Updated: November 2017

Ear Muff Reviews:

Best of Classic and Contemporary Ear Warmers - Ear muffs have been helping to keep sensitive lobes toasty for over a century. Some people wonder why you would wear ear muffs at all - why not just put on a hat? Ear warmers offer a design that is ideal for those who want to listen to their mp3 players even when it's the middle of winter; they're ideal for people who don't want hat hair when they show up for work; they are great for people who get too hot with a hat but too cold without; and they are also perfect for people who want to make a statement with their clothing and accessories, no matter what time of year. Whether you're an ear muff aficionado or you are thinking of converting, this guide will show you what to look for and what some of the top brands are.
ear muffs

The Beginning of Ear Muffs - According to old ear muff lore (yes, there is old ear muff lore), Maine teenager Chester Greenwood had a problem: he couldn't wear a hat like the other kids because the wool of the homemade hats itched him so badly. He asked his grandmother to help him create something to keep his ears warm. Chester described what he wanted, and his grandmother was able to stitch it up in no time. They bent some wire for the headband and fashioned ear muffs from beaver fur for the outside and velvet for the side touching the ear. The "Ear Protector" was born, but the ears flapped too much. A few adjustments later, Chester had himself a U.S. patented product at the age of 18. The innovator also had patents - 130 of them to be exact - for things as diverse as the rubberless rubber band and a version of the shock absorber. His Ear Protector set him up for life, and in turn, Chester's invention created a cottage industry: his fur ear muffs needed to be hand sewn in order to attach the fabric to the hinged flap, and the townspeople took this piecework home to earn money. From humble beginnings to a ubiquitous sight in the winter, the ear muff has changed and evolved but remains imminently practical. But if you're as concerned with style as you are with practicality, ear muffs have you covered there as well. They are so versatile, and cute, that two major designers, Jefen and Lacoste, included the cute accessories in their fall/winter collections. Not only can they be the finishing touch on a winter outfit, they can be worn with a hat or scarf for extra protection on frigid days. Let's take a look at some of the most popular ear warmer styles and brands to make searching for that perfect pair a bit easier.

Traditional, Chester-Style Ear Muffs - Sometimes a traditional look can be astonishingly modern and trendy. Some of the best ear muffs are derived from the pattern Chester Greenwood created. If you are looking for exceptional, traditional style at a moderate price, try Sheepskin Ear Muffs from Shepherd's Flock. These are made with your choice of a black velvet or smooth leather headband. The ear muffs are made of pure wool and a sheepskin lining and cost only $12 - $14. For those who do not want to wear leather or sheepskin, you can find traditional ear muffs at any large store, such as Old Navy, American Eagle, Walmart, Target, and JC Penney. These cost under $10, and many times under $5. A variation on the ear muff is the earflap hat, which incorporates ear warmers into the hat. If you need more ear protection than a typical hat can offer, these can be great. Traditional ear muffs are popular, but gaining in popularity are alternatives that won't make a flat spot in your hairdo and that are great for men or women. Here's a look at some spin-offs of the original. You can browse the best selling ear muffs online here.

Best Ear Warmers:

180s Ear Warmers - 180s Ear Warmers are really in a class of their own. In 1995, the fledgling company created the first behind-the-head ear warmers. Unlike traditional ear warmers, these had a fabric band that stretched around the back of your head. This offers not only ear protection, but an updated style that is entirely appropriate for men and women. And it shouldn't wreak havoc with your hair style, especially if you're wearing your hair up or if itís short. If you need to wear glasses, the band won't interfere. A review in Associated Content said they aren't "your grandmother's ear muffs!" The reviewer praised the lightweight, insulating quality, warmth, soft fleece, adjustable band, foldable design, moisture-wicking fabric, and most of all, no pinching band going across your head. Today, 180s ear warmers come in a wide array of designs. You can find one of the most popular and warm at Amazon for about $24. The Aspen warmers are adjustable, collapsible, and work with hats, glasses, and helmets. They feature a wind-resistant, breathable quilted nylon shell, Thermolite Active Insulation that is both light and moisture-resistant, and faux shearling ear cups for comfort. Also check out the ExoLite series, which is ideal for those who want to keep their ears warm while running or doing other outdoor activities in the winter. These are sleek and designed for performance. The ExoLite ear muffs are about $25 at retailers such as Macy's, LL Bean, Cabela's, Dick's Sporting Goods, and other major retailers. EarGrips is another top name in the behind-the-head ear warmer biz.

Ear Warmers and Sound - Many of us take our mp3 players with us everywhere, especially when we're out walking; why should a hat or ear muffs stop us? They don't have to. A whole new crop of ear warmers are offering the perfect solution: music and warm ears. What could be better? Again, you will find 180s is at the top of this game with several ear warmers with integrated headphones. The Aspen, which was discussed above, also comes in a headphone version. In addition to the superior warming quality, you will find built-in stereo headphones with a detachable cord. These cost about $35. If you're looking for ear warmers to wear under a skiing or snowboarding helmet that play music, you're asking a lot. No, not really. Giro/Skullcandy makes a line of warmers that are designed for this type of use. They are a bit pricy but worth it if you love music and the slopes and don't want to sacrifice. Check out Giro/Skullcandy audio systems for ear warmers.

Bandless Ear Warmers:

If you're not really liking the ear warmers band, whether it is on the top of your head or the back, don't worry. Bandless ear warmers, which you may also hear called "ear mittens," are exactly that: instead of putting on a band with ear warmers on the ends, you slip the warmers right onto your ears. No band to mess up your hair. Earbags is a top name. These Swedish-made bandless ear warmers review very well on Amazon, Buzzillion, and other consumer sites, and About.Walking said to "ban the band." Earbags keep your ears warm and are very comfortable, have a soft Polartec fleece exterior, Thinsulate Flex insulation flex open, secure fit, and compact design. You can find these for about $15. Another big name is Ear Mitts. This company has an incredible line of bandless ear warmers, including faux leather, faux fur, faux suede, and fleece ear warmers. The Fleece Ear Mitts Bandless Ear Muffs that you can find here for $15 have polyester and polypropylene shells with Thinsulate Insulation, and DuPont Teflon fabric protectors. They can be worn with any type of head gear or sans hat, it's your choice. You can also stow them anywhere because of their compact design. Ear muffs have been going in and out of style for a century; but one thing they have always been is warm. Today's twists on the classic make it a great accessory for anyone. Browse the best selling bandless ear muffs here.