Hiking with Headphones: Is It Safe?

hiking with headphones

One of my favorite things to do is to put on my headphones, start listening to my favorite podcast and go for a walk. I don’t even have a destination most of the time, I just like to walk and explore. Now when it comes to hiking, things can get a bit trickier. So is it safe to go hiking with headphones? The short answer is that it can be safe. The long answer, well, that’s what we’re here to talk about.

How to Safely Go Hiking with Headphones

As I said, hiking with headphones can be safe, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind:

Know Your Surroundings

This one is important no matter what you’re doing, but it’s especially important when you’re hiking with headphones. You need to be aware of your surroundings at all times. This means keeping an eye out for things like wildlife, other hikers, and changes in the terrain.

Use only One Earbud

Ditch one of the earbuds and only use the other one. This way you can still hear your music or podcast, but you’ll also be able to hear what’s going on around you, at least, somewhat.

Be Careful with Volume

This is another important one. You might not be able to hear well with only one earbud in, so you might be tempted to turn up the volume. Resist this temptation! You need to be able to hear what’s going on around you, so don’t turn the volume up too high. Plus, there are dangers of listening to your headphones on full blast – which include tinnitus and hearing loss.

Know When to Stop

There will be times when it’s just not safe to continue hiking with headphones. If the terrain is getting too difficult or you’re entering an area that needs your full concentration, it’s time to put the headphones away.

Have a Backup Plan

It’s always a good idea to have a backup plan, just in case. If you’re hiking with someone else, let them know that you’ll be wearing headphones and make sure they know when to check on you. If you’re hiking alone, tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. That way, if something happens, someone will know to come looking for you.

Don’t Use Noise-Canceling Headphones

I know noise-canceling headphones can be an absolute lifesaver in certain situations, like when you’re trying to sleep on a plane. But when you’re hiking, it’s not such a great idea.

Use Bluetooth Headphones

To be honest, I’m not even sure if they still make corded headphones anymore. But if you have a pair, don’t use them. If you’re going to be using headphones while hiking, go for a Bluetooth pair. That way, if you need to take them off quickly, you can without having to fumble with cords.

Reasons You Shouldn’t Hike With Headphones

Even if you follow all of the safety tips, there are still some good reasons why you might not want to hike with headphones.

You May Lose Track of Time

First, it can be really easy to get lost in what you’re listening to and lose track of time. Before you know it, it’s getting dark and you’re not sure how to get back to the trailhead. I know this sounds pretty farfetched, but hey – it’s happened to me on the treadmill!

You Might Miss Something Important

Second, by wearing headphones, you might miss something important. Maybe there’s a sound that would have warned you of danger or maybe there’s a beautiful view that you would have seen if you weren’t wearing headphones. When you have headphones on, you’re going to miss out on a lot of what’s going on around you.

If you’re hiking in an area known to have rattlesnakes, guess what? You’re not going to hear one coming if you have headphones in with music blasting away.

The Sound Of Nature is Amazing

Lastly, one of the best things about hiking is the sound of nature. The birds chirping, the leaves rustling in the wind, the wind blowing through the trees. It’s all so peaceful and serene. But if you have headphones in, you’re not going to be able to hear any of that. And you’ll miss out on one of the best parts of hiking.

Best Headphones For Hiking in 2022

If you are determined to hike with headphones, by all means, do it! But make sure you get a pair of headphones that fit some of the criteria I mentioned above. Here are some of my faves, including what I use now:

AirPods Pro

So, I used to have an iPhone, but I recently switched to an Android. And one of the things I miss most about my iPhone is the AirPods. And before anyone corrects me, I do know AirPods work for Android. I just lost mine.

Anyway, the AirPods Pro would be my number one choice for hiking out of all the earbuds and headphones I’ve tried. The quality is by far some of the best, AND they actually stay in your ear REALLY well.

The AirPods are also water-resistant, which is always a good feature to have, especially if you’re caught in a rainstorm or if you’re sweating a lot.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

These are what I use now. They are very similar to the AirPods in terms of sound quality and features. However, I do feel they aren’t as comfortable and they don’t stay in my ears as well. But, they’re still a great option for hiking headphones.

The Galaxy Buds Pro is water-resistant as well. They claim to be water protected up to 3 feet deep for a half-hour. Pretty wild stuff – although, I’m not going to be the one to test it out! So if you plan on hiking through some lakes or rivers, these could be a great option for you.

Aftershokz Aeropex

So if you haven’t heard of Aftershokz, they make headphones that don’t go in your ear. They sit on your cheekbones and vibrate the sound into your ears. I know, it sounds pretty weird. But they actually work really well, and they’re super comfortable too.

The Aftershokz Aeropex are some of the best bone-conducting headphones on the market. If you don’t know much about bone conduction, they have a fantastic write-up that you can read here.

These headphones are fantastic for hiking because they allow you to hear what’s going on around you – without having to use only one earbud. So if there’s a snake or something, you’ll definitely hear it.

The main downside is the sound quality. They won’t sound as good as either the AirPods or the Galaxy Buds. And the bass will definitely be lacking. For me, this was a dealbreaker. But, they’re still pretty good.

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