Running without music can be quite boring for some; a good beat can help you to push yourself. Over-ear headphones are comfortable but can be quite bulky and tend to trap a lot of heat under the ear cups, which can make you sweat more than usual. Earbuds and in-ear headphones are generally more convenient for running and working out, especially if they connect wirelessly to your mobile devices via Bluetooth. Good sports earbuds should be comfortable, portable enough to carry on you, and sound good. Those who run outdoors may also want to consider more open designs to help stay aware of their surroundings.
We’ve tested 365 headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best earbuds for running and working out to buy in 2019. See our recommendations for the best headphones for working out, the best wireless earbuds under $100, the best neckband headphones, and the best true wireless earbuds.
The best earbuds for running we’ve tested so far are the Jaybird Tarah Pro. They’re comfortable, well-built in-ear headphones that are great for running and working out. They have a very stable fit that will stay put during your most vigorous runs and are rated IPX7 for waterproofing.
These headphones have a versatile, well-balanced sound that lends itself well not only to a wide variety of music genres, but also audiobooks and podcasts. They isolate fairly well, blocking out a decent amount of noise without hardly leaking any sound. They also have a very good battery that lasts for over 13 hours on a charge. They charge in under 2 hours, and when you snap the magnetic earbuds together, it triggers the auto-off timer to preserve battery life.
Unfortunately, these headphones use a proprietary charging cradle that isn’t very practical. You can’t use a spare micro-USB cable if you don’t have the charger on you, which can be frustrating to some. The JBL Reflect Mini 2 are cheaper and charge via micro-USB which some may find more convenient, but they’re not customizable like the Jaybird and feel a bit less durable. Overall, these are impressive sports headphones that are great whether you’re pumping iron at the gym or running a marathon.
If you don’t want any wires in your way at all, get the Jabra Elite Active 65t. They’re durable, well-built earbuds that have a premium matte finish and are rated IP56 for dust and water resistance. They come with a good charging case and provide over 5 hours of continuous playback, which is pretty decent for truly wireless in-ears. They have good audio reproduction and are great at blocking out disruptive gym chatter.
Unfortunately, they are quite bulky, and their in-ear fit may be uncomfortable for some, especially those with smaller ears. If they do fit you well, though, they’re quite stable. Those who prefer running without their smartphone may prefer the Samsung Gear IconX, which are more comfortable and have 4GB on onboard storage, but they’re getting harder to find online. The Jabra tend to be more reliably in stock and have better sweat-resistance.
If you’re an outdoors runner who needs to remain aware of their surroundings but would still like to enjoy some background music, get the unique AfterShokz Trekz Air. Technically, they’re not earbuds; they’re bone-conduction headphones that use vibrations, so you feel bass instead of hearing it. By sitting on your temples, they leave your ears wide open so you can hear everything around you.
They have a comfortable design and they don’t sit inside, on, or over your ears, so you barely feel them. Their around-the-head design with over-ear hooks makes them quite stable for sports, however, you might have to re-position them a bit from time to time.
Unfortunately, their bone-conduction and open design means they don't sound as good as typical in-ear or over-ear headphones. They’re also sensitive to positioning, so they might sound different depending on how they’re fitted on your head. That said, if you’re concerned about traffic when running outside, the AfterShokz Trekz Air are one of the best ways to enjoy music while remaining aware of your surroundings.
If you’re looking for earbuds that are open enough to help you remain aware of your surroundings without sacrificing functionality, get the Jabra Elite Active 45e. They’re not as comfortable as the AfterShokz Trekz Air, but they’re easier to use and have additional controls. They have what Jabra calls a voice button, which can mute your mic during calls and trigger your device’s voice assistant for hands-free commands.
Like most headphones designed with situational awareness in mind, they have very poor bass performance and sound distant when listening to bass-heavy music. That said, their earbud design ensures better frequency response consistency than the AfterShokz, so if you don’t mind the way they sound you shouldn’t encounter too many surprises if they shift around a bit during a jog. Overall, if you prefer a more traditional earbud fit than the Trekz Air but still want to remain aware of your surroundings, these are a good choice.
The best earbuds for running in the budget category are the Anker SoundCore Spirit X. They’re surprisingly comfortable for in-ear headphones and have a flexible ear-hook design that ensures a stable fit. They come with a quick-adjusting cable clip that holds the wires in place and are said to be water and sweatproof, but we don’t yet have a test to confirm this.
They have an exciting bass-rich sound that’ll help get you pumped during your toughest workouts. They’re great for more bass-heavy music like EDM or hip-hop, but are balanced enough to be alright for other genres too. They have a decent 12-hour battery life and are compatible with Bluetooth 5.0.
These earbuds are nearly identical to the even cheaper Anker SoundBuds Curve in respect to design and performance. However, the Spirit X but have a better in-line remote and feel better-made, especially since they’re supposed to be sweat-proof. The SoundBuds Curve generally provide generally better value for more casual use, but the added durability of the Spirit X make them a better choice for running and working out specifically.
If you prefer more neutral-sounding earbuds, get the JBL Endurance Sprint. They’re less comfortable than the Anker SoundCore Spirit X, but they’re better-suited to a wider range of music genres. They also have great isolation performance, making them a good choice if you’re training indoors in a crowded gym.
Although their touch-sensitive control scheme is a welcome feature at this price point, it feels very sensitive to the point of inaccuracy. Their 9-hour battery life is decent, but doesn’t outperform the Anker SoundCore Spirit X. On the upside, these earbuds have an auto-off timer to help save battery life, which is useful if you forget to turn them off after your workout.
If you’re looking for truly wireless in-ears at a great price, get the SoundPeats TrueFree. Their battery doesn’t last as long as that of the Anker Soundcore Spirit X, but they’re surprisingly well-designed for the price. They have a solid yet lightweight build that stays put in your ears once you find your perfect fit. They sound decent and pack thumping bass, which makes them great for EDM and hip-hop. They also achieve very good isolation performance, helping you get in the zone.
On the downside, they don’t have volume control and their one-button design be uncomfortable to use since you end up pushing the earbuds further into your ears every time you pause a song. Their battery also doesn’t last long, even for truly wireless in-ears, and only lasts for about 3 hours on a charge. Thankfully, their charging case provides 4 to 5 extra charges, for around 15 total hours of battery life if you take breaks to charge them every now and then.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best Bluetooth earbuds for running and working out for most people to buy in each price range. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones 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.