Trekz Aftershokz Headphones:  The Perfect Kayaking Headphones?

Trekz Aftershokz Titanium

The Trekz headphones some in a couple of different shapes and sizes.  They all use the same technology to deliver the sound, but this review will focus on the Titanium version of the Trekz bluetooth headphone family.

While they do look a little like traditional headphones, the way your wear them and why you wear them that way is what makes the biggest difference, and it is what also makes them suitable for use on the water. 
Probably the biggest difference with the Aftershokz is the way they deliver the sound.

Traditional headphones cause changes in pressure waves pushed into the ear canal which vibrates the ear drum producing sound.  Audiologists often refer to this style of headphones as ear blasters because at volume they cause damage to minute hair cells along the cochlear which "dance" in response to these pressure changes leading to hearing loss or tinnitus (a ringing or buzzing perceived as being in the ear).

If you have ever heard a recording of your own voice you may have thought "that doesn't sound like me!" and that's because the perception of our own voice when we speak normally is part traditional hearing (that change in pressure in the ear canal) and part something called bone conduction.  Bone conduction happens when vibrations in the bones and skin are received direcly to the cochlear bypassing the eardrum.  This produces sound.

Because of the way they produce sound, you do not wear these headphones in the normal way, that is, over-ear (sometimes called "cans") or in-ear (sometimes called "buds").  The rubberised headband goes around the back of the neck like many other hearing devices but the sound producing part of the headphone sits just in front and just above the ear canal.
This is the official YouTube video from Trekz for the Aftershokz Titanium.

You can see in the video the placement of the headphones as noted above.  Despite the fact that it is a totally different style of headphone, they are comfortable to wear and the small vibrations they produce are noticeable but not in any way uncomfortable.

Price
Despite the technology in them, the Trekz line of headphones are priced in line with similar bluetooth headphones.  They can be picked up at many cycling and sports stores or online for $149.95 though they can be found on eBay for $119.  That makes them cheaper than many similar headphones you just may have a little longer wait than walking into a bricks and mortar store.

Suitability
So what would make these more suitable than any other headphone on the market for kayaking?  There are other bone conduction headphones on the market so you could also look into these for-purpose too.  What makes any of the bone conduction headphones more suitable for kayaking is the fact that you can still listen to an audiobook, your favourite music, or take a call while maintaining some degree of situational awareness.  Wearing anything that blocks the ear canal is potentially dangerous as it may stop you hearing that approaching watercraft which poses a potential danger.  Because your normal hearing still works while wearing these you can have a conversation or still hear environmental sounds while wearing or using them.

Not to mention it makes it easier to take a call freeing up both hands to yak and fish, as well as eliminating the risk of dropping your expensive phone overboard.  They are splash proof so also suitable for water use though if you end up in the drink you may not expect a warranty repair any time soon.  Speaking of warranty, they give you two years for peace of mind.

Quality
Because the Trekz range are made for sport, they are heavily rubberised and very durable.  They are also remarkably light and you barely feel like you are wearing anything at all once you have had them on for a brief period of time.  I have dropped mine a number of times and like a Timex watch they take a licking and keep on ticking.  I have now had mine for about three years so the warranty is over but they still work just like the day I bought them.

Ease of Use
After charging the headphones with a micro USB cable (supplied), you turn them on by holding the volume up button.  Once turned on they will instantly go into pairing mode so you pair them in the normal way you would any bluetooth device with your phone.  Once paired, they will connect to your phone each time you turn them on with an auditory welcome message.  Pressing the volume up button again will give you a low-medium-high battery level indication.  To answer a call you simply press the call button on the outside surface of the left earpiece.

Final Thoughts
These come in blue, green, slate grey, and pink and in small and large sizes.  For the price, suitability, quality, and ease of use I reckon it is pretty hard to beat these headphones for use on the water.  The ability to use headphones while fishing AND keeping aware of your surroundings is worth the price of admission.  Trekz have released a new bone conduction headphone offering full IP67 waterproofing, reduced vibration, and enhanced sound quality.  These are called the Aeropex and a review of these will be included in the next edition!
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