We round up an assortment of top headphones that are well-suited to runners.
Over the years I’ve tested a lot of sports headphones, and some work better for running than others. What makes for a good running headphone? Well, for starters, it should be wireless, because who needs a wire getting in the way, right? Secondly, and more importantly, they should give you a secure and comfortable fit. Decent sound is also a requirement, as are durability, decent battery life and reliable performance (minimal dropouts).
With those criteria in mind, I’ve come up with a selection of headphones I’ve tested that I think are well-suited for running. I’ll update these picks as I review more headphones.
Disclaimer: CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.
Jabra Elite Active 65t, $190
The totally wirelessis the sportier version of the . It offers slightly better sweat resistance, which is why I’m recommending that runners should spend the extra $20 on the Active version. They may not look like they’d stay in your ears, but they do. While they may not fit everybody’s ears equally well, I found them quite comfortable to wear. There’s a HearThru setting in the app that allows some ambient noise in, but even with it on, you do have to lower the volume of your music to hear traffic.
The Jabra Elite Active 65t is the current CNET Editors’ Choice for truly wireless headphones.
Bose SoundSport Free, $200
Bose’s totally wireless earphones, the , arguably have the best sound of any truly wireless earphones. They have a few small downsides (both the buds and carrying case are a bit big), but they have a secure fit, work reliably, and are waterproof.
AfterShokz Trekz Air, $150
AfterShokz wireless bone-conduction headphones deliver sound through your cheekbones. The big benefit of this technology is that, thanks to its open design, you can hear what’s going on around you while listening to music or having a phone conversation through the headphone. That openness allows runners to hear traffic, an important safety feature. Also, some race coordinators don’t allow runners to wear anything in their ears, which is where a headphone like this comes in handy, particularly for people who need to listen to music while they run. The Trekz Titantium weighs more but can be had for less than $100.sound still isn’t great, but it’s better than what I experienced with earlier AfterShokz models. The step-down
Bose SoundSport Wireless, $150
The Bose SoundSport Wireless is one of the most popular wireless sports headphones out there and for good reason. They’re comfortable to wear, fit securely in your ears, and deliver very good sound quality for wireless headphones. The only downside is that they protrude from your ears a little too much.
Sony WF-SP700N, $178
Sony’s latest truly wireless earphones are a sports model that features a comfortable, secure fit and active noise-canceling technology. The battery life could be a little better, but these guys sound quite good for a truly wireless headphones.
The price for Beats’ BeatsX neckband-style earphones tends to flucuate and sometimes dips below $100 online, with refurbished models selling for closer to $60. It’s a good all-around model that performs well as a running headphone, thanks to the included secure-fit wingtips.
Apple AirPods, $160
Apple’s are actually great for runners because they’re so light and also have an open design, which allows you to hear traffic. The only issue — and it’s a big one — is that they have to fit snugly in your ears to work for running. Alas, I can’t run with them (they fall out of my ears), but many people can. You can buy third-party wings to make them fit securely, but you have to take the wings off every time you put the AirPods back in their charging case. That’s a pain.
Plantronics BackBeat Fit, $75
Thehave been around for a few years and have been popular with runners because of their secure fit and open design (allows you to hear traffic). Although they’ve come down in price and are fairly affordable, they are due to be updated.
Anker SoundBuds Slim, $26
If you don’t want to spend a lot on a set of Bluetooth sports headphones, there are some decent inexpensive models to choose from, including Amazon). Anker also sells the newer SoundCore Spirit Sports, which have been upgraded with Bluetooth 5.0 but cost $33., which retail for around $25 (you can sometimes get them for a few bucks less on
JBL Endurance Sprint, $50
The Endurance Sprint’s touch controls are a little finicky, but these earphones are well built and sound good for $50. They’re in the same vein as Beats’ popularearphones but cost a lot less.
Jaybird Run, $135
Jaybird’s truly wirelesshad some issues with dropouts and audio/video syncing at launch but have since improved via firmware upgrades. They were a little expensive at their list price $180 but have come down in price online. Not surprisingly, with a name like Jaybird Run they’re designed to appeal to runners. They fit my ears securely and sounded good, too.
JBL Reflect Mini 2, $100
JBL’sfeature a reflective cord that glows in the dark when a light is shone on it. I don’t run at night, but it’s a notable safety feature for those who do. The headphones also fit comfortably and sound pretty good, too. I’d just like to see them cost less.
V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless, $130
V-Moda isn’t the first name you associate with a sports headphone, but its Forza Metallo Wireless earphones are well-designed for everyday use and running. They sound very good for a wireless headphone.
UA Sport Wireless Flex engineered by JBL, $130
The UA Sport Wireless Flex is a likeable wireless sports headphone that features a flexible neckband. The only issue is its price. It should cost less than $100.