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Earbags, Bandless Ear Warmers (owner review)
[Originally written for BackpackGearTest.org, this review was current at the time it was written but should now be considered out-of-date. It is likely this product has been improved based on test results such as those reported here and experiences from other users. It is also possible that this product no longer exists or has been superseded by products produced at a later time. This page is included for historical purposes as an example of a gear testing report I had submitted.
Only minor updates such as email addresses, links, and formatting have been made as necessary to accommodate inclusion of an older report into this web site.]
Web site: http://www.earbags.com/
I have been hiking and backpacking extensively since 1989. Weekends frequently find me in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Longer trips I've taken include (but are not limited to) such diverse locations as Copper Canyon, Mexico; Annapurnas, Nepal; Olympic Mountains, Washington; Austrian Alps; Paria Canyon, UT and AZ; Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Crest Trail, and a 1999 thruhike of the Appalachian Trail.
Earbags, Bandless Ear Warmers, size medium in red fleece
I knew nothing of this product when I first saw it at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City this past August. As someone who typically gets hot even though my ears are cold, this product was of immediate personal interest. I've never been particularly comfortable with standard ear muffs as the bands always seem to hurt my head, fleece headbands were always "good enough" though still a bit sweaty at times, and Arctic 180s are another pretty good, though not perfect, option.
At the OR show, the manufacturer made sets of Earbags available to the media. I was only too happy to pick up a pair, test them, and provide an Owner's Review to BackpackGearTest.org.
The Earbags are made of a double layer of what appears to be 100 weight fleece. They are very lightweight and come with a small stuff sack for storage. They are each an ear-shaped oval and appear to have a flexible form which surrounds my ear and conforms to the shape of head. With just a try or two, they were very easy to figure out how to get them onto my ears properly. They are flexed back to expose the opening for my ears, slipped on, and then the outer edge is pressed against the head where they readily snap to conform to the shape of my head.
These Earbags are available in a wide variety of colors and a few different textures. I noticed my local outfitter only had one option. Anyone with preferences might want to visit the Earbag website before visiting their local outfitter.
Like with many other products these days, I find the packaging seems to be a bit excessive. The Earbags come in a rigid plastic form that must be cut open. I can certainly understand, however, how this presentation container may improve displays and prevents more theft than a smaller package might.
.5 oz/14g with no measurable additional weight when including the stuff sack. I measured these on my postal scale at home. Their web site does not appear to list the weight.
Earbags come in three sizes to fit most ears. The sizing chart on the packaging makes picking out the correct size quite easy.
I use the Earbags both around town and out in the field. They can barely be felt once they are on and provide just enough warmth on those marginally cool days that I can keep my head cool without my ears feeling too cold. I often forget I am wearing them and walk around stores with them on. My ears do not get too hot in room temperature settings. They provide little protection against wind.
I wore the Earbags one day when I was going to an event where I had to dress up and didn't want to mess my hair. They were perfect for that.
I frequently have problems if I am wearing bulky collars and move around in ways other than standard walking. In those cases, my collar often brushes the Earbags off my ears. This happens while getting into cars, taking my backpack off and lowering it to the ground, and if I forgot to take off the Earbags before taking off my coat or jacket, just the act of taking off my outer layers can often brush the Earbags off. I often find the Earbags on the ground as a result. I'm afraid I might end up losing them one day.
Possible improvements (or more ideas for related products):
I find Earbags are great for marginally cold temperatures when outdoor activities keep me mostly warm but my ears might otherwise find it a bit nippy. They are also perfect for giving that little bit more comfort while around town, going from car to building, and either not wanting to constantly have to take them off and put them on while running errands, or not wanting to mess hair.
The Earbags are not designed for extreme temps during which point I would want a full hat or balaclava, anyway.
While writing this review, I visited the Earbags web site. While there is no specific description of another type of Earbag, if attempting to buy Earbags from the site, there is a picture of "earbags fleece Adventure", a type that seemingly addresses all of the negatives I've already mentioned. The picture shows a tether with a clip and the limited description mentions "windbarrier".
Were I to purchase another pair or recommend a pair to a friend, I would definitely recommend the "Adventure" pair.
Last updated, July 10, 2010.
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