Since the ears are one of the most exposed parts of the body, they are highly sensitive to wind and cold. In addition, they are made of a very thin cartilage which means they can be easily injured in a fall and infections can be quite prevalent if they are not adequately protected. For these reasons, it’s very important to safeguard the ears with the right kind of protection, but still allow assorted sounds to come through the ear guards. Protecting the ears is particularly important for runners because the runner must be able to hear the sirens on emergency vehicles and identify other assorted sounds that could be threatening and cause further injury. This section identifies some features to look for when determining the best ear warmers for running and for protecting those sensitive ears.
A Little Bit of History
In order to understand why ear warmers were developed, in 1873 a teenager from Maine (named Chester Greenwood) needed to keep his ears warm in the cold Maine winters, but he was very allergic to the wool caps that were made at the time. He worked with his grandmother to fashion coverings for his ears using beaver fur for the outside and velvet for the inside with some bent wire for the headband, and at the ripe old age of 18 had his first patent for the “Ear Protector”. It’s been a popular item all over the world for that cold winter season to help protect the ears from the frigid temperatures and the wind.
Styles of Ear Warmers, Classic or Contemporary
Ear warmers are available in two types that come in both classic and contemporary styles:
- Acoustic – These are lined with sound-eliminating material and are often manufactured with headphones which allows the wearer to listen to music while protecting the ears from wind and cold and to isolate the surrounding noise.
- Thermal – These are generally made with some type of fur or cloth for the purpose of keeping the ears protected from wind and cold.
How to Choose Ear Warmers
One aspect that is essential to protecting the ears is that the ear protectors must fit correctly. When trying on ear warmers, remember there should be a good seal against the head, and the ear muff itself should fully cover the outer part of the ear without pushing against the ear, or putting undue pressure on the ear. The headband should be the right length to ensure the muffs are securely held over the ears without being too tight or too loose, and ensuring none of the cold air leaks through. Also remember, when selecting the best ear warmers, if the runner wears glasses (or protective goggles) they need to be worn when trying on the ear muffs because they do make a difference in the way the ear warmers fit. Let’s face it, if the ear protector is uncomfortable, they will not be worn!
There are some further characteristics for the ear warmers to ensure they are comfortable:
- Lightweight material
- Soft with removable cushions for cleaning purposes.
- Easily maintained
- Low heat or humidity
- Reduce low-frequency noise yet have no resonance of sound
- Wide headband
- Ear cups which are larger than the outer portion of the ears
One more tip – be sure to talk and move the jaw while trying on the ear warmers. This is because movement of the jaw can displace the ear muffs and cause them to slip, which means they would need constant readjustment because the seal is displaced and cold air and wind can seep in. Ear Protectors which fit well don’t need to be readjusted.
Top 6 Best Ear Warmers
Take a look at some of the best types of ear warmers that provide the protection needed for runners.
For a lightweight ear warmer that is resistant to cold, and easy to clean, the 180s Down Ear Warmer is a great choice. This model fits most head sizes and it’s very lightweight – weighing in at 2.9 ounces. The inside is lined with soft, comfortable fleece and are some of the warmest and most comfortable ear warmers on the market.
Customers stated that they loved this model because they fit securely on the head and in very frigid temperatures, do a great job of protecting the ears and keeping them warm, and the fleece lining makes the very comfortable against the ears. The outside is nylon that is easily cleaned and blocks the wind from getting to the ears, plus they are good to reduce attenuating sounds.
The main complaint about this type is that the seams between the fleece and the nylon often comes apart and frays a bit.
With an extra layer of Thinsulate, these ear warmers provide warmth and protection. They weigh one pound, they are comfortable, plus they fit most average-sized ears. The fabric tends to be somewhat smoother and more comfortable than other brands. There is no headband with these and they slip comfortably over the ears, making them easy to put on and take off.
Customers stated that they love these earbags because they do a great job blocking the frigid winter air. Many customers like them because they fit easily under hats and take up less space than the more traditional earmuffs, plus they easily fit in pockets when inside buildings. And for guys, they don’t mess up the hair as much as the styles with headbands, and they are more comfy.
The main complaint is that when they don’t properly fit the ears they need to be readjusted frequently and are annoying.
For some people the headband fitting over the head is uncomfortable, and the best choice for these folks is a bandless winter earmuff. These come in a variety of colors including red, green pink, white, grey, and black and come in regular and small, which fit average to smaller sized ears. They are designed with a polyester Thinsulate insulate and have a fleece inner lining which does a great job to keep the cold wind and frigid air out yet remain comfortable.
Customers liked this model because they fit comfortable over glasses and hearing aids, under hats and caps, and can even be worn with earrings. The great thing about these is that they don’t mess up the hair! They easily fit in the pocket or a backpack and weigh eight ounces.
The main complaint customers had is for people with larger ears, these do not provide a comfortable fit.
For some runners, ear warmers fitting behind the head, rather on top of the head, are preferred when it comes to comfort. This model is 97% polyester and 3% spandex and comes with adjustable click-to-fit frames. They easily collapse to fit in a backpack or pocket and are both wind and water resistant. These are great for windy and cold rainy days. This model weighs four ounces with a very soft poly fleece fabric against the ear.
Customers loved this type because they easily block out the wind and rain yet they breathe which keeps the runner comfortable and the ears dry and warm. They can easily be worn with hats, or even helmets and glasses, and can be easily adjusted for better fit.
The main complaints is that for adults with larger ears they don’t fit right and some customers had trouble keeping them on the heads when moving.
Another model that has a soft-shell fleece lined ear warmer is the 180s Urban Ear Warmer. It’s made of 97% polyester and 3% spandex for comfort and warmth. This model weighs 2.4 ounces and is quite comfortable and easily adjusted. It can be worn with glasses and under hats as well for keeping very sensitive ears more comfortable in the wind and cold air.
Customers liked this model because it keeps the ears warm, it’s compact and easy to put into a pocket or purse when inside buildings, and most women even stated they are great because they don’t mess up the hair.
The main complaint was that they are a bit stiffer than others, and to make sure to purchase the model that is made specifically for use with a Bluetooth for those who need the communications capability yet keep their ears comfortable in the cold air and wind.
For the stylish-minded women, this 180s Women’s Best Monarch Chenille ear warmer is a great choice for protecting those delicate ears. They are made with heat retaining insulation and prevent wind, cold, and rain from getting into, and hurting, the ears. They are collapsible and very lightweight, and fit behind the head, and even stay in place for active women.
Women loved the warmth that they provide and the snug fit that helps the ear warmers to stay in place when moving around. Many women commented that this is the most comfortable ear warmers they have ever had, and a great bonus is that they don’t leave that “headband-flat-strip” look in the hair.
At this time, there were no complaints about this type of ear warmer.
There are many great types of ear warmers for runners which protect the ears from frigid temperatures, wind, and rain for the active person who is frequently outdoors. Be sure to find the brand that is lightweight, fits well around the ears, and fits snuggly to the head for greater comfort and better ear protection.