Is it worth taking headphones to a music festival?

by Sam Warrenger
Girl in festival campsite

Headphones might seem like a weird thing to take to a music festival, and to be honest, if you’re going to Leeds with 13 mates just after your exam results come in, you’ll probably be too wrecked for the duration to need them. But if you’re having a slightly more composed weekend, and especially if you’re working or volunteering, there might be times you’ll find yourself wishing you’d brought some along.

If you need some downtime or if you’ve woken up hours before your mates, some familiar music or TV could help you relax. An early morning walk around the festival site with your headphones in, combined with some breakfast, is a great way to sort yourself out when you can’t bear another minute wallowing hungover in your tent.

You’ll always make some great friends working or volunteering at a festival, but you could also find yourself staffing a lonely post or road closure somewhere, or patrolling the quietest of family campsites through the early hours. If you can get away with a headphone in one ear while on shift, the hours will go by much faster.

We’re not suggesting you take a pair of expensive studio-quality cans, but we’ve recommended some of our favourite cheap headphones which have survived a few years of festival trips. There’s a good chance you’ve already got some suitable headphones in a drawer somewhere at home, especially if you’ve been getting a pair with every phone you’ve ever bought then never used them.

Best wireless headphones for festivals

best headphones for festivals: Anker Soundbuds Slim

I’ve been using the Anker Soundbuds Slim through the last festival season, which I love because the connecting wire means you can pull one or both headphones out and let them dangle around your neck when you need to hear someone clearly. You quickly stop noticing you’ve got them hanging loose around your neck, but likewise, I’ve never managed to lose them even when I’ve forgotten they’re on there for hours. The two in-ear earbuds also have a rubber hook to keep them securely in your ears and magnetically clasp together when not in use to form a sealed loop.

I like them so much I’m using them most days at home, so I recently upgraded to the sports-focused headphones from the same range; the Anker Spirit Pro. These share pretty much the exact same design as the Anker Soundbuds Slim (plus red/blue colour options!) and fit into your ears in the exact same way, but the back of the earbuds is slightly larger to accommodate larger drivers with improved sound quality. They’re also rainproof and sweatproof, and add support for the AptX Bluetooth codec which further improves sound quality when used with Android smartphones.

Anker is one of the most trusted online brands and all these headphones come with their highly-regarded 18-month warranty. Other variations include the Anker Soundcore Spirit, a rainproof version of the Soundbuds Slim mentioned above, and the Anker Soundbuds Slim+, which add AptX audio support. They all recharge via micro USB, so if they don’t last the entire festival you can just recharge them from your power bank.

Best wired headphones for festivals

I’ve always found wired headphones the best when you still need to hear the world around you, particularly the ones that don’t need sticking inside your earhole. When I’ve been on a quiet shift working or volunteering at festivals I’ve usually been able to run the cable under my jacket from a phone or radio in my pocket to a headphone in one ear, just like you might have done in school in an effort to stop the teacher realising you’re listening to music.

My preferred wired set for this is the Sony MDR-E9LP, which as you can see from the pictures, sit comfortably in front of your ear canal without being wedged inside it. This is great for hearing people talking to you without removing a headphone and also stays comfortable if you’re wearing them for an eight-hour shift or a two-mile walk to the Glastonbury car parks and back. They’re also available in four colours.

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