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The 6 Best Earbuds for Running and Working Out - Fall 2018
Reviews

Best Earbuds for Running and Working Out
288 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.

If you’re looking for the best headphones for running and working out but don’t like the cumbersome design of bulky over-ears, earbuds can offer great sound quality on top of being very stable, portable and won’t make your ears sweaty. Sports headphones need to be comfortable enough for your workout and have decently easy controls, so you can skip tracks that don’t get you pumped enough.

So far, we’ve tested and reviewed 73 earbuds and in-ears and below are our top recommendations for the best earbuds for running and working out you can buy in 2018. If you prefer wireless options, see our recommendations for the best wireless earbuds for running.

  1. Best Earbuds 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 earbuds for running and working out are the Jabra Elite Active 65t. They are great truly wireless sports headphones with a customizable sound. They have better sweat resistance than the often compared Samsung Gear IconX although they're not quite as feature packed and do not have onboard storage.

    On the upside, they have a better control scheme with physical buttons that give you great feedback. They have decent sound and have a compatible app that offers a good 5-band EQ which makes them a lot more customizable for different listeners taste and preferences than the Samsung Gear IconX. They also have a great total battery life of about 15h thanks to the 2 additional charges coming from the case.

    Unfortunately, their bulkier earbud design makes them not as stable or comfortable as the IconX and like most wireless headphones, they won’t be great to watch videos on the treadmill because of latency issues. Nevertheless, the Elite Active 65t are one of the best earbuds for working out that we've tested.

    See our review

  2. A more feature-packed alternative: Samsung Gear IconX

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

    If you want more sports-oriented features than the Jabra Elite Active 65t offer, then consider the Samsung Gear IconX instead. Their design is not as rugged or as sweat resistant as the Jabra. They have an internal storage of 4Gb, so you can load your favorite tracks on them and bring them everywhere you go, without having to carry your phone on you. They also have an in-app coach that keeps you updated on your workout and a good total battery life of about 10 hours.

    Their default sound is above-average and you can somewhat EQ them if you want a bit more bass with the presets available in the Samsung Gear app. Unfortunately, their touch-sensitive control scheme is a bit imprecise. They don't work as well with iOS devices since you won't have access to the Samsung Gear app, and the earbuds tend to get clogged quite easily which requires a bit more maintenance than the more sweat proof Elite Active 65t. Overall, they are one of the most versatile sports earbuds we’ve tested, they block a good amount of noise passively and come with a compact charging case that will easily fit in your pockets.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Earbuds for Running and Working Out: Jaybird X4

    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 : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you find the Samsung Gear IconX too expensive, get the Jaybird X4 instead; they are the best earphones for running we’ve tested in the mid-range category. They are not truly wireless like the IconX or the Jabra Elite Active 65t but they have a great build quality and an IPX7 rating (that we couldn’t test in our current test bench) and should be more sweatproof and waterproof than the previous model, the X3.

    They have good sound quality and you should not have any stability problems while doing physical activity. They are also compatible with the MySound app which allows you to customize your sound to your liking and even download sound profiles from other Jaybird headphones owners.

    Unfortunately, they have a proprietary charging cradle that isn’t ideal since you always have to have it on you instead of finding a more universal cable to charge them. On the upside, the X4 are also pretty versatile for everyday casual usage and have a 7-hour battery life that should be enough for more casual listeners. Overall, they're one of the best sports earbuds you can get.

    See our review

  4. Wired alternative for outdoor runners: Bose SoundSport In-Ear

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

    If you’re looking for more comfortable earbuds and don’t want to worry about battery life or audio cuts due to wireless reliability like with the Jaybird X4, get the Bose SoundSport In-Ear. Since they are wired, they may not be as convenient for all listeners especially if your phone does not have a built-in headphone jack. Their build quality and design are also quite average for their price range. However, these earbuds are incredibly comfortable and lightweight. You should not feel too much pressure on your ear canal and will barely notice them once in your ears.

    They also have a decent sound but are lacking in the bass range because of their open-back design. This also means they don’t isolate noise well, so they won’t be good for a crowded gym but can be an excellent pick for runners who want to monitor their surroundings in the streets. Even if they are wired, they are very portable headphones, come with a small case and also practically don’t have any latency for watching videos on the treadmill.

    See our review

  5. Best Budget Earbuds for Running and Working Out: Anker Soundcore Spirit X

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.8
    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 don’t want to break the bank, get the Anker Soundcore Spirit X; they are the best budget earbuds for working out. They do not have any fancy features like an app or customization options. However, these wireless earbuds are easy to use, affordable and have an ear hook design that provides a stable fit during physical activity. They also sound above average, especially for their price range, with a boosted bass that will get you pumped when working out.

    They have a great battery life for wireless earbuds with 12 hours of playback, which should be enough for a normal day for most listeners. They're also very comfortable and come with lots of tips and stability fins options to help you find the best fit.

    Unfortunately, they don’t isolate as well as other earbuds like the Samsung Gear IconX, so they might not be the best option for crowded gyms or commuting. On the upside, they offer great value for their low price, which is only beaten by the similar Anker SoundBuds Curve, which are cheaper, but aren’t as sweatproof as the Spirit X.

    See our review

  6. Better sounding alternative: JBL Endurance Sprint

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

    If you want a better sounding option than the Anker Soundcore Spirit X, get the JBL Endurance Sprint. These sports headphones have better sound than the Anker, but they have an awkward fit for some. Their over-ear hooks are bulkier, and their fit isn’t the most comfortable.

    Although they have a touch-sensitive control scheme, which is nice at that price point, people report it is very sensitive and hard to use. On the upside, they isolate more sound than the Spirit X, which makes them a bit more suitable to use in a crowded gym or on your daily commutes and they also have a decent 9-hour battery life which should be good enough for most use cases.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • 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
  • 1More Triple Driver In-Ear. Great sound in a simple and straightforward in-ear design. Lack 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
  • 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 earphones 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 earbuds and in-ears. 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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