SurfEars 3.0 ($62.95)

Today, we are reviewing the newest upgraded model of the popular SurfEars brand, the SurfEars 3.0 ($62.95). Designed for open water swimming and surfing, but also useful for pool swimming and watersports, the SurfEars promises a flexible fit and a strong seal, without compromising your hearing. People call it one of the best ear plugs for surfing, but how does it really measure up?

In brief:

  • Custom surf ear plug set. Suitable for all ear sizes.
  • Lanyard keeps the plugs attached even in rugged surf. (Great for pools too, no more headband or swimcap!) 
  • Acoustic mesh for surf ear protection. Great for conversation with your plugs in while preventing surfer’s ear. 
  • Colour coded for easily fitting right and left plug. 

First Impression and Storage

Portability is the name of the game with the SurfEars. It comes in a hardy, soft, medical-grade silicone case with a magnet enclosure, keeping your plugs secure, yet easily accessible. The back of the case is aerated with a number of small holes, allowing for your plugs to dry even when stored. This is a small but powerful feature, preventing the dreaded soggy plug and ensuring your ears stay dry each session. An aluminum carabiner makes it easily attached to your backpack or keyring, ensuring you always have your plugs with you. 

A major element of the SurfEars brand is ecological commitment: they use a vegetable based ink for the instructions and a minimal band of cardboard as the only piece of packaging. The silicone case, properly cared for, can last a lifetime, minimising the carbon/plastic footprint of the set (especially when compared to a disposable swimmer’s plug!)

A medical grade silicone storage case comes with magnetic seal and an aluminium carabiner, for attaching to your bag or keyring. 

Sizing and Fit 

surfears parts

Unique among surf and swim plugs, the SurfEars is a modular plug, including multiple sized tips and wings to create a unique sizing fit. Four different tip sizes and two different wings mean eight totally different sized sets, making this as flexible or more than even the most customisable sleep or music set. You basically get eight entirely different sizes in each set and, most importantly, you can make a separate sized set for each ear. This is great for individuals with different sized ears, allowing you to have a custom fit on either side for the best possible sizing. 

In terms of finding your size, I recommend using a bath, pool, or just a shallow part of the ocean for your first test. Starting with medium, submerge and see how well the water tightness performs. You will feel the water seep in if it’s not set. Then just alternate the sizes until you find something suitable. You don’t want too tight or too loose — you’ll know when it’s just right. (For individuals with extra sensitive ears or grommets, a safer way to test would be to use disposable silicone plugs to find your fitting and then compare the shape of those plugs to the SurfEars tips. This way you can find a suitable sized set without getting your ears wet). 

Once set, I found the SurfEars 3.0 very comfortable. Sizing to my ear shape, it was secure without pressuring the sensitive ear canal. It fit snugly, without shuffling around in the water. The silicone tips have a little give, allowing them to adjust to the contour of the ear. They are very light, almost unnoticeable when worn, and the colour coded plugs mean it’s easy to tell right from left. 

Colour coded tips make it easy to fit each ear, the flexible tips seal water out comfortable, while still letting you hear. 

Water tightness and performance

A big selling point for the SurfEars 3.0 is the acoustic mesh. This mesh promises to filter wind, grime, and cold air, while still allowing you to hear and communicate. It’s a big promise, particularly being able to minimise grime from the ocean when you’re in a murky set can be a huge part of avoiding the dreaded surfer’s ears. (And it explains why so many old timers have their ears stuffed with blue tack!) For me, the acoustic mesh took some getting used to. For most of us, the sign of a well fitted plug is a clogged up ear, but with the SurfEars I found I had only minimal restrictions on my hearing when these were properly fitted. It was easy to chat and listen, even in the water, making these great for a social surf with mates or for listening to instructions during swim training. 

Even with lap swimming where my head was constantly submerged and moving, I found the SurfEars to fit effectively. They stayed secure without a swimmer’s headband or cap, making these a really flexible set suitable not only for surfing but for swimming and other water sports. Really key is the SurfEars leash, it’s a thin but strong strap that wraps around your neck, similar to the ankle strap on your board. It ensures your plugs stay secure even if you get dumped. In situations where the plugs get dislodged from the ear, they’ll stay attached to the lanyard and your neck, allowing you to re-insert when you’re back up. 

Final Thoughts

It’s very clear when you’re wearing them: the SurfEars 3.0 is an ear plug by surfers, for surfers. Every element of design is optimised for performance in the water. They’re light, easily carried (particularly when you’re juggling board, wax, wetsuit and your bag!) and stay secure in your ears. The leash particularly is what makes this a unique set: it’s great not only on the board but in the pool. Eco-conscious packaging and design make these a long lasting, climate safe set — particularly if you’ve been using disposables to now. The SurfEars 3.0 is the best ear plug for surfing — for surfers who haven’t used plugs before they’re a great introduction (and we doubt you’ll ever change). It’s basically a custom surf ear plug at a much lower price than those made by an audiologist, with a leash and colour coding for easy fit and wear.

For younger surfers, the SurfEars Junior is a great solution. It’s not modular like the 3.0, but fits a wide variety of younger ears. The leash is a particularly effective part for new surfers (and minimises the cost of replacement when they get dumped!) 

The SurfEars 3.0 is available here.

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