The $1 spent on foam ear plugs during my recent backpacking trip from Adelaide to Darwin was definitely the best value for money investment I could have made to make sure my trip was enjoyable.
Several times I was in a youth hostel where other people in the same dorm room were:
- Snoring loudly
- Talking to each other at night
- Staying out late at night partying and then making noise when they entered the dorm room after midnight
Similarly while on 4WD tours with Groovy Grape, Wayoutback and Adventure Tours Australia when we camped outside in swags some people stayed up late talking but once my earplugs were in I went to sleep within minutes instead of hearing them talk and not sleeping until it was quiet
Cheap foam earplugs are designed for temporary protection against noise. I wouldn’t bother buying expensive ones because ear plugs are easy to lose so if they only cost you a $1 you can always keep a spare pair while travelling. They should be available at any chemist or pharmacy.
Current earplug material was discovered in 1967, at National Research in the USA, by Ross Gardner and his team. As part of of a project on sealing joints, they developed a resin with energy absorption properties. This E-A-R material was later developed into commercial memory foam earplugs.
Most earplugs are made of memory foam that is typically rolled into a tightly compressed cylinder (without creases) by the wearer’s fingers and then inserted in the ear canal. Once released, the earplug expands until it seals the canal, blocking the sound vibrations that reach the eardrum. Other plugs simply push into the ear canal without being rolled first.