How To Modify Howard Leight Impact Sport Ear Muffs On a Budget

Noise Fighters Sightlines gel cups and Qore Performance IceVents installed on Howard Leight Impact Sport ear muffs

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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. We will also go over 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.

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. That wear and tear came after using them for years in the military on various shooting teams.

Howard Leight Impact Sport electronic ear muffs
Howard Leight Impact Sport muffs-15

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

Howard Leight Impact Sport muffs-17
Howard Leight Impact Sport muffs-12

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

Step One: Buy Noise Fighters Sightlines Gel Ear Pads

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. These glorious gel replacements were available the whole time, and I never knew about it.

Noise Fighters model wearing Sordin ear pro

Photo Credit: Noise Fighters

standard foam ear cups next to Noise Fighters sightlines gel cups

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.

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 Fighters Sightlines gel pads on Walker Game Ears

Photo Credit: Noise Fighters

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

Since gel is denser than foam, the Noise Fighters gel pads do a really great job of cutting down noise levels. The difference between the cheap foam and gel is clearly discernible. I don’t currently have a scientific way to test the exact decibel level reduction. But between the Howard Leights standard foam ear pads and the Noise Fighters gel pads, it’s a huge difference.

Noise Fighters Sightlines installed on Howard Leight ear muffs with Qore Performance IceVents on black background
Noise Fighters Sightline gel cups and Qore Performance IceVents on electronic muffs

Photo Credit: Noise Fighters

The other big difference and major upgrade with Noise Fighters gel pads is that they are specifically designed for eye pro. They are shaped to allow the frames of your glasses 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.

 

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.

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. This gap allows air to flow to drastically improve cooling and long-term comfort. 

Qore Performance has updated the design of the IceVents specifically for headsets. It’s a much more streamlined and aesthetically pleasing design in my opinion. You can see a previous generation on my headset that is basically just a rounded rectangle.

qore performance icevents installed on headset top view

Photo Credit: Qore Performance

qore performance icevents installed on headset

Photo Credit: Qore Performance

IceVents can also be used as plate carrier shoulder pads and battle belt padding. They can even be 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.

IceVents Airflow Example

Photo Credit: Qore Performance

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

Step Three: Install Foam Inside The Ear Cups

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.

The problem is, if you take your Impact Sport muffs apart, you’ll find a lot of nothing. Inside of the actual electronics and battery compartments, there is just a little bit of foam and a bunch of empty 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. To fix this, you’ll need to disassemble your Impact Sport muffs.

First, remove the batteries from your Howard Leight Impact Sport muffs (just in case). 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 edge 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

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.

Out of the box, Howard Leight 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 if you filled all that empty space inside the cups with some noise-absorbing foam?

Showing-foam-cut-outs-to-fill-air-gaps-in-Howard-Leight-ear-pro
Showing-foam-installed-in-Howard-Leight-Impact-sport-ear-muffs

Once you get as much foam inside the cups as possible, push the plastic covers you pried off earlier back into place. Everything should snap back together with no visible signs of modification. I’d be willing to bet 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!

Noise Fighters Sightlines gel cups and Qore Performance IceVents installed on Howard Leight Impact Sport ear muffs

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