Exploring the Possibilities: Bone Conduction Headphones with Ear Plugs

Earplugs are a necessity for many people, but music can be just as essential for most of us. Swimmers, for example, often wear earplugs to avoid getting water in their ear canals. Bone conduction headphones are usually waterproof, making them ideal for swimmers. So, can you use bone conduction headphones with earplugs?

Bone conduction headphones work perfectly with ear plugs since bone conduction technology leaves your ear canals open. Some people even prefer to wear earplugs when they use bone conduction headphones in places with lots of ambient noise, like airplanes, so that they can hear their music clearly.

Many people specifically rave about bone conduction headphones because they leave your ear canals open. Athletes, like marathon runners, love that fact because it allows them to hear ambient noise. But what if you don’t want to, or can’t, have your ears unblocked? Let’s look at how you can use bone conduction headphones with earplugs.

Why You Can Use Bone Conduction Headphones With Earplugs

Bone conduction headphones work by sending vibrations directly into the bones of your head and jaw, bypassing your ear canals and ear drums, and interacting directly with your inner ears. The closest they ever come to your outer ears are the supports that rest over your ears, similar to the frames of glasses but usually the other way around.

The bone conduction headphones leave your ear canals wide open, which is a great benefit in many ways.

Why You May Not Want To Use Earplugs With Bone Conduction

In some ways, wearing earplugs with bone conduction headphones defeats the purpose of using bone conduction in the first place. All the selling points for bone conduction have to do with keeping your ear canals open, which you won’t do if you wear earplugs.

For example, athletes wear bone conduction headphones so they can listen to music while running but still be able to hear their environment. Bone conduction is the only type of headphones allowed in many marathons, and using earplugs would remove environmental awareness from the equation.

Some people get irritated with objects in their ears, especially earbuds. Bone conduction is perfect for them since they have nothing in their ears unless they use earplugs.

Many people, myself included, work in environments where they need to be able to hear what’s happening around them. Bone conduction headphones make it possible to do so but still listen to your music or podcasts while working.

Cases Where Bone Conduction And Earplugs Work Well Together

There are some cases where earplugs can work well with bone conduction headphones, like:

Noisy Areas

Because bone conduction headphones leave you open to environmental sound, it becomes a problem when that sound is noise. Sometimes this can get so bad that you have to push the volume up all the way, and even then, it might not be enough since bone conduction headphones are not as loud as regular earphones.

Examples are airplanes, buses, trains, and cars. Even noisy work environments can cause this problem. For example, someone who works with power tools all day may want to listen to music.

In these cases, wearing earplugs with your bone conduction headphones will be invaluable.

Now some may ask, why not just buy regular earphones? There are two reasons:

  1. Maybe you need bone conduction headphones for another reason, like sports, and you don’t want to spend money on a second pair of earphones.
  2. Wearing bone conduction will make it easier for you to hear and respond when someone’s talking to you since you don’t have to pause the music or remove the headphones; just take out the earplug. Your music will continue, and you will still be able to hear it in the ear without the earplug.

Sports Like Swimming

Not all sports require constant environmental awareness. Swimming is an example of an ideal scenario where people may choose to wear earplugs with their bone conduction headphones.

Most bone conduction headphones are more water-resistant than regular earphones. AirPods Pro, for example, are pretty water resistant with an ingress rating of four, and this means they can withstand being sprayed with water from all directions for up to ten minutes. But you cannot submerge them in water.

Shokz has bone conduction headphones designed specifically for swimming called the OpenSwim (formerly Xtrainerz). These headphones fit perfectly under a swimming cap and allow swimmers to listen to MP3s loaded on internal storage while swimming. However, most swimmers also prefer to wear earplugs while in the water, which they would not be able to do with any other headphones.

Types Of Earplugs To Wear With Bone Conduction Headphones

Depending on why you want to wear earplugs with your bone conduction headphones, there are various options available. Here are some great recommendations for different use cases.

Try The Earplugs You Got With Your Headphones

Some manufacturers of bone conduction headphones also make earplugs, and some even ship them with their headphones. A notable example is Shokz, one of the leaders in the bone conduction field. Some Shokz models, like the Aeropex, ship with soft foam earplugs that are strong enough to block most ambient noise, and they’re water resistant so that they will work for swimmers.

Earplugs For Wind Noise Reduction

If you wear your bone conduction headphones while riding a bike or a bicycle, you are likely looking for earplugs that simply remove the wind noise without blocking out too much of the traffic.

For those cases, you can find earplugs explicitly made to absorb wind noise. Alpine’s MotoSafe Earplugs are perfect for this. They have an outer layer that blocks out noise but with a small, filtered hole in the middle to allow ambient noise through.

Thick Foam Earplugs For Maximum Noise Cancellation

If you want to block out enough ambient noise to hear your music clearly, or you work with power tools or in an extremely noisy environment and need extra hearing protection, you can get thick foam earplugs that will block almost any noise. They are often waterproof, too.

An example is Moldex Sparkplugs. These earplugs are so potent that people even use them when they go shooting. Some cancel up to 33 decibels, making them some of the best noise-canceling earplugs you can get. The way they seal your ears enhances the quality of the sound from your headphones considerably.

However, they are not the ones to go for if you need to hear your environment all the time.


You can use bone conduction headphones with earplugs. In some cases, it might even be preferable to do so. If you want to hear your podcasts or music more clearly, or you’re active in sports like swimming, there’s no doubt that earplugs will work well with bone conduction headphones. Just be sure to get the right type since some will be better for your purposes than others.