The act of running, for many, is a solitary experience. It’s a chance to let all the stress of the day melt away and just focus on quite literally putting one foot in front of the other. So the last thing you want to have to worry about is whether or not your headphones are going to be able to keep up.
Fortunately, brands have known this and have started to ensure that they’re coming to the table with plenty of solutions. Bluetooth devices are more prevalent and cost-effective than ever before, so now it just comes down to finding a version that will work for your personal preference.
What To Look for in the Best Running Headphones
As we mentioned, there are almost too many features to consider when looking at a new set of running earbuds. As with all things, some features are better than others, so here’s a shortlist of what we recommend you keep an eye out for:
- Water and/or sweat proofing – Seems obvious, but having some level of water or sweat proofing built-in to your running headphones will make it so you don’t have to worry if, god forbid, your headphones get wet. The level of resistance is determined by its IPX rating. This offers a handy breakdown of each rating, but we recommend at least an IPX4 rating, which protects from splashing water.
- Style of headphones – This will likely come down to personal preference, but I like to be as wire-free as possible when running. That means true wireless headphones are the name of the game for my style. However, there’s something to be said for a wire connecting your headphones as they’ll be attached to one another, which is where necklace or wired headphones come into play. Those designs make it much easier to keep track of the headphones if you happen to be slightly neglectful.
- ANC vs Non-ANC – This is the last major thing we recommend looking at, as Active Noise Cancelation (ANC) versus non-ANC will play a large role in the overall cost of a set of headphones. I like having ANC as an option in case I really want to block out distractions on an empty street or if I’m at a noisy gym. However, if you’re running in a crowded city, it might make sense to forgo that to ensure you can hear everything around you.
The picks we’ve selected below come in every flavor imaginable: over-the-ear, in-ear, necklace, true wireless, ANC, non-ANC — so there’s something for just about everyone’s preferred style. All that’s left is for you to hit the road.
1. Jabra Elite Active 75t Running Headphones
Like most running headphones, the Jabra Elite Active 75t earbuds come with a variety of features that you’d want when running: they’re comfortable, waterproof, and have a long-lasting battery. However, unlike most running headphones, they have been specially designed to ensure they won’t fall out of your ears, no matter the intensity of your workout. Thanks to a special grip coating, each bud will stay firmly planted in your ear, allowing you to focus on making the most of that next stride.
2. JLab JBuds Air Sport Running Headphones
Sometimes, instead of wanting a product with a lot of premium features, all you need is a product that will get the job done. In other words, for some situations, good enough is good enough. These sport headphones from JLab are just for that. The Air Sport running headphones feature six hours of battery life (with over 34 hours in its included charging case which even has a built-in USB for charging; a god-send), a sweat-resistant coating, auto-connecting, and much more. Oh, and they’ve got active noise cancelation too. Will they shock you with high-quality sound? No. But they’ll get you through your run each and every day. And in the end, isn’t that all you really need?
3. Apple AirPods (3rd Generation)
BEST FOR APPLE USERS
Apple’s beloved AirPods aren’t just for work calls, as they’re equally as great for running. Super easy to connect to an iPhone, the third generation of the earbuds also features a shorter stem. But the biggest upgrade over previous iterations of the AirPods is a newly upgraded and reworked driver, which yields a much richer sound than previous AirPods. That means you’ll get even more out of your music, which can be handy when you need that one favorite track of yours to push you over the finish line.
4. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Running Headphones
Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro is lucky enough to have earned the Amazon’s Choice designation for those who like to have another authoritative source behind their product selects. However, even without that co-sign, we’d happily put the Buds Pro on our list, as the comfortable fit, superlative audio, strong battery life and fun purple color make these a real standout set of earbuds that are great to wear as you hit the pavement. Oh, and they’re water-resistant should get you caught in the rain.
5. Skullcandy Ink’d Running Headphones
BEST NECKLACE EARBUDS
If totally wire-free earbuds aren’t your jam, Skullcandy has really nice necklace earbuds that will provide plenty of stability while you’re on the go. The necklace portion is a breezy and light 24 grams (that’s about as light as a AA battery) and sits right on your collarbone for quick accessibility to audio controls. Additionally, the collar collapses for quick storage in your bag.
6. Beats Powerbeats Pro Running Headphones
BEST AIRPODS UPGRADE
While AirPods definitely have their time and place, using them for any sort of intense workout might not be the best option. This is why until an upgraded version — hopefully one that comes with some element of sweat and/or waterproofing — of those ubiquitous earphones come out, your next best option is the Beats Powerbeats. So comfortable that you’ll almost forget they’re there, they also pair well with any Apple device (as we’ve noted previously). While they’re a different look from AirPods aesthetically, they’re a real powerhouse option for those that are constantly in motion.
7. Bose SoundSport Running Headphones
BEST WIRED HEADPHONES
Despite their ubiquity, truly wireless earbuds aren’t for everyone. If you’re one of those people, the Bose SoundSport running headphones should be your first and last stop. Bose’s storied commitment to audio quality and clarity is present here, as the headphones themselves render a fantastically full sound for you to lose yourself in as you run. Six-hour battery life is plenty of juice for daily runs and the specially designed ear tips will stay put for miles.
8. Sony WF-SP700N Running Headphones
Want to really just focus on your run and cut out everything else? Sony’s WF-SP700N is a set of true noise-canceling earbuds, capable of providing you with just what you want to listen to — and nothing else. Their adaptive noise feature does allow you to control what sounds you need to hear, should you need to hear them. And yes, they’ve been tested by experts during workouts to make sure they’ll stay comfortably in your ear throughout your workout, all the while remaining sweatproof and waterproof.
9. EarFun Free Mini Running Headphones
We’ve tested a few different EarFun products on the site before and can attest to the quality of the product, so we definitely recommend their Free Mini earbuds as a budget pick. Packed with plenty of strong features (IPX7 waterproofing, USB-C charging, voice control, and more), these running headphones are well-worth a price tag over $100. Yet, despite their long list of features, the Free Mini clock in around $40 when they’re not on sale. That’s a steal, making these an incredibly compelling budget purchase for those who maybe just want a dedicated set of running headphones without having to spend more than a gym membership.
10. adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC Running Headphones
Did you know adidas made running headphones? And that they’re really good? The Z.N.E 01 ANC running headphones are well-worth putting on your radar as an option to consider. Super lightweight and extremely comfortable, they’re tailor-made for long runs and won’t slip out of your ear thanks to an ergonomic design that features their iconic three stripe branding. Oh, and the active noise cancelation is no joke, working really effectively when you need to hone in on shaving that split time down.