Skydiving itself is a risky activity and skydivers are always advised to take certain precautions. However, most skydivers don’t actively work to safeguard themselves against hearing damage and other ear related problems that can come with this adventurous hobby.
First and foremost, the planes used to take people to altitudes are not pressurized like commercial airliners. Owing to this, they tend to be much noisier than commercial airliners. So if you skydive regularly, it is imperative to invest in a good set of ear plugs that are either custom – fitted or conform to your ears when you place them since the ride down can be particularly bumpy and windy.
Have it in mind that falling at 120 miles an hour through the sky is nearly as loud as being in the plane. If you are doing a tandem dive, you will not be able to hear your partner since the wind will cover up the sound of your voice. Therefore, ear plugs are a good addition to help protect your ears against noise related hearing loss, and will not block out any other important sounds – since the wind will already be doing that.
During skydiving and just like diving underwater, you’ll experience a rapid change in pressure as you descend toward the earth. Reports have it that people had nearly a 20 percent difference in ear pressure before and after a jump.
This is a potential problem since air pressure against your eardrums decreases as quickly as you ascend, but the pressure inside your ears can remain the same. According to experts, this can lead to your eardrum bulging outward, making sounds appear muffled or your ears to feel stuffy. The opposite occurs after you jump, which is usually not a problem but can cause issues in some situations.
Note that once you have damaged the lining of your inner ears, there is nothing that can be done to bring it back. There is no medication to bring your old ears back – nor is there a surgery that sets things straight. Hearing loss that is attributable to skydiving happens because of damage to the cilia of the inner ear. Once they can’t wiggle anymore, it is over. They don’t bounce back.
That is why skydivers wear earplugs from gear-up to landing. Some take them out for freefall; others take them out for the canopy ride. It is your responsibility as a skydiver to find out what works for you and allows you to reliably receive information. It takes some discipline to remember, but it will help you in the long run. Try keeping a pair taped to your altimeter to help you remember to put them in.
What are the Best Earplugs for Skydiving?
Note that you don’t need expensive earplugs to skydive. The drugstore cheapies will do. When you place them, you just have to make sure they are snug – but that you can still feel them move around when you slide your jaw around (so you can equalize pressure, if necessary). Here are top five earplugs to consider.
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Vibes High Fidelity Ear Plugs
This set from Vibes is a wonderful all – around choice for a lot of different users, from festival – goers to musicians to skydivers and sleeping. The key point with any earplug is actually how much sound is attenuated, and at up to 22 dB of padding, these Vibes plugs provide some of the most dramatic reduction seen throughout the field.
These earplugs also put in some proprietary filtering that they claim will offer a more well – rounded frequency spectrum, not subject to the usual muffly high – end attenuation of more standard earplugs. The outside of this plug is made of a firm polycarbonate plastic that should hold up to a good amount of wear and tear.
They makers also included three different sizes of comfortable silicone tips so you can make sure they fit snugly in your ears. In addition, they provide a low – profile design, so you will look most natural with them in. They come with a hard carrying case, so they will be a great thing to throw into your skydiving bag.
Although no universal earplug will reduce different sounds as evenly as a custom design, the Loop pair offers solid noise protection and is the most enjoyable to wear. When compared with cheap foam earplugs, which are designed to block all sounds, a good pair of universal – fit earplugs like the Loop Earplugs will provide a light – years – better listening experience, allowing you to hear noises and voices at a safer level.
Note that these earplugs are comfortable to wear for an extended time and come with enough tips (six pairs) to fit nearly every ear shape. Even though some other competitors offered higher levels of noise protection, they either fit uncomfortably or sounded too muffled.
But this Loop earplug provides solid protection, will stay in place through skydiving and workouts, and have a discreet design that does not protrude from your ear. The zippered carrying pouch is tiny enough to fit in the smallest pocket, and you can also include a keychain attachment so it would be harder to lose.
Mpow Foam Ear Plugs
With all the research and development with the rest of the earplugs on this list, it is easy to skip over the simplest solution: foam, expandable earplugs. Note that even those squishy things you shoved into your ear during shop class have some interesting features to consider, and while the offerings from Mack’s are commonly seen in most drugstores, this set from Mpow is skydivers favourite. For around $10, you get 60 pairs of high quality, hygienic earplugs that are perfect in a pinch.
Note that these plugs will attenuate about 34 dB of sound, and they will admittedly muffle things a bit. But the pack comes with a keychain carrying case and with a tub of 60; they will be perfect to keep in your skydiving bag or to have on – hand as a backup to your main earplugs.
Decibullz Professional High Fidelity Earplugs
This pair conforms to fit the toughest ear shapes, and it offers more noise protection with a slightly clearer sound than many of the universal earplugs available. If most universal earplugs don’t fit you correctly but you don’t want to spend several hundred dollars on custom earplugs, the Decibullz Professional High Fidelity Earplugs find a good middle ground in fit, performance, and price. Note that this Decibullz earplug combines a mouldable outer portion with universal inner tips in an array of sizes.
These plugs take more work to set up, but they provide more noise protection and a slightly clearer sound than other universal – fit options do, so this was one of the only pairs that we found to be passable for skydivers amidst the noise of diving. Although these are not as good as custom-made earplugs, they cost $100 to $200 less and don’t require an appointment with an audiologist.
Ultimate Ear’s sky – divers earplugs are proudly developed with free fall parachute display team ‘The Tigers’ (The Princess of Wales Royal regiment). Bespoke ear defenders, made from soft ‘squidgy’ material. These plugs are extremely comfortable to wear, and flexible in the ear.
They are also the most effective and comfortable custom made hearing protection available. Just fit and forget. Hypoallergenic and easy to clean, the plugs are made from Ultimate Ear’s own ‘squidgy’ material, a unique blend of soft, flexible, medical grade silicone. They are perfect for skydivers who need maximum comfort and protection in the air. It can also be worn in all types of noisy environments.
If you want to keep the good sounds coming in to your skyward-tilting brain while skydiving, you’d better take some responsibility. Consider any of the earplugs mentioned above, and avoid future visits to the Doctor’s Office.