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Earmuffs are probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of aviation gear, but they are an important part of flying. The right earmuffs can protect your hearing from the noise of the engines, and help you stay comfortable during your flight. If you’re looking for the best aviation earmuffs, read on for our buyer’s guide. We’ll tell you what to look for in a good pair of earmuffs, and we’ll recommend some of our favorite models. Happy flying!
Aviation Industry: Risk of Hearing Loss
Flying is a safe and comfortable way to travel, but it does come with some risks. At higher altitudes, the air pressure changes can cause pain in your ears. And according to one study, about 1 in 4 pilots has suffered from noise-induced hearing loss. This is due to the loud engine noise in most aircraft. In fact, the sound levels inside a cockpit when at cruising altitude are 100 decibels or more! That’s about as loud as a chainsaw or lawnmower. As you can imagine, that’s not good for your ears.
Even if you don’t fly often, your odds of damage are still high. A recent study showed that even at low altitudes, with the windows open for takeoff and landing, noise levels exceeded 125 decibels 80 percent of the time! That’s almost as loud as working next to a running lawnmower. If you want to protect yourself from this kind of noise, good ear protection is key. That includes foam earplugs or reusable ones with special filters, but also quality aviation earmuffs. So which models should you look for? We’ll give you some recommendations in just a minute… But first, let’s talk about how the wonders of these units.
Noise Exposure Limits for Aviation Industry Workers
The aviation industry has limits on the amount of noise that workers are exposed to. These limits are measured in terms of decibels (dB), and they’re based on an average over an entire work shift. For instance, most airlines require that pilots not be exposed to 85 dB during takeoff or climb, 90 dB during the cruise, or 105 dB for an extended period “when using headphones”… And you’ll need to check your airline’s specific requirements.
The same recommendations apply whether you’re flying a single-engine Cessna 172 like our example here, or a jumbo jet like the 747 (which can fly higher than 37,000 feet). That means that if you regularly fly as part of your job, then the noise from your aircraft is likely to be within the limits described above. If you’re a private pilot, then your aircraft might not keep that same schedule. It will depend on how often or long you fly each day, and where you fly.
How to protect ears during flight?
There are a number of things you can do to protect your ears while flying. For example, avoid placing your head against the back of the airplane seat in front of you and be sure to drink plenty of fluids during the flight. You can also try:
- Yawn and swallow periodically during ascent and descent.
- While traveling, use the Valsalva maneuver during ascent and descent.
- To avoid discomfort, stay awake during takeoffs and landings.
- Speak to your pharmacist about an over-the-counter nasal spray.
- Use decongestant pills carefully.
Finally, you can use earplugs or noise-canceling headphones.If you are interested in listening to audiobooks or music on the plane, you may want to buy noise-canceling headphones. Listeners should also consider investing in a good pair of noise-isolating headphones or earbuds.
Benefits of the Aviation Earmuffs
Let’s talk about some benefits of aviation earmuffs:
- Enhances communication The best pairs will allow you to easily hear your intercom, ATC, or any other pilots talking to each other in your aircraft. Some models come with special microphones that enhance sound quality for this very reason.
- Blocks out harmful noise Don’t let airplane engine noise hurt your hearing! High-quality earmuffs like those recommended below can reduce noise levels by up to 32 decibels. That means they can block out most of the harmful sounds you’d otherwise be exposed to.
- Lightweight, portable, and durable Aviation headsets are small enough to fit in your flight bag or store in your plane’s glove box.
Essential Features of the Aviation Earmuffs
You’ll want to look for a high-quality product that’s going to serve you well. As such, here are some of the most important features:
|1. Hearing Protection (NRR)
|This is how each model rates its noise reduction capabilities. In simple terms, the higher the rating, the better it blocks out sound. Most models have an NRR of around 30 dB or more, which is more than enough for recreational pilots and private airplane enthusiasts.
|Most earmuffs are made of breathable fabric that’s reasonably durable. However, some of the pricier models also come with leather covers and/or cushioned ear cups which feel pretty comfortable.
|You’ll want to consider how adjustable your model is. This depends on how you plan to use it (for example, if you only ever fly one airplane), but most aviation headsets are pretty versatile when it comes to fit. You can easily make them tighter or looser by adjusting the headband size, clamping mechanism, padding… Or any combination thereof!
|4. Professional Comfort
|As with any equipment, you’ll want to consider the comfort level that your aviation headsets offer. Some models are pretty lightweight and well-cushioned, which can make them very comfortable for long flights. Before buying, make sure you know if they’re supposed to be worn over or under your helmet (if using one).
|5. Replacement Ear Cushions
|If you’re using your aviation headsets to fly and/or work on an airplane, then it’s a good idea to look for models with replaceable ear cushions. This way, if your current pair gets damaged or stained (which can happen if you work outside), you won’t need to buy a whole new set. It’ll save you money in the long run!
|6. Special Application Styles
|There are tons of special styles and variations of aviation headsets on the market. Some popular ones include Bluetooth models, noise canceling earmuffs for sleeping, or even headsets with directional microphones if you want to record your flights. All of these might be worth looking into… But make sure they’ll actually benefit you!
Aviation Earmuffs: FAQs
What’s the Difference Between Aviation Headphones and Ear Defenders?
The main difference between these two types of devices is that aviation headsets typically use ear cups (like headphones) whereas aviation ear defenders cover your entire ears. This makes them more comfortable, but they don’t usually allow you to listen to music. They also tend to be bulkier than over-the-ear headsets!
How Do I Pick the Right Size?
This depends on how they’ll be used (for example, if you want an adjustable helmet strap), but most models come with various size options. This should be self-explanatory, but keep in mind that larger devices might not fit under smaller helmets.
Do I Need a Special Aviation Headset for Flying?
That really depends on what you’re trying to achieve and your budget. Some units are specially made for pilots, while others can be used by both aviators and people who need hearing protection (e.g., woodworkers, construction workers). If you just want to fly recreationally or want an extra pair of earmuffs, then any model will do… However, if you work as part of the flight crew or fly regularly for business purposes, then it’s worth looking into something more specialized!
Where Should I Store My Headset?
Most aviation earmuffs come with a special carrying case, which you can either use or not. If you want to keep your headsets safe, make sure they’re in a secure location where nobody can accidentally damage them. Most people simply hang their devices on the wall near the main entrance of their hangar!
Do Aviation Headsets Work Without Music?
Yes. Even if you never use music while flying, it’s still a good idea to wear one. The headphones will reduce noise from all sides and provide some level of hearing protection in the event that something goes wrong during flight (e.g., engine failure). In other words, there’s no reason not to wear aviation headsets when using an aircraft!
Aviation Earmuffs: Tips
1. Combining Ear Plugs and Earmuffs
If you want to avoid ear pain and damage, then it’s smart to combine different types of hearing protection. For example, you can wear ear plugs underneath your aviation headsets for extra noise reduction! If you’re flying alone or with someone who also wears an aviation headset, then ask them if they’ll join you in wearing this combo. This will almost double the amount of protection that you receive (even more than using either product by itself).
2. The Uniform Attenuation Earmuffs
To have a strong hear protection you can use a fairly new product development, the uniform attenuation earmuffs are marketed for shooters, hunters, etc. They have fairly flat attenuation characteristics between 125 Hz to 1000 Hz frequencies. The upper frequencies are slightly amplified but not nearly as much as traditional over-ear headphones or other types of hearing protectors. Pay attention at:
Howard Leight by Honeywell Leightning L3 Shooting Earmuff (R-03318)
[amazon box=”B001DZX86O”] Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector
Aviation Earmuffs: Comparison Table & Main Features[amazon table=”394″]
1. 3M Peltor TacticalPro Communications Headset MT15H7F SV – Unique Frequency Response[amazon box=”B0006968YM”]
3M Peltor TacticalPro Specifications
|Item Dimensions LxWxH
|6 x 4 x 4 inches
|2 AA batteries required
|Unique Frequency Response
|Amplifies low-level sounds while suppressing dangerous impulse noises
|Noise Reduction Rating
|Combination liquid- and gel-filled
|Omni-directional cup microphones for 360-degree external ambient listening capability
Amplifies Low-Level Sounds
The 3M Peltor TacticalPro Communications Headset MT15H7F SV is perfect for hunters and shooters who need to amplify low-level sounds. This hearing protection headset not only keeps your ears safe from loud noises but also amplifies the sound of your prey or target so you can make the shot. With its compact and lightweight design, the TacticalPro is perfect for any outdoor activity.
Quiet and Effective
The 3M Peltor TacticalPro Communications Headset MT15H7F SV is the perfect choice for anyone who wants to protect their hearing while still being able to communicate with others. It has a Noise Reduction Rating of 26 dB, which means that it can protect your ears from harmful noise levels. Plus, the headset is comfortable and easy to use, so you can stay focused on the task at hand.
the 3M Peltor TacticalPro Communications Headset MT15H7F SV is great for hunting, target shooting, and even general use. The headset can protect your ears from loud noises while also keeping you safe in other ways. It’s lightweight and comfortable to wear, so you’ll hardly notice that it’s there at all. Check price at Walmart.com.
Video: 3M Peltor TacticalPro Communications Headset Review
2. Protear Bluetooth Radio Headphones – High Reception Sensitivity[amazon box=”B07Y81728N”]
Protear Bluetooth Specifications
|Item Dimensions LxWxH
|8 x 6 x 4 inches
|1 Lithium ion batteries required (included)
|Bluetooth & Am/Fm Radio,rechargeable
|Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene
|1x Bluetooth earmuff
1x Rechargeable lithium battery
1x Charging cable
1x User Manual
1x Service Card
Both of these headphones are designed for maximum safety. The Protear Bluetooth Radio Headphones feature noise reduction technology that blocks out sound up to 24 decibels, which means you can listen to your favorite songs without worrying about hearing damage. They’re the ideal solution for anyone who has tinnitus or suffers from hyperacusis.
Clear and Comfortable
What’s more, these headphones are extremely comfortable. Protear Bluetooth Radio Headphones were made with lightweight materials and a stylish design, so they won’t weigh you down during your daily activities. They’re also equipped with wide ear cups that provide you with the best possible attenuation up to 24 decibels.
Protear Bluetooth Radio Headphones is the perfect choice for anyone who needs hearing protection and wants to listen to music at the same time. The headphones protect your ears from harmful noise levels while still keeping you able to hear outside sounds (such as traffic or shouts). They also feature built-in radio, which lets you listen to your favorite stations without any hassle. Check price at Walmart.com.
Video: PROTEAR AM/FM Boom Mike Bluetooth Hearing Protection Review
3. Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector – Easy Operation[amazon box=”B06W56YRWJ”]
Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Specifications
|Item Dimensions LxWxH
|4.57 x 7.78 x 11.58 inches
|2AA batteries required
|Medium profile with cut-outs
|Hat/Cap Compatible Headband
|3.5 mm Audio Input Jack
|Bluetooth Wireless Technology
|Clear Voice Tracking
|Dynamic Suppression Time (Automatic)
Protection and Performance
This headset is designed to protect your ears from loud noises while giving you the enhanced hearing capabilities of a modern digital device. The Tactical 500 features an NRR rating of 30, which means it can significantly reduce the harmful effect of gunshots or other loud sounds when paired with proper safety gear. Plus, the adjustable frequency response amplifies low-level sounds, so you can hear rustling leaves or other small noises that are worth investigating.
The Tactical 500 is equipped with Bluetooth capability and a number of modern features. The integrated mobile app allows you to customize the audio settings for this headset. You’ll also love the automatic shutoff feature, which powers down your headset when you’re not using it.
The Peltor Tactical 500 is ideal for any outdoorsman or hunter who needs an effective way to block out loud noises without sacrificing their ability to listen for other sounds. With this headset, you’ll be able to enjoy the best of both worlds. Check price at Walmart.com, Sears.com.
Video: Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector TAC500-OTH Review
4. 3M PELTOR X5A Over-the-Head Ear Muffs – High Attenuation[amazon box=”B00CPCHBCQ”]
3M PELTOR X5A Specifications
|Item Dimensions LxWxH
|8 x 7 x 5 inches
|Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)
|31 dB CSA Class AL
|Highest of Any Ear Muff on the Market
|Tilting Earcups for Comfort
|Twin Wire Headband for Consistent Pressure
|Replaceable Cushions & Inserts
|3M PELTOR HYX5 Hygiene Kit
Secure and Comfortable Fit
These earmuffs feature an over-the-head band and top cup with a contoured shape, so they’re extremely comfortable. The cups can be adjusted vertically and horizontally for a secure fit that perfectly conforms to your head. Plus, the adjustable earcups let you choose between high or low protection depending on your needs at any given time.
These earmuffs deliver an NRR rating of 22 decibels, which is enough to reduce loud noises to a safe level and protect your ears from damage without compromising your ability to hear other sounds. So if you work around loud construction equipment or during hunting season, this headset will help you feel secure while being able to hear nature around you.
If you need powerful, comfortable earmuffs that are great for both indoor and outdoor use, look no further than the 3M Peltor X5A Over-the-Head Ear Muffs. They’ll protect your ears from harmful noise levels while still keeping their natural sound. Check price at Walmart.com, Sears.com.
Video: 3M™ PELTOR™ X5 Earmuffs X5A/37274(AAD) Review
5. Professional Safety Ear Muffs by Decibel Defense – Best Safety[amazon box=”B01BEENYCQ”]
Decibel Defense Professional Specifications
|Item Dimensions LxWxH
|6 x 4 x 6 inches
|Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)
|Plastic, metal, foam
|the QUIETEST & MOST COMFORTABLE noise reducing earmuffs you have ever owned, or your MONEY BACK!
|Smooth, padded cell design provides hours of comfort
|ANSI S3.19 & CE EN 352-1 Certified (OSHA rating of NRR 34dB. OSHA subtracts 3dB for their approval rating, as a “safety net” for the consumer)
These ear muffs feature noise-canceling technology, which means they significantly reduce the harmful effect of loud noises while still allowing you to hear low-level sounds, conversations, or any other noise that may be important. Plus, the padded headband is extremely comfortable. It fits over your ears without pressing too hard on your head and can easily adjust for a secure fit.
The earmuffs feature a built-in amplifier that increases ambient sound while simultaneously reducing harmful noise. This allows you to be more aware of your surroundings without compromising on hearing protection.
If you work or play around with loud noises and need powerful, comfortable earmuffs that can amplify soft sounds without sacrificing effectiveness, these earmuffs are a perfect choice. With a number of unique features and technologies, they’re the best safety ear muffs on the market today.
Video: Decibel Defense Ear Protection Review
6. ClearArmor 141001 Shooters Hearing Protection Safety Ear Muffs – Unique Sound Technology[amazon box=”B00NKSMPZW”]
ClearArmor 141001 Specifications
|Item Dimensions LxWxH
|5.5 x 3.6 x 5 inches
|Plastic, metal, foam
|Fits all sizes and ages
|ClearArmor’s exclusive sound technology provides better protection to save your hearing
|ANSI S3.19 Tested and Certified (American National Standards Institute)
CE EN 352.1 Tested and Certified (European Standard)
These earmuffs come with a flexible padded headband that can easily adjust to fit your head. The flexible design features soft, contoured ear cups that provide superior protection without the need for hard plastic. Plus, the headband is adjustable vertically and horizontally for a perfect, secure fit every time.
Lightweight & Durable
The ClearArmor 141001 Shooters Hearing Protection Safety Ear Muffs are made with durable ABS plastic and metal components that allow them to fold up for easy storage. Plus, they’re extremely lightweight, weighing in at just 8 ounces. You’ll barely notice you’re wearing them during your intense workday or intense play session.
If you need effective earmuffs that are comfortable and adjustable without being too bulky, the ClearArmor 141001 Shooters Hearing Protection Safety Ear Muffs are a great option. They provide superior protection while being extremely lightweight and durable so you can wear them for long periods of time without discomfort or pain. Check price at Walmart.com, Sears.com.
Video: Clear Armor Hearing Protection Review and Comparison to Harbor Freight
The 3M Peltor X5A Over-the-Head Ear Muffs are the best overall earmuffs for anyone who wants powerful, comfortable ear protection. While they don’t feature unique technologies like noise-canceling or sound amplifying, they do come with a built-in directional microphone that enhances your ability to communicate over loud noise. For the best earmuffs for shooting, look no further than the ClearArmor 141001 Shooters Hearing Protection Safety Ear Muffs. Their lightweight design and comfortable padded headband make them perfect for wear during long hours of intense work or play.
If you don’t see your favorite pair of earmuffs on this list, comment below with your preferred pair and why it’s great! We want to hear from you.