Gear Review: The New HighGear TrailAudio

I’ll be the first to agree that one of the joys of snowshoeing is silence. With the only sounds often being the swoosh of my snowshoes in powder or–when I stop–my breathing. Quite simply, snowshoeing is one of my favorite “silent sports.”

So I’m honestly a bit skeptical of any gear that actually adds noise to the experience of snowshoeing. However, I think the HighGear TrailAudio 512 (or 256) can definitely have its place on – and certainly off – the trail.

I’ve been lusting after a portable music player, so when I learned about the TrailAudio, I knew I had to get one. The reason I got it as soon as it was released was that it’s the first digital audio player specifically designed for outdoor activities.

Along with being splash resistant and offering rubberized sides, the TrailAudio was designed to be small, lightweight, and without any moving parts – making it ideal for adventures in the outdoors. With an airplane cockpit look, the backlit negative display provides excellent day and night visibility (anyone up for some full moon snowshoeing?).

The small unit, which measures about 5 1/2″x1 1/4″x 5/8″ (with a really cool caribiner attached), comes in 256MB and 512MB flash memory options. Features on both of them include: the caribiner or alternate USB end cap; built-in USB 2.0 (no cables needed, which I love); FM radio and FM recording in MP3 quality; data file storage (just like a small and portable hard drive!); and high-performance headphones that stayed put during several training runs. Both units weigh just 4 ounces and provide up to 12 hours of continuous play on one AAA battery. The patented USB caribiner clip seems ideal for outdoors-oriented activities. I’ve easily attached it to my belt buckle, D-rings, backpacks, and more.

This was my first portable music player, but I found it quite easy to download music (there’s lots of free stuff out there!). Once I got a bunch of Alison Kraus on my 512, the listening experience was great during some long beach walks and runs. Downloading and listening is quite intuitive. HighGear has even teamed up with Napster to give TrailAudio buyers a one-month free trial membership and five free music downloads (a $14.90 value).

The only thing I haven’t done yet with my TrailAudio is take it snowshoeing. I’m planning a trip to the North Carolina mountains soon, but I wanted to get this review out there ASAP so other snowshoers can check it out.

My gut reaction is that I may occasionally go snowshoeing to the sounds of music (maybe some soothing New Age stuff or some serious rock ‘n’ roll, depending on the terrain). But, I think where I’ll really enjoy my TrailAudio is during breaks on the trail or post-snowshoe periods by the fire. The bottom-line is that I love it and will only use it when some music might enhance the outdoors experience.

Price: $180 for the 256 and $225 for the 512

Contact:; 1-888-295-4949

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About Lynn Seldon

A native of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Lynn Seldon now lives in coastal North Carolina. However, he often heads for the mountains and counts western North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Vermont as among his favorite winter sports destinations. Lynn's writing and photography have appeared in hundreds of national publications, including Outside, Hooked on the Outdoors, Men's Health, Playboy, Southern Living, and many more.