Bluetooth headphones are indispensable on runs and workouts—nothing makes you go the extra mile or push through that last set like the right pump-up jam. But earbuds can make you oblivious to the outside world. If you’re trail running on a crowded trail, or road biking on a busy street, bluetooth earbuds are a recipe for serious injury. That’s where bone conduction headphones like the AfterShokz Aeropex come into play—they’re a near-perfect solution for outdoor enthusiasts who love listening to music but want to maintain constant awareness of their surroundings.
What are Bone Conduction Headphones?
Unlike most headphones and earbuds, which seal the ear canal off from outside noise and transmit sound through the eardrum, AfterShokz bone conduction headphones sit flush against the cheekbones. Sound is transferred by vibrations that circumvent the eardrum and buzz directly through the bone and into the inner ear. It’s totally bizarre the first time you try bone conduction headphones, but the result is that you can be listening to music at full blast and still hear a twig snap.
Staying Aware on Every Adventure
Testers loved the increased awareness delivered by the AfterShokz Aeorplex bone conduction headphones. One of our female gear testers is typically uncomfortable hiking her local trails while wearing headphones due to assaults on solo female hikers and joggers. A male trail running tester noted that he has nearly collided with oncoming runners three times in the last two months while wearing regular earbuds. AfterShokz Aeropex headphones have been a gamechanger for both testers, as the innovative headphones allow them to be completely aware of their surroundings while listening to music and podcasts on the trail.
Sound Quality and Everyday Use
There are undeniable negatives to the bone conduction design. First of all, the AfterShokz sound quality doesn’t compare to the sealed symphonics of Apple Airpods, Beats, or Bose—that said, they are surprisingly decent. Also, you won’t want to use these headphones in a noisy coffee shop, gym, or airplane—even if you turn the volume all the way up, you’re still going to hear everything around you. AfterShokz does include earplugs for these instances, but we’d rather use the AfterShokz for specific workout scenarios and stick to traditional earbuds or headphones in crowded or noisy locales.
You Can’t Spell “Fitness” without “Fit”
Whenever you’re using headphones for work outs and trail runs, fit is of the utmost concern. Testers found that the Aeropex doesn’t sit as flush as desired. The headphones never fell off on bumpy trail runs and hikes, but testers reported that the Aeropex shifted at times and deemed it hard to maintain perfect fit during intense activities.
Safety First, Sound Second
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, chances are that you partake in an activity that demands you have complete awareness of your surroundings. If you’re ski touring or backpacking, you need to be able to hear your partner at all times. If you’re running through the neighborhood, you need to know when a car is coming or a bike is about to pass. If you’re like our testers and feel unsafe hiking by yourself with headphones or trail running oblivious to oncoming traffic, the AfterShokz are far and away preferable to traditional earbuds. There is a tradeoff—safety comes at the price of sound quality—but for many of us, that tradeoff is absolutely worth it.