Those who know me know I’m really cautious with my hearing. As skydivers, we expose our ears to some very high sound levels with no protection on a regular basis while jumping and also in the wind tunnel. The problem with hearing is that, once it’s gone, it’s gone. Worse still, you don’t lose all your hearing, but develop tinnitus and have to somehow live with a continual ringing in your ears driving you slowly insane.
So what can we do about it? Simple. Wear earplugs. I’ve never been a fan of the disposable squishy ones. Not only are they not that comfortable, but you often can’t reuse them and, if it’s hot out, they’re a lot harder to get in your lugholes.
Custom earplugs are where it’s at, and my favourites are the Sky Plugs from Ultimate Ear. After taking a detailed mould of your ear, they then create perfectly fitting, re-usable earplugs out of their special medical-grade silicone, which is the softest and most comfortable you can get. There’s also a filtered version of the plug, for those that might be concerned about equalisation of pressure – though I’ve never had an issue.
They have a slim profile, which means they fit perfectly under a helmet, and, because of the custom fit, they sit nice and snug so they won’t fall out. CE marked and certified to EN353-2, they offer a SNR of 30 which puts them right up there in terms of noise reduction.
Available in a range of colours, the guys can also engrave your name or logos on the plugs to make them completely custom.
The Sky Plugs are available from just £65 plus postage and a moulding fee of £25 – which is free if you find them at a show, such as BPA Skydive the Expo. Obviously, what you can hear will be reduced with earplugs in, but I find it’s more the background drone of the aircraft or freefall that’s reduced and that I can hear people talking a lot more clearly. Under canopy, however, it’s worth being extra vigilant – just in case.
By James ‘Macca’ Macdonald – facebook.com/SkydiveMacca