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The best on-ear headphones for working out

When it comes to headphones specifically designed for working out, the pickings are slim. When you narrow that category to on-ear style headphones, it becomes somewhat improbable to find a capable pair.

Improbable, but not impossible. There are sweat-resistant, secure-fitting on-ear headphones available, and the best of the bunch is the Adidas RPT-01. We didn’t stop there, though: we’ve put our collective ears together to search out the best on-ear headphones on the market today.

The best on-ear headphones at a glance:

The best on-ear workout headphones: Adidas RPT-01

Nick Woodard/Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: They’ve got outstanding battery life and a durable build for even the toughest of workouts.

Who they’re for: Anyone who spends a considerable about of time pumping iron.

Why we picked the Adidas RPT-01:

At $170, the Adidas RPT-01 aren’t the cheapest workout headphones available, but their long list of stellar features makes them worth the buy for the fitness fanatic that can’t seem to stay out of the gym.

To kick things off, the Adidas RPT-01 have an IPX4 weather-resistance rating, giving them protection against sweat and splashes of water. That’s the minimum requirement for any headphones to be considered “workout” cans in our book, and every other pair on this list has at least that level of protection.

The RPT-01 don’t stop there, however. They’re rated for an astounding 40 hours of playback between charges, which could conceivably get you through an entire month of workouts. There’s nothing worse than grabbing your headphones before hitting the gym, only to find out they’re dead when you arrive. With the RPT-01, Adidas has taken a big step towards mitigating that issue.

The RPT-01 have a relatively simple control system that implements a joystick-like button on the right cup, making it easy to skip tracks and enjoy the bass-heavy sound of these workout headphones. Even if they don’t sound exceptional outside of the fitness space, the RPT-01 are the best bet to provide an enjoyable experience when you’re working out.

Read our in-depth Adidas RPT-01 review

The best on-ear workout headphones for music: JBL Wireless Train

JBL Sport Wireless Train headphones
Nick Woodard/Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: They’re better sounding than the Adidas, for cheaper.

Who they’re for: Folks willing to forgo a few features to gain better audio quality.

Why we picked the JBL Wireless Train:

The JBL Wireless Train are a considerably older model than the RPT-01, and their features reflect that. They’re still packing an IPX4 weather-resistance rating, which is a good sign, but when it comes to battery life, the Wireless Train trail the Adidas by a wide margin with just 16 hours of playback. Sure, that will get you through a week or two of gym sessions, but it’s nowhere near the powerhouse that the RPT-01 is.

However, the Wireless Train have an ace up their headband, and it’s a good one. While the RPT-01 excelled in the low end of the frequency, the Wireless Train filled out the rest of the range far better while still offering solid, refined bass. Their 40mm drivers put on quite a display outside of those bass-friendly Spotify playlists, showcasing an affinity for a wide variety of genres.

The Wireless Train hold up well in terms of call quality, too, at least as far as workout headphones go. We’ve all had the moment where we take a call at the gym, and it’s disrupted by dropped weights and heavy breathing. The Wireless Train may not help your respiratory system, but they offer decent clarity for what they are.

The best budget on-ear workout headphones: Treblab BT5

Treblab BT5 On-ear headphones

Why you should buy them: They’re an affordable middleman between the Adidas and JBL options.

Who they’re for: Those who don’t want to spend a lot for a functional pair of workout headphones.

Why we picked the Treblab BT5:

The Treblab BT5 are the poor man’s workout headphones, and that’s not a bad thing. They’ve got better features than the JBL Wireless Train, though they may not sound as good. They don’t quite stack up to the RPT-01, but they cost a fraction of the price.

For just $50, the Treblab BT5 provide you with an IPX4 weather-resistance rating, up to 24 hours of playback, and Bluetooth 5 connectivity that the JBL lack. That’s a quality trifecta of features for the price, something that neither of the above picks can come close to matching.

The Treblab BT5 don’t look as sharp as the other pairs, however, and I wouldn’t necessarily trust them to provide great sound. But with everything else you’re getting in a package like this, it’s hard to find fault with those isolated issues.

The best over-ear alternative: JLab Audio Flex

JLab Audio Flex over-ear headphones
JLab Audio

Why you should buy them: They have solid features in a style that some may find more suitable.

Who they’re for: Anyone searching for durable workout headphones without the on-ear profile.

Why we picked the JLab Audio Flex:

Let’s face it. On-ear headphones aren’t for everyone, especially when some are prone to the dreaded “clamping” sensation on your head after long periods of time. But most regular headphones don’t offer weather resistance, leaving them susceptible to damage from excessive sweat or water.

That’s why the JLab Audio Flex make this list. They’ve got an IP44 weather-resistance rating (the best in this roundup) that protect against dust as well as sweat and splashes. When you add in the fact that they have removable and washable ear pads, these cans seem well-prepared to handle a workout.

The Flex are rated for up to 20 hours of playback per charge and offer three different EQ options to help find a sound profile that fits you best. And, at $80, they still offer an affordable alternative to the higher-end cans like the RPT-01 or the Wireless Train.

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Check out our collection of the best Black Friday headphone deals we found.

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