Best ear plugs 2021: protect your hearing and sleep soundly

Whether you have delicate ears or simply want a sound night’s sleep; we’ve rounded up some of the best ear plugs that will reduce the noise and take care of your ears

Best ear plugs

Looking after your ears should be considered equally as important as looking after your eyes. Yet, we probably make more trips to the opticians that we ever do to get our ear health checked out! 

Fortunately, ear plugs are not only easy to get hold of, but they don't require personalising in any way, so it's pretty easy to buy a pair that will fit your ears without too much fuss.

How to buy the right ear plugs for you

That said, ear plugs can be used for a whole number of reasons and there are different types available depending on the activity for which you need them so it's worth knowing your stuff before jumping in and making a purchase. 

Firstly, just remember, you should wear ear plugs when sound levels reach as high as 85 decibels in order to protect your hearing. A 'normal' conversation is around 60 decibels and this is what a noise cancelling ear plug should aim to reduce loud noise to. 

In order to prevent tinnitus from developing, you might be surprised to hear the common activities for which ear plugs are recommended, including flying, swimming and building sites. They can also just be used to help you sleep better either at home or when travelling. 

When picking the right ear plugs for you, consider where you will be wearing them and, if it's somewhere noisy, pick a pair with the appropriate noise reduction rating (NRR) so that you can achieve your desired level of peace and quiet. 

This is particularly important if you looking for ear plugs for a music concert or any event where the noise level is likely to be pretty intense. As a guide an NRR rating of 20-30db is good for a concert whilst and NRR of over 30bd is the number you need to be looking at for noisier environments.

You’ll also want to consider comfort based on how long you need to wear them for too; ear plugs come in all different styles to suit your ears and are normally made of material that sits comfortably in your ear canal such as foam or silicone. 

If you are looking for ear plugs to help you sleep (for example, to block out snoring), then a high NRR may not be relevant but material will be, opting for silicon will ensure the ear plugs mould well to your ears whilst also offering a little noise protection. Likewise for swimming, whilst you may want to drown out the noise of the children's pool, it'll be more important to make sure they are moulded and watertight.

We’ve picked out some of the best ear plugs on the market that are reusable and have varied NRR’s and materials so you can choose which one is best for you. 

The best ear plugs you can buy today

1. Isolate Revolutionary Solid Aluminium Ear Plugs

Improve the quality of music and protect your eardrums with these ear plugs

Best for: Concerts
Material: Foam
NRR: 35db
Reasons to buy
+3 sizes included+Carry case
Reasons to avoid
- Not the cheapest

For those who like rock and heavy metal, your eardrums really do take a battering. And we know you’re probably thinking that ear plugs seem counterintuitive when at a concert, but these cool-looking aluminium ear plugs can actually improve the sound quality and protect your ears at the same time. They come with 3 different ear foams which mean they can fit almost any ear and they have a convenient carry pouch so metalheads can always be prepared to rock out wherever they go.  

2. Just Pure Hut Ear Plugs – 3 Piece Set

Handy ear plugs for on the go

Best for: Travel
Material: Silicone
NRR: 28db
Reasons to buy
+Set of 3+Reduce volume not quality
Reasons to avoid
-Not the highest NRR 

These silicone ear plugs subtly reduce the volume of your surroundings whilst also being super comfortable to wear. Contained in a handy miniature canister complete with screw cap lid and keyring attachment, these Just Pure ear plugs are the perfect accessory for anyone heading off on their travels or indeed simply for taking to fireworks night. Whilst they won't be suitable enough to protect a musician's ears during concert, they do have a pretty reputable NRR of 28db so they will work well for reducing the din at festivals without cancelling out the music completely. Just clip on your keyring and go.

3. Sonic Smart EarPlugs for Music

Comfy silicone ear plugs for happy ears all day and all night

Best for: Workers
Material: Silcone
NRR: 21db
Reasons to buy
+Reduces music to a safe level+Discreet to wear
Reasons to avoid
- A little tight for some 

If you work in the events or construction industry, you’re likely to be around a high level of sound quite frequently. To ensure your ears don’t pay the price, these ear plugs will reduce the level of sound to one which is safe and comfortable. They might take a little manoeuvring to find the best position, but once these silicone ear plugs are in, they fit discreetly in your ears so you can wear them all day without getting that itchy feeling that many ear plugs give. This is another set of ear plugs that come with a nifty carry capsule and a carabiner for clipping onto your work clothes in an instant. 

4. Zoggs Aqua Ear Plugs

Ear plugs for protecting your ears underwater

Best for: Swimming
Material: Silicone
NRR: n/a
Reasons to buy
+Mould to your ear+Handy carry case
Reasons to avoid
- Fiddly to put in 

For keen swimmers, keeping the water out of your ears is important for warding off a blocked ear or an infection. These ear plugs are affordable and reusable with a waterproof carry case so they don’t get lost or dirty in your kit bag, and although they can be a little tricky to get in place, once in they are incredibly comfortable. They are shaped to mould your ears and fit snugly so you don’t have to worry about them falling out during a swim. For anyone about to take on a triathlon where training in lakes and rivers is inevitable, pick up a pair of these to keep the dirty water out.

5. Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs

Shape these ear plugs to your ears for a custom fit

Best for: Custom fit
Material: Thermoplastic
NRR: 31 db
Reasons to buy
+Different colours+Mould at home
Reasons to avoid
-A little stiff 

If you find that generic ear plugs never stay in your ears, then these custom fit ones should solve that problem. They are made from thermoplastic which means you just heat them up in water and then mould to the shape of your ear. Some people find this material a little more uncomfortable than foam or silicone, but they have a high NRR and are good for keeping noise levels to a minimum whenever you need the peace and quiet. If you are a musician looking  for a pair of ear plugs to wear on a regular basis to protect your hearing, these not only look the part but will be the perfect fit with a bit of work.

If you are looking to crank up the volume rather than turn it down; check out our guide to the best multi-room speakers.