Swimming is fine - it’s a good all-over workout, but there’s not a lot of variation in the interest levels. Enter the Aftershokz Xtrainers, launched at CES 2019: bone-conducting headphones that bring music to your watery workouts more simply than ever before.
Looking past the needless abundance of z’s in the name, these new headphones are designed to bring you music on the go without the need for difficult-to-use earbuds.
We’ve tried a number of options to help you swim with music, and the wired headphones always just end up falling out, getting hit by a flailing arm or just not offering a clean enough seal to allow you actually hear the music.
The bone-conduction method on offer from the Aftershokz Xtrainerz means you just need to place them on your temples and the music will vibrate through your skull - we’ve long been fans of the same technology on the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium and Trekz Air, and bringing that option to the pool makes a lot of sense.
Watch our hands-on video below to see the Aftershokz Xtrainerz in action:
The Xtrainerz come with a 4GB internal memory, meaning you can fill them up with MP3, WMA and other file formats if you’ve still got an MP3 library lying around anywhere.
There’s no integration with Spotify or Deezer, like you get on some fitness gadgets (the Samsung Gear Sport or Fenix 5 Plus, for instance), so standalone streaming is out of the question.
Sadly, with no streaming option, there’s no other way to get music playing on the Aftershokz Xtrainerz as you can’t connect to a phone, even if you were willing to bring one into the pool with you.
This feels like something of an oversight from the brand, as MP3 playback is increasingly rare in the modern world of ‘all music, whenever you want it’ and people are becoming more comfortable with just renting their tunes.
Check the specz
The Aftershokz Xtrainerz feature a pretty meaty spec list for something that’s so thin and lightweight: there’s six hours’ battery life inside the small frame, and a magnetic clip-on charger to prevent the water ingression a charging point might bring.
This is going to be a little more hassle, as the Trekz Air has a microUSB connection that means you don’t need a proprietary charger, which is easier to lose.
The key thing for the Xtrainerz has been covered - especially if you’re thinking about using these for triathlon training - as they’re IP68-rated and can withstand sea water too.
- These are the best running headphones around at the moment
This means they’re fine splashing about in a pool or in the open water, as well as being safe against mud or sand - with the long battery life, we can see these being favoured by a number of triathletes, as the open-ear design means they can head music and stay safe on a bike.
The Aftershokz Xtrainerz release date has been set for ‘spring 2019’ with an expected price of £150 (around $190 / AU$270) - which seems a decent cost given the amount of tech packed in.
- Want more CES 2019 highlights? TechRadar is hands-on with 8K TVs and foldable, rollable displays, along with new laptops and Alexa-enabled smart gadgets. Check out everything we've seen, live from Las Vegas!
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Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.