How to Modify Howard Leight Impact Sport Muffs On a Budget

Howard Leight Impact Sport electronic hearing muffs are some of the most popular active ear pro on the market. In this article, we’ll take a look at the long-term durability, dependability, and overall comfort of Howard Leight Impact Sport muffs, as well as how to modify yours to improve their overall comfort and performance. This guide also works with other popular styles of hearing protection with similar designs.

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I purchased my first pair of Impact Sport muffs in 2010. They are the green ones pictured below. As you can see, they have definitely seen better days, but that wear and tear came after using them for years on various shooting teams across the world.

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Howard Leight Impact Sport Ear Muffs old and used next to new pair
Howard Leight Impact Sport electronic ear muffs

Although my old green set looks rough, they actually still function perfectly. All of the wear and damage you see is completely cosmetic, and I actually still keep them in my range bag as loaners for whenever someone shows up without any ear pro.

Howard Leight Impact Sport electronic ear muff wire exposed
Howard Leight Impact Sport electronic hearing protection after many years of use and abuse

I finally broke down and picked up a new black set in 2019, but this time, I wanted to try out a couple of products I’d seen before but had never used myself.

Noise Fighters gel ear cups promo picture

Photo Credit: Noise Fighters

Holding Noise Fighters Sightlines gel ear cups next to standard foam cups

Let me spoil the surprise for you, Noise Fighters gel ear pads are awesome – REALLY awesome… I spent years wearing my old Howard Leight Impact Sport muffs with the basic foam ear pads that came with them when these glorious gel replacements were available the whole time.

Noise Fighters gel ear cups installed on Walker electronic ear muffs

Photo Credit: Noise Fighters

Howard Leight ear pro next to Oakley M frame clear shooting glasses

The standard foam ear pads work okay, but they don’t seal well around hats or eye pro. They also aren’t very comfortable, if you wear your muffs longer than about an hour or two. I’ve had plenty of headaches from my ear pro not sitting comfortably on my head.

Noise Fighter gel cups installed on Howard Leight Impact Sport hearing protection

If you’ve never experienced the glorious pleasure of gel ear pads, let me help you cross over to the dark side. First, they are SUPER comfortable. They not only conform around your head but also around hats, eye pro, and whatever else you might be wearing.

Noise Fighter gel cups next to standard foam cups that come with Howard Leight Impact Sport muffs

Since the gel is denser than foam, the Noise Fighters gel pads do a really great job of cutting down the noise levels that are trying to assault your eardrums, and the difference is clearly discernible. I don’t currently have a scientific way to test the exact decibel level reduction between the Howard Leights standard foam ear pads and the Noise Fighters gel pads, but trust me when I say it’s a huge difference.

Noise Fighter gel ear cups installed on Howard Leight Impact Sport hearing protection

The other big difference and major upgrade with Noise Fighters gel pads is that they are specifically designed and shaped to allow the frames of your eye protection to fit perfectly in a recessed groove along the top of the cups. It’s the most genius, “Why didn’t I think of that?!” idea for ear muffs since their inception.

Noise Fighters Sightline gel cups and Qore Performance IceVents on electronic muffs

Photo Credit: Noise Fighters

So, your first step in modding your own Howard Leight Impact Sport muffs is to pick up a set of universal Noise Fighters gel ear pads. I’m sure you won’t regret it for a second.

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Step Two: Buy Qore Performance IceVents

The IceVents from Qore Performace is a universal headband pad that creates an air gap between your head and the headset headband. This gap allows air to flow freely to drastically improve cooling and long term comfort.

Qore Performance IceVents in package

IceVents can also be used as plate carrier shoulder pads and battle belt padding. They can even placed inside plate carriers to improve airflow. They use a “proprietary Supracor Stimulite impact-absorbing hexagonal honeycomb thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) technology.” In other words, it’s a bunch of honeycomb-like openings that don’t collapse under load but are also flexible and comfortable to wear. AKA Space Magic.

Holding IceVents and pointing to optional mounting holes

Another positive improvement by using IceVents is that they will increase the surface area of your headset pushing against your head, which will help distribute the spring pressure over a larger area and cut down on headaches. However, if you’d rather not have the extra overlap, you can simply cut the IceVents down to whatever width you’d like, and they will still function as intended.

Holding Howard Leight Impact Sport ear muffs indicating the width of Qore Performance IceVents
Holding upgraded Howard Leight Impact Sport muffs with Noise Fighters Sightlines gel cups and Qore Performance IceVents installed

Step Three: Grab Some Foam – Time For a Little Disassembly

Howard Leight Impact Sport earmuffs come in just under the $50 line. For that price, you get a pretty solid set of active noise amplification/cancelation muffs that allow you to hear a normal conversation clearly, while also protecting your hearing from sudden sounds louder than 84dB, like gunshots.

Taking apart Howard Leight ear muffs to add foam

The problem is, if you take your Impact Sport muffs apart, you’ll find that inside of the actual electronics and battery compartments, there is just a little bit of foam and a whole lot of empty dead space. The only thing blocking the sound is the plastic body of the muffs themselves and a really thin foam sheet that covers the speakers. In order to remedy this, you’ll need to disassemble your Impact Sport muffs.

First, remove the batteries from your Howard Leight Impact Sport muffs (just in case), and find yourself a small flat head screwdriver or pry bar. The two parts of the muffs are held together by several small plastic clips, spaced around the parameter of the muffs. All you have to do is gently pry the plastic ring away from the plastic cup shown here. Don’t worry if you hear cracking sounds, that is just the clips releasing from the body. Take your time and don’t go crazy with it.

Showing air gaps in Howard Leight ear muffs to fill with foam
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Now find some noise-absorbing foam, and start filling up all the empty space you can. For mine, I used some packing foam wrap that I had, probably from an Amazon package. Another great option would be to use foam earplugs. You can buy a pack of 100 from Amazon for $9.

Showing foam cut outs to fill air gaps in Howard Leight ear pro

In their stock configuration, Howard Leight Impact Sport earmuffs will reduce incoming noise levels by roughly 24dB. If you add Noise Fighters gel ear cups, I’d guess that number goes up into the low to mid-30ish dB range. So, what do you think would happen if you filled all that empty space inside the cups with some noise-absorbing foam?

Showing foam installed in Howard Leight Impact sport ear muffs

Once you get as much foam inside the cups as possible, just push the plastic covers you pried off earlier back into place, and everything should snap back together with no visible signs of modification. I’d wager you could do this same thing to just about any other muffs available on the market. Don’t take my word for it, though – that’s just a theory.

Congratulations, you just turned your $46 earmuffs into $200+ quality muffs!

Howard Leight Impact Sport muffs with Noise Fighter Sightlines gel cups and Qore Performance IceVents upgrades
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