A lot of runners will tell you that they can’t go on their morning jog or nighttime trek without a pair of reliable running headphones. Not every pair of earbuds are suitable for running. Wired headphones, for instance, might become a nuisance after a few minutes.
Our top recommendation has to be the third-generation JLab Epic Air Sport wireless headphones, but we’ve got a few more picks for you as well.
Our team went the distance on this roundup, merging the expert opinions of our combined 50-plus years of audio industry experience with our serious fitness bench depth to finally land on our winning headphones. We’re extremely confident that the third-gen JLab Epic Air Sport are the best running headphones for most people, but we’ve also assembled a list of alternatives in case they’re not right for you. Each of these options has specific strengths, so consider your needs, and decide accordingly. The selections below are the best headphones for running but also kick ass for general fitness, too.
The best running headphones at a glance:
- The best running headphones overall: JLab Epic Air Sport
- The best running headphones for iPhone: Beats Powerbeats Pro
- The best budget running headphones: Anker SoundBuds
- The best running headphones for Android: Amazon Echo Buds
- The best running headphones with a heart rate monitor: Jabra Elite Sport
Why you should buy them: With a truly world-class 10 hours of battery life, total sweat protection, and sound quality that will inject new energy into your workouts, the JLab Epic Air Sport are epic indeed.
Who they’re for: Those who want it all — great battery life, comfort, sound quality, and sweat-proofing, at a price that won’t force you to cancel your gym membership.
Why we picked the JLab Epic Air Sport:
Is it possible to buy true wireless earbuds that deliver great sound, great comfort, battery life that is more than capable of lasting a full day, and sweat-proofing that withstand the most strenuous of workouts, all without spending upwards of $250? Even as recently as May, the answer would have been “no,” but things have changed, thanks to the latest version of JLab’s Epic Air Sport.
These true wireless earbuds seem to do the impossible: They offer up a no-compromises truly wireless audio experience for a price most people can afford. Their 10-hour battery life (70 hours if you include the juice in the portable charging case) is astounding, and even (ahem) beats the Beats Powerbeats Pro, the previous record-holder for endurance. Though not quite as hi-fidelity as the Powerbeats Pro, the Epic Air Sport’s built-in, app-free EQ adjustments will help most people find a sound signature that fits their preferred music genres. You can control volume, play/pause, track forward/back, EQ, voice-assistant access, and even “be aware” mode which pipes in outside sounds — all with a few taps on the sides of the earpieces.
With a protection rating of IP66, the Epic Air Sports will be immune to any dust or water that comes their way, so long as you don’t take ‘em for a swim — making them among the most rugged on this list. They fit well and they stay in place, and did we mention the price? These earbuds are just a great all-around value.
Why you should buy them: Glorious sound quality with a battery that’ll outlast even the longest runs.
Who they’re for: iPhone users who want truly wireless earbuds that give them hands-free Siri, and sweatproof performance.
Why we picked the Beats PowerBeats Pro:
iPhone users who wanted a set of truly wireless earbuds that could take full advantage of everything their smartphone could offer only had one choice until the PowerBeats Pro were launched: Apple’s own AirPods. With middling battery life, no ability to deal with sweat or lots of movement, and sound quality that impressed no one, AirPods weren’t exactly a runner’s first choice. The Beats PowerBeats Pro changed all of that.
With a gargantuan nine hours of playtime on a single charge, it’s unlikely these earbuds will need to stop for a break before you do. They’re also more than able to deal with the moisture generated by even the most vigorous workout (though you should probably shower without them), and they’ve got that classic Beats sound: Punchy in all the right places, especially in the low-end.
The PowerBeats Pro offer a comfortable yet secure fit, keeping the over-the-ear clip design of the not-fully wireless PowerBeats 3 while managing to improve on that formula. Siri can be summoned simply by calling her name (or pressing a button), and the included volume rocker switch is a huge improvement over the AirPods which lack such a feature.
These earbuds don’t offer pass-through audio from the embedded microphones, so you’ll have to be cautious when working out near traffic or other hazards, but they do have an excellent (and customizable) auto-pause feature when you remove an earbud, which at least makes stopping for a chat more convenient.
Apple’s AirPods Pro, with their IPX4 rating and pass-through audio, are an excellent alternative for iPhone users, though we think serious joggers will prefer the more secure fit of the PowerBeats Pro.
Why you should buy them: If you’re on a budget and don’t need a suite of features, Anker’s SoundBuds Sport are the perfect, straightforward option.
Who they’re for: Runners on a budget who still want wireless connectivity.
Why we picked the SoundBuds Sport:
These headphones offer wireless connectivity, eight hours of battery life, and are sweat-proof, making them well suited for use at the gym or an outdoor run. They offer three sizes of silicone tips to help find the right fit capable of keeping them stable in your ears and they’re even equipped with noise-canceling technology. They aren’t the truly wireless variety, so there is a small cord to contend with that connects the right and left earbuds. But in some ways, this design might be preferable. Should an earbud manage to dislodge itself, you won’t have to stop in your tracks and begin the process of hunting down the errant object. There’s also no charging case to carry (or lose), so if you’re the kind of person who can barely keep track of your house keys, a wired set of ‘buds might be just the ticket.
Best of all, however, is the fact the Anker SoundBuds Sports are incredibly easy on the wallet, coming in well under $50. That makes them the perfect choice for runners who aren’t looking for a lot of fancy features or simply don’t want to spend a lot on a pair of headphones — after all, with as much beating as these are going to take, it doesn’t hurt to pinch pennies when you can.
Why you should buy them: Comfortable and secure, they give you hands-free access to Alexa, making them a great jogging companion.
Who they’re for: Android users looking for a set of true wireless earbuds that have a bunch of running-friendly features for a reasonable price.
Why we picked the Amazon Echo Buds:
We don’t know for a fact that Amazon designed the Echo Buds for runners, but it sure feels that way. These compact true wireless earbuds have a variety of fit options thanks to three different ear tips and three different “wing tips” which help lock the Echo Buds securely in place.
Their IPX4 water-resistance may not be as hardy as some other models on this list, but as long as you don’t try to swim in them, they should handle even the sweatiest workouts.
But two features will make you appreciate the Echo Buds as a jogging companion: Hands-free access to Alexa so don’t have to constantly raise your hand to your head to do simple tasks like skip tracks, change the volume, answer a call, or even trigger pass-through mode when using the excellent Bose Active Noise Reduction.
These features combined with great sound quality, a five-hour battery life, and a price tag that will mean you don’t need to scrimp on your next set of kicks, make the Echo Buds a fantastic choice for runners.
Why you should buy them: Between fitness tracking, sound quality, and full wireless design, the Jabra Elite Sport are decked out with features that serious athletes want.
Who they’re for: Runners who want the best mix of sound, features, and durability.
Why we picked the Jabra 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. Jabra’s true wireless Elite Sport headphones are all the above and are some of the best fully wireless headphones we’ve had the pleasure of testing. They are waterproof, offer great performance, and have a flexible-yet-secure– fit that puts them a cut above most other true wireless earbuds on the market.
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. The lack of wire actually allows them to stay firmly in place in your ears too, as there isn’t an annoying cable pulling on them while you run.
Jabra went an extra step in making them great for runners by putting a heart rate monitor in the right earpiece. 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.
We’re hoping Jabra releases an update to these buds soon — we love everything about them except their 4.5-hour battery life. These days (as you can see from this list) it no longer ranks among the best. That said, if you’re laser-focused on running, it should still be plenty to get you through your workouts. Their charging case has enough juice to recharge them fully twice. To top it off, these buds are IP67 waterproof, so rainy runs, or even short swims, are a go.
Research and buying tips
- Do running headphones have built-in storage?
- Can I use running headphones with a smartwatch?
- Should I buy wired or wireless headphones?
- Should I buy waterproof headphones?
- Do running headphones offer a heart-rate monitor?
- How do I find running headphones that fit my ear?
Not usually. Most modern running headphones stream music from your phone or smartwatch via Bluetooth.
Yes, as long as your smartwatch features Bluetooth.
If you’re planning on being active, it’s usually best to get wireless headphones, as there are no cables to get in your way.
Yes, or at least, water-resistant ones. Look for a pair of headphones that have some form of IP rating, as this indicates their level of water resistance so you know exactly what your headphones can handle.
Some do, although smartwatches and traditional chest-based heart monitors are typically more accurate.
Most modern running headphones come with a variety of eartips and earfins for all sizes of ears. That said, we always recommend trying on any pair of headphones you’re considering buying whenever possible.
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