I’ve had several pairs of headphones over the past few years that I’ve been running. In the beginning, main reason for switching headphones was that I was looking for a comfortable pair that actually stayed in my ears. Later on that weren’t the only criteria anymore, it also had to be easy to connect them to my phone and they had to be wireless. And although I managed to find those headphones, I noticed that I couldn’t always hear my surroundings very well while running. I sometimes get surprised by the odd cyclist or scooter coming up behind me. I’d already seen several other runners with bone conduction headphones and I got curious.
Bone conduction headphones don’t go inside your ears but just in front of it and transfer the sound via your cheekbones to the inner ear. The vibrations therefore bypass your outer and middle ear. This way your ears themselves don’t get plugged or covered by anything, leaving you able to still hear your surroundings.
I’ve had the Trekz Air for a couple of months now. It did take me a while to get used to the Aftershokz Trekz Air, since they don’t go in your ears you can wear the headphones at different angles on your head and it took me a while to find the angle that was the most comfortable for me. The sound is a bit different to normal headphones, but that doesn’t bother me. I also needed to get used to the vibrations (it tickles a bit sometimes) and the sound changes a little bit if you move your head a certain way or move your jaw. But they did stay on really well while running.
A common problem with bone conduction headphones is the sound leaking away, so people around you can hear what you’re listening to, but the Aftershokz Trekz Air now have a LeakSlayer feature that prevents that. They are sweat resistant so you can go running with them without any problems. I’ve ran with them in the rain and on hot days while sweating a lot and none of that was an issue. They have a battery life of at least 6 hours, so in theory I should be able to run a marathon with them. Unfortunately, they arrived after I ran the Paris Marathon so I haven’t tested them during a marathon yet.
It only has three buttons: Volume + (which is also the on/off button), volume – and a pause/next song/answer call button (Yes, you can answer calls while out on a run without having to get your phone out. It has noise cancelling microphones so the caller can hear you). It is therefore easy to use, although the volume + and – buttons are quite small and I’d rather have buttons where I don’t have to feel so carefully which button I’m about the push. That’s the only thing I would change about the Trekz Air and maybe a slightly longer battery life, although I’ve never really had any trouble with the 6+ hour battery life I would like the idea of an 8+ or 12+ hour battery life more. But I guess a bigger battery would mean they would get heavier and the Trekz Air are currently surprisingly light. They only weigh 30 grams!
I now take them with me everywhere I go. I found them useful in several situations, not only are they useful during running, they are also useful in any situation you’d want to listen to audio, but at the same time also be able to hear the people around you. For example while working, but also wanting to be able to hear your co-workers or during a flight when you also want to be able to hear the flight attendants. While running it’s nice to be able to hear traffic really well. I found that especially useful on holiday in France where I had to follow a busy car road for a bit to get to a running trail nearby. But also while running along a bike lane in the Netherlands or even during an event where there are a lot of people who are cheering you on or you want to be able to hear the instructions of the marshals.
I’ve used them on countless of training runs, but also on a few races. I’ve used them during the Tilburg 5k and during the Alpe d’HuZes event. I’ve not only listened to music on them, but also podcasts and audiobooks and those are easy to understand as well. I even wear them while going to the store, I can listen to an audiobook while getting the things that I need, but I can still hear the cashier at the till. They rest on top of your ears, but I’ve worn them with sunglasses, headbands and a cap without any issues.
I’m looking forward to using them during the New York City Marathon: the NYC marathon is known for the crowds cheering you on, so I’d love to be able to hear that, but at the same time it would be cool if I could listen to Empire State of Mind or other NYC themed songs while running through Manhattan.