Trekking: The Nature Ear

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Outside magazine, May 1995

Trekking: The Nature Ear
By Mike Steere

Like binoculars, Walker’s Nature Ear is a field tool that makes nature seem closer and clearer–albeit less natural. Listening in on coastal Alaska with one of these tiny amps stuck in your ear is like having sea mammals right there on a conference call. However, the sound is canned, low-fi, like the creatures are contacting you via speakerphone. But then again, the alternative
is to hear practically nothing.

The quarter-ounce device is about the size and shape of a hearing aid and has the same creepy plastic flesh tone–resemblances owed to the fact that Bob Walker, its inventor, is a hearing-aid fitter by trade. This man knows his aural cavities, and it shows: Three interchangeable foam tips make for a comfortable fit, and a tiny knob lets you adjust the volume while you’re
wearing the device. The Nature Ear can add 32 decibels to natural sound, with a maximum output of 105 decibels; to better render bird and animal sound while damping the wearer’s own breathing and footfalls, tuning favors high frequencies. One warning: Don’t wear the Nature Ear around any camo-clad sorts–amplified gunfire constitutes a hazard.

$199. From Walker’s Game Ear Inc., Box 1069, Media, PA 19063; 800-424-1069.

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