Running can be made more enjoyable and motivating by listening to music or podcasts, but the wrong headphones can make it stressful and frustrating. To avoid this, it’s important to find comfortable, durable, and budget-friendly running headphones.
- 1 How to choose the best running headphones for you
- 2 How we test the best running headphones
- 3 What to Look for in Running Waterproof Headphones
- 4 Wireless Or Truly Wireless?
- 5 What are the benefits of listening to music or podcasts while working out?
- 6 How often should you clean your headphones?
- 7 How do you keep your headphones in place while working out?
- 8 How to keep headphones from falling out while running
- 9 Are there completely waterproof headphones?
The ideal running headphones are designed with a secure fit in mind, to ensure they don’t fall out while you’re sprinting. Specific design elements, such as sport fins, wings, or ear hooks in the case of earbuds, provide added security. Comfort, durability, and sound quality are also essential considerations. Additionally, transparency mode or an open design can allow you to hear ambient noise, particularly traffic, for safety reasons. It’s worth looking for noise-canceling earbuds that include a transparency mode if you want to use them for running.
Most of the headphones on the best list for running are true wireless, although there are also around-the-ear wireless bone-conduction headphones with an open design that allows you to hear the outside world. Whether you’re looking for earbuds or headphones, there are options available that will work for you.Listening to motivational music while exercising is something that anyone seeking an active lifestyle can appreciate. Research has even suggested that it can help to improve performance. So, finding the right headphones for your runs can make all the difference.
The 10 best waterproof headphones for running of 2023：Our choice
|Best Overall||Shokz OpenRun Pro|
|Best Battery Life||Bose Sport Earbuds|
|Best Wireless||Tranya T40 Wireless Earbuds|
|Best for Smaller Ears||Skullcandy Push Active|
|Bet Budget||Beats Fit Pro|
|Best Noise-Canceling||Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earbuds|
|Best In-Ear||Apple AirPods Pro Wireless Earbuds|
|Waterproof headphones for swimming||Swimbuds Sport Premium Waterproof Headphones|
|Best running headphones for small ears||Beats Flex Wireless Earbuds|
|Best waterproof headphones for working out||JBL Endurance RUN|
1.Best Overall：Shokz OpenRun Pro
Shokz, formerly known as AfterShokz, recently introduced their 9th-generation bone-conduction headphones, the OpenRun Pro. Compared to their earlier flagship model, the Aeropex (now called the Shokz OpenRun), the OpenRun Pro boasts slightly better bass performance, making it the top choice for bone-conduction headphones available today. However, it is important to note that traditional headphones still offer superior sound quality.
What sets bone-conduction headphones apart is their design – they do not sit inside your ears but instead transmit sound through your cheekbones. This feature makes them a popular choice for runners, as their open design allows you to stay aware of your surroundings, including traffic noise. Additionally, some races do not permit runners to wear earbuds, making bone-conduction headphones like the OpenRun Pro a useful alternative.
Similar to the Aeropex, the OpenRun Pro features a lightweight, wraparound titanium frame and has a battery life of up to 10 hours of music playback. The headphones also offer 1.5 hours of battery life after just a 5-minute charge. However, they use a proprietary charging cable instead of USB-C, which some users may find inconvenient. While the headphones are generally comfortable to wear, you may need to adjust them to relieve pressure points.
When it comes to sound quality, bone-conduction headphones excel in the midrange where vocals are prominent, making them ideal for listening to podcasts, talk radio, news, and audiobooks. For music, however, they are only satisfactory. Although the OpenRun Pro offers slightly improved bass performance, it still cannot match the sound quality of traditional headphones.
2.Best Battery Life：Bose Sport Earbuds
- Excellent sound quality
- Secure, comfortable fit
- Easy to use
- No active noise cancellation option
The Bose Sport Earbuds are a top choice for wireless earbuds, especially when it comes to sound quality, making them our best overall pick for running. Our reviewer found that the sound was clear, powerful, and crisp at any volume, making them a pleasure to use. Setting up the earbuds was quick and easy as they paired seamlessly with an iPhone, and the touch controls made adjusting the volume, pausing music, or taking calls effortless.
These earbuds come with three sizes of StayHear Max tips, allowing you to customize the fit to your preference.While the charging case may not be as portable as others tested, such as the AirPods Pro, it still charges the earbuds quickly and is reasonably compact.
Although these earbuds lack active noise cancellation, unlike some other headphones tested, this can actually be a beneficial feature for outdoor running, allowing you to remain aware of your surroundings. Overall, the design, fit, and performance of the Bose Sport Earbuds make them an outstanding option for runners seeking dependable, durable headphones.
3.Best Wireless：Tranya T40 Wireless Earbuds
If you’re a fan of the Beats Powerbeats Pro but find the price tag of $150 a bit steep, don’t worry, there are several budget-friendly alternatives available. Among these, the Tranya T40 earbuds caught my attention, retailing for $50 but often available for less than $40. They offer impressive sound quality, comfortable and secure fit, and a long battery life of up to 8 hours. Additionally, I appreciate the use of physical buttons for controlling playback and volume, rather than touch controls.
While the charging case of the Tranya T40 may feel a bit bulky and less sturdy than some of its counterparts, it is still a reliable and practical option. It charges via USB-C, which is a convenient feature.Tranya T40 earbuds provide good value for their price range and are a solid alternative for those looking for a more affordable option to the Beats Powerbeats Pro.
4.Best for Smaller Ears：Skullcandy Push Active
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- Hands-free voice control
- Stay securely in place
- High water- and sweat-resistance rating
- Some might prefer louder volume
If you prioritize long battery life when searching for running headphones, we suggest trying Skullcandy’s Push Active Wireless Earbuds. These earbuds can last up to 10 hours on a single charge and boast high-quality acoustic components, despite their affordable price point.
Our reviewer found them simple to set up and wear, as the earbuds fit comfortably and securely with the hook-over-the-ear design. The buds also offer some unexpected features at this price, such as the ability to customize button functions using the app and hands-free voice control. Our tester appreciated the option to use just one earbud for increased awareness of her surroundings and for sharing music with a running partner.
5.Bet Budget：Beats Fit Pro
Although the Beats Fit Pro ($200) are not technically AirPods, they share the same technology platform as the AirPods Pro, as Apple owns Beats. Compared to Beats’ previous and less expensive Studio Buds, the Beats Fit Pro are equipped with Apple’s H1 chip and offer most of the AirPods Pro’s features, such as active noise cancellation, spatial audio, Adaptive EQ, and a high-quality transparency mode that allows ambient sound to be heard. These earbuds could be described as the perfect AirPods for sports, and for some people, they might even surpass the AirPods Pro.
6.Best Noise-Canceling：Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earbuds
- Good, clear sound
- Immaculate fit
- Very durable
- Case is bulky for carrying in a pocket
- Limited active noise cancellation
If you struggle with earbuds slipping out during workouts, the PowerBeats Pro buds may be the solution for you. Designed with athletes in mind, these lightweight buds are perfect for intense training sessions, from sweaty sprints to lengthy runs.
Setting up and using these earbuds is effortless, as they come with volume and track buttons on each bud and voice control features. Our tester was impressed with the battery life, providing up to nine hours of listening time from a single charge.
The sound quality is powerful and well-balanced, although these earbuds lack true noise cancellation, making them a safer option for outdoor running. Though these earbuds are relatively expensive, their comfort, performance, and durability make them a worthy investment.
7.Best In-Ear：Apple AirPods Pro Wireless Earbuds
- Excellent design
- Easy to set up and use
- Good connectivity
- Battery life could use improvement
The AirPods Pro, with their superior noise cancellation and sound quality, are a popular choice for runners despite not being marketed as sports earbuds. During testing, our team found the setup to be quick and easy, with seamless smartphone pairing.
These earbuds come with three sets of soft, tapered silicone tips, allowing for a custom fit. The AirPods Pro also excelled in call quality, making them an excellent option for those who need to multitask while running. However, with a battery life of only 4.5 hours on a single charge, they ranked among the lowest of all the headphones we tested.While the active noise cancellation feature may not be useful for outdoor runners, the earbuds are a great choice for treadmill running, and their transparency mode allows important ambient sounds to come through.
When it comes to finding the best waterproof headphones, the Swimbuds reign supreme in terms of versatility and fit. While there may be other options that provide better overall sound quality, the Swimbuds offer a range of shapes and sizes to fit each swimmer’s unique ear shape.
With options like the tree-shaped headphone, the classic round shape, and the fin tips, which provide extra security when swimming at high speeds or pushing off the wall, you’re sure to find a pair that stays securely in place throughout your workout.The main challenge with underwater music players is maintaining a good earbud fit to prevent water from getting in and muffling the sound. With the Swimbuds, you’ll be able to find the perfect fit for your ear canal, ensuring that your favorite tunes keep you motivated and energized during your swim.
Some other notes about these waterproof earphones:
The Swimbuds are good to a depth of 3m.
They come with different chord lengths, with a short 40cm chord length (to avoid tangling and dangling of chords around your face while swimming and turning), along with an added 1m chord if you want to hold it while you swim (on a kick-board for instance) or even if you wanted to wear it in the shower.
The top pick for budget-friendly wireless earbuds for small ears is the Beats Flex Wireless. These neck cable headphones have a compact design that won’t break the bank. They also come with five sets of ear tips, allowing for a customizable fit. Although not as adjustable as our mid-range pick, these earbuds have a stylish design in a variety of colors and include a W1 chip that allows for seamless pairing with Apple devices.
While lacking stability fins or ear hooks, the Beats Flex Wireless still provide a stable fit during workouts. Their bass-heavy sound profile adds extra thump and punch, making them perfect for bass-rich music genres like EDM and hip-hop. However, some listeners may find the bass overwhelming. Additionally, these earbuds offer a continuous battery life of approximately 11 hours, which is decent for budget earbuds. Unfortunately, their companion app has limited controls.
- No charging or Bluetooth required
- Wire can be a hassle
If you’re tired of dealing with Bluetooth connectivity issues and constant charging, these sweatproof JBL earbuds offer a wired connection to your phone via audio jack. They’re designed for sports with a waterproof and comfortable build that stays in place during intense workouts. Despite their affordable $20 price point, they deliver impressive sound quality and durability. However, if you have an iPhone, you’ll need to purchase a dongle to connect to the Apple-specific port since these earbuds don’t have a lightning connector.
How to choose the best running headphones for you
You might prefer an earbud design that hooks over your ear, or sits entirely within your ear. For running, we generally found there’s not much inherent difference between the two styles in terms of stability, though if you wear glasses the addition of an ear hook might mean its gets in the way of your specs.
Even if you’re averse to running in the rain, we’d strongly recommend a pair of running headphones with come certified water resistance to protect against sweat. An IP rating of IPX7 denotes full waterproofing, while IPX4 represents basic moisture resistance; consider what you’ll need and what the risks are of your headphones getting seriously wet.
A lot of the best running headphones feature ANC, but this isn’t necessary for running. In fact you may want to turn if off for better situational awareness near traffic and pedestrians — it will depend on how much you want the absolute best sound quality when exercising. ANC lets you focus on your entertainment but may need to be paused occasionally for safety.
How we test the best running headphones
Like any kind of headphones, we test running headphones by listening to a wide range of music genres — including hip-hop, rock, jazz, classical, and electronic — and will use them for at least one 2-hour session over the course of a week. This lets us both give a fair appraisal of how they sound, and how comfortable they are when worn for long periods.
For running headphones specifically, we’ll take them out for a few runs to see how they hold up when exercising. This includes judging how well they stay in place, as especially with small earbuds, a seemingly stable fit when relaxing can easily come undone once you’re out for a running or working out at the gym.
Once all our testing is complete, we rate running headphones on a five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). The very best running headphones are awarded an Editor’s Choice badge.
What to Look for in Running Waterproof Headphones
The last thing you want while you’re running is to have to deal with uncomfortable headphones. You want to make sure the pair you choose fits securely in place. Some are ergonomically designed, but it will be a matter of preference as to which style is most comfortable for you.
Runners can be tough on earphones, with various unpredictable outdoor elements and all of that bouncing, so you want a pair that can go the distance. Many are waterproof, and some even tout their washer-proof capability, which is great for those of us who constantly find our earphones in the pockets of our running shorts after they’ve been through the wash.
“Many runners assume that all headphones are water resistant, which just isn’t the case,” Brooks says. “Most are sweat resistant, so you can enjoy your summer days without issue, but they aren’t designed to be worn in the rain. I like to see an IPX rating above 3 to be safe.”
If you log lots of outdoor miles, you definitely need to consider safety issues when choosing headphones. “It’s important to make sure we can hear what’s happening around us,” Landrum says. “There are brands that allow you to hear music or a podcast without totally blocking out outside noises.” Look for headphones that allow you to turn off any noise-canceling features.
You don’t want to have to charge the battery after every single run, so look for headphones that can go for at least five hours on a single charge. If you’re a long-distance runner, you may want to bump that up to nine hours or more.
If you’re someone who frequently loses your earbuds, runs just once in a while, or is on a budget, you might not want to shell out big bucks for headphones. Luckily, there are many solid pairs with quality sound that won’t break the bank.
Wireless Or Truly Wireless?
Now that many phones have dispensed with headphone jacks and an extensive range of excellent Bluetooth headphones are available to suit all budgets, there’s no need for runners to struggle with headphone wires. However, you still have to pick between wireless – where the buds are connected by a wire – and truly wireless, where there are no wires involved at all.
Wireless headphones will generally have longer battery lives, but it can often be harder to maintain a secure fit because a bouncing wire (and in some cases remote control panel) will tug on the earbuds.
Truly wireless headphones come with a carry case that also acts as a portable charger, which can extend the time between plugged-in charges considerably.
A secure fit is crucial. If the buds continually come loose and require frequent adjusting, they’re more trouble than they’re worth. Unfortunately, you can’t really know if a pair will fit your individual ear shape and canal until you’ve bought them, but there are bundled accessories that make a tight fit more likely. Ear hooks are the most reliable option, but they are bulky. If you’re opting for truly wireless in-ear buds, check if they come with a variety of wings and buds so you can pick the combo that keeps them in your ear when running.
To achieve a genuinely secure fit, you may find you have to use large ear wings that start to irritate your ears after a while, especially if you have smaller ears. This is where more expensive pairs prove their worth: some high-end brands, like Bose and Jabra, excel in making soft silicone tips and wings for their buds that offer both comfort and a reliable fit.
True audiophiles should prepare to be disappointed. For one, over-ear cans that offer superior sound aren’t suitable for running because they rarely stay in place. For most of us, however, there are plenty of running-specific options that sound great, and the sound quality on some budget sports buds has also improved enough to pass muster.
Buds that sit deep in your earholes to form a tight seal will help with sound quality, but these can block out ambient noise entirely, which means it’s harder to hear traffic around you. However, many headphones now offer an ambient noise setting, where external sounds are filtered through so you do have more awareness when you need it. Then you can turn it off and enjoy better sound quality when it’s safe to do so.
Headphones that block your ear canal provide passive noise cancellation, where the ear-plug design blocks out some sound, but you can also buy running headphones with active noise cancellation. These headphones detect external sounds and muffle them, allowing you to hear your music more clearly. This is great when you want to focus on your running, but naturally can make you less aware of sounds like traffic.
The headline figure is the total battery life. We would expect a bare minimum of six to eight hours of battery life from most truly wireless Bluetooth headphones, and that number can rise well into double figures with some sets. You can definitely expect more than 10 hours from wireless headphones.
A carry case that can recharge your wireless buds several times without needing to be charged itself also adds convenience. Look out for a quick-charge feature too. This will usually net you an hour of power for just ten to 15 minutes of charging, which is perfect for when you realise you’ve run out of juice just as you’re getting ready to run.
There are some fully waterproof headphones available, but for running you just need to ensure they can withstand an unexpected deluge or an especially sweaty session without packing up. Look for a minimum rating of IPX4 for running headphones that won’t let you down when wet.
Naturally you want to be able to control your music without having to get your phone or MP3 player out while running, so check out the remote on any running headphones – it’ll either be on the strap between the earbuds or built into the buds themselves. Neither is a great option to be honest. If it’s on the strap it’ll bounce and tug at the bud; if built into the bud you either have to press into your ear, or you may find you inadvertently skip a track while adjusting the fit.
What are the benefits of listening to music or podcasts while working out?
“Sometimes, we all need a distraction from our miles. A great way to help the time pass is by listening to music, a book, or a podcast on our runs,” Landrum says.
Listening to music or podcasts while performing some types of workouts can help keep you moving longer. Low-intensity cardiovascular activity, in particular, may be best performed while listening to music.Music may even increase the duration of your exercise session.
How often should you clean your headphones?
Cleaning your headphones frequently can help prevent bacteria and oils from building up. Ideally, wipe down your headphones after each workout session to remove sweat and oil. Cleaning them once a week is recommended at a minimum.
How do you keep your headphones in place while working out?
Properly fitting headphones won’t move around while you exercise, so choose the size that is right for your ears or ones that can be adjusted. If you have trouble keeping your current pair in place, try wearing a headband over your ears. For wired headphones, you can try threading the wire under your shirt to prevent it from catching or pulling and removing your headphones from your ears.
How to keep headphones from falling out while running
Choosing the right headphones is key to keeping them from falling out while running. Look for sweat-proof headphones, so they don’t become slippery and slide out. Most earbuds come with multiple ear tips for different ear sizes to help keep them in securely.
“A pair that bounces around or falls out constantly leads to frustration and interrupts the flow of your run,” Brooks says. She recommends taking the time to read the device’s instructions on how to get the best fit.
Are there completely waterproof headphones?
Unfortunately, even the best headphones out there aren’t really waterproof. Most workout headphones and running headphones have some level of water-resistance so they don’t fail you at the first drop of sweat, but there aren’t a lot that offer full waterproofing.