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 over nearly 100 wireless earbuds and in-ear headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best earbuds for running and working out to buy. 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'll 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. You can also fine-tune the way they sound in great detail with the Jaybird MySound app. They 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, they 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 Wireless 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, the Jaybird are impressive earbuds for sports that are great whether you’re pumping iron at the gym or running a marathon.
If you want a cheaper pair of wireless earbuds for running that still sound decent and are stable enough for working out, get the JBL Reflect Mini 2. They don't feel as durable as the Jaybird Tarah Pro Wireless and their battery doesn't last as long, but they have a similar sound profile and offer a good price-to-performance ratio. They're fairly comfortable and provide a very stable fit that should work well for most workout sessions. While their out-of-the-box sound profile is well-balanced, they unfortunately don't offer a companion app with a customizable EQ like the Jaybird. On the upside, unlike the Jaybird, which use a proprietary charger, the JBL charge via micro USB, making it easier to replace the cable if you need to.
If you like to be able to customize your sound profile or tend to be a little harder on your headphones, go with the Jaybird, but if you want to spend less but still get a decent all-around pair of headphones that are great for sports, get the JBL.
When out on your run, having cables or neckbands constantly moving around can become an annoyance. This is where true wireless earbuds like the Jaybird Vista come in. Although they can be used casually, they're mainly made with sports in mind. They have a stable fit created by the stability fins that are provided in the box, without requiring a deep insertion that some may find uncomfortable. This design does come at a cost, though, as they don't provide as much noise isolation from ambient noise.
The default sound of these headphones is decent, but what sets Jaybird apart is the sheer amount of customization available through their mobile companion app, Jaybird MySound. It has tons of presets to choose from, as well as a parametric EQ, and you can even choose a custom sound profile created by other users. The 5-hour battery life isn't impressive, but it should be enough to get you through a workout. There are two additional charges available in the charging case and they have an auto-off feature to help conserve battery.
Unfortunately, if you plan on taking calls with the earbuds, the microphone is pretty disappointing. Speech sounds muffled and lacks detail, and when used in a noisy environment, the mic keeps cutting out as it struggles to separate voice from background noise. Overall, though, they're decent headphones that should satisfy most runners, whether you're out for a jog or a full marathon.
If you live and breathe in the Apple ecosystem, being able to seamlessly connect to your phone is a pretty nice perk, which is why you should consider the Beats Powerbeats Pro. They have a very different fit compared to the Jaybird Vista Truly Wireless, as Beats went with an ear-hook design. These headphones have very good stability and shouldn't fall off, even during heavy movements. The inclusion of Apple's H1 chip make these earbuds very easy to pair, but unfortunately, you can only pair them to one device at a time. App support is also disappointing, as there's only a pop-up notification that indicates current battery life on the earbuds and the charging case. However, they do last a whopping 11 hours on a single charge. Do note that due to the design, these earbuds won't isolate you from ambient noise, but this is more of a personal preference, as some runners want to have awareness of their surroundings when running outdoors.
If you want headphones with great app support and customization, the Jaybird are a better choice. But for those who like Apple's seamless integration, definitely choose the Beats.
If you like true wireless earbuds like the Jaybird Vista Truly Wireless but want to have better isolation from ambient noise, try the Amazon Echo Buds. Not only do they have great passive isolation, they have one of the best performing active noise cancelling for true wireless earbuds. In order to achieve this isolation, though, they need to be inserted rather deep into the ear canal, which some may find uncomfortable. Fortunately, they're not too bulky and are lightweight. Amazon provides different tip sizes as well as stability fins, so you shouldn't have any issues with them falling out during your run. They last a little over 5 hours with ANC enabled, which should be enough to get you through your weekly long run, but should they run out, they take less than an hour for a full charge. If you want more awareness of your surroundings when running outdoors, Amazon's Alexa app has a pass-through feature to let in ambient noise without having to pause your music.
If you like the ability to customize your headphones and don't care as much for noise isolation, go with the Jaybird. But if you want to tune out the world around you, get the Amazon.
If you’re an outdoor runner who wants to enjoy some background music while remaining aware of your surroundings, then get the AfterShokz Trekz Air, the best wireless earbuds for running outdoors. They have a bone conduction design that transmits vibrations through your cheekbones instead of playing sound directly in your ears, so you feel bass instead of hearing it. They sit near the outer ear but keep your ears open, so they’re also suitable for biking if your local legislation permits it.
These are very lightweight headphones that are comfortable to wear for long periods. The vibrations can take some time to get used to, especially if you listen to a lot of bass-heavy music like dubstep, but shouldn’t be a problem for most people, especially if you mostly listen to podcasts or audiobooks. They have a decent 7-hour battery life, which isn’t as long as that of other sports-oriented earbuds we’ve tested but should last you long enough for your daily training.
Although our current testing equipment fails to fully capture their sound quality, bone conduction headphones don’t sound as good as traditional earphones in general. The way they sound also differs significantly between people, so if you share a pair with a partner or friend, it’s likely you both won’t hear the same thing. That said, their open design provides unparalleled situational awareness, so they’re worth considering if a truly open listening experience is what you’re after.
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 Bone Conduction, but they’re easier to use and have a mic mute button. Like most headphones designed with situational awareness in mind, they sound distant when listening to bass-heavy music, but their earbud design ensures better consistency. They don’t offer quite the openness that bone conduction headphones do, though, and their fit might be uncomfortable for some while working out.
Get the AfterShokz if you just want to listen to music but need your ears to remain completely open; however, if you want something with a more traditional earbud fit that’ll be passable for taking calls too, then you’ll want to go for the Jabra.
The best earbuds for running in the budget category that we've tested so far are the Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019. These Bluetooth headphones are quite comfortable for in-ears as they don't enter too deep in the ear canal, and they come with five different sizes of tips to help you find the most comfortable fit. They're very stable in the ear thanks to their ear-hook design and stability fins, and should have no problem staying put during even more strenuous runs. Unlike the previous version, these headphones are now rated IPX7 for waterproofing, though this isn't currently something we test.
Their bass-heavy sound profile will help keep you pumped up, but shouldn't be too boomy or over-powering and is well-suited for most genres. Their 18.4-hour battery life is great, and is a big improvement over the first generation, as well as the very similar Anker SoundCore Spirit X Wireless. They're a good option for running outside as well since they don't block out too much background noise, so you can stay aware of your surroundings.
Unfortunately, their build quality is only decent and they have quite a thin cable connecting the left and right drivers. They also don't have a dedicated companion app to customize their sound profile, but this is fairly standard for headphones in this price point. Overall, they're a great pair of headphones for running and they offer a fantastic price-to-performance ratio.
If you prefer a less bass-heavy and more neutral sound profile, get the JBL Endurance Sprint Wireless. They aren't nearly as comfortable as the Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019, and their touch-sensitive control scheme is more finicky, but their sound profile is much better-balanced out-of-the-box. They isolate a lot more background noise than the Anker, which may not be great for running outdoors if you live in a busy neighborhood, but makes them better for using on the bus or at work, especially since they also leak almost no audio. Unfortunately, their 9-hour battery life is much worse than the Anker, and they're typically more expensive as well. On the upside, they're also rated IPX7 for waterproofing, though we don't test this.
Overall, if you want a pair of wireless earbuds for running that offer outstanding price-to-performance ratio and like a bit of extra thump in your music, get the Anker, but if you listen to more vocal-centric music and prefer a more neutral sound profile, go for the JBL.
If you want extra freedom while running and don't want a wire running behind your neck, get the SoundPeats TrueFree/True Wireless. They aren't quite as comfortable as the Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019, and their controls are more difficult to use, but they feel better built and have no wires connecting your left and right earbuds. Their sound profile is very similar to the Anker, though their treble range is quite recessed, so vocals may sound a bit dull. Unfortunately, their battery life is disappointing at just over three hours, but their case gives an additional four charges, so you can take small breaks to charge them up throughout the day. Despite not having stability fins or ear-hooks, they still feel surprisingly stable in the ear, but unfortunately, they don't have an IP rating for waterproofing.
If you don't mind having a wire connecting your two earbuds and want something a bit more comfortable, get the Anker, but if you want the freedom of truly wireless headphones while running, go with the SoundPeats TrueFree.
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.
01/22/2020: Replaced Anker SoundCore Spirit X Wireless with Anker SoundBuds Curve Wireless Upgraded 2019. Minor text and structure changes.
12/23/2019: Replaced Jabra Elite Active 65t with Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless. Minor text and structure changes.
11/20/2019: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.