The introduction of electronic hearing protection has been a game changer for anyone who works or has hobbies that put them into loud environments. Whether it is working on a construction site, mowing the lawn, or shooting a gun, users need to block out the sounds that are harmful to their hearing, while still being able to hear others around them.
Today we’re taking a side-by-side look at the entry-level offerings for two of the heavyweights in the electronic hearing protection market, Howard Leight vs Walkers. Specifically, we’ll be comparing the Impact Sport vs. the Razor.
Noise Reduction Ratio (NRR)
NRR is the measure of just how much any hearing protection lowers the decibel (db) level of the sound reaching the ears. It’s the largest factor that you should look at when considering any hearing protection.
The larger the number the more hearing protection it provides. The environment you will be working in plays a large part in this. Very loud environments such as factory floors may require hearing protection in the NRR 26-30 range to be effective. While activities such as mowing the lawn or a construction sight may only require hearing protection with a NRR in the low 20s to be effective.
Both the Razor and Impact Pro come in on the lower end of this spectrum with NRR of 23 and 22 respectively. Both are very appropriate for every day noisy environments, although the Razor does take the slight edge in this category with 1db of extra protection.
My second consideration with hearing protection is always comfort. Hearing protection is generally worn for a long period of time so the ability to wear earmuffs for hours at a time and over safety glasses comfortably is always a primary concern.
When looking at Walker’s Razor vs the Howard Leight the Razor carries the edge again. The biggest differentiator that you’ll notice is the padded headband on the Razor, whereas the Impact Sport has a thinner vinyl covered headband.
This can be extremely important if wearing them over a hat or other head covering that can cause the headband to create a pressure point on top of the head.
The Razor also has thicker earmuffs than the Impact Sport, which makes it more comfortable when wearing over sunglasses or safety glasses.
The tradeoff to comfort and protection level is size. Earmuffs can be awkwardly shaped and difficult to fit in travel bags.
As you would expect, the size award in the Howard Leight vs Walkers Razor comparison battle goes to the Impact Sport. While both have a very slim profile, the Impact Sport folds up slightly smaller, which may make all the difference in finding a spot to stow them in a range or workbag.
No one wants to be swapping out batteries in the middle of a long day on the range or worksite. Battery life should be a critical consideration in any hearing protection choice.
This factor is a little tricky to compare the two on. Both use 2 AAA batteries, which are included in the packaging with both. Walker doesn’t report the expected battery life for the Razor, although users do report using them for months on one set of batteries. Howard Leight on the other hand lists an astounding 350 hours as the expected battery life for the Impact Sport.
The battery life comparison on the Walker Razor vs Howard Leight has to go to Howard Leight in my mind. Two weeks of strait run time on one set of batteries means you’ll almost never find yourself stuck with no power to your earmuffs.
Style is admittedly a personal preference. Normally I wouldn’t make a judgment on this factor, but in this case I would have to lean toward the Walkers Razor.
Walkers has designed their product line to have a much wider variety of styles and colors. This means that there are many more options to match your personal style preference.
My personal opinion is that the Walkers have a more aggressive styling that I prefer. The Razor name really fits the product line well.
The Impact Sport is a sharp looking pair of earmuffs as well and I don’t believe many people would be disappointed with the aesthetic of them, but on sheer variety of options alone the Razor wins this round.
Both models include an audio headphones jack, which is a great feature that allows you to listen to music or any other audio while you work.
Howard Leight does go the extra step of including an audio cable in their packaging so you can get up and running quickly, which is a nice bonus.
The price for electronic hearing protection has really been dropping in recent years as the technology has continued to improve. This is an outstanding price point for a set of high quality electronic earmuffs, and one that you wouldn’t have seen just a few years ago. I think that either of these models is a steal at that price and it’s well within the reach of most consumers without having to wait for a sale.
In looking at all the factors for Walker’s Razor vs Howard Leight I have to say that both are outstanding products. They both compare very favorably to one another on almost every factor, and both come from outstanding companies with a history of developing high quality products. I think most people would be very pleased to have either of these included in their tool kit.
I have to give the slight edge to Walker’s Razor however. My deciding factors are comfort and style. I really appreciate the extra padding in the headband and earmuffs as I always wear both a hat and safety glasses, and I personally prefer the more aggressive styling of the Razor.