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Pound pavement to a soundtrack with the best running headphones

“Nobody said it was easy,” sings Coldplay’s Chris Marin over the pulsing piano and sparse string arrangements that defined the band’s 2002 hit ballad The Scientist. Though Martin has always said the song was about fancying a gal, that one heartfelt line could just as easily be applied to exercising, or better yet, simply trying to keep your damn headphones in while out jogging around the block.

Headphones have an innate knack for falling out when exercising, regardless of how far we try to cram them into our ear canals before heading out the door. And while those comfy, faux-leather, over-ear cans may sounds phenomenal while sitting at your desk, they just don’t cut it when it comes time to get your body moving. Fortunately, there’s a wealth of Bluetooth-enabled headphones designed for unleashing the your inner Prefontaine, many of which excel when it comes to comfort, durability, and style. Below are five of our favorites.

For the budget-conscious — Samsung Level U Wireless ($30)

best headphones for running

Samsung’s Level U hit the market with an initial asking price of $70, but the price has recently started to plummet alongside the rise of neckband-style earphones. The Level U now represent one of the best pairs to be had for the money, especially for those with active lifestyles. The sleek, Bluetooth earphones feature an around-the-neck design that literally rests on your shoulders, supplying you with deep bass and bright highs that are as apt for Radiohead’s latest opus as the softer side of Sting. The comfortable earphones also sport 10 hours of battery life and vibrate when you’re receiving a call, though the open design does allow for an unwanted rush of sound to leak in (despite the dual-mic noise reduction). Read more here.

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Amazon Newegg Sam’s Club Samsung

For the in-ear hater — Urbanears Hellas series ($119)


On-ear Bluetooth headphones are a novelty in the realm of sports wearables, mainly because they’re often too cumbersome to be practical. The sweat-friendly Hellas are actually compact and light enough to wear while working out at the gym, however, and benefit from a durable wireframe and a set of touch-sensitive buttons that allow you to cycle through your playlist or take a call without fumbling for an inline microphone. The resulting sound is also commendable — it leans heavy on the bass and mids, if anything — and both the headband and earbuds are machine-washable, meaning you can just toss them in with the rest of your gym clothes when they start to smell worse than, well, your gym clothes. Read more here.

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For going the distance — JLab Epic2 ($100)

JLab Epic2

JLab’s Epic2 Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds do exactly what a successor should do — they don’t reinvent the wheel, but instead improve upon it. The second iteration of the earbuds features an IPX5 rating and a plasma-coated circuit board, which only add to their first-rate durability and design. The bass-heavy sound they emit is also immersive and warm, especially when playing orchestral music, though the Bluetooth earbuds are not as loud as others on our list. Thankfully, the hook-friendly design and multitude of gel tips ensure a secure fit, regardless of the individual, while the 12-hour battery sees to it that the embedded drivers keep pushing so long as you do. There’s a reason they call it “marathon” battery life, after all.

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Amazon JLab

For the active audiophile — Jaybird X2 ($106)

Jaybird X2

The hallmark of the Jaybird X2 is not their price, but their sound and innate versatility. Whereas many earphones place fit at the forefront, these Bluetooth ‘buds are more concerned with maintaining a strong signal that makes the most of the embedded drivers and 8-hour battery. That said, the resulting connection is anything but shaky, and imparts the listener with a rich midrange and more treble than you’d typically associate with a pair of exercise headphones. You can also wear the sleek in-ears in one of two configurations — either under your ear, or over — though finding the proper fit can be tricky, even with the welcome array of foam and silicone eartips. Thankfully, they come with a lifetime warranty against sweat damage, so you have plenty of time to figure it out.

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For color-concerned fashionista — Sol Republic Relays Sport ($32)

Sol Republic Relays Sport

Sol Republic doesn’t boast the name recognition of Samsung, but that doesn’t mean you should simply scoff at the company or the price point it’s often associated with. These colorful earphones, like those in Sol Republic’s Track series, are an adequate pair of in-ears with a purpose. Their svelte housing is both unique and practical, outfitted with a showy Sol logo and available in a myriad of attractive colors (i.e. black, white, blue, yellow). The hard-angled drivers and bundled ear tips also make for a secure, comfortable fit, which helps the earphones’ balanced sound signature resonate deeper within your ear canal. The Relays Sport lack the subtle detail of more expensive offerings, yet they still offer sweat resistance, inline controls, and reliable performance at a fraction of the cost. Read our full review here.

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