I've been in the market for a new pair of affordable wireless earbuds to join me on my outdoor winter adventures, from skiing to hiking. With a big snowboard trip to Whistler on the horizon, I doubled down on my hunt, ultimately landing on JLab Go Air Sports.
Secured for a mere $20 in snazzy teal (presently, $25 on Amazon), the Sports are built with athletes in mind, boasting solid sweat and moisture resistance, long battery life and an around-the-ear design that should stay put.
With 30,000+ feet of vertical successfully shredded, all while taking in some sweet, sweet tunes on my new JLabs, I'm completely sold on these little blue earbuds. Here's what I like best.
1. They stay in my ears
You can't really "yard sale" on a snowboard — bindings prevent separation from the board unless you really eat it — but even if I did, I imagine these earbuds would stay put. The ear hooks wear comfortably. More importantly, at no point over my three days of riding did I experience the sensation of an earbud starting to come loose, a bad feeling at 25 miles per hour.
The JLab Go Airt Sports come with three different-sized rubber tips, which are a rather cheap, flimsy affair. I tossed them in the bin and instead swapped in a pair of memory foam tips before hitting the slopes.
2. Great battery life
Given the price, my expectations for battery life were rather modest. The Go Air Sport marketing material promises 32+ hours of total playtime when recharged via the case and eight hours of continuous music listening.
While I can't speak to the former claim — I erred on the side of caution and charged up the case between each day of day riding — the latter seems pretty spot-on. I didn't quite hit the eight-hour music mark, but I did rock out to tunes for six-plus hours on my first day out.
3. Decent sound quality for the price
Like battery life, my expectations for audio quality weren't terribly high. I'm no audiophile, but I do appreciate decent tonal range, especially some nice bass while floating through pillows of powder to Sly and the Family Stone.
That said, when the mountain is crowded, I turn the volume way down or remove a bud completely. This is to better hear my surroundings, which is to say, top-notch sound quality is not a dealbreaker for me, in this instance.
Much to my delight, though, the JLabs provide better-sounding audio than expected. The bass is surprisingly deep, and the mids sound crisp and clear. The high tones are a tad dull sounding, but given the price, I'm not complaining.
External sound isolation is minimal, which I appreciate. Riding the mountain is one time I want to be able to hear both Lead Belly and the ski school of groms passing me.
4. Water and sweat-proof design
Given my tendency to ski in the wet U.S. Pacific Northwest, decent moisture protection is a must. The JLab Go Air Sport are IP 55-rated, making them a good choice for even the crappiest of winter weather.
We had one particularly rainy day on the mountain — damn you, El Niño — but that was no problem for the JLabs, which took quite a soaking. By the way, the charging case is not water-resistant in any way.
5. USB charging built in
Sure, I would have preferred the case to have a built-in USB-C charging cable over an old-school USB-A. However, given how many charging cables and wall adapters I already packed for the trip, it was nice to have one less wire to think about.
JLab Go Air Sport – room for improvement
Of course, not everything about my experience with the Go Air Sport buds was blue skies and powder turns. Even when not wearing my helmet, in between runs, I found the push-button controls on either earbud finicky to use. Fortunately, I was able to start, stop and skip songs from my wrist using a Polar Vantage V3 smartwatch.
JLab Go Air Sport – snowboarding's most affordable accessory?
Ultimately, ski and snowboard gear — from boots and bindings to goggles and helmets — is an enormous investment, and that's before factoring in the cost of lift tickets. Getting fully kitted out and hitting the slopes can easily cost a thousand dollars or more once you tally everything up (which is why I wax my snowboard at home).
In a world of expensive-as-heck winter mountain tech, the $20 JLab Go Air Sport earbuds are a refreshingly affordable snow-day accessory. And I can't wait to pop them in the next time I tighten my bindings to make some fresh turns.
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Dan Bracaglia covers fitness and consumer technology with an emphasis on wearables for Tom's Guide. Based in the US Pacific Northwest, Dan is an avid outdoor adventurer who dabbles in everything from kayaking to snowboarding, but he most enjoys exploring the cities and mountains with his small pup, Belvedere. Dan is currently training to climb some of Washington State's tallest peaks. He's also a big photography nerd.