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Should you use earplugs when camping? We run down the pros and cons

Man asleep in sleeping bag
(Image credit: Getty)

While there are many benefits of sleeping outdoors, there are also some situations where noise can be an issue while camping. That's when the question of whether you should use earplugs when camping becomes extremely relevant.

Orange foam earplugs

Earplugs may have their uses when camping (Image credit: Getty)

Advantages of earplugs when camping

While many people are keen to get away from noisy everyday lives for a peaceful camping trip, the fact is that camping can be noisy. Sleeping in a tent provides little in the way of a sound barrier because the fabric is thin and this means that noises outdoors, or close by, might disturb you.

If you know you will be sleeping in a busy campsite or side-by-side with a friend in another tent who is likely to snore, earplugs can be a great addition to your camping checklist.

Earplugs will undoubtedly be an essential item on a list of what to take while camping at a festival. Blocking out the sounds of music and other revellers will be vital if you want to get any sleep.

Earplugs will block out the sounds that might otherwise keep you awake – or wake you – in the night.

Some campers also find their natural surroundings to be noisy. For example, sleep might be disturbed when you're camping in the rain, by a thunderstorm, the hoot of owls at night or a noisy dawn chorus of birds. As wonderful as it is to hear these natural noises, it can also mean you don’t enjoy a full night’s sleep.

There are some campers who also prefer not to hear the sounds of wildlife while camping. You might hear the calls or cries of wild animals and this can sometimes be unnerving and lead to a disturbed night’s sleep.

It’s a matter of choice but wearing earplugs when camping can reduce these more unwelcome sounds of nature and help you to sleep more soundly.

Busy campsite with lots of tents

A busy campsite might be noisy (Image credit: Getty)

Disadvantages of earplugs when camping

While earplugs can be useful when camping, there are some disadvantages to these sometimes-useful noise blockers

One of the joys of camping is the chance to enjoy natural surroundings and this includes tuning into nature’s sounds. Indeed, there are claimed to be many benefits of hearing natural sounds.  

A group of researchers from the universities of Michigan State, Carleton and Colorado State partnered with the National Park Service (opens in new tab) to study 18 pieces of research. The results, which were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (opens in new tab), revealed that listening to noises in nature has many positive benefits, such as decreased stress and pain, boosted cognitive performance and an enhanced mood.

Should you wear earplugs when camping, you might well miss out on some of the positives of tuning into natural sounds. 

Another negative for earplug users is that you will not be aware of any potential dangers. While predators are unlikely in the UK, there are plenty of other countries where wild animals such as bears could pose a problem and if you don’t hear them you may end up endangering your situation while camping. 

Earplug use while camping could also be a bad idea if there is a sudden change in the weather, too. As a camper, you will want to be alert to storms or flash floods because they may cause your chosen camp spot to become dangerous. 

Then chances are that if you are going camping, even if you expect it to be peaceful, it could be a good idea to add a pair of earplugs to your camping gear list. After all, they are small and lightweight and can easily be popped into a backpack as one of your essentials.

This article is part of Advnture's Sleep Week 2022 (running from Monday 22 August to Sunday 28 August), our in-depth look at how to choose the best gear for sleeping outdoors and get a better night's rest in the backcountry.

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, who is better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favourite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing, both downhill and back country. Her target for 2021 is to finish the final nine summits in her first round of all 282 Munros, the Scottish mountains of more than 3,000ft high. Aside from being outdoors, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy the great outdoors, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors (opens in new tab).