The best running headphones should help boost your performance and keep your mind occupied while you run. They also need to stay in place above no matter how vigorous your workout may be, and if they make your music sound fantastic – even better.
Your gear will also need to be able to withstand sweat and possibly rain, depending on your location. What's more, we believe that the best running headphones can improve your performance significantly; there's plenty of research that proves music can transform your runs.
Just as waterproof headphones are best for swimming, so too are the best running headphones optimized for the unique challenges of staying secure while you jog and sprint your way to optimal fitness.
Thankfully, there are plenty of great options, many of which don't require a huge budget either. For our pick of the very best running headphones out there, you'll find everything you need in the guide below.
Beat's latest true wireless earbuds, the PowerBeats Pro, are something special – they’re supremely comfortable, sound decent and seem to never, ever fall out, which is why we think they're the best running headphones of 2020.
They're ideal for running thanks to their close-fitting ear hooks and IPX4 sweatproof rating, as well as nifty additions like the pressure-reducing micro-laser barometric venting hole, their long battery life, and their superior sound quality.
Where we found the Powerbeats Pro to perform their best is in near-quiet environments, like your office, your home or your gym - because you can use hands-free Siri, they’re great for setting timers in between sets and placing calls to friends and clients.
But take them outside for a jog, and they'll still do the trick, thanks to their energetic sound.
Read more: Beats PowerBeats Pro review
If the most important aspect of choosing the best running headphones for you is the audio quality, these wireless earbuds from Sennheiser could be a fantastic choice.
With a lively, bass-heavy presentation, and a comfortable fit, the Sennheiser CX Sport wireless earphones can really bolster your running performance through sound quality alone.
They don't come with a heart rate monitor, but the inclusion of ear fins and sporty neon color scheme makes them ideal for casual workouts.
With a battery life of six hours, they're great for your average running session, or even your daily commute – but marathon runners will want to look elsewhere.
Read the full review: Sennheiser CX Sport Wireless earphones review
The Aeropex is the top-end headset from Aftershokz, which specializes in bone conduction headphones that allow you to enjoy your favorite music without blocking out the sounds of cars, cyclists and other potential dangers around you.
The Aeropex uses vibrations to direct sound to your audiotory nerve, leaving your ear canals open so you can still hear the world around you. It's a significant upgrade from its predecessor, the Aftershokz Trekz Air, with a lighter weight that means it's barely noticeable when you're running, and an improved IP rating that makes it safe to wear even in the rain.
You might be able to feel the vibrations ever so slightly when you crank the volume up high, but if you want to be aware of your surroundings while you train, the Aeropex is hard to beat.
Read the full review: AfterShockz Aeropex review
If you're looking for some rugged running headphones, the Adidas RPT-01 could be a good fit – sure, not everyone wants to wear on-ear headphones while working out, but the breathable design of these Adidas cans means you won't overheat.
The knitted headband and ear cushions can even be removed and washed after particularly sweaty sessions. Plus, with a 40-hour battery life, they'll last you for multiple marathons.
While the sound quality isn't the finest we've ever heard, the RPT-01s are suitably loud and bassy, which is something you'll want to push you through that final lap. They're certainly the best running headphones we've tested with this form factor.
Read the full review: Adidas RPT-01 Wireless Bluetooth Sport Headphones review
Now committed to a yearly refresh of the popular mid-range model, the Jaybird X4 manage to outdo both the previous Jaybird X2 and Jaybird X3 wireless Bluetooth earphones, with an upgraded IPX7 water-resistance rating. Whether you're sweating buckets or running doggedly through the rain, the X4 will be able to cope with it.
The Jaybird X4s also manage to keep the series' surprisingly good sound. These earphones are certainly fitness first, but that doesn't mean the other things people look for in a pair of earphones – you know, like music – have fallen by the wayside.
Jaybird's excellent app also provides easy EQ customization as well as the ability to make your own sound profile, with various ear tip sizes to boot. A great all round choice for runner who don't want to skimp on sound – or be wary of the weather.
Alternatively if you're after an even more premium experience, the Jaybird Tarah Pro earbuds offer higher-quality audio and materials for a somewhat higher $159 £139 / AU$229 price tag.
Although we're still big fans of the Jaybird X4 headphones, take a look at the Jaybird Vista true headphones further down the list – they're our top pick if you're in the market for a pair of true wireless earbuds.
Read the full review: Jaybird X4 review
If you need your power song to push you through that extra mile, then the Bose SoundSport running headphones might give you that extra force you’re looking for. With the unmistakable sound signature of the audio heavyweight, these lightweight earbuds feature a comfortable and secure fit thanks to the StayHear+ tips.
For runners with NFC-enabled smartphones and music players, the SoundSport buds can be paired in the blink of an eye. The Bose Connect app also allows music sharing with more than one pair of earbuds, ideal if you’re out running with a buddy (and we love that they name which device is connected, something that's great if you're carrying around a phone, media player and tablet).
The SoundSport range comes in two flavors. For an extra $50 you can pick up the Pulse edition which features a built-in heart rate monitor. Depending on your training method, this could be a worthwhile investment as we've found their heart rate monitor to generally be fairly precise from the ears with these.
After true wireless earbuds instead? Read our Bose SoundSport Free review
The Under Armour True Wireless Flash running headphones are a solid entry into the true wireless market, with strong audio, ergonomic design, and a hefty battery life (25 hours, including the case's four extra charges) to really make your purchase last throughout the week.
There's also two smart noise technologies that that help these earbuds stand out. Tapping the left earbud once will activate Talk-Thru, which quietens audio for momentary conversation or when you need to be on alert, while Ambient Aware (tap the left earbud twice) recreates outside noise using external microphones.
UA has gone for stamina rather than convenience, though, and the charging case can feel like a bit of a brick to carry around – especially during exercise. You also won’t get any speed charging features here, meaning you shouldn’t wait until five minutes before a workout to plug the case into the wall. But for the sporty among you, the pros should certainly outweigh the cons.
Read the full review: Under Armour True Wireless Flash review
There’s wireless, and then there’s true wireless, and the top-end Jabra Elite Sport are the latter. Beyond the cordless design, the headline feature of these running headphones is the Hear Through tech that allows you to control the way the buds let in or filter out ambient noise – with just a quick button press.
The on-the-go charging case provides 13.5 hours of battery life in total, but with just 4.5 hours available from a single charge, slower marathon runners will probably want to jog on – although for 99% of your training, this won't be an issue.
Although not marketed for swimming, they’re also IP67 certified water resistant. The companion app also utilizes the built-in heart rate monitor to enhance your workouts, along with the internal accelerometer to monitor your reps of squats, lunges and the like.
These are expensive buds, but the amount they can do is incredible – for many, they'll be your go-to choice for your new running headphones.
Read the full review: Jabra Elite Sport review
The PowerBeats 3 running headphones are yet another pair of Beats headphones that aim to keep your tunes pumping while you keep your legs pumping. They may come with the high price that is a signature of the Beats and Apple brands, but they offer a lot for runners, and especially for Apple users.
With a 12-hour battery life and a quick charge function that can add an hour of battery life in a few minutes, the PowerBeats 3 should rarely run out of juice in the middle of anything short of an insane ultra-marathon. They’re also ready for all the sweat from your brow, and can even handle a run in the rain.
While they may not top some of the other wireless headphones on this list for features, the PowerBeats 3 headphones will truly shine for major Apple lovers. They feature Apple’s W1 chip, which makes the Bluetooth pairing process with multiple iCloud-linked devices incredibly easy in addition to boosting wireless range.
The Beats Powerbeats 4 could be coming soon, too – and they could make perfect running headphones. After some digging around in iOS 13, a new icon for the upcoming buds was discovered, which shows they'll sport the same workout-friendly design as the true wireless Powerbeats Pro.
Read the full review: Beats PowerBeats 3 review
The Jaybird Vista earbuds are the latest true wireless headphones from Jaybird, an audio brand focused on making products for real and budding athletes – or those of us who just want the best fitness gadgets out there.
They're truly astonishing in what they achieve. Despite being fitness-first headphones, they still manage to offer incredible audio alongside water and sweat resistance like the best of them.
They’re certainly at the premium end of the market. But the combination of stark coloring, compact and lightweight design, and premium sound makes them a no-brainer for your next true wireless earbuds – whether you’re training for a marathon or just walking briskly to the office.
Read the full review: Jaybird Vista true wireless headphones review
How to choose the best running headphones
There's lots to consider when it comes to choosing the best running headphones for your needs. Firstly, make sure that your new buds have an IPX4 water-resistance rating or above; this means that they'll be able to withstand a little sweat as well as a spot of rain.
Fit is also really important, particularly if you opt for true wireless earbuds, which can be prone to falling out – if that's a worry look for earbuds that sport fins to keep them securely in your ear, or better yet, a pair of neckbuds that are connected by a wire.
You'll also need a battery life that will last your longest runs and workouts, as well as your daily commute if your new running headphones will double up as your regular cans.
These are the basics – some of the best running headphones also go one step further with features like heart rate monitors and AI personal trainers, which means they double up as some of the best running gadgets on the market.
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