coordination problems for some. The best-case scenario when visiting a doctor for swimmer’s ear is that you get some drops and have to stay out of the pool for a few days. The worst-case scenario for swimmer’s ear is that you have to get your ear vacuumed out by an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist.
No one wants that.
The easy solution is making sure you don’t get swimmers ear. This will keep you in the pool and happily swimming laps all year long. There are all sorts of home remedies out there said to prevent swimmers ear. The best and most proven method to prevent this painful condition is swimming ear plugs. Swimming ear plugs will give you an easy and inexpensive prevention for swimmers ear and swim-related ear infections.
What You Need to Know About Swimming Ear Plugs
When buying swimming earplugs, there are many options that you can choose from. Each of the different designs for swimming earplugs comes with its own perks and drawbacks. Here we will go over the basic styles of earplug and what you can expect from the different features of the plugs.
Conical Ear Plugs are usually pre-molded and made out of flexible rubber, plastic or silicone. They typically look like a tiny cone that has bands of flexible plastic around the outer edge. Each band is wider than the next.
These earplugs are inserted directly into the ear to the point of comfort for the user. They are typically universal fit, because of the bands that widen the deeper they are inserted into the ear canal.
Many conical ear plugs are rated to block out noise. You would need to check with the manufacturer of the specific earplug to see if they block out the noise and if so what the noise cancellation rating is on the specific earplug.
- The only concern that one would have with these types of ear plugs will be if you have a sensitivity to the material the earplugs are manufactured with (always check the label).
- Those with very wide but shallow ear canals may find that these type of ear earplugs uncomfortable for them.
While conical ear plugs can be made from a soft silicone that is not typically what is thought of when discussing silicone ear plugs. Silicone ear plugs are made of a soft, malleable silicone that allows the wearer to shape the silicone to fit directly in their ear canal. Many find that Silicone ear plugs are the most comfortable type of earplugs because of their custom fit.
Silicone ear plugs resemble silly putty in that they can be molded and reshaped multiple times. They are available in multiple colors which make them easy to see, or easy to hide depending on your preference.
- The silicone can become sticky and attract unwanted substances like pet hair and dirt when not in use. Once this happens they are difficult to clean.
- Part of the earplug becoming lodged inside of the ear has been a concern for many users. If this happens, a Doctor or ER visit may be necessary.
Vented ear plugs are different than traditional swimming ear plugs because they allow you to equalize your ears while swimming. This may not be an issue for many people because they do not dive deep down into the water.
However, if you do any free diving or depth swimming, you may want to consider the vented ear plugs. Though the data is still unclear on whether or not you should use ear plugs when diving, the Divers Alert Network has more information and is working on ongoing studies.
Some people just like the feel of these ear plugs function better than other ear plugs and use them for regular swimming. Vented earplugs do not put anything into your inner ear, and it can be more comfortable for many swimmers.
- Science is out on whether earplugs for freediving and deep swimming are safe.
Many people make the mistake of buying foam earplugs for swimming. These are not swimming earplugs. They are designed for noise suppression and will not do anything to keep water out of your inner ear. Do not use foam earplugs for swimming.
Not For Swimming!
Best Swimming Ear Plugs Reviews
Here is our rundown of the best swimming ear plugs available in 2017
Speedo has been a name in swimming for decades these earplugs are just another reason why Speedo leads the market in swimming-related apparel. The earplugs had a soft core of plastic that was PVC free. The softcore on the earplugs made them flexible and easy to insert into the ear.
There are two layers of banding on the speed of earplugs. The first layer is designed to be inserted into the ear canal and expand preventing water from entering the ear. The second layer sits firmly against the outer ear to provide additional protection from water entering the ear canal. There is a bit of plastic that sticks up after the banding allowing you to grab the earplugs when you want to take them out or insert them into your ears.
The little piece of plastic that sticks out after the last layer banding was the only problematic area for the Speedo earplugs. When wearing a swim cap, this extra piece of plastic could make the earplugs uncomfortable.
The earplugs came with their own case, which made keeping track of them a lot easier. Their sleek design made cleaning them easy, which was very important considering they go inside the ear. They seemed like they would fit a wide shape of ears, though not the extra small or extra-large. If you have off shaped ear canals or you know one is larger than the other, these may not work for you.
- Easy to Clean
- Come with Case
- Fit small-big ears
- Not a custom fit
- May require readjustment during a swim
- Can be uncomfortable with swim cap
The first thing that stood out about these earplugs was the fact that they came with multiple sets of material. There were three sizes of in the earplugs and two sizes of the fixation wings. That made these easily the most customizable fixed piece earplugs that were available.
In addition to them being highly customizable, they also featured no acoustic loss. So swimming and hearing were possible at the same time. This is great for those who need to be aware of their surroundings like lifeguards and parents. Sound is so vital when in and around water, it is really great to be able to hear everything going on around you.
The great thing about the multiple sizes was that it worked for many different people. Also, if one ear was larger than the other ear, you could mix and match the sizing on the pieces until you found a combination that worked for your particular anatomy.
One of the downfalls for these ear plugs was that the centerpiece that connected the fixation wings and the ear plugs were very rigid. This could lead to problems with discomfort and ear pain with long term use. The rigidity in the middle of the ear just didn’t feel natural.
With all of the attachments on these ear plugs, they could feel a little flimsy. If the pieces were not attached properly, they would easily fall off. That is typical with any “plug-n-play” piece of equipment. If you do not set it up properly, it may not work the way it was intended.
- Three sizes, small medium and large
- No acoustic loss
- “Fixation Wings”
- Wings can come off easily
- Rigid center
- Small can be considered large
Putty Buddies can be a great earplug once you know how to use them. That being said, it may take a little practice before you understand how long you can hold onto these pieces of silicone before they begin to stick to your hands instead of going into your ears. These types of earplugs may take a pair or two to practice with before you get the technique required to put them into your ears the right way.
The ear plugs themselves are fun and brightly colored which makes them very appealing to kids and those with a whacky side. The package comes with 3 pairs and a carrying case, so you don’t have to worry when you mess up putting in the first pair of earplugs.
The best part about these ear plugs is that they do form fit to your ear. Even if you have funny shaped ears, weird tubes, or one ear is larger than the other. You can get the Putty Buddies to match your ears. The manufacturer does recommend that these be used with a swimming headband, which wasn’t surprising because they did seem to be more unstable than the fixed rubber type of earplugs.
- Fun bright colors
- Comes with three pairs
- Very sticky
- Can be hard to mold
- May need extra head band
The Macks Aqua Block earplugs are a soft, flanged ear plug that is designed to fit inside the ear. They have a fairly standard ear plug design and do not deviate from that look.
The earplugs feature a long stem that sticks out past the ear, making it easy to insert and remove the earplugs. There are three rings on the ear plugs and they can seem a bit shallow. If your ear canal is very deep these ear plugs may not provide enough protection from the water for you.
Macks Aqua Block are very soft and flexible, most of the time you don’t notice you are wearing earplugs. If you prefer a more rigid feel, then these earplugs may not feel comfortable to you.
All in all these earplugs perform exactly as they are designed with minimal leakage if inserted correctly.
- Easy to use
- May not fit different sized ears
- Very soft
There are two schools of thought for the Doc’s Pro Plugs, either you love them or you hate them. These ear plugs are vented and allow sound in, or allow you to equalize your ears if you are diving or swimming at depth.
The divide on these comes to whether or not they fit well. These earplugs come in a wide array of sizes, and unlike most swimming earplugs the sizing is vital to making these work. If you are lucky and you get the right size the first time, then these could possibly be the best pair of earplugs you ever own.
Most people had sizing difficulties. If you don’t get the sizing right on these earplugs then they become ill-fitting, they let water in, and they are easy to lose.
So, if they are the right size, the Doc’s are a great pair of earplugs. If they are the wrong size, they are horrible. Hopefully, you guess right and get the right size the first time.
- Form fitting
- Not sticky
- Must be sized correctly for fit
- Can leak
- Easy to lose
The Surf Ear 2.0 is a great ear plug from the look of it, but compared to lesser priced models it just doesn’t perform as well as it should for the cost. These are probably one of the highest priced swimming earplugs available, yet they still experience some of the basic earplug problems, like leakage and falling out.
On the bright side, the Surf Ear 2.0 is highly customizable. The ear bud piece, that is inserted into the ear canal comes in three sizes, making it adjustable for most sized ears. The wing piece that sits on the outer ear is available in two sizes that allows for even more size customization. Despite all of the sizing options, there are still fit problems that can lead to leakage and loss.
The main design of these earplugs seems to be to let sound in. For that, they have succeeded. If you don’t mind fiddling with the fit, you can really benefit from being able to hear all around you with the Surf Ear 2.0 earplugs. They have made it so that you don’t have to sacrifice your hearing in order to keep water out of your ears.
- Let sound in
- Wings to hang on to the ear
- Can let water in
- May fall out
These are Speedo brand ear plugs but they mimic other basic ear plugs available on the market. The nice thing about these particular plugs is that they have 4 flanges of rubber to make sure you get a proper seal on your ear canal.
If you have smaller ears you may not like the ear guard, because it can have an awkward fit on the inside of the ear. It is designed as a safety measure to make sure the earplug is not inserted too far into the ear, but it just makes the entire plug a bit cumbersome.
- 4 bands of sealing rubber
- Ear Guard
- Comes With case
- One Size
- The ear guard can get in the way
- Awkward fit
Here we have another pair of vented ear plugs. The JBL Hydro Seals have been used by divers and swimmers alike to help keep water out of the ears. These are ergonomically designed to fit in the ear, though figuring out how to properly fit them the first time can be a little difficult.
The outside of the ear plugs can seem bulky if you are not used to having a large handle on your ear plugs. But other than that, the earplugs seem to run on the smaller side. The small sizes are great for children. Those with very large ear canals may not get a proper seal when using the JBL Hydro Seal ear plugs for swimming or diving.
They only come in pink.
The pink color may not be an issue for many swimmers, but for some, the earplugs only being available in pink is a deal breaker. They are very stylish, assuming you like the color!
- Can be used for diving
- Can be hard to fit
- Run Small
The Alpine Swim Safe ear plugs are basic earplugs. They consist of two pliable bands that wrap around a center post. The first band is domed around the tip of the center post of the earplug and will create a seal on the ear canal to prevent water from getting into the ear.
These are very basic earplugs with a short stem on the outside. The short stem makes these ideal for those who prefer to swim with a swim cap on. Those who do not swim with a cap on may find that these earplugs are a little shallow, or hard to manipulate.
With frequent use these earplugs can wear out easily because of the moldable material. Those who swim daily may want to invest in a sturdier pair of earplugs. However, these would be well suited for the occasional swimmer.
- Easy to use
- Basic design
- Comes with case
- Will not fit all ear sizes
- Only two sealing bands
- Can wear out quickly
These soft, silicone, waterproof earplugs are designed to be used as either a swimming ear plug or a noise canceling ear plug. For those that swim in noisy lap pools, these may be the earplugs you are looking for. If you are swimming in a situation where you need to be able to hear, do not get these earplugs. Your hearing will be impaired.
The nice thing about these earplugs was that they were dual purpose. With safety concerns, perhaps, it would be better to just have one set of earplugs for each situation. Not being able to hear when outside swimming can be dangerous.
These seemed to run on the larger side, which is great for those with larger ears.
- Useful for swimming and noise canceling
- Comes with case
- Designed for larger ears
- Not adjustable
- Noise canceling
Conclusion & Recommendations
Depending on your usage, the Speedo Ergo earplugs or the Putty Buddies are going to be your best bet for solid inner ear protection from the water. It comes down to preference, do you like moldable silicone, or do you prefer post style earplugs.
If you insist on using earplugs when diving make sure you read the manufacturer’s directions carefully, but either pair of vented earplugs we described should work well for diving. Doc’s perform a bit better if you can get the right fit.
You protect your eyes by wearing goggles, so why not protect your ears with earplugs.
If you are going to be spending a lot of time in the pool your best bet is to get ear plugs as a way to prevent any ear problems from occurring. We hope that with the help of this guide you are able to find the right pair of earplugs to fit both your ears and your swimming needs.