First Look: AfterShokz Wireless Headphones

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AfterShokz Trekz Air Wireless Headphones
Weight: 1.04 oz
Price: $150

For those wanting to run with tunes but not sacrifice situational awareness, the new open-ear Trekz Air headphones from AfterShokz are where it’s at. Using the futuristic concept of bone conduction, the headphones don’t sit inside the ears at all; the primary advantage of this technology is that the wearer can be thoroughly motivated by their chosen playlist but still hear what’s going on around them.

The Trekz Air is also a no brainer for runners competing in events where conventional in-ear headphones are banned for safety and communication reasons. First developed for military use, AfterShokz released their first bone-conduction headphones to the general consumer market in 2012 and since have released various models, with the Trekz Air being the newest, lightest—at a meager 1.04 ounces—and fanciest.

The Trekz Air headphones wrap over your ears and around the back of your
head via a thin and unobtrusive titanium band. Despite not being strapped firmly to your head, the headset is secure, seemingly regardless of head size, and can be worn comfortably with both hats and sunglasses. The wireless connection to the player also means that you can flail to the max on the downhill trails without accidentally ripping your headphones out of your ears.

The wireless Bluetooth headphones charge fully in two hours via Micro USB and then provide six hours of continuous operation and 20 days of standby time.They also include a microphone so you can take and make calls, talk to Siri or use talk-to-text. Pairing and operation is easy, and is guided by a robotic voice known as “Audrey.” The volume, skip and power buttons are small and can be a bit fiddly, especially when on the move or wearing gloves.

The sound quality is very good although at high volumes you can feel vibrations physically pulse on your cheekbones; weird at first but quickly forgettable. Sound quality only seemed to be compromised in strong winds. 

With a dust- and water-resistance rating of IP55, these headphones are certainly sufficient to withstand sweat and rain showers. For those who run, walk or bike in areas of heavy traffic—be it motorized or not—those who simply enjoy the ambient sounds of nature in conjunction with their guilty pleasure playlist, podcast or for people who simply don’t like sticking things in their ears, these headphones are definitely worth considering.

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Harriet Ridley is a runner and climber, living in Colorado. Unwilling to run without headphones, she finally agreed to test more gear for Trail Runner Magazine now that she has something to listen to.

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