Even the best 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, over-ear cans with leatherette padding may sound 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 your inner Prefontaine, many of which excel when it comes to comfort, durability, and fitness tracking features. The selections below are the best headphones for running but also kick ass for general fitness, too.
Jabra Elite Sport
Why you should buy them: Between fitness tracking, sound quality, and full wireless design, the Elite Sport is decked out with every feature serious athletes would want.
Who they’re for: Runners who want the best mix of sound, features, and durability
How much they cost: $200 to $250
Why we picked the Elite Sport:
When looking for headphones you can wear while running — or engaging in any exercise — you’re likely looking for the lightest and least cumbersome option that also sounds great and has excellent battery life. Jabra’s fully wireless Elite Sport headphones are all the above and are some of the best fully wireless headphones we’ve had the pleasure of testing. Their waterproofing, great performance, and flexible-yet-secure are a cut above the Airpods of the world.
In terms of performance, not only do the Elite Sport sound great, the lack of a wire eliminates that annoying jostling sound you get when wearing a pair of wired headphones that tend to ruin your listening experience.
Jabra went an extra step in making them great for runners by putting a heart rate monitor in the right earpiece and when paired with Jabra’s Sport Life app, the headphones provide heart-rate readings during workouts — you can even add and track specific workouts for more in-depth statistics.
The 4.5-hour battery life should be plenty to get you through your runs or gym workouts but the inclusion of a charging case makes charging quickly and on-the-go a cinch. To top it off, these buds are IP67 waterproof, so rainy runs are a go.
The best around-neck pick
Jabra Sport Pulse Special Edition
Why you should buy them: Thanks to the around-neck design, the Sport Pulse are affordable wireless sport headphones you don’t have to worry about losing.
Who they’re for: Hardcore runners who want the security of an around-neck model
How much they cost: $160
Why we picked the Sport Pulse Special Edition:
The Jabra Sport Pulse — much like their fully wireless cousins, the Elite Sport — boast a suite of fitness tracker features. The workout mode and voice coach mode — which tells you your elapsed workout time, current heart rate, step count, and what training zone you’re in — help you keep track of progress by calling out workout milestones.
Beyond the bells and whistles, these in-ears offer solid passive noise isolation and an ample boost of bass, while three sizes of foam tips and ear hooks mean you can all but guarantee a comfortable fit. The sound is improved over the previous Jabra Sport Pulse and while the four to five hours of battery life per charge is fairly average, these earphones are more than capable of lasting through all but the longest of workout sessions.
While there are certainly better sounding and longer lasting headphones on our list, these earbuds are a killer way to keep your workout going strong, while offering just the right balance of noise isolation and a kick of bass to keep you on that routine.
For the in-ear hater
Plantronics Backbeat Fit 500
Why you should buy them: The Backbeat Fit 500 boasts excellent moisture resistance so they can accompany you on any run
Who they’re for: Runners who prefer the fit and feel of over-ear headphones to in-ears
How much they cost: $100
Why we picked the Plantronics Backbeat Fit 500:
For those who prefer an over-ear design, these are a no-brainer but between their 40-millimeter drivers and supreme waterproofing, the Beackbeat Fit 500 has plenty to offer any headphone seeker. The Backbeat Fit 500’s excellent moisture-proofing comes from its P2i military-grade nano-coating which protects its drivers. They also have an 18-hour battery life which out-performs every fully wireless option currently available. The Backbeat Fit 500 also features simple on-ear cup controls for playback and taking calls.
The Backbeat Fit 500’s design stands out from in-ear options due in large part to how it delivers sound. Its memory foam earcup padding creates a strong seal around the ears for passive noise isolation, keeping its stellar sound in and allowing you to stay focused on your workout. While it’s smart to wear headphones that let you hear your surroundings when running outdoors or on streets, if you’re getting your miles in at the gym treadmill, blocking out gym ambiance can be nice.
The no-frills pick
Bragi the Headphone
Why you should buy them: The Headphone are a good pick for those who want a do-it-all device for the office, the gym, or home.
Who they’re for: Those who care more about simply listening to music rather than special features
How much they cost: $125
Why we picked The Headphone
Bragi has given fully wireless headphones the ol’ college try once before and while the results of said attempt (The Dash) were cool, they didn’t sound too hot. Thankfully, Bragi’s more recent model, dubbed simply The Headphone, is a much better-sounding success. It does sacrifice a few of the Dash’s better features, however — unlike the Dash, The Headphone isn’t fully water proof but still does hold up to sweat.
This streamlining might make its features list shorter compared to many of our other picks but it makes for an excellent sounding headphone that gets the job done with no fuss or learning how to use apps. Better yet, with a six-hour battery life, the Headphone are better equipped than most other fully wireless models — including Apple’s AirPods — for long exercise sessions.
The best for both running and everyday use
V-Moda Forza Metallo
Why you should buy them: The Forza Metallo stays put regardless of what activity you’re engaged in while wearing them
Who they’re for: Those who want a single pair to use for any activity
How much they cost: $100
Why we picked the V-Moda Forza Metallo:
The water-resistant V-Moda Forza Metallo are a straightforward pair of earbuds that put excellent sound quality at the forefront, with a round and warm sound signature that pairs well with virtually all genres. However, sound quality alone isn’t enough to make them a good pick for your workouts.
To keep them in your ears, a wide assortment of sport fins and tips are included. Almost any listener will find a perfect seal and they’re made from a soft rubber compound that ranks them among the most comfortable in-ears we’ve ever encountered.
These earbuds have also been built to survive rain and sweat and are a perfect companion for workouts, rainy commutes, or any other outdoor activities that beg for a crisp and clear soundtrack. Even the rainy clime our Portland, Oregon office is located in was no match for these durable headphones.
The best for noisy runs
Why you should buy them: The Jaybird Run’s novel mono listening mode keeps you aware of your surroundings
Who it’s for: Those who run in busy environments
How much they cost: $180
Why we chose the Run:
While we love the privacy noise-canceling and sound-isolating headphones provide, running outdoors or in busy environments while wearing headphones like these can be potentially dangerous. However, Jaybird designed the Run to give you both the absorbing listening experience noise cancellation provides, as well as options for wearing them safely at times you need to be distraction-free. The company included a special one-ear mode, which allows runners to listen to their favorite tracks in mono while maintaining the ability to hear what’s going on in the world around them.
A one-touch control button allows users to take calls, play and pause music, and skip tracks, as well as to activate Siri or Google Assistant. On a single full charge, you’ll get roughly four hours of battery life but the included portable charging case provides two full recharges on the go, for a total of 12 hours of usability per charge. Best of all, thanks to the case’s quick charging, just five minutes in the case provide an hour of play time, so those with dead earbuds can quickly charge them while they stretch or put their shoes on, and then be ready to go.
Finally, there’s the Run’s Find My Buds feature. Say you’ve misplaced your earbuds — or, however unlikely, one falls out — you’ll be able to locate lost buds from inside the Jaybird App.