The 10 Best Adventure Headphones

In case you hadn't heard, headphone technology has gotten much better—and more specialized—since the advent of the mp3 player

Jan 4, 2012
Outside Magazine
The 10 Best Adventure Headphones

The 10 Best Adventure Headphones    Photo: Courtesy of Bose, Jays, Jaybird Gear, Nixon, H2O Audio, Subjekt, and Etymotic

I live half the time in Tucson, Arizona—where I run on saguaro-studded trails and cycle on endless highways—and half the time in Manhattan, where I travel by subway and work in coffee shops. Which means music is often an inspiration or a needed distraction from the noise of the world, and most of the time it’s both. As I write this, for example, I’m in a Starbucks, successfully avoiding their latest, cloyingest mix, and instead listening to the soaring guitars of Scotland’s We Were Promised Jetpacks, who sound way better than 25-year-old kids have any right to.

Maybe I lose something when I choose Blue Öyster Cult over the sound of quail in the underbrush, or when I stay inside my audio cave while riding the 1 train in New York. But everyone else on the subway is doing it, and as much as I try to convince myself that those people are listening to Tolstoy novels or teaching themselves Chinese, the truth is probably much scarier. At any rate, it’s their own business: if they want to rock the Glee soundtrack, they have the right, which makes the private listening experience one of the greatest protectors of democracy we have.

If you’ve slept through the past ten years, you might have missed that there’s a vast and varied world of specialized headphones and earbuds and in-ear monitors and Bluetooth devices that will make your experience more enjoyable—and make your investment last. Because whether you’re trying to psych yourself up on your Monday morning commute or facing the final uphill of your morning workout, the quail aren’t going to help you—but a good sonic kick in the butt just might.