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The 8 Best Headphones For Working Out and Running - December 2018
Reviews

Best Headphones For Running
285 Headphones Tested
  • Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
  • Retest after major updates
  • Easily comparable results
  • No ads; unbiased reviews
Learn more about our approach to product reviews here.

Whether you’re a casual jogger or a marathon veteran, music can be the perfect companion for your workouts and a good beat can help you push yourself to the limits. The best headphones for running and working out should have great stability and not fall off your ears. Sports headphones should also be comfortable, easy-to-use and compact enough to carry on your person when you take them to the gym or hit the road on a bike.

So far, we've reviewed 246 earphones and below are our recommendations for the best sports headphones you can buy in 2018. Check also our recommendations for the best over ear headphones for working out, the best wireless earbuds for running and the best earbuds for working out.

  1. Best Headphones for Running and Working Out: Jabra Elite Active 65t

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    8.0
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Truly Wireless
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    The best headphones for working out we've reviewed so far are the Jabra Elite Active 65t. They are very portable and versatile thanks to their truly wireless in-ear design that feels more high-end. They have a matte blue finish which gives it a premium feeling and are rated IP56, so they should be more sweat resistant that the non-active Elite 65t model, but we couldn’t test this accurately in our current test bench.

    They have a good audio reproduction to keep you going during your physical activity and they shouldn’t pop out of your ears as well as they are fairly stable in-ears. They are also a great option to use inside a crowded gym, as even if they aren’t noise canceling earbuds, they block a lot of noise passively. They are also compatible with the Jabra Sound+ mobile app which gives you access to an EQ and presets to customize the sound to your liking.

    Unfortunately, they aren’t the most comfortable in-ears because of their bulkier buds design. On the upside, they have a 5-hour battery life that should last you for a whole workout and the provided case gives you two additional charges, and they have some fun sports-oriented features in the app.

    See our review

  2. Cheaper Alternative: Jaybird X4

    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper, get the Jaybird X4 instead. They aren’t truly wireless like the Jabra Elite Active 65t, but they have a more comfortable earbud-like fit that will be better than in-ears for some. They are rated IPX7, so they should be more sweat and water resistant than the previous Jaybird models and their compatible app offers an EQ, presets and community sound profiles.

    However, they don’t isolate as much noise as the Jabra Elite Active 65t and come with a charging cradle that’s restrictive since you always need it to charge the headphones. On the upside, they give you a decent 7-hour battery life and they’re versatile headphones that can be used for everyday casual use as well. If you want a noise canceling option, look at the Sony WI-SP600N and if comfort is the most important thing for you, the SoundSport Wireless have a very comfortable earbud fit and a great sound.

    See our review

  3. Over-Ear Alternative: Beats Studio3 Wireless

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you do not like the fit of in-ears and prefer over-ear headphones for the gym, then we recommend the Beats Studio3 Wireless. They're one of the best headphones for working out we've tested. They will not be as portable or as breathable as the Samsung Gear IconX and the Jaybird X3. They're also a bit less stable for more strenuous workout routines. However, they have a comfortable over-ear fit that's tight enough on the head for running, a great battery life and an above-average sound quality that packs a good bass. The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless and the cheaper Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC have more features and a customizable options thanks to their app support but they're not as comfortable and the excellent quick charge feature of the Beats is a lifesaver if you're about to hit the gym and forgot to charge them overnight.

    See our review

  4. Best Budget Headphones for Running and Working Out: Anker SoundBuds Curve

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.9
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you find the Samsung Gear IconX or the Jaybird X3 a bit too expensive, then consider the Anker Soundbuds Curve instead. They're the best sports headphones we've tested so far in the budget category. They are not truly wireless like the more expensive Gear IconX and their build quality, although decent, doesn't feel as durable as the Jaybird X3 or even the Jaybird Freedom 2.

    On the upside, they sound better and have a longer battery life and range than most of the other wireless in-ears at their price point. They're also stable enough for most exercises thanks to their ear-hook design. They're comfortable, lightweight, breathable and portable, which makes them a great choice for the gym and most physical activities.

    The tips may slip out of your ears from time to time during more intense workout routines but overall, very few wireless in-ears can compete with the Anker SoundBuds Curve at this price range.

    See our review

  5. Better sounding alternative: JBL Endurance Sprint

    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you like the ear-hook design of the Anker SoundBuds Curve but want a better sounding headset at a budget price, then get JBL Endurance Sprint. The Sprint do not have a 12-hour battery life like the Anker Curve. They also have a worse latency performance and they're less comfortable for most listeners since they have a more typical in-ear fit. But on the upside, they have a more premium design and build quality. They also have a better-balanced sound and a touch-sensitive control scheme that some users may prefer over physical buttons. Unfortunately, although a touch-sensitive control scheme is a nice addition considering their budget price, it's not as precise as physical controls. 

    See our review

  6. On-Ear Alternative: JBL E45BT

    Type : On-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you do not like the fit of in-ears, and over-ears are just a bit too bulky, then consider the JBL E45BT. These on-ears won't be as portable or as stable as the Anker SoundBuds Curve. On the upside, they're a budget and decently versatile headset with a tight enough fit to be stable for running. They're also a lot more compact than typical over-ears, although they may still be a bit too cumbersome for more intense exercises. They have a decent sound, a good battery life and wireless range, and they're sufficiently well-rounded to be suitable for most use cases. The Skullcandy Grind are slightly cheaper, better sounding and a more comfortable on-ear option than the JBL, but they're not as tight on the head so they will more easily slide off your ears when working out.

    See our review

  7. Best Headphones for Running Outdoors: AfterShokz Trekz Air

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    6.9
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    Type : Bone Conduction
    Enclosure : Open-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Bone Conduction

    If you mostly run outdoors and need to be aware of traffic, then get the AfterShokz Trekz Air. These are not your typical wireless sports headphones; they sit on your temples and use bone conduction to send vibrations, so you feel the bass instead of hearing it. It's also the reason why they sound better than what we measured due to this feature. They do not sound quite as good as regular wireless earbuds but should be good enough to get you pumped when running and for listening to podcasts and audiobooks.

    They are great to run outdoors since your ears are wide open and nothing blocks ambient noise. Runners or cyclists can be aware of everything surrounding them, while having a background track at the same time. They are very comfortable since they don’t enter your ear canal and they have a lightweight design.

    Unfortunately, they aren’t the most portable headphones because of their odd shape that doesn't fold. The headband is flexible and might fit in large sports shorts but you can't cram them into your jean pockets like you could with the BeatsX or the Plantronics BackBeat Fit. On the upside, they are stable enough for running and are fairly rubberized, but technically not waterproof.

    See our review

  8. Better Sounding Alternative: Plantronics BackBeat Fit

    Type : Earbuds
    Enclosure : Semi-Open
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you like the around-the-head band design of the AfterShokz Trekz Air, but don’t care much for bone conduction and would prefer better sound instead, get the Plantronics BackBeat Fit. You won’t be able to monitor everything surrounding you like the AfterShokz, but they still have a semi-open design that doesn’t isolate much noise. These are more typical in-ears headphones but their design is more flexible and more portable, on top of being very stable for sports.

    However, the in-ear fit might not be as comfortable for everyone and some reports show that even if they are made to be sweat and water resistant, the headphones can be damaged by sweat alone. Nevertheless, the BackBeat Fit are decent sports-oriented headphones that can be a good option for outdoor use.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Samsung Gear Icon X. The best alternative to the Jabra Elite Active 65t. More sports-oriented features and more comfortable, but not as durable and not as sweatproof. See our review
  • JBL E55BT. An over-ear variant of the JBL E45BT that some will find more comfortable for the gym. Similar performance design and build quality but they're a bit more expensive. See our review
  • Beats BeatsX. Versatile wireless running headphones with a good sound and flexible around the neck design. A bit limited for Android users. See our review
  • Samsung U Flex. A flexible around the neck design that's suitable for most use cases. They have a lot of customization options but they're a bit limited to Samsung and Android devices. See our review
  • Bose SoundSport Wireless. Stable wireless design and a comfortable earbud fit. Hard to use control scheme and prone to sweat damage. See our review
  • Beats Solo3 Wireless. An on-ear fit for those who do not like in-ears. Great sound and build quality but a bit tight and they get a bit warm when running. See our review
  • Bose SoundSport In-Ear. Stable headphones for runners. Good sound and an open fit to monitor your environment. See our review
  • 1More Triple Driver In-Ear. Great sound in a simple and straightforward in-ear design. Lacks a few features and stability tips for sports and workouts.  See our review
  • Beoplay E8. Good sports earbuds but the Samsung Gear IconX perform better for half the price. See our review
  • Jaybird Run. Good truly wireless headphones for sport, but the Samsung Gear IconX are a better pick. See our review
  • Sennheiser PXC 550. Over-ear headphones with a good, customizable sound. A good alternative to the Beats Studio3. See our review
  • Fitbit Flyer. Good sports headphones with very low leakage; mediocre battery life and more expensive than the Jaybird X3. See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphones for running and working out to buy for most people in each price range. We factor in the price (a cheaper headphone wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).

If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for sports/fitness headphones. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference and where you use the headphones will matter more in your selection.

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