Live Science Verdict
The Adidas FWD-02s are unbelievably comfortable with a secure, discreet fit that won’t be dislodged (even when taking off a tight-fitting sweatshirt). They're IPX5-rated, provide a powerful sound with booming bass perfect for boosting you up steep inclines, and we think they look good too. The touch controls can be a bit hit and miss, but that was one of the only downsides we could find.
Incredibly comfortable to wear
Sleek, secure fit
Powerful bass is perfect for workouts
Case is fun, but not particularly protective
Sound could have more detail for everyday use
Touch controls can be hit and miss
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Popping the Adidas FWD-02 Sport headphones into our ears was like slipping on a pair of snug socks. They felt like they were custom-built for our ears, with the small, soft silicone fins sitting deftly against our inner ears to provide unrivaled comfort — not to mention a secure fit.
Within seconds of getting our hands on them, we already knew they were making a great case to be named among our pick of the best running headphones. And they continued to impress when it came to their features.
These earbuds have a sweatproof and water resistant IPX5 rating, offer a reasonable six hours of playback time per charge (boosted to 19 hours with the portable charging case) and even have an aerated portable charging case. So, if you regularly run in the rain, your headphones can dry out while recharging post-workout. .
Smart enabled/compatibility: Yes
Battery life: 6 hours (up to 19 hours with the charging case)
OS support: Yes
We found the sleek, discreet and secure fit lends itself to almost any sport — not just running — and on a superficial level we really appreciated Adidas’s customary sporty aesthetic.
The sound is powerful, with plenty of bass to motivate you through grueling sessions. There isn't the same detail or clarity as the likes of the Bose Sports and Jabra Elite 4 Actives, so you might not want them as an everyday earbud. But, for sport, we think they’re an excellent choice.
Price and release date
The Adidas FWD-02 Sport True Wireless Earbuds were released in February 2022. On Amazon they have an MSRP of $169.99 or £139.99 in the UK.
Set-up and design
As with all the headphones we tested, you can simply connect these earbuds to your phone via Bluetooth to start listening. However, something this set offered that several didn’t was customizable elements. In the Adidas Headphones app, you can play with the EQ settings, customize your touch controls and alter the awareness mode (choosing either regular listening or an awareness mode that allows more ambient noise in).
We were also big fans of the design.
Both the earbuds and case look great, with dark grays, blues and the instantly recognisable Adidas logo contributing to an unmistakably sporty aesthetic. The buds have a premium feel, with sturdy, textured plastic and silicone fins giving the impression they are built to last. They sit incredibly flush in the ear too, so you can barely see them when looking at a wearer head on — handy for yogis and gym-goers, as they won’t be knocked out of place by stray limbs or the removal of a sweatshirt.
The lid of the portable charging case is attached at the hinge via a magnet and can be removed completely without too much force, so you have to be careful not to lose it. The lid also has a fabric section to air out the earbuds after a rainy run. This is a neat idea but (though our headphones were undamaged during the testing process) we were somewhat apprehensive about leaving them loose in our kit bag due to the lack of protection.
This is the only area we felt these headphones really let themselves down. The controls are nice and simple on the face of it, with one tap to pause or play your music, two to skip a track and three to go back to the previous song. You can also tap them once to accept an incoming call, and to end it, while holding the bud will switch between isolated listening and the Adidas' ambient aware mode.
However, we found using these controls could be a bit hit and miss while running, with some single taps registering as doubles or not being picked up at all. As a result, we often found we were going to our phone when selecting songs.
The fit of the Adidas FWD-02 headphones was nigh-on flawless. They slipped into our ears seamlessly and provided a comfortable, secure fit that was unmatched by other pairs we tested.
The soft silicone fins and buds are so amenable it felt like they almost melted into position, giving the impression they’d been custom-made for our ears and meaning we didn’t experience any of the usual aching during longer wears.
Despite these immaculate first impressions, we were determined not to let them have an easy ride. We wore them for bike rides, hard miles and sprints, donned them during HIIT, CrossFit and yoga sessions, even subjected them to our usual commute. Yet, in every case they remained in place, with minimal movement during even the highest impact activities like a 100m dash and chest-to-floor burpees.
When it comes to sound quality, the Adidas FWD-02 headphones will leave most runners more than satisfied. They have a strong sound with a powerful bass perfect for high-octane runs and heavy lifting alike.
They don’t have the detail of more audio-centric earbuds like the Bose Sports, so you may want to look at a separate pair for everyday use (for example, easy listening or streaming videos). There’s no ANC (active noise cancellation) either, which is a miss if you’re trying to focus in a busy gym or countryside run.
However, overall, we found the powerful sound was a great fit for most workouts, with thumping drums powering us through pavement-pounding sessions.
The Adidas FWD-02 earbuds are the most comfortable running headphones we tried, fitting seamlessly into our ears. The soft silicone fins meant the buds didn’t cause our ears to ache during longer wears (unlike several competitors) or move around when worn during exercise, staying in place during high impact activities like sprints. They may lack the detail for softer genres and podcasts, but their powerful sound and booming bass is great for exercise.
Jabra Elite 4 Active
These earbuds are Adidas’ closest contender on the comfort front. They forego ear hooks and silicone wings in favor of ergonomic frames designed to sit against the ear and move with you, so they won’t fall out during exercise (something we can attest to after putting them to the test). What’s more, they sound fantastic, offer decent ANC and have one of the most reasonable MSRPs on the market ($119.99).
We love the fit and feel of the FWD-02s, but they wouldn’t be our go-tos for everyday listening. If you’re a music fan looking for a pair of headphones to wear for every occasion, the excellent Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro earbuds might be more your speed. Their 3D surround sound is sublime, and the ANC is impressive too. They’re not the most secure, so might not suit intense exercisers. But if you’re after a jack-of-all-trades to wear for lower impact workouts and walks to work then they’ll do the trick nicely.
Harry Bullmore is a fitness writer covering everything from reviews to features for LiveScience, T3, TechRadar, Fit&Well and more. So, whether you’re looking for a new fitness tracker or wondering how to shave seconds off your 5K PB, chances are he’s written something to help you improve your training.
When not writing, he’s most likely to be found experimenting with a wide variety of training methods in his home gym or trying to exhaust his ever-energetic puppy.
Prior to joining Future, Harry wrote health and fitness product reviews for publications including Men’s Health, Women’s Health and Runner’s World. Before this, he spent three years as a news reporter with work in more than 70 national and regional newspapers.