Finding the best running headphones is about more than just sound quality! The best ones are the perfect companion on a run while you jam out to your favorite running music or listen to a podcast, without getting in the way.
There are other things to consider too! Not only is comfort incredibly important so that they don’t distract you during a run, but you should also be able to easily adjust sound volume or skip a track without having to stop running.
And if you’re a marathon runner, then battery life is more important than ever because who wants to run out of battery a few miles away from the finish line?
What’s best is that running headphones now even work with your GPS watch if you don’t want to carry a phone!
In the last two years, I’ve seen a massive improvement in wireless headphones for running and thus was ready to really make some recommendations.
In this article, we’ll go over the different types of running headphones, what factors to consider when picking the right one for you, and my top picks for the best running headphones in 2023.
Not interested in all the research and just want to know what I’d pick?
✅These are the wireless headphones I use 90% of the time and love.
They have a super long battery life so I don’t have to worry about finding them dead and at the gym they block out all the outside noise.
Types of Running Headphones
Before I jump into my recommendations, it’s important for you to determine what type and style of running headphones you prefer the most.
I’ll then give you my recommendation for each type and also what to expect from them in terms of performance.
There are four main types of wireless earphones, let’s look at each of them in more detail.
1. Truly Wireless Earbuds
These are what probably pops into your mind when you first think of wireless headphones. These are usually earbuds that don’t have a wire or hook that extends around your ear. All you have to do is push them into your ear and you’re good to go.
The best truly wireless earbuds are the ones that fit snugly into your ear canal and don’t pop out mid-run. These types of earbuds have a really compact style which makes them really lightweight.
Since they’re so lightweight, they may have a smaller battery life than others, but they come with a charging case to charge them back up on the go. These also tend to usually be the most expensive type of headphones.
2. Truly Wireless Earbuds with Ear Hooks
These are truly wireless earbuds, but they come with an ear hook. These ear hooks take the pressure off the ear canal to hold these buds steady and the hook mechanism is what primarily keeps them in place.
This might help to make them fit better for many people, and if you’ve tried many different types of truly wireless earbuds but have had a fit issue, you might want to look into these instead.
Sometimes the hook also stores the battery which helps the earbuds to play for longer when compared to truly wireless earbuds.
While they’re similar in price to their truly wireless counterparts, they might be marginally cheaper at times but not necessarily.
3. Neckband Earbuds
These types of earbuds are still wireless in terms of connecting to your phone, but they use a wire or band to connect buds together, store batteries and the microphone.
Some people prefer these over truly wireless earbuds (with or without hook) because they keep the earbuds together and you’re less likely to ‘lose them’ (we all have one friend that’s like that!).
In general, if you don’t mind the wired connection then you’ll probably enjoy the extra battery life that most of these earbuds offer, which is usually eight hours or more when compared to truly wireless ones that have four hours or more.
The price range for neckband earbuds is also a bit lower than its truly wireless counterparts. The earbuds themselves are usually smaller since the wire or band part houses the battery and microphone.
4. Bone Conduction Headphones
These types of headphones are a new innovation and are truly amazing. They use an acoustic approach to provide an innovative way to enjoy music, podcasts, or whatever you like to listen to during a run.
Instead of plugging your earbuds into your ear canals, bone conduction headphones sit on the outside of the ear. They transit sound through air to our eardrums but mainly through vibrations on the bones of the head and jaw (hence the name!).
The sounds from these devices bypass the eardrum and relay sound directly to the inner ear. This might sound like a bunch of nonsense to you, but this is actually the process through which we are able to hear our own voice.
Fun fact: this is also the way the famous composer Beethoven, who eventually went deaf, is noted as using as his means of hearing. Due to their open ear design, these are very helpful for anyone with hearing loss and who ears a hearing aid.
It’ll also allow you to have a better situational awareness and to know what’s happening around you, which can be really important on a run outside.
Can we throw it back for a minute to my first Garmin, my wired headphones, all wrapped around some old school radio on my arm?! Many we’ve got it easy now.
How I’ve Tested These Headphones to Find the Best Wireless Running Headphones
My process of finding the best wireless running headphones is a combination of not just my personal running experience as a running coach, but also of a couple of hundred runners on Instagram that sent in their recommendations.
These aren’t just researched, they’re real-world tested and approved earbuds for running that don’t fall out.
If you’ve picked your favorite type and style of headphones already from what I explained above, then you’ll find the best option within that category in this article here!
Many years ago I tested out one of the first mp3 headphones from Sony (which are also good for swimming) and I swear tons of people are still looking at that review, so apparently these headphones do stand the test of time.
So, you can rest assured that these top running headphones have been filtered to ONLY include the best of the best for all and any type of runner.
Below I’ve mentioned the factors I’ve used to test these running headphones, and these are also the factors I recommend you consider when picking the ones that are best for you.
Factors to Consider When Buying Running Headphones
When shopping around for the best running headphones, there are a few factors to consider. Let’s look at the 5 most important ones to consider:
1. Headphone Fit and Ambient Sound
There are plenty of things to consider when picking the best pair of headphones for your run, but the most important one is fit. After all, what’s the point of having the best quality sound, the best battery life, and the longest playtime when they just won’t stay in your ears.
So, this is first and foremost what I concentrated on while using trying these earphones to find the best running headphones out there.
The next is ambient sound. Some runners prefer to have all outside sound cut off while running (especially indoors in the gym or on a treadmill at home), while others prefer to have some ambient sound to be able to have more situational awareness while running.
This is especially important when you’re running outdoors to be aware of potential hazards around you and to have a better understanding of your surroundings.
I haven’t ‘rated’ these on ambient sound, but you will find information related to it in my reviews so you can pick the best wireless headphones according to your own personal preference.
2. Water and Sweat Resistant
Let’s face it, running can be sweaty – really sweaty, I mean I often look like I’ve showered when I finish. We need our headphones to still stay on, and be able to last through the days, weeks, and months of sweat and training.
It’s difficult for someone to personally judge this factor based on just experience as it can become subjective given how much someone sweats or how much water the headphones encounter.
For this reason, I’ve included the Ingress Protection (IP) rating for each headphone. The IP Rating is based on a two-digit number established by the International Electro Technical Commission.
Each of the numbers gives a rating for different forms of environmental influences. For runners, the second one is more important which is protection against liquids (such as sweat and water). The first digit is for environmental elements such as dust.
I’ve mentioned details for each headphone in my review, so don’t worry if numbers aren’t your thing! They’re mentioned to help you be more confident and aware of what you’re purchasing, and I’ll explain it more in each review!
Here are some quick pointers to understand the numbers better:
- An X in any position means that there isn’t any data (meaning it wasn’t tested for that purpose).
- 1 to 2 in the second position (so for liquids such as sweat and water) means the headphones can withstand dripping water, so usually sweat or a very light drizzle.
- 3 to 6 in the second position means the headphones can withstand an increasing amount of rainfall for longer periods of time. This does NOT, however, mean that the earbuds can be immersed in water (think swimming).
- 7 to 9 in the third position is the gold standard when it comes to sweat and water resistance. This means that the headphones and earbuds can be submerged in varying depths of water without failing to work.
3. Battery Life and Overall Durability
The last most important thing for any runner is how long these headphones are going to last (durability) and how long you can expect them to play after one charging session (battery life).
I mean, who wants a headphone that will stop working in the middle of a run? Regardless, I’ve got you covered by including all the relevant details you need to make the right decision.
Want to know which ones are the best running headphones? Keep reading and don’t forget to comment down below to tell me which one you picked!
All running headphones must also be comfortable! You want to make sure the headphones stay put in your ears without being overly tight or uncomfortable.
Many running headphones come with a variety of ear tips or wings in various sizes to help you find the perfect fit for you. It’s also important to think about how much the headphones weigh. Headphones that are too heavy can get uncomfortable after a while.
You can comfortably wear any of the pairs on this list for several hours, though some hold up better to prolonged use than others.
5. Ease of Use
It’s incredibly important to look for headphones that are easy to use when you’re out on a run. You don’t want to have to pause your run only to skip a track or change the volume.
Look for headphones with intuitive controls that are easy to use while you’re running. Many headphones have buttons or touch controls that allow you to adjust the volume, skip tracks, or take calls without having to take out your phone.
Some headphones also come with built-in voice assistants like Siri or Google Assistant, which allow you to control your music or take calls using voice commands.
7 Best Running Headphones of 2023
This list is a combo of my experiences and the top recommendations I received from a couple hundred runners on Instagram!
These aren’t just researched, they’re real-world tested and approved earbuds for running that don’t fall out.
Best Bone Conduction Headphones: Shokz OpenRun Pro Headphones ($180)
Type: Bone Conduction Headphones
IP Rating: IP55 certified to repel sweat, dust, and moisture
Battery life: 10 hours
Shokz is for runners who don’t want to stick earbuds in their ears while cars zoom by. The company used to be called AfterShokz, but changed its name at the end of 2021.
These headphones make use of a technology known as bone conduction to transmit sound through your cheekbones, so allowing you to keep your ears free to detect potential hazards around you such as fast-moving cars on the road.
Both David and I were shocked at how well we could hear using them!
The Shokz OpenRun Pro is the company’s best headphones, producing deeper bass and richer sound than its predecessors. Still, the sound quality isn’t as good as a good pair of earbuds, but it’s worth making that trade-off for the extra safety we get from running with our ears open.
The OpenRun’s, formerly known as the Aeropex’s, battery life has been increased to a whopping 10 hours. The OpenRun Pro also has a quick charge option, which provides you 1.5 hours of playback after only five minutes of charging with the included cable.
The OpenRun Pro is available in two sizes: Mini and Standard. The Mini has a shorter band that wraps around your head and bounces less.
However, the major downside my husband and I faced when testing these headphones was that he couldn’t wear them with his bike helmet and I ran into issues wearing them with my sunglasses because the ear hooks didn’t allow me to comfortably get the stems alongside them on my ear.
- Feel very lightweight and flexible
- 10 hour battery life
- Sweat resistant (meaning not for swimming)
My friend Charlie of The Runner Beans wears them all the time and is a big fan because they’re comfortable and she feels stay put well.
And if you find them cheaper than noted above, jump on it!
Best Earbuds for Running: Jaybird Vista 2 Wireless Headphones ($150)
Type: Truly Wireless Earbuds
IP Rating: IP68 certified, designed to handle rain, mud, and outdoor adventures
Battery life: Up to 8 hours, at medium volume
When I was looking to change things up, these were the first ones I considered. They’re designed for us sweaty runners and based on all the feedback I’ve received work incredibly well.
I was nervous about something that didn’t curve over my ear (what I require in wired headphones), but everyone swore they would stay in…and guess what they absolutely do!
I have done a full video review of the Jaybird Vista if you want to see more details.
The one major thing I caution is the orginals block out ALL NOISE. So I wear only 1 on a trail, I keep the volume low on the roads and love them in the gym. I will say however, if I try to use them for phone calls the other person tells me they pick up too much of the noise around me, especially wind.
The ones that I now recommend are the updated Vista 2, thanks to some handy extra features that are perfect for runners!
The design keeps what I liked about the Vista including its fit, size, and ability to be used with just one earbud! On top of that, it adds a number of helpful features, such as a full suite of controls, active noise cancellation (ANC), transparency mode, and microphones that reduce wind noise.
What’s incredible is that not only are the earbuds IP-rated, but so is the charging case at IP54. This means that even the case itself is water-resistant, which is quite rare in headphones in general.
Everything I like about the Vista that I described in the video still holds true. Also, the microphones work well during phone calls, and the sound quality is among the best in the workout category.
What’s more, the Vista 2’s case is a runner’s dream, fitting into the pocket of a running belt. Wing tips keep the earphones in place, and three replaceable eartip sizes ensure a good fit.
- Both models come with charging cases that are small, so you can recharge on the go if needed
- The Vista 2 reports a 24 hour battery life
- Audio quality is great and you can find your preferred levels via the app
Jennifer wears them daily and swears they’re one of the best things she’s done.
Best Headphones for Calls: Apple Airpods Pro (2nd Generation) ($249)
Type: Truly Wireless Earbuds
IP Rating: IPX4 certified, sweat and water-resistant for non-water sports and exercise (but not for rain or swimming)
Battery life: 4.5 hours playback time
Still using the original AirPods for runs? It’s time to upgrade, since the AirPods Pro 2 are so much more comfortable!
The silicone tips differ in that they gently adjust to the ear canal as opposed to forcing it to expand wider to accommodate the hard plastic case. This means that you can wear the earbuds for a lot longer before you have to take them out, so you can wear them all day without any discomfort.
The overall design of Apple’s premium earphones hasn’t changed much in the past three years, but the audio quality has definitely improved. The 2nd generation features considerably deeper bass and cleaner, louder sound because of a redesigned H2 processor and amplifier.
These are excellent for your runs thanks to many minor updates. Transparency mode, in particular, performs far better with less digital crackling caused by wind passing over the microphones that pump in external sounds.
Plus, one of the best new features of the new AirPods is the ability to adjust the volume by swiping up or down on the white stem.
In fact, I’ve now used them enough that I did a full review on Running with Airpods >>
Do AirPods fall out while running?
While I could NEVER get the old wired apple headphones to stay in, I didn’t have any issues keeping my Airpods in my ears. Maybe it’s because there’s no chord swinging and pulling them out, no idea.
I wore them for runs over 2+ hours and they stayed in just fine.
Unfortunately, I noticed with the original Airpods that as the runs got longer they started to hurt a little bit. I think that hard plastic inside the ear as you sweat just starts to cut a little bit.Break free from the cord struggles on your next run with one of these wireless headphones tested and approved by runners! #runchat Click To Tweet
Best Overear Headphones for Working Out: JBL Wireless Headphones ($32)
Type: Neckband Earbuds
IP Rating: IPX5
Battery life: 10 hours of playback time
These are not true wireless earbuds, as a cord connects them behind your neck.
But for many of you that’s preferred to not lose an earbud.
David has stolen these from me and they are now his go-to. This is the downside to having fun gear …you have too much and then someone else uses it and you’re like “hey I want that!”
- 10 hours of playtime
- More secure fit for many with the little hook
- Reflective cable
There is a newer version, but it has a wider strap that sits behind your head, which I’m not a fan of.
So this is basically your cheapest wireless running headphones option. And yes it still technically has a wire, but not connected to anything besides the earphones.
Best Sound Quality Running Headphones – Beats Powerbeats Pro – $199
Type: Truly Wireless Earbuds with Ear Hooks
IP Rating: IPX4 certified, designed to be sweat resistant and light water splashing (but not heavy rain).
Battery life: 9 hours of playback time
A sport earbud that’s focused on both a secure fit and audio quality.
Beats by Dre is well known for their focus on audio, but many of their past ear headphones have been too bulky or just not an ideal fit for athletes.
The big issue is going to be if you like the fit of this style of earbud. After that it’s a great ride.
- 9 hours of battery life
- Ear hooks for more secure fit
- Control all kinds of features of each earbud independently
- A little bulkier and a little pricier than the other earbuds listed above
These are great if you want that a more secure fit and, sound quality really matters to you.
It has an IP rating of IPX4, so while it’s definitely sweat-resistant it’s not meant for heavy rain and definitely not for swimming. Keep this in mind while making the decision of which headphones to get.
Best Cheap Wireless Headphones for Running?
You probably noticed that most of these are $100 or over and honestly that’s why these are in the best category.
As someone who is NOTORIOUSLY bad about spending money and wanting to save, I can just say in this case it’s really worth getting a good pair.
Break the cost down over many years of running, many miles of running and many many hours not spent frustrated at the dead battery, poor fit or poor sound.
Add it to your runner gift list and tell Santa you’ve been extra good.
BUT 100% there are always options!
Running earbuds under $100:
Type: Truly Wireless Earbuds
IP Rating: IP55 certified, designed to be sweat-resistant and rain-proof.
Battery life: Up to 7 hours playback time
If you’re looking for some good true wireless earbuds, but under $100 then these are the ones for you. It’s by a great brand, has noise-canceling and the battery lasts up to 7 hours of playback time.
Type: Truly Wireless Earbuds with Ear Hooks
IP Rating: IPX7
Battery life: Up to 9 hours playback time
If you’re looking for a similar ear hook design as the Powerbeats but can’t justify the price just yet, then these are the ones for you! While the Powerbeats have a superior sound quality and built, these do have a better IP rating. They also feature up to 9 hours of playback time on a single charge!
Are Headphones or Earbuds Better for Running?
Both have benefits, so it depends upon your running style and needs.
Some runners like the wire better because it provides them with insurance that they won’t lose a headphone and because the controls are often on that wired piece making it easier than remembering 1 tap or 2 to make a change with earbuds.
Earbuds are great for eliminating yet another thing hitting you on the neck or bothering you as the miles progress.
One drawback to earbuds that I’ve noticed is if I turn them off for too long during the run then they shut down to conserve battery.
That’s great in theory, but sometimes when I try to reconnect them it’s a fail. They sometimes need to go back in to their case to get them to reset and have both earbuds connect again.
Also, pay attention to ear pain after running. That can be a sign that earbuds are not the best option for you.
Are Wireless Headphones Good for Running?
I’d say they’re the best.
But of course you can run into issues if for some reason it doesn’t want to stay connected via Bluetooth or they run out of battery, not an issue with a traditional cord pair.
Most runners will be surprised to find that plenty of these wireless models are earbuds that don’t fall out while running. It can take some adjustment with the rubber pieces provided and simply getting used to the feel.
Admittedly, at first I just wanted my old school over the ear sport headphones, but after a few runs without that cord slapping around I knew I needed to adjust.
How Do I Use Headphones Safely While Running?
When running outside, it’s important to wear open-ear headphones or those with hear-through transparency technology so you can hear your surroundings.
Awareness is key to safety. With open-ear headphones, you can stay aware of what’s going on around you while still being able to listen to running music or your favorite podcast.
Do Running Headphones Need To Be Waterproof or Sweatproof?
It’s not necessary, but it’s a good idea, even if you don’t think you sweat much. Thankfully, most kinds of headphones designed for exercise are also sweat and water-resistant.
These ratings are called IP ratings. IPX4 is a good choice for active headphones since it can handle splashes from any direction, but anything above IPX2 should be fine since it means your headphones are protected against water dripping at about 3 millimeters per minute.
Check out my section in the article above that goes more in-depth into water and sweat resistance for running headphones and why it’s an important factor to consider when picking the best running headphones for yourself.
Looking for more reviews to find the best things for your run?
Checkout our full page of my must have running gear reviews and guides to save you time searching and money! I share what’s worked for me and fellow runners, along with what wasn’t worth the price tag.
A few common requests:
- Best sports bras
- The Best HR monitors (from watches to straps)
- Best compression running socks
- Best sunglasses for running
Have you tested out any other wireless headphones you loved?
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