Jabra Elite Active 65t Wireless Sports Earbuds
66 AUDIO - BTS Pro - Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
Anker SoundBuds Slim Wireless Headphones
Science has shown that listening to upbeat music while running or doing other types of high energy exercise can actually enhance performance by a significant margin. Tech manufacturers have seized on this fact to produce a plethora of outstanding, high tech sports earphones that do everything from delivering the weather to monitor our heart rate while we run. With nearly all of today’s tech giants jumping on the earphone bandwagon, it can be difficult to determine which products are just a wee bit better than the others. That’s where we come in. Below you’ll find our list of the best running earphones for 2018/19.
The Best Running Earphones
Jabra Elite Active 65t Wireless Running Earphones
The Elite from Jabra has undergone some subtle evolutionary tweaks and now stands, not quite in a class by itself, but pretty close. The molded shape of the 65t provides a more customized feel that its predecessors were capable of mustering so there’s no more worrying you’re going to lose your buds when you jump a curb or puddle. Once they’ve been inserted with a gentle quarter turn they’re there for the duration yet they don’t ever feel like they’re imposing on your ear or overstaying their welcome.
The Active 65t allows you to adjust the amount of ambient noise that’s fed into the speakers from the built-in external mics. They call this feature “HearThrough”, we call it “welcome”. In addition, the Sound+ app provides comprehensive control and you can select among five different listening modes. The EQ is a particular highlight, providing the type of sonic control you normally only get in high-end home audio systems. Albeit on a reduced scale. With Alexa compatibility also standard and a wireless range of up to 33 feet, the Jabra Elite Active 65t are the best sports earbuds available and snag our Best Choice designation. These also make a great gift for runners for your loved ones.
High degree of wireless stability
5 hours of operation with a single battery charge
Easy access to popular voice activated assistants
Integrated motion sensor tracks workout performance
Weight 11.2 ounces
- Weight11.2 ounces
Jaybird X3 in-Ear Wireless Bluetooth Running Earphones
The X3 is the third iteration of Jaybird’s X line and seems a legitimate step in the right direction after the previous version fell somewhat flat. This time around they’re a bit more compact and the company has addressed lingering battery issues. As such the old NiMH battery has been replaced by a lithium-ion battery that delivers eight hours of operation on a full charge. The l-io battery also charges faster and will provide an hour of performance on just 15 minutes of charging. The X3 also allows you to tweak your audio experience by way of the Android and iOS compatible MySound app.
As you begin to tweak those settings to bring the sound in line with your tastes it’s likely you’ll be overcome by the realization that what you’re hearing is on another level from anything you’ve heard from other running earphones. In addition, the X3 utilizes Bluetooth 4.1 and you should have no trouble whatsoever syncing it with your handset, regardless of operating system. The icing on the cake is that the X3 sports a sweatproof/waterproof hydrophobic nano-coating.
1 hour of charge per 15 minutes of charging
Customizable user experience
Comply tips maximize sound isolation
Weight .48 ounces
- Weight0.48 ounces
Anker SoundBuds Slim Wireless Running Earphones
Anker SoundBuds are extremely light, hold their position regardless of how much high impact activity you subject them to and produce the kind of audio quality you normally only expect in earphones costing twice as much. The SoundBuds are fully sweat resistant and won’t shy away from an April shower. They’re an in-ear system that comes with a variety of tips so you are sure to find a fit that’s right for you.
SoundBuds Slim Wireless running headphones provide flawless wireless streaming via Bluetooth 4.1 at a distance of up to 33 feet and with its updated drivers they’ll compete against many of today’s most expensive headsets when it comes to sound quality. The IPX5 shell is as handsome as it is practical, the lithium-ion battery provides up to 7 hours of operation per full charge and the price would bring a smile to Scrooge’s face. Add it up and you have our Best Value. Be sure to also check out our list of the best running jackets for more great items like this.
Up to 7 hours of operation on a single charge
Utilizes Bluetooth 4.1
IPX5 fully water resistant shell
Includes convenient travel pouch
Weight .48 ounces
- Weight0.48 ounces
Bose SoundSport Pulse Wireless Headphones
There is no way Bose was not going to make a play for the sports headphone market and their SoundSport Pulse Wireless Headphones for running make a serious push for best in class. Overall the sound is full and rich, with robust bass and clear, crisp high notes. Just as you’d expect from Bose. Regardless of the ambient noise level where you’re running, you’re going to experience the full sonic range from these headphones and you won’t have to crank them to 11 to do so.
The SoundSport Pulse may be the best wireless headphones for running the company has made yet. While the earpieces look a bit unwieldy they actually hug the inside of your ear in a gentle yet firm fashion that optimizes security and sound delivery without ever feeling like an anchor. In fact, if you turn the sound off and just use them to cancel out the environmental noise you may even forget at some point that you have them on. Battery life, however, is an issue the company will need to address in the near future.
Compatible with most contemporary fitness apps
Real time heart rate readings with Bose Connect
Wireless range 30 feet
5 hours of operation from single charge
Weight .8 ounces
- Weight0.8 ounces
AfterShokz Trekz Air Open Ear Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones
AfterShokz take a different approach to wireless earphones with their open-air conduction headphones. Whereas most earphones pump the soundwaves straight down the ear canal to the eardrum AfterShokz Trekz uses bone conduction to completely bypass the eardrum and send sound waves through your cranium directly to the inner ear. This leaves the outer ear free to receive environmental noise so that you can stay more properly alert to your surroundings when running on the path, sidewalk or road.
Beyond practicality and safety, the Trekz from AfterShokz provide outstanding sound quality that’s more than a little surprising to those of us without doctorates in audiology. Perhaps the biggest surprise is not that you can hear clearly while the Trekz are jacked but that there is virtually no loss in quality even at the very low ends of the volume spectrum. At the end of the day, AfterShokz are not going to win the award for best running earphones based on sound quality alone. But when you consider what they’ve done here they may be pointing the way forward. Our handy guide to the best running shoes features more great products like this.
Up to 6 hours of operation per charge
Multipoint pairing with Bluetooth ready handsets
Redesigned to be significantly lighter
Full rich bass and broad dynamic range
Weight 1.1 ounces
- Weight1.12 ounces
Plantronics BackBeat FIT Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
The BackBeat FIT Wireless Bluetooth Headphones for running have an agreeable soft feel that rests against your skin rather than rubbing against it. They loop over the top of the ear and rest gently in the ear canal where they deliver clean, crisp audio at all volume settings. Because of their visually solid appearance, you expect the BackBeat FIT is going to be something of a dead weight on your neck but they’re actually lighter than about 75% of the sports earphones out there.
The main controls are located on the exterior of the earpieces. Bluetooth pairing is simple and reliable and when synced to your handset call quality is actually quite good. You’ll get on average about 8 hours on a fully charged battery which isn’t bad but isn’t necessarily great. Although if you get stuck in the rain someday don’t worry, your Plantronics BackBeat FIT Wireless headphones for running can take it. Love this product? Check out our review of the top running socks for our top picks.
On ear controls allow easy access to calls and music
Special eartip design allows for greater environmental awareness
8 hours operational time per charge
Waterproof and sweatproof
Weight .8 ounces
- Weight0.8 ounces
66 AUDIO – BTS Pro – Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
66 Audio have outdone almost everyone with their BTS Pro Wireless Bluetooth Headphones. These are classic over-ear headphones for running with a few design twists that allow them to be transported easily. They produce some of the highest quality sounds you’ll hear from running headphones at any price. This is an upgrade of their previous BTS headphones and the changes start with Bluetooth 4.2. Battery life is also improved and has been ramped up from the already outrageous 25 hours of the standard BTS to 40 hours for this upgraded version.
Controls are easy to master and conveniently located on the exterior of the device. The fit is generally outstanding and extremely comfortable and they tend to stay in place no matter how hard you are hitting the pavement. You’re going to pay more for 66 Audio’s BTS Pro, but there’s no denying you’re going to get what you pay for in this instance. As such, they’ve earned the right to be our Premium Choice. Our handy guide to the best Bluetooth earpieces features more great products like this.
Best in class battery performance
Built to withstand the rigors of the workout
66 Audio SoundEngine with full bass and clear, crisp highs
Real time EQ engine for ultimate control
Weight 1.1 pounds
- Brand66 Audio
- Weight1.1 pounds
SOUL Electronics X-TRA Performance Wireless Headphones
SOUL Electronics X-TRA Performance Wireless Headphones are one of the few to acknowledge that people actually run both before the sun rises and after it sets. As such they include LED safety lights that help protect you from the scourge of half asleep or distracted drivers. Beyond that much-appreciated feature, these X-TRA Performance headphones are also an audio force to be reckoned that provide typical over ear clarity and focus, along with an outstanding 24 hours of operation from a full charge.
The LED lights we mentioned early come on automatically when internal sensors detect the gathering gloom and there are two different modes (still and flashing) associated with those lights. Inside there are also HD drivers and circuitry designed to provide firm, clear bass lines along with crisp highs. If you’re in a hurry you can plug your X-TRA headphones in for 15 minutes and enjoy an impressive 2 1/2 hours of playtime. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best Gore Tex running shoes.
Built in LED lights provide an added measure of safety in the dark
State of the art circuitry and HD drivers for optimal sound quality
24 hours operational time with lights off
Ear pads are removable and full washable
Weight 7 ounces
- BrandSoul Electronics
- Weight7 ounces
Powerbeats3 Wireless Earphones by Beats
There’s nothing terribly new about the look of the new Powerbeats3 Wireless earphones and that seems just a tad curious. After all, if the Powerbeats2 had a drawback it was the design which flirted pretty heavily with looking cheap. So here we have Powerbeats3 and they still look a bit cheap. However, unlike genuinely cheap (as in poorly made) earphones the Powerbeats3 provide all-day comfort with few equals.
One of the many things we like about the Powerbeats3 (aside from the look) is that they don’t push so far into your ear that they cause irritation. Of course, this somewhat relaxed fit also means that they’re going to allow environmental noise to drift through the mix. But a bit of the real world is a good thing when you’re running on the road or busy urban sidewalks. The battery life is also notable. At 12 hours per charge, it’s in the upper echelons of running earphones. In addition, Bluetooth pairing is both painless and reliable. That’s particularly true if you’re pairing with an Apple device.
Fast Fuel: 1 hour playback from 5 minute charge.
Voice activated assistants, phone calls, music and more.
12 hours operational time from fully charged battery.
4 different earpiece size options available.
Weight 12 ounces
- Weight12 ounces
KuaiFit Sport Headphones
The KuaiFit Sport Headphones have one of the most agreeable designs out there. They wrap more than halfway around your ear and do so comfortably and effectively by way of their flexible build. They produce outstanding audio at any volume level, have 8GB of built-in memory, pair effortless with your Bluetooth handset and offer an array of fitness plans, a heart rate sensor and an ANT+ connected bike sensor. They have a music control joystick, provide 7 hours of operation per full charge and are fully sweat and waterproof.
We love the way these puppies feel, love the fact that they come with interchangeable earpieces – including indoor and outdoor earpieces – and love the accelerometer that lets you keep track of speed, distance and even laps if you’re running a track. They do an effective job of blocking out environmental noise and that’s great too. Except that it isn’t when you’re road running. So you may want to keep one of them a bit loose so you can hear what’s going on around you. Other than that they’re among the best Bluetooth sports headphones. Don’t forget to also check our list of top running backpacks for more great running products.
Designed with serious workouts in mind
Scientifically valid heart rate monitor
Fully sweat and waterproof
Come with 2 months’ worth of training plans preloaded
Weight 8 ounces
- Weight8 ounces
Running Earphones Buying Guide
How We Chose Our Selection of Running Earphones
Quality - All of the earphones that make our list are high-quality products that have proven themselves in the testing ground of the real world. They stand up to the constant punishment that comes with pounding the pavement, they don’t quit when the sweat gets heavy or the rain starts to fall and any and all additional features work as advertised in all conditions. If a pair of earphones fails any of the above categories they don’t make our list.
Reviews - As always we keep our ear to the ground when it comes to what others are saying about a particular set of earphones. But we’re not Rotten Tomatoes. We don’t pass judgment based solely on what other people say. We like to make up our own minds. So when it comes to external reviews we’ll read them and take note but at the end of the day the product has to impress us or it doesn’t make our list.
Brand - There are some fields where the number of decent manufacturers can be counted on one hand. For whatever reason, the earphone industry is not one of those fields. It seems virtually every significant tech player has waded into the earphone business. As such you’re going to see lots of brand names on this list of best running earphones because there are so many big name brands jockeying for a piece of the earphone market pie.
Price - There isn’t a set of sports earphones out there that’s going to break anyone’s bank. That said, some are certainly more expensive than others. While price isn’t necessarily a determining factor for us we do keep our eyes open for significant values when we can find them and we’ll reward them with a place on our list.
Features To Look For In-Running Earphones
Comfortable Fit - Saying something is comfortable is almost entirely subjective. Or at the very least, entirely particular to each person. Since everyone’s ears are different it’s virtually impossible to proclaim one set of earphones to be the most comfortable or the best fitting. This is one area where reviews are virtually useless because you really need to try different ones on yourself and see how they feel to you. As such, when we say a particular set of earphones are comfortable or that they fit well we’re speaking of our own experience with the product and you should keep that in mind.
Sound Quality - Sound quality, while still subject to individual interpretation, yields a bit more convincingly to objective assessment. After all, if a pair of headphones emits a loud hiss just about everyone is going to hear that. Likewise, if the bass is shallow and tinny most people will pick up on that. When you try on a pair of headphones (and you should always try them on before buying if possible) cue up one of your favorite songs. One that you know like the back of your hand, and see if the headphones reproduce all those luscious details you love so much. You may find they don’t. Or you may find the sound quality is so good that it opens your mind to other aspects of the production you had been missing.
Battery Life - It wasn’t that long ago that batteries for running earphones would die out after an hour or two. Today, however, advances in battery technology have produced lithium-ion batteries that charge super-fast and provide many hours of listening pleasure. If the earphones you have your eye on only provide an hour or two hours per charge you might want to cast your sights elsewhere.
Waterproofing - Waterproofing is important not only because most of us are going to get caught in the rain from time to time, but also because many of us sweat so much while running it might as well be raining. All of the best earphones for running are sweatproof and waterproof. Or at the very least water resistant. Keep in mind that even though they’re waterproof you’ll still need to clean them occasionally. Especially if you sweat a lot.
Design - The other end of the subjective spectrum from comfort is design. The reason we have so many different types of everything is that people just can’t seem to agree on what’s beautiful, what’s stylish or what’s fashionable. When it comes to running earphones though design should not be a determining factor. Since this is something you’re going to need to wear on your head and that you expect to deliver on its technological promises comfort and performance should be more important considerations than design. Not that the way your sports earphones look isn’t important, it’s just not as important as how they feel and sound.
Types of Running Earphones:
On-Ear Earphones - On-ear earphones for running hook over the top of the ears. The extent of this hook depends on the design of the earphone. While they typically cover much of the opening of the ear they don’t actually cover the entire ear itself the way over ear earphones do. This lack of blanket coverage allows a certain amount of environmental sound to still be audible, which is important if you run on the road or on crowded sidewalks. This type of earphone also won’t overheat your ears the way full coverage headphones can and do. This type of earphone is also light and easy to stow in your pocket or just hang around your neck if you want a break from the music while you run.
Over-ear Earphones - Over-ear earphones for running are just that; earphones that sit over the ear and cover it entirely. In the not too distant past, this type of earphone was considered inappropriate and impractical to wear during outdoor activities like running. But the lightweight, noise canceling headphones from Beats has upset the applecart of conventional thinking and we’re seeing more and more runners sporting over-ear headphones. It may be fashionable and the sound may be great but we’d still advise caution when wearing this type of earphone while running. Unless of course, you’re on a treadmill or a genuine running track.
Running Earphones FAQs
Q: What are running headphones?
A: Running headphones are simply audio headphones that have been adapted to the needs of runners and the conditions they encounter while running. But these days they’re more than just lightweight, waterproof versions of standard headphones. They’ve come to include all types of wireless digital technology. Some intended to expand your listening possibilities while running and some to enhance the quality of your workout by keeping you apprised of your heart rate, temperature and more.
Q: Are all running earphones waterproof?
A: Most are. And certainly, all of the best running headphones are waterproof. Which means they’re also sweatproof which is just as important. The only running earphones you’re likely to find that aren’t waterproof are those you’ll get at the big box store. Stick to the items on our list and your headphones won’t fail you when the rain starts falling or the sweat starts pouring.
Q: How do I clean my earphones?
A: When the time comes for some earphone spring cleaning these are the steps most often taken.
- Check with the owner’s manual - Always make sure there are not any specific instructions from the manufacturer before you clean your earphones. If there aren’t then proceed as follows:
- Clean the outside - Use a clean soft cloth. Dip it in clean water and wring it out thoroughly, then wipe down all the exterior components including the headband.
- Remove any pads and tips - Dirt and dust often hide in the ear cups. So remove the pads and tips and make sure you clean this area thoroughly with your damp cloth. If you encounter any stubborn dirt use a soft bristle toothbrush to loosen it up then wipe it away with the damp cloth.
- Dry them out - Once you’re sure you’ve thoroughly cleaned the earphones leave them to air dry. If you’re not sure how long to leave them to check them after 10 minutes and see if they’re completely dry. If it appears that they are, let them sit for a few more minutes anyway just to be sure.
Q: What devices are compatible with my earphones?
A: Most of the best headphones will pair easily with any Bluetooth enabled device. This connectivity will provide access to an almost unlimited number of apps, streaming music of every kind, voice-activated assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Now, performance monitors, Internet radio and much more. Many earphones, even running earphones, can be paired to different home entertainment systems such as Android or Apple TV, Playstation, Xbox One and more with little fuss, so you can watch your favorite movies or programs late at night without waking anyone up.
Q: How often should I replace silicone tips?
A: Exactly how often you should replace the silicone tips on your earphones will depend entirely on how often you wear them and under what conditions. If, for instance, you wear them once a week for a light jog in the park it may be several years before you need to replace them. If, on the other hand, you run like you’re possessed every day you’ll likely need to replace them every couple of months. Maybe even more often, depending on how often and how well you clean them (if you clean them at all).
Q: What types of music should I listen to while running?
A: If you want to use the music to propel yourself along the track or the sidewalk or the road or the path you’ll want to listen to something with a driving beat. That typically means something that hits 120 to 140 beats per minute (BPM). 120 or so BPM just happens to dovetail nicely with the average heart rate of a person engaged in moderately strenuous activity so your music and your heart will be in sync.
Q: Which Sports Earphones are better for running, on-ear earphones or over ear earphones?
A: While it comes down once again to personal taste you want to keep in mind that if you wear noise canceling over-ear headphones for running you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage on the street or on busy sidewalks. While music can be an invaluable accompaniment to running canceling out all environmental noise may mean you don’t hear that car that’s bearing down on you or that bicyclist who tries to warn you as you drift into his or her travel lane. Many of the best running earphones will allow enough environmental noise through that safety is not compromised.