As pilots are much more at risk of hearing damage than the vast majority of the population, it’s important to protect your hearing whenever you fly.
All earplugs aren’t made equally though, especially when it comes to meeting pilots’ needs. As a pilot, you require earplugs that deliver adequate hearing protection, a comfortable fit, and allow you to communicate and hear all the important noises in the cockpit.
This narrows down the list of suitable earplugs quite a bit, until only the following remain.
The 5 Best Earplugs for Pilots
Top Pick: EarPlanes Earplugs
Tested and are used by U.S. Navy pilots, Earplane Earplugs will definitely get the job done.New: $18.49 ($6.16 / Count)
The Earplanes Eaplugs are ideal for any pilot from the new student pilot to experienced airline pilot. In fact, they have been tested and are used by U.S. Navy pilots, so it’s certain they can be relied upon.
I found the earplugs to be smartly designed to relieve air pressure discomfort thanks to their CeramX filter that slowed the shift of air pressure that entered my air. I definitely appreciated using them every time I took off and landed.
Made of soft, hypoallergenic silicone, the Earplanes Earplugs provide 20 decibels of hearing protection.
Best Designed: SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders
Comfortable to wear with aviation headsets, and designed so you can hear routine sounds, conversations, and air traffic control while also protecting your hearing.New: $14.95
Delivering 24dB of noise reduction, and thanks to the use of special noise-reducing filter caps, I found the SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders a great choice due to their ability to hear routine sounds, conversations, and air traffic control while also protecting my hearing.
Additionally, thanks to the earplugs’ low-profile design, they are suitable to be worn while using an aviation headset without negatively impacting comfort.
Made from hypoallergenic, medical-grade polymer, the SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders are soft, durable, and long-lasting
Best Fit: Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs
The Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs easily and quickly mold to the exact shape of your ear.
Not only do these Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs deliver a tailored fit, but they also provide excellent hearing protection with a 31dB Noise Reduction Rating.
The earplugs easily and quickly molded to the exact shape of my ear for superior comfort and noise isolation. Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry about getting the fit right the first time, as they are re-moldable.
Best Pressure Regulation: Alpine FlyFit Ear Plugs
The Alpine FlyFit Ear Plugs are excellent at dealing with changes in altitude .New: $15.95 ($15.95 / Count)
The Alpine FlyFit Ear Plugs are best at dealing with changes in altitude, making them ideal for takeoffs and landings.
Furthermore, due to the use of AlpineAcousticFilters, loud engine noise is reduced to safe levels while still enabling speech to come through.
Made of hypoallergenic material, the earplugs are reusable and are a great choice for any pilot who can’t get along with silicone earplugs.
Best Value: Mack’s Original Soft Foam Earplugs
These disposable earplugs offer unmatched hearing protection at up to 32 decibels.New: $14.99 ($0.30 / Count)
If you prefer disposable earplugs, look no further than Mack’s Original Soft Foam Earplugs.
Made of foam, and manufactured in the USA, they provide a very impressive 32 decibels of hearing protection.
Each pack comes with 100 pairs of earplugs, making them excellent value for money.
What Pilots Should Consider When Buying Earplugs for Flying
- Material (Foam vs. Silicone vs. Wax)
Earplugs are typically made of silicone, sponge, or wax.
Foam: Foam earplugs are the most inexpensive type, and are designed to be disposed of after every just one or two uses. They tend to be very popular due to their low cost and ease of use, but usually don’t offer the hearing protection that pilots require.
Silicone: Silicone earplugs are designed to provide equal pressure on both sides of your ears. Due to their design, speech typically remains audible. They are able to regulate pressure well, which can result in better relief and comfort.
Wax: The main benefit of wax earplugs is that they are the most moldable, so can provide a more comfortable, tailored fit.
- Disposable vs. Reusable
Disposable earplugs are usually made from foam, and are designed to be worn just a couple of times and then thrown out. They can be a good choice for their low cost, and ease of use.
Reusable earplugs are typically made of silicone and can work out more economical in the long run. They can also be made of wax, but wax earplugs can usually be used around 20 times before needing to be replaced, compared to over 100 times with silicone earplugs.
Due to the frequency and long period of time pilots can wear earplugs, ensuring a comfortable fit is going to be very important. Getting the fit just right also results in superior protection.
NRR stands for Noise Reduction Rating. It measures the effectiveness of earplugs and is measured in decibels. The greater the number, the greater the noise reduction.
As a pilot, you are exposed to loud noises for a long period of time – likely daily for many pilots – so the NRR is one of the most important aspects to consider when buying earplugs. However, you still want to be able to hear some sounds and be able to communicate instead of having all noise blocked out.
The best earplugs for pilots should be durable enough to withstand many uses. This includes holding up through both general wear and cleaning.