Whether you’re a seasoned runner or just starting on your running journey, the best running headphones are a vital part of your training. You can play your favorite tunes, podcasts, or even have a virtual coach to pace your run. We’ve picked and reviewed the very best running headphones available out there now, so read on to find the perfect pair for you!
Take it from the experts - using headphones while you exercise can make all the difference. "A good song can help with rhythm - helping to set your pace, especially if you choose a playlist with a BPM that suits your workout type," Sara Clarke, personal trainer and founder of Fitting in Fitness, told Live Science. As well as boosting your motivation, the right soundtrack can help you enhance your performance. Having a playlist just for running is a good idea, Sara said, as it can help you focus on your breathing and pace.
Running is a popular physical activity to take up because it can cost relatively little. All you need to get started are some workout clothes and some trainers and you can hit the ground running (literally)! However, investing in some good running headphones can really elevate your experience, helping you clock in all your miles and achieve your targets. There’s nothing like a good beat to get you in the mood to beat some personal records!
Choosing the best running headphones can be a daunting task due to the sheer number of different types, brands and models out there. You’ll be pleased to hear we’ve done all the hard work for you, so you can simply consult this guide to find the perfect fit. We’ve picked a range of options of varying types, looks, and most importantly, price points. All of the products we include in our guides are thoroughly tested by real consumers, so you can rest assured you’re choosing quality. Whatever you’re after, you’ll find it in this guide! And if you’re on the lookout for some bargains, check out these best running headphones deals.
"Certain lyrics have the power of pumping you up if they're applicable in the moment — helping to push you faster, chill you out or motivate you to do more” - Sara Clarke
Music can be an extremely powerful tool on a run, and that applies to all levels of runners and circumstances. Having the right beat can really help when you’re struggling to keep putting one foot in front of the other, during training or a race.
"Certain lyrics have the power of pumping you up if they're applicable in the moment — helping to push you faster, chill you out or motivate you to do more," Sara Clarke, personal trainer and founder of Fitting in Fitness (opens in new tab), told Live Science. She said a personal playlist just for running was a great way to get in the zone and concentrate on your breathing.
With so many different kinds of running headphones out there it can be hard to narrow it down to the right choice for you. So, here at Live Science we've put together a rundown of the best running headphones, featuring models from some of the biggest brands on the market. You’ll find the right headphones here for you, whatever your budget and aesthetic. And, if you’re looking for a bargain right now, make sure you take a look at our list of running headphones deals too.
Our shortlist is based on reviews from real customers who have tried and evaluated each pair of headphones, so you can feel confident about your choice. With our list of the best running headphones, you'll have your dream playlist in your ears and be hitting your stride in no time.
• Related: How to breathe while running
Budget running headphones
These earbuds slip easily into the ear and feature ergonomic silicone tips for more comfort.
Available in three sizes, they also feature patented Freebit™ enhancers that allow for customization. When it comes to sound these earphones feature 5.8mm drivers - a signature sound for JBL headphones that’s designed to give you high-quality audio when you’re running.
With up to 30 hours of battery life, including 20 hours when using the portable case, you shouldn’t have to worry about running out of sound when you’re out and about, or you’ve forgotten to charge them.
Available in four attractive colors, these wireless earbuds also come equipped with Ambient Aware - a feature that means they adapt to your surroundings when you’re running.
These earbuds score slightly less than other models, with a 4 out of 5 on Amazon and a 3.3 out of 5 on BestBuy. Positive reviews write about the great sound quality and battery life, while others comment on how easy and quick the connection to their devices is. Negative reviews focus on the buttons, which instead of touch control, have to be pressed in. Other cons which reviewers noted was the comfort, despite having three earbud sizes.
A wireless earbud design that comes complete with a knitted tangle free cord to connect the buds together, these headphones from Adidas are both supportive and stylish.
Available in three colors, including coral, they have up to 16 hours of battery life after charging. The headphones lack a chargeable case, and instead charge via USB, however they come with a stylish pouch and three sets of interchangeable tips and wings to help you get the best fit.
With an IPX4 waterproof rating these earbuds will get you through a sweaty workout, but aren’t waterproof enough for being submerged underwater. A lightweight pair of headphones, you can store them easily in your bag or at home, and the easy to use controls are also part of the knitted cable, making it easy to switch between songs when you’re running or pause your podcast.
Passive transparency means the noise of the world won’t be blocked out so you can be aware of your surroundings as you run.
The Adidas FWD-01 has a 4.4 score rating on Amazon, with the top positive comments on battery life and comfort. Other positive comments focus on how comfortable they are and also how great they are for active sports such as running, being able to stay in place for over an hour. Negative reviews reflect on how they come up smaller for bigger heads and the sound quality, which can sometimes not be as balanced as other models.
If you’re concerned about the fit, the Anker Soundbuds slim come with different sized tips in small, medium and large, meaning they can be a snug fit for all ears.
Meanwhile, the 6mm sound drivers means that you’ll also have quality music playing in your ears. Plus, its IPX7 waterproof rating means they are sweat–proof and waterproof when immersed in up to 3ft of water - so perfect for swimming too.
The affordable and light earphones sit like earbuds, but also have a ear–hook and a wire to keep both earpieces connected - allowing for more stability as you run. The controls sit on the wire, allowing you to change volume and skip tracks easily.
With up to 10 hours of battery life, they’re perfect for anything from running a marathon to just keeping you motivated in the gym.
The Anker Soundbuds Slim have an impressive 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon, with over half giving them 5 star reviews. Positive reviews saw customers commenting on their affordability in comparison to their competitors and the impressive battery life and sound. Negative reviews concentrated on unimpressive microphones for calls, and no warning beeps for low battery life.
Mid-range running headphones
One of the most stylish pairs of earbuds on the market, the Mifo O5 Plus Gen 2 headphones come with a small charging case, which they sit in to charge.
Once charged, the buds can continuously play music for 9 hours, while the charging case provides an impressive 150 hours of energy without needing to be plugged in. The buds use carbon nanotube diaphragm dynamic speaker drivers, which help to give your music stereo sound.
If you want to concentrate on your workout and block out the world around you, the Mifo headphones have Qualcomm CVC 8.0 intelligent noise reduction integrated into them. Meanwhile, if you’re using them for calls this function also helps your voice sound clearer.
Triathletes will love these, as with an IP67 dust and waterproof rating it means you can transition from running to the pool without worrying about damaging them.
Amazon’s average rating for the Mifo 05 Plus Gen 2 is 4.2, with many reviewers giving battery life the top score. Positive reviews love how affordable the earbuds are, with great quality sound and long battery life. Negative reviews concentrate on the bass sound being poor quality and how pairing them with your device can sometimes be difficult.
With a unique shape, these silicon earbuds are designed with Stay Hear plus, meaning they’ll feel stable and comfortable in your ears.
Although wireless, its neckband means that it’s different to the other buds on the market and could get caught up in your hair when you’re running. However, its rubber hooks mean you can also hook them around the back of the ears, which can help ensure complete stability when you run.
The battery time is up to six hours on a two hour charge time, which isn’t as long as some of its competitors – and the case also doesn’t provide any extra charge time either. The neckband also houses a small volume and track control. However, this can also be changed via the Bose app.
Bluetooth connectivity is at 30 feet and the headphones are sweat–proof and waterproof at IPX4 level. This means that you can’t go swimming with them, but if you’re caught in the rain they’ll carry on working.
Amazon has an impressive 36,000 reviews for the Bose Soundsport headphones, with an equally impressive average score of 4.5, with the top score for sound quality. Positive reviews focus on the quality audio performance and its very quick bluetooth connection time. Negative reviews concentrate on the bulky look and lack of noise cancellation, while some would prefer a charging case rather than a USB cable.
These wireless buds have a similar design to the Apple earbuds. However, they go a little further with some impressive health monitoring.
With a heart rate sensor built into the buds, they’re designed to give you an alert if your heart rate is too high. These headphones can even sync your data to health apps on your phone.
The earphones can also track your movement and provide you real time feedback on data such as calories burnt and speed while you walk, run or cycle. Other health notifications include alerts if you’ve been sitting for too long and detection of slouching at your desk.
The Powerbuds Pro provides noise cancellation up to 40db, at the tap of a button, in four different types of settings, such as if you’re at the gym or you’re in a noisy environment, such as an office. Thru mode is also integrated in the earbuds to help keep you safe in busy environments. Three microphones also sit on each earbud, enabling clearer conversation when you use them for calls.
The Amazfit Powerbuds Pro fared well on Amazon - with a 4.1 rating out of 5 and many reviewers rating the battery life and sound quality as their pros. Reviewers call the battery life, of up to 9 hours on charge and 30 with the portable case, ‘fantastic’. Negative reviews cited the hard to use touch controls and how the colour options are limited.
Best premium running headphones
These hook–around–the–ear running headphones are adjustable and are designed to move as you do.
Some wireless headphones struggle to pair quickly with your phone, but these have built in class 1 Bluetooth via an Apple H1 chip, meaning that the connection should be almost instantaneous. On each headphone you’ll also find a handy volume and track control.
The worst feeling when you’re running is your headphones slipping out of your ear, but these are sweat proof and even water resistant, which is the perfect protection against getting caught in an unexpected downpour when you’re out and about.
This model comes with a large portable charging case, which gives your running headphones up to 24 hours of battery life. However, the case is quite bulky and won’t easily slip into your bag like other charging cases.
Beats powerbeats pro headphones have an average score of 4.5 on Best Buy, with over 13,000 five star reviews. Many reviewers left positive comments about the sound quality of these headphones, while others commented on the long battery life. Other positive comments focused on how easy they are to set up and how well they fit in the ear. Negative comments discuss the fact that there is no adjoining app for the headphones, while others mention how big and bulky the charging case is.
These incredibly light earphones are programmed with JBS1 technology, which should give you perfect sound as you run.
They come with three different sized ear gels, meaning they will fit any ear and give you a secure and comfortable fit. Meanwhile, its noise cancelling features means that you should be able block anything out around you and concentrate on your workout. However, as there’s no option for changing this in busy surroundings, these particular headphones may be best for treadmill work.
If you’re a little more accident-prone than you’d like, you don’t need to worry. These headphones are not only crush–proof and drop–proof, they’re also waterproof and sweat–proof too.
The battery life is 6 hours, which isn’t as long as some of their competitors. However, the portable case the headphones come in is small enough to pop in your bag and gives you an extra 10 hours of charge. The adjoining Jaybird App enables you to adjust the audio for your ears and your surroundings.
The average scoring, out of five, for the Jaybird Vista headphones, is 4.5, while the highest scores were for sound quality. Positive reviews note how comfortable the earbuds are to wear and how well they stay in your ears when running. Many reviewers mentioned the sweat proof and waterproof element, with some even wearing them to swim and afterwards in the steam room. Negative reviews focus on the buttons which turn the volume up, as some think they can be a little sticky, while some are concerned that there is no ‘hear through’ element for the noise cancellation.
If you run around busy roads and lots of traffic these earphones could be ideal for you.
Aftershokz specializes in bone conduction headphones, and this open ear design vibrates the sound through your cheekbones, meaning you won’t damage your ears, and you’ll also be able to hear passing traffic or pick up other noises around you.
While these aren’t as sleek as some of the other earphones or earbuds on the market, they are lightweight and attach into the ears as earbuds would. Meanwhile, it's easy to reach the multifunction button to play your music, activate voice assistant and answer calls, so you don’t have to miss out on your life as you run.
These running headphones come with an eight hour battery life, are water resistant and they’re available in four different colors, including red and blue.
The Aftershokz Aeropex has a brilliant 4.6 rating, out of 5, on Amazon, with quality of material and battery life getting an even higher score of 4.7. Positive reviews mention how good the sound quality is and how long the battery life is – in some instances it can go for up to nine hours. Negative reviews cite the loud beep the headphones emit when you use the multifunction button, while others mention how the microphone doesn’t hold up in bad weather situations when on calls.
Released in February 2020, the Jabra Elite Active 75tA is the upgraded version of the 65tA model.
These comfortable magnetic earphones have a secure fit thanks to their special grip coating, which is designed to keep the buds in place as you run. If you want to immerse yourself in your music as you’re running, these headphones also have active noise cancellation (ANC). Meanwhile, you can also use the Jabra Sound app to flip between noise cancellation and ‘hear through’ mode, depending on what situation you’re in - i.e running near traffic.
The battery life sits at 5.5 hours, which isn’t as long as some other models. However, the small portable case means that you’ll have up to 24 hours of battery life altogether.
Compatible with Siri, Alexa and Google, the earbuds have four microphones embedded, which are designed to enable you to take high quality calls and avoid the annoyance of not being able to hear the person on the other end.
The Jabra Elite Active 75t True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds scores an average of 4.3 out of 5 on Amazon with reviews mentioning their sleek design, the new and improved magnetic charging case and also clearer sound, which has been improved from the last version. Positive reviews note that the battery lasts above 7 hours and they also praise the ‘hear through’ mode - especially for runners. Negative reviews mention just how small the earbuds are, which can get stuck in the ear, plus the bass sounds, which can sometimes be too high pitched.
How to choose the best running headphones for you
For many people running isn’t just a sport, it’s a lifestyle. Yes, it’s great to have nice gear for training, and if you can do some work on your gait analysis that’s brilliant too, but running goes beyond mere physical exercise – it can also help improve your mental health. So, not only does running burn fat when combined with dietary changes, it's also a brilliant stressbuster.
If you’re new to running, then getting the motivation to keep going can be an uphill struggle. It can be hard to run properly if you haven’t got the right support for your goals. Finding that perfect pair of running headphones or earphones will allow you to immerse yourself in the moment as the right music can be a powerful motivator.
The last thing you want is for your earphones to fit poorly. If they’re too big they could fall out while you’re running, whereas earphones that are too small may need to be wedged in a little, which can be uncomfortable. The perfect pair of earphones will allow you to just put them in and then forget about them – you don’t want to lose focus by constantly having to adjust them during your run.
Of course, if you order your earphones online it can be hard to know whether they’ll suit your ear size and shape. Some earphones come with covers in multiple sizes to help you get the perfect fit, but not all do, so check before you buy. You may find that earphones with a sweat- or water-resistant coating could suit you better as they may have a little more ‘grip’ to them. Have no fear, as our list of the best running headphones includes many different ear-tip options, as well as models made from various ultra-comfortable materials.
Once you’re happy your earphones are going to fit you well you also need to think about how you’re going to access your music while you’re out and about. Wireless headphones that work using Bluetooth technology remove the possibility of you accidentally catching a wire and yanking your headphones from your head (or your phone out of its pocket). It’s also worth checking that your running headphones can connect to whatever device you’re using quickly and simply. Both these features will help make sure your workout isn’t suddenly interrupted by a pause in your music. Personal trainer Sara Clarke says a quick connection is important, so that you can get off the blocks straight away. "The speed they take to connect will help you take advantage of that window of motivation," she said.
Great sound quality is something you should always look for in a pair of running headphones. If you’ve decided you want to start running, then make sure you get the sound levels on your earphones set up correctly first. You might find loud music really motivating, but if you turn the bass up too high it can do permanent damage to your hearing, so always be mindful of this.
The best running headphones should give you the option to choose between noise cancellation or hear–through features. Ideally, you should be able to switch between modes at the touch of a button, and also pause your music instantly, so that you can control your hearing ability and sound levels in busy areas like a city center or busy neighborhood.
If you live in an area of high humidity, or tend to sweat a lot, then make sure your headphones are waterproof or sweatproof. Some models can be ruined by exposure to water or too much sweat. It’s worth looking for the Ingress Protection Marking, or IP rating, on the headphone packaging. The higher the rating, the better your running headphones should be able to withstand the effects of moisture and dust. Lower ratings mean your headphones may be damaged by exposure to water. Headphones with a rating of IP5 will be fine with splashes of rain, while it should be possible to swim in those with a rating of IP6 and higher.
The benefits of using the best running headphones
Owning a pair of the best running headphones can be a great boost for your running workout. Creating playlists of motivational music is a great trick to help keep you going when you hit the wall. You should also be able to find lots of premade playlists by searching for ‘running playlist’ on any music streaming service. Download your chosen tunes and you’re good to go!
• Related: What to eat before a run (opens in new tab)
If you want to know how to run for longer without getting tired, then remember that running headphones can make all the difference to unlocking this goal. The right music can be incredibly helpful if you’re running early in the morning or late at night when you might otherwise usually be a little weary.
You can also use your running headphones to tune into your favorite podcast and take your mind off the grind, or even get some assistance with a virtual coach. The Peloton app (opens in new tab) is best known for its bike and treadmills, and accompanying workouts, but it also has outdoor audio runs, split between 20-minute beginner runs and one-hour marathon training sessions. During each workout the app will guide you step-by-step through your run, with instructions on form and breathing, and will play motivational music in the background.
The Beachbody on Demand app (opens in new tab) has a 30-day running course that uses audio to coach beginner runners and veterans alike.
If you’ve never run before and really don’t know where to start, then the Couch to 5K app (opens in new tab) from England's National Health Service has a program designed to get anyone moving, with progress achieved by increasing your training load in small, manageable increments.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to offer medical advice.
This article was updated on Apr. 18, 2022, by Live Science contributor Rosee Woodland.