The Problem With the Oculus Quest…
Arguably the most exciting news at the Oculus OC6 conference just gone was the announcement that the Quest would soon be getting a special cable, called Link, that will allow connectivity to a PC. This will enable all PC owning Quest users to play both Oculus Home and Steam titles on the Quest. This is inspiring news, and the lovely Quest OLED high-resolution display, with manual IPD adjust, should allow for gorgeous visual fidelity and experience to rival that delivered by a traditional PC only headset.
With one rather significant exception. Comfort! If the Oculus Quest has a negative side in comparison to its Rift and Rift S PC big brothers, it is that it is a LOT less comfortable to use for long periods. This is partly unavoidable. Whereas the Rift and Rift S headsets contain just the OLED or LCD panels and lenses, the Quest headset also has to contain the mobile computer that will run the device as well. This inevitably leads to more weight, so the Quest is a more cumbersome headset than its PC counterparts.
It’s not just a question of mere weight; however, the real problem is weight distribution. Simply put, the Quest is front heavy, all the weight of the headset is strapped to your eyeballs and pushes on to the bridge of your nose. This means it’s not the most comfortable headset to wear, especially for younger children or adults with smaller heads.
Previous ad hoc Solutions
Since its launch, there have been many user attempts and ideas put forward to improve comfort. Some users have managed to shoehorn the Vive deluxe audio-strap onto the Quest, an experimental mod fix lovingly known as the FrankenQuest!
Others have mounted a battery pack on to the back of their Quest, claiming that the extra weight acts as a counterbalance, relieving some of that pressure from your forehead.
These might well be good ideas, but they are relatively pricey, makeshift, and require a particular DIY tech geek spirit that the average consumer, nor myself actually have.
It’s somewhat surprising to me that Oculus hasn’t offered any improvements in this area, as an official strap upgrade accessory. Full PC games and experiences tend to be a lot more involving and complex than Quest games, inspiring significantly longer play sessions, an experience that could get a little unpleasant on the Quest in its current form.
So if you have a PC capable of VR and you want to enjoy Asgard’s Wrath and No Man’s Sky on an Oculus Quest via the link cable then the long term comfort of the device will undoubtedly become an issue.
Enter VR Cover…
Fortunately, even though Oculus seems to be offering no official solution, the popular and reliable third party company VR Cover has just released its own solution, the Head Strap Foam Pad for Oculus Quest.
I’ve been using mine for about a week, so let’s take a look!
VR Cover Foam Pad Oculus Quest Head Strap Review
VR Cover is based in Thailand and delivery for me took just under two weeks. Full tracking information is provided so you can monitor your parcel’s journey and get an idea of the day it will arrive. You won’t need to be in to take delivery however as the foam pad comes securely packaged in a cellophane material rather than a box and so can be pushed straight through the letterbox.
It’s priced at $19 but note, that doesn’t include shipping. Another $7 was added on to my order bringing the total to $26 or £21.68 in British pounds.
What you get for your money is a piece of foam padding that you are going to wrap around the base of your Quest head strap using velcro attachments to install it in place.
The pad is very easy to attach. I’m pretty useless at any form of DIY yet was able to instantly fit this without having to read any instructions (which were included) or watch a Youtube video demonstration.
As you can see from my photos below it secures in place simply enough then you just stick the velcro tabs together and you’re good to go, it’s quite literally a two-minute job.
Once attached I think it looks rather nice, actually balancing out the Quest in terms of visual aesthetics and giving it a more symmetrical appearance. The material feels nice quality and the padding is comfortable. As with all VR Cover products it’s made to be easily wiped down and cleaned after use, and so is a much better choice than the standard sweat absorbing foam that Oculus and some other headset manufacturers use.
Experience After a Week of Use
I’ve spent about a week with the head strap at this point and have to say I certainly like it. It’s not going to make your headset as comfortable as a Rift or a Rift S, but that’s impossible considering all of the extra electronics and circuitry inside the Quest, and Oculus’s choice for its initial head strap design. But the VR foam pad cover definitely helps to improve things. Almost immediately I could feel that the weight distribution of the headset had changed and that the resulting pressure on the front of my face had been reduced. Using it for an hour’s intense Beat Saber session I certainly felt the benefit of having that extra support around the back of my head. It also largely solved one of the more annoying dislikes I had with the Quest, which is how it would often slide down my face slightly during active gaming, and especially when I’m sweating. This would blur the image and always necessitate me pushing the headset back up to get a clear view. Having to do this a couple of times a song in Beat Saber was annoying and thankfully the problem is greatly reduced when wearing this foam pad.
The headset simply holds in place a lot better for me now, meaning I can stay in the sweet spot visually and have a much better experience playing overall.
Would I still want to wear my Quest for hours at a time playing games like Asgard’s Wrath? At this stage, I’m not sure, but I definitely know that it’s more likely I will try now that I have this foam pad installed than before!
For a better visual look of how the head strap fits and works in practice check out the video by Tyriel Wood below.
Oculus Quest Travel Case
If, like me, you have an official Oculus travel case you are likely wondering if the headset will still fit into the case with the foam pad attached. This is important as you certainly wouldn’t want to have to take it off and put it back on again every time you packed it way.
Well as you can see from my photos it DOES fit into the official Oculus carry case without too much issue. It does feel a little tight. Whereas previously the head strap would just fold down when the lid was closed and zipped up, the strap now remains quite rigid so doing the case up feels a little tight. But it does all still fit and zip up without issue so I am very pleased with that.
In my photos I also have the plug and cable in its compartment housed in the base of the case, with the Touch controllers and headset inserted over the top, so everything fits in ok.
Overall as with all VR Cover products, I think this is a great buy. The long term comfort of your headset will significantly impact how likely you are to use it and can make or break your experience with it. For me, this is an affordable and simple solution that does what it intends to. The Quest is never going to be the most comfortable headset but in my experience its more comfortable with the VR Cover foam pad affixed than without out, so it’s a definite recommendation from me!
For a full roundup of all the best Quest accessories check out my guide here. If you’re interested in reading about VR Covers other Quest products check out Gabriel’s review of their facial interface replacement for the Quest here.
You can purchase the Oculus Quest head strap foam pad directly from the VR Cover website. It’s priced at $19 but note $7 shipping will be added to that so a total of $26. The estimated delivery time is 7 to 14 days.