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The 5 Best Running Headphones - September 2018
Reviews

Best Sports Headphones
266 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 230 earphones and below are our recommendations for the best sports headphones you can buy in 2018.

  1. Best Sports Headphones: Samsung Gear IconX

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches: test

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    8.2
    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

    Of the 230 headphones we've tested so far, the best wireless running earbuds are the Samsung Gear IconX. They're portable and well-designed truly wireless in-ears that you can easily fit in your pockets and have on you at all times. Their lightweight in-ear fit is also stable enough to run with and suitable even for more strenuous exercises. They have an above-average sound quality that you can now partially EQ with the Samsung Gear App, and they block a lot of noise passively which makes them a versatile option for most uses cases in your daily routine including your commute to work or the gym.

    They're more feature-packed than the Jaybird Run and Jabra Elite Active 65t, with an in-app coach to keep you updated on your workout progress, 4 gigs of onboard storage so you don't have to carry your phone when you go for a run, and total of 10 hours of battery life that should be enough for most use cases.  Unfortunately, they're a bit limited on non-Android devices and do not have the best sweat resistance, so depending on your workout routine, the Jabra Elite Active 65t may be a better choice.

    Overall, the Samsung Gear IconX is a great recommendation for sports.

    See our review

  2. Cheaper Alternative: Jaybird X3

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

    If you want something a bit cheaper but still as versatile as the Samsung Gear IconX, get the Jaybird X3 instead. They're not truly wireless like the IconX so they won't be as unobtrusive in your ears once you're actually in the gym or running. They also do not have as many health tracking features and their proprietary charging clip is a bit limiting. On the upside, they have a more durable build quality, they're stable enough for most physical activities and they come with a few different stability fins and in-ear tips to help you find the right fit. They also isolate better in loud environments and you can EQ their sound quality with the Jaybird MySound app.

    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 will not be as portable or as breathable as the Samsung Gear Icon X 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 Sports Headphones: Anker SoundBuds Curve

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches: test

    • 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 budget option for sports that we've tested so far but they are not truly wireless like the more 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. On-Ear Alternative: JBL E45BT

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

    If you prefer on-ears to in-ears for working out, then get the JBL E45BT. They won't be as portable as the Anker Soundbuds Curve and maybe a bit less stable for more strenuous activities. But on the upside, they're a budget and decently versatile on-ear with a tight enough fit to be stable for running and most physical activities although they may slip a little of your ears during more intense exercises. They also have a good battery life and wireless range, and they're good enough for most use cases so you can use them casually outside of the gym. The Skullcandy Grind are slightly cheaper, better sounding and a more comfortable on-ear fit, but they're not as tight on the head so they will more easily slide off your ears when working out.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Jabra Elite Active 65t.  The best alternative to the Gear Icon X and great sports headphone for most. Slightly fewer features than the  Icon X and not as comfortable but a lot more durable. 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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