On a powder day, there’s perhaps no better feeling than locking into a turn vibing to your favorite playlist. I’m sure there’s an abundance of literature about how music accentuates the feeling of “flow state,” etc. but who needs research when you have firsthand experience? Music (so long as it isn’t distracting) and the mountain experience go hand in hand.
The thing about our smartphones, though – the ultimate gateways to audio bliss – is that they aren’t huge fans of the elements. On more than one occasion I’ve found myself stumbling into a slow jam that doesn’t fit the vibe, pulled my phone out to make an adjustment and had the thing quickly die due to the cold. Not cool.
These days, many Bluetooth earbuds have functionalities that allow you to skip tracks, answer calls, and the like, but add a pair of snow gloves to the equation and you’re bound to have issues.
Which brings me to the point: On a recent outing at Mammoth Mountain, I had the pleasure of field testing Skullcandy’s new Vert earbuds and in short, would recommend ten out of ten times.
Unlike other Bluetooth earbuds, the Vert earbuds are designed specifically with the mountain (and bike trail) in mind. Essentially, the buds connect to a large circular clip with controls to literally dial in your music for your ride. Twist forward and back to turn the volume up and down, twist and hold forward and back to skip a track or go back to the last one, and pause and play by hitting the center button. That same button can also help answer and end calls.
Skullcandy’s design team built these functionalities into the Vert buds specifically with the glove-clad rider in mind, plus they’re water-resistant and have 10 hours of battery life after a quick charge. Controlling your music is easily done without taking off your mitts and suffering from cold hands. And the clip can be put on a goggle or backpack strap or the collar of a jacket.
To illustrate the point, on one occasion specifically, I recall dropping a tree line beneath a lift bobbing to music when my phone began to ring. Instead of stopping and pulling my phone out to take the call, as I typically do, with the Vert buds the control was intuitive enough to answer while riding. It was a quick one. I was able to communicate to the wife that I was on the way to the lodge as we spoke. But not without her first wondering, “Wait, are you riding right now?” Yeah, babe. Wild, huh?
And last: a word on fit. I have, er, big ear holes. I know this only because I’ve had a hell of a time finding earbuds that work for me. Without naming names, testing a pair made by a particular company out of Cupertino, California, the buds would routinely fall out of my ears on runs. Needless to say, they went back to the store.
Looking at the Vert buds, at first I was skeptical of the little rubber pieces (Skullcandy calls them FitFins) that poke out above the main part of the bud. Plus, they were a bit larger than what I was used to and, so I thought, wouldn’t go as deep into my ear as I’d like to feel secure. After a day riding with them, I can say that I’m still not sure how the FitFins work exactly, but the buds stayed snug in my ears all day and that, I suppose, is what matters most.
At just under 80 bucks, Skullcandy’s Vert buds are also pretty reasonable compared to others on the market.
So, if you’re looking to dial in your ride this winter with a pair of earbuds specifically designed for the mountain experience, look no further. The Vert earbuds bump.