Get in the Groove: Finding the Right Headphones For Your Active Life

No matter what sport you enjoy—save for backpacking, alpine climbing, and hiking, perhaps—a soundtrack can help improve your performance and keeping you going mentally and physically long after your body is ready throw in the towel.

But if you want to listen to music while working out or enjoying high-impact endurance sports, you’ll need headphones that are easy and comfortable to wear, offer a secure fit, and are resistance to dust, sweat, grime, and searing or freezing temperatures.

The more action-packed the sport, the more ergonomic, seamless and secure the fit you need. Few headphones meet these needs like earbuds, tethering your headphones securely to your head, and locking them into place without putting undue pressure on the ear canal. Outdoor Tech has you covered for all these issues, including headphones that seamlessly integrate into audio-ready sport helmets.

Here are 10 things to consider when buying headphones for active pursuits:

Awesome Technology, Minimal Design, Easy to Use
Look for headphones with a low-fuss design and a simple interface. They should also come with a secure cord you can wear around your neck when you’re not using them.

Hands Free Hi-Fi Sound
Wireless headphones connect to Bluetooth-enabled devices; look for headphone with easy one-touch pairing that let you listen to music, skip tracks and control volume without ever touching your device. When choosing wireless earbuds, look for headphones that deliver rich, crystal clean sound with 8mm drivers and at least 30 feet of reach. Advance sound enhancements to keep an ear out for include apt X and AAC.

Wireless Connectivity
The best wireless headphones let you reconnect automatically to previously paired devices.

Bluetooth Connectivity
Headphones with an Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) offer high-quality stereo sound streaming. Those with an Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVCRP) let you remotely control track (next/previous track) selection, pause/play and volume.

Wireless + External controls
Having both wireless connectivity and external controls provides even greater flexibility. Look for three-button inline controls that easily let you adjust volume, change tracks, pause/play and control calls effortlessly while on the move.

Batteries
Look for lithium-ion powered headphones. Lithium-ion batteries’ greater energy density means you can operate them longer between charges. They also have a much lower rate of self-discharge than other rechargeable cells such as Ni-Cad and NiMH. Also, you never need to prime a lithium-ion battery before its first charge, or do any maintenance on them, unlike Ni-Cad cells, which require a periodic discharge to ensure that they don’t hold a short charge “memory.” The best headphones have rechargeable lithium-ion batteries offering up to 6 hours of playtime and at least 120 hours of standby time on a single charge.

Built-in microphone
Multi-tasking headphones give you the option of listening to music as well letting you receive hands-free calls from anywhere, any time.

Surround Sound
Earbuds that offer ambient noise-enhancing features are critical for skateboarders, cyclists and runners. You should be able to safely hear sounds in your surrounding environment while enjoying your playlist.

Security
For high-impact sports, look for earbuds with removable over-the-ear clips paired with custom-sizable ear pads/cushions for extra secure staying power. Having the option of removing ear hooks and just having a bud in your ear are also indispenisable features.

Waterproof, Sweatproof
If your pursuits take you in or anywhere around water (like running in the rain or stand-up paddling), look for silicone-wrapped waterproof headphones that provide quality sound even when submerged, as well as the ability to adjust them easily for sound level and track changes.

Audio-ready, Hardwired, Cold Play
If you have an audio-ready liner in your ski or snow helmet, and would rather hit the slopes with a mp3 player or hardwired smartphone, look for hardwired headphones that seamlessly integrate with your helmet liner to allow you to control music tracks, play/pause, or activates voice command via one glove-friendly button, and also keep in you in the groove for as long as you or your battery holds up. You’ll also to look for headphones that stay functional down to -20°C/-4°F so you never have to worry about frozen button syndrome.

 

We love you, just remember that.

Water Proof, Water Resistant, and IPX – What Does It All Mean?

A lot of the bluetooth stuff we make is water resistant, obviously you are stoked on that. This means that if you are playing in the snow, the sprinklers, the bath-house, in the middle of a super soaker fight, or all male wet t-shirt contest with something from us, its gonna be fine. But hold on kiddies, water resistant is different than water proof. There are different “levels” of water resistance that are standard. This standard is referred to as IPX.

And now, a picture that represents flowing liquid. I sure am getting thirsty…

Booze, and lots of it.

If something has a water only rating (whether 4, 5, or 6) you write it as IPX5. The X acts as a placeholder since there is not a particle (or dust rating)

If something has a dust rating of 6 (dustproof) and a water rating of 5, you write it as IP65

In the rare instance that the dust and water rating are the same (let’s say 6), you write it as IP6 This isn’t used nearly as often as the other two models.

Here is a breakdown of the IP standard as it relates to water proof and water resistant:

IPX0 – This means it’s not water resistant at all. Think of what happens to paper when it gets wet. It’s a mess and your novella is ruined.

IPX1 – This will protect a device from some water drops that are falling vertically on said device. I guess it’s possible for this situation to actually occur but so is winning the lottery. If you or someone you know has won the lottery, sharing is caring.

IPX2 –  This will protect your thingy from some water drops when the device is tilted up to and including 15°. If you have your device at 16°, you are fucked, sorry but there are limits in the world.

IPX3 – Getting better, you can now spray your gear up to 60° from the top of the device. So that’s cool, i guess.

IPX4 – Now we are getting somewhere. This will keep “yo ish chill” from splashing water from any direction. So if you drop some cubes of ice into you scotch and it splashes, there is no need to worry.

IPX5 – (this is where the super soaker is allowed). Will protect your stuff from water jets at any direction. Spray away kiddo, spray away.

IPX6 – Protects from powerful water jets. So if you modified your super soaker with an air compressor and an aftermarket tip, your stuff is still safe.

IPX7 – This is for full water splashdown. If you drop your device in water up to 3 feet (1 meter but this is ‘Merica and we don’t do the metric system. USA USA USA) your device is still going to work.

IPX8 – You can protect your device in water over 3 feet. This is for your stuff at the bottom of a pool, lake, or even Shamu’s tank. Good luck getting your stuff back from Shamu though. I mean, that guy never gives back the stuff you let him borrow.

In a very strange, completely unplanned, and non-thought-out coincidence, here is a list of our products and their IP rating.

The Big Turtle Shell wireless speaker has an IP65 dust and water resistant rating.

The Turtle Shell wireless speaker has an IP65 dust and water resistant rating.

The Buckshot rugged wireless speaker has an IP65 dust and water resistant rating.

The Chips wireless helmet audio kit has an IP45 sweat and water resistant rating.

Super Soaker

The knowledge has been dropped and science has been performed. Everyone is actually smarter for having read this. You can thank me by liking on Facebook, tweeting on Twitter, plussing on Google+, puffing with Smoke Signals, tapping on the Telegraph or sharing during your drum circle.

We love you, just remember that.