In theory, these earbuds from Audio-Technica present the best of both worlds. They fit in your ear canal to block out ambient noise and pack up small, but they also have a built-in noise cancellation function to cancel out low rumbles and white noise.
The specifications on these are especially impressive, with a 15 Hz to 22,000 Hz claimed frequency range that’s on par with bulky headphones. Yet the whole package weighs only half a pound, including the three sizes of earbud tips to ensure a snug fit. There’s an airplane adapter and a hard carrying case as well.
One interesting feature of the clip is a “monitor” button, which automatically turns your music down and allows you to hear outside noise through the microphone, like a drink order or gate announcement. The AAA battery lasts approximately 50 hours and the headphones still work passively when the power dies. These may not envelop the ear like full headphones, but they are a lot easier to carry.