Running without music can be quite boring for some and a good beat can help you to push yourself. Bulky headphones like over-ears and on-ears can be cumbersome and they might make you sweat more with heat being trapped under the headphones. This is why Bluetooth earbuds and in-ears can be quite convenient for runners. Sports earbuds should be comfortable, portable enough to carry on you, and have a good sound. Some runners will also like more open design to stay aware of their surroundings.
We’ve tested 283 headphones and below are our recommendations for the best earbuds for running to buy in 2019. See also our recommendations for the best headphones for working out.
The best wireless earbuds for running we've tested so far are the Jabra Elite Active 65t. These truly wireless in-ears are great sports headphones on top of being decent for normal everyday casual use. They are more water resistant than the Samsung Gear IconX, which are also great sports headphones with a bit more features than the Jabras but not as sweatproof. So, if sweat resistance is important to you, the Elite Active 65t are the better choice.
They have a good, well-built design and a premium feel thanks to the high-end matte finish. They also have physical buttons which give good feedback and make them a bit easier to use than other similar in-ears. Their truly wireless design also means you don’t have to worry about having a wire in your way during your run.
Unfortunately, their bulkier earbud design may not be as stable as some other truly wireless in-ears. They may move around a bit or slip out from time to time depending on the size and shape of your ears. On the upside, they have great overall battery life thanks to the 2 additional charges from the case and you’ll also be able to customize the sound to your liking with the Jabra Sound+ app if you need a bit more bass to get you pumped when working out.
If you find running with your smartphone distracting and would like the option of loading your favorite tracks directly onto your headphones, then get the Samsung Gear Icon X. They may not be as rugged or as sweatproof as the Jabra Elite Active 65t, but they come with 4GB of onboard storage, so you can enjoy hundreds of songs without needing your phone or media player. They are well-built, truly wireless headphones that are super lightweight and pretty comfortable for in-ears.
Unfortunately, these headphones do not have a sweat resistance rating and tend to get clogged with sweat and debris after a while. Though they usually sound pretty decent, the clogging issue may cause a slight imbalance in loudness between the left and right earbud after only a few months of use. It is possible to restore the sound quality by cleaning out the earbuds every once a while, but headphones with higher IP ratings, like the IP56-rated Jabra Elite Active 65t, don’t have this issue. If you don’t mind a bit of maintenance though, the Samsung Gear Icon are still great in-ears for sports with impressive stability, isolation, and cool active features.
If the Jabra Elite Active 65t are too expensive, the Bose SoundSport Wireless are the best Bluetooth earbuds for running in the mid-range category. They might not be truly wireless like the Elite Active 65t, but they have a more open design and are more comfortable thanks to their earbud design that doesn’t enter your ear canal as deeply as in-ears.
They have a more neutral and even sound signature and their openness will allow you to be more aware of what is going on around you. This also means they don’t isolate much noise, which outside runners might appreciate but treadmill runners might want more isolation to reduce ambient noise.
Unfortunately, even if the earbuds feel dense and solid, the cable isn’t really rubberized and not very sweat proof, which is disappointing. On the upside, they are one of the most comfortable earbuds out there, and if you really want a more open sound when running outdoors, you should take a look at the wired version, the Bose SoundSport In-Ear.
If sweat damage is something you’re concerned about, get the Jaybird Tarah instead. They might not have the neutral sound of the Bose SoundSport Wireless, but they are rated IPX7 and should be more sweat and water resistant (although we do not yet have a test to measure water resistance consistently across all sports headphones). They also have a similar earbud-like tip that doesn’t enter your ear canal as deeply, so they should be more comfortable than typical in-ears.
However, the Jaybird Tarah have a battery life of about 6 hours, which is only decent when compared to other Jaybird sports headphones. On the upside, they are compatible with the MySound mobile application that will allow you to tweak the sound to your liking with the provided EQ, which is lacking in the Bose Connect app. If you’re looking for more battery life and more bass-heavy headphones, we suggest taking a look at the similar, but more expensive, Jaybird X4. It's also worth considering the Jaybird Tarah Pro, which have a revamped design and a much better battery.
If you’re concerned about cars while you run outside and would like to be fully aware of your surroundings but still have background music during your workouts, get the unique AfterShokz Trekz Air. These are niche bone-conducting headphones that use vibrations to make you feel bass instead of hearing it. By sitting on your cheekbones/temples, the headphones leave your ears wide open and you’ll be able to hear everything around you. However, this also means that they won't an as good sound quality as more typical in-ear or over-ear headphones.
They have a comfortable design and they don’t sit inside your ears, so you barely feel them. The around-the-head design with over-ear hooks makes them quite stable for sports. However, you might have to reposition them a bit from time to time. They are also sensitive to positioning so different head shapes might get different listening experiences. If you like the design of the Trekz Air but would like better sound and more portable headphones, look at the Plantronics BackBeat Fit. Thanks to their flexible band, they can be folded into a more compact format. However, you’ll have less awareness because their in-ear fit blocks a bit of ambient noise.
If you’re looking for a comfortable, stable pair of wireless earbuds that won’t break the bank, then get the Anker SoundBuds Curve; they're the best earbuds for running in the budget category. They don’t sound as good as the Bose SoundSport Wireless, but deliver decent sound and isolation for the price.
The build quality of the Anker SoundBuds Curve isn’t as good as that of the very similarly designed Anker Soundcore Spirit X, but the SoundBuds Curve offer better value. They’re a bit easier to carry around, have a slightly better battery, and offer superior isolation performance. The SoundBuds Curve deliver almost 13 hours of playback on a single charge and have a decent wireless range of 32 feet. They deliver deep powerful bass for budget headphones, which is perfect for getting in the groove on a run.
Unfortunately, the in-line microphone is quite poor, which will make taking calls during a run more difficult. That said, if you’re looking for overall good wireless earbuds for running without busting your budget, the Anker SoundBuds Curve have got you covered.
If you want budget sports headphones with better sound quality, get the JBL Endurance Sprint. They have over-ear hooks like the Anker Soundcore Spirit X, but their design is bulkier and more sweat resistant. They might not have a great battery life, but 9 hours should be enough for sports, and they have an IPX7 rating that the Spirit X is lacking.
Although they present a touch-sensitive control scheme, which is definitely surprising but welcomed at this price, it seems inaccurate and very sensitive. On the upside, they have above-average sound quality and have great isolation performance, making them a good choice if you’re training indoors in a crowded gym.
If you want a truly wireless design for under $50, then get the SoundPeats TrueFree. They may not be as sweat proof as the JBL Endurance Sprint and do not have the battery life of the Ankers. However, they’re surprisingly well-designed for the price, with 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, like other wireless in-ears, they don’t have a very good microphone. Their battery also doesn’t last long, providing only about 3 hours of playback on a charge. All things considered, though, these truly wireless earbuds are pretty cheap for what they offer and are a great deal for runners looking to free themselves from wires completely.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best Bluetooth earbuds 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.