A lot of disscusion goes on about the pros and cons of wearing nose plugs. I don’t really want to enter into that because at the end of the day it is down to personal choice. So assuming you wish to wear nose plugs – which ones are best? The short answer to that is the ones that are comfy and stay on!
Up until quite recently the nose plugs available have been developed specifically for swimming or diving – all types being adequate for the job but not ideal. However over the last 10 years paddle sport specific plugs have made an appearence.
Generally the paddle sport specific plugs follow the same design concept – a u-shaped piece of wire (which is relatively stiff) with padding of some sort on the ends that will make contact with the nose and a leash to attach them to your helmet so you don’t loose them!. The padding usually consists of foam, rubber, or plastic.
As far as I’m concerned my decision on which set of nose plugs to use is based around a number of key questions;
1). Do they seal the nose and therefore keep the water out? Try a set on before you buy and exhale through your nose. If you can breath as normal put them back, a little air being released shouldn’t be a problem.
2). Are they comfortable to wear for more than short periods of time? There is no point wearing them if they hurt!
3). Will they stay on my nose if I’m taking a beating in a hole? I guess it depends on the beating! But try the same test as in 1). if they fly off as you breath out through your nose they probably won’t stay on in the hole.
4). Are they small enough not to get in the way? I like nose plugs that are small enough not to effect your view. Sounds pretty daft but some older types of nose plugs, such as those used for diving are huge!
5). Will they probably stand the test of time? check the way in which the pads have been attached. Are there any gaps or weakness points? Probably my major concern is rust! I have found that a number of nose plugs will start to rust after only short periods of time/use. Crazy that manufacturers don’t always take the “water contact” factor into account. However manufacturing cost may well have the upper hand. Padding falling off during use should be the major concern.
After using various types of nose plugs over the years I have (for the momement) settled upon the Smiley design from the US, which is marketed in the UK by System X. So far they seem to be meeting my criteria. [UPDATE: I have now moved exclusively to Threewaves nose clips. Similar design to Smiley’s but last way longer].
Of course you may want to make your own in Blue Peter style!
Thin foam – around 3mm thick. Only a small piece is needed.
Relatively stiff metal rod, brass is best (no rust) around 7cm long and 3-4mm thick. You can get this from model shops in 1/2 metre lengths. Or better still scrounge some from someone!
3-4mm cord 35cm long.
Medium grade wet n dry paper to shape the foam.