As scuba divers, we spend countless hours submerged in an aquatic environment far different than conditions on dry land. One of the major differences is the effects of pressure changes on our ears. Equalizing becomes essential to avoid barotrauma and pain. That’s where specialized scuba earplugs come in handy!
In this review, I’ll be taking a close look at Doc’s Pro Plugs vented earplugs. Marketed specifically for divers, Doc’s Pro Plugs aim to reduce in-water noise while allowing for easy equalization for those of you who struggle with it. I put these unique earplugs through their paces to see if they live up to promises. Read on for the full review!
Table of Contents
- 1 Overview of Doc’s Pro Plugs Vented Earplugs
- 2 What Makes These Vented Earplugs Ideal for Divers?
- 3 Setting the Stage for My Experiments
- 4 Doc’s Pro Plugs Review: Testing Comfort, Fit, and Performance
- 5 My Recommended Tips for Using Doc’s Pro Plugs Effectively
- 6 The Final Verdict: Who Are Doc’s Pro Plugs For?
- 7 Closing Thoughts
Overview of Doc’s Pro Plugs Vented Earplugs
First, let’s examine what defines these specialty earplugs:
- Made of firm, molded silicone with plastic sound filters
- Feature a visible vent hole to allow equalization
- Attenuate noise up to 20 decibels when properly inserted
- Designed to fit comfortably in the ear canal for extended wear
- Can be fitted with an optional integrated retention ring
- Available in multiple sizes to fit most ear canal shapes
- Offered in a choice of vibrant colors for easy visibility
Essentially Doc’s Pro Plugs act like tiny customized earplugs with a special vent hole. They block water and muffle ambient noise much like standard plugs but allow air transfer to prevent eardrum damage. A clever combo!
What Makes These Vented Earplugs Ideal for Divers?
Standard foam earplugs would seem to get the job done by blocking water and sound underwater. So why seek out specialty vented plugs for diving?
Standard earplugs block off the ear canal completely. This prevents you from equalizing pressure, which can cause severe pain and injury to the eardrum.
The key difference between standard earplugs and vented earplugs designed for diving is the vent hole. This intentional gap serves an important purpose: Allowing equalization of pressure in the ear canal as you descend and ascend while wearing the plugs by permitting escaping air to pass through the vent during equalization.
As you descend wearing vented plugs, the increasing water pressure is able to push air through the vent hole as needed to equalize thus minimizing pressure buildup behind the plug.
The vent ensures no trapped pocket of air and pressure builds up behind the plug, which could dislodge or damage the eardrum.
By equalizing the pressure incrementally, vented plugs greatly reduce squeeze and discomfort from underwater pressure shifts.
Apart from that, While dampening sound, the vent still permits directional hearing of important water noises for situational awareness. This allows for hearing ambient water sounds like regulator bubbles or tank rattlers of your dive buddy.
So while standard earplugs work topside, vented versions specially engineered for diving make going underwater more comfortable and enjoyable.
Setting the Stage for My Experiments
I tested the Doc’s Pro Plugs over numerous dives in a variety of conditions:
Pool dives – Tested basic fit and seal in a controlled pool environment at depths of 10-20 feet. Assessed comfort and equalization ability when descending, ascending, and moving around.
Lake dives – Evaluated performance during multiple lake dives to depths around 30 feet. Tested noise reduction and ventilation on a boat ride to the site with engine noise.
Ocean dives – Tried plugs on day dives off tropical reefs to 60-80 feet deep. Checked durability and retention when turning my head to look at marine life and doing safety drills.
Night dives – Assessed visibility of fluorescent plugs in dark waters on night reef dives. Also evaluated fit after multiple entries and exits.
Cold water dives – Tried plugs on temperate ocean dives with water temps from 50-65F. Focused on comfort and circulation when diving in a colder environment.
Strong Current dives – Challenged plugs with strong currents while surveying piers in a river. Ensured they stayed sealed despite moving with forceful water.
Multi-day trips – Wore plugs continuously for 4-5 days of repetitive diving in varied ambient conditions. Assessed extended wear comfort.
Doc’s Pro Plugs Review: Testing Comfort, Fit, and Performance
Now let’s get into the nitty gritty of evaluating Doc’s Pro Plugs after actual diving use:
Insertion and Comfort
Made of soft, flexible silicone – easily molded into the ear canal without discomfort. A small smooth tip inserts smoothly and then flares wider to seal the canal. Did not cause irritation or rubbing even during extended long dives
An optional retention ring secured the plug in place and aided swift removal by tugging at the leash.
Significantly attenuated low rumbles like bubbles and regulator noise. Decreased discomfort from loud bursts like equalizing and gear adjustments.
Did not totally block ambient noise – surface conversations and the sound of a tank rattler from my dive buddy were still audible.
Equalizing and Venting
The vent hole seemed adequately sized to allow easy equalizing and pressure relief.
Did not have to remove plugs at any point to vent or equalize. It worked seamlessly with all ear equalization maneuvers including Valsalva, Frenzel, and Toynbee.
Venting noise is muted compared to open ears but still discernable
Bright fluorescent colors and glow-in-the-dark helped my dive buddy avoid losing sight of the plugs. Easy to see when floating in water compared to skin-tone plugs even in freshwater dives or when you kick up a lot of silt.
Fit and Seal
Snug enough diameter to seal the canal without protruding deeply into the ear
Got dislodged twice during mask clears and equalizing. Had to wear a dive hood in coalition to avoid losing these precious plugs.
I experienced minimal water leakage (quite normal and acceptable) and no noticeable discomfort even on inversions and mask removals
Overall the Doc’s Pro Plugs performed very well across all aspects important for diving. They stayed sealed and secure while providing noise reduction and easy equalization when properly fitted.
My Recommended Tips for Using Doc’s Pro Plugs Effectively
After many test dives, I’ve gleaned some tips for squeezing the most out of your vented plugs:
- Select the double-flanged style for a more secure seal and easy insertion
- Insert so the vent hole aligns in the direction of the ear canal for unimpeded air transfer
- Check periodically that plugs remain well-seated and have not shifted
- Keep plugs secured to your mask strap with a keeper when not in the ears
- Have mask and fins on before inserting to avoid dislodging
- Consider the retention ring option or wear a hood if you struggle with plugs popping out
Take the time to properly fit and adjust the earplugs when you first switch to them. Once you determine the right setup, they’ll feel like second nature on each dive.
The Final Verdict: Who Are Doc’s Pro Plugs For?
After extensive testing, would I recommend Doc’s Pro Plugs vented earplugs for diving? Absolutely, with some qualifiers:
Best Suited For
- Recreational scuba divers in normal conditions
- Frequent divers want hearing protection and comfort
- Preventing surfer’s ear in susceptible individuals
- Snorkelers and freedivers seeking some sound-blocking
Not Ideal For
- Extreme cold water diving or ice diving
- Aggressive, contact-heavy diving like underwater hockey
- Divers who are monitoring ambient sound closely
- Completely blocking water from the ear canal
- Shallow dives
Overall, Doc’s Pro Plugs serve the mainstream recreational scuba diver nicely by enhancing comfort while allowing needed equalization. For the majority of typical sport divers, I believe they are an excellent ear protection option.
Ears are delicate instruments we often take for granted – until we submerge them far below the water’s surface! Specialized equipment like Doc’s Pro Plugs allows divers to venture into the aquatic realm protected and comfortable. While standard earplugs work topside, vented versions designed specifically for the rigors of diving take protection to the next level.
Of course, all ears and ear canals differ in their anatomy and sensitivities. No single product like Doc’s Pro Plugs will be perfect for every diver. Take time to evaluate your needs and test options carefully before committing to the long haul. Don’t force a bad fit!
But with some experimentation, you may just find that specialty vented earplugs like Doc’s Pro Plugs eliminate discomfort and make your undersea exploits infinitely more enjoyable. Here’s to happily equalized ears all around!