Entertainment Best running headphones 2022: top running earbuds and more
Best running headphones 2022: top running earbuds and more
The best running headphones need to check off certain boxes to make it onto the trail or treadmill. To start, they need stellar audio quality. They also need to be secure so you don’t lose them or have to keep adjusting them when you should be focusing on making it through that last stretch. And, since you’re serious about getting a proper workout in, they need to have enough water resistance to handle your sweat.
You don’t want to be distracted by terrible sounding music when you’re a mile into a marathon-length trail. At the same time, you should still have the ability to accept or reject important calls and control your music without having to mess with your phone (or LTE-enabled smartwatch).
Since there are so many options available, picking running headphones that work for you is easy. However, it does require some research. To help you narrow down all those options, we’ve applied our expertise and gathered the best of the best here. Since we’ve tested and reviewed so many headphones and earbuds for running, you can trust us to point you to ones that can handle a long run and then some.
You’ll also find all sorts of headphone form factors since one size really doesn’t fit all when it comes to audio solutions. From over-ear headphones to true wireless earbuds and bone conduction headphones, we’ve got you covered. We’ve also linked to our in-depth reviews so that you can dig a little deeper on the models that interest you most.
Once you’ve picked out the pair that looks best to you, take advantage of our price comparison tool for the best headphone deals. Here are the best running headphones you can buy right now.
The best running headphones 2022
Shokz (formerly known as AfterShokz) is the biggest name in bone conduction headphones, and the OpenRun Pro are its best set to date. Released in early 2021, they feature new bass transducers, which deliver rich, rounded sound. You no longer have to choose either an open-ear design or high-quality audio; the OpenRun Pro give you both.
The overall design is very similar to the original OpenRun (originally called the Aeropex), with a light, springy titanium band that holds the headphones’ earpieces securely yet gently in place. They remain firmly in position in all conditions, and never pinch or rub. There are a couple of small differences, though; Shokz has moved the charging port so it’s now easier to access, and the volume buttons are now slightly larger, making them easier to press while you’re wearing them.
The extra bass sometimes results in a slightly tickling sensation if you’re enjoying some particularly heavy tunes, but in our tests, it was never enough to become annoying. These are the best bone conduction headphones around, and for us, the best running headphones as well.
Read our full Shokz OpenRun Pro review
Now committed to a yearly refresh of the popular mid-range model, the Jaybird X4 manage to outdo both the previous Jaybird X2 and Jaybird X3 wireless Bluetooth earphones, with an upgraded IPX7 water-resistance rating. Whether you’re sweating buckets or running doggedly through the rain, the X4 will be able to cope.
The Jaybird X4 running headphones also sounded surprisingly good during our tests, comparable to many higher-priced earbuds. Jaybird’s excellent app provides easy EQ customization as well as the ability to make your own sound profile, with various ear tip sizes to boot. A great all round choice for runner who don’t want to skimp on sound – or be wary of the weather.
Alternatively, if you’re after an even more premium experience, the Jaybird Tarah Pro earbuds offer higher-quality audio and materials for a somewhat higher $159 £139 / AU$229 price tag. Although we’re still big fans of the Jaybird X4 headphones, take a look at the Jaybird Vista true headphones further down the list – they’re our top pick if you’re in the market for a pair of true wireless earbuds.
Read our full Jaybird X4 review
The latest true wireless earbuds from Beats, the PowerBeats Pro, are supremely comfortable, sound decent and (at least during our testing) never, ever fall out. And, it will keep you entertained for even the longest training runs thanks to their nine-hour battery life.
These running earbuds stay in place, thanks to their close-fitting ear hooks. Of course, their IPX4 sweatproof rating, as well as nifty additions like the pressure-reducing micro-laser barometric venting hole, long battery life, and their superior sound quality, make them a compelling contender.
Where we found the Powerbeats Pro to perform their best is in near-quiet environments, like your office, your home or your gym. Because you can use hands-free Siri, they’re great for setting timers in between sets and placing calls to friends and clients. Take them outside for a run and these Beats headphones still do the trick thanks to their energetic sound.
Read our full Beats PowerBeats Pro review
If you need your headphones to sound fantastic during runs, then these wireless earbuds from Sennheiser might be the best running headphones for you. They boast a lively, bass-heavy presentation, and a comfortable fit. If you’re powered by energetic, bassy music then the Sennheiser CX Sport wireless earphones can really bolster your running performance through sound quality alone.
They don’t come with a heart rate monitor, but the inclusion of ear fins makes sure they stay firmly in place during our tests, and they’re sporting a flashy neon color scheme means they look good and stand out – you’re unlikely to ever lose these. With a battery life of six hours, they’re great for your average running session or even your daily commute – but marathon runners will want to look elsewhere.
Read our full Sennheiser CX Sport review
With the Amazfit Powerbuds Pro, you won’t need separate pairs of headphones for working and running – they’ll serve you equally well at your desk, or pounding the streets. Sound is bass-heavy, which we prefer while working out, and the active noise cancellation effectively masks office sounds when you need to concentrate.
The Powerbuds Pro also monitor your heart rate while you exercise, and sync this data with the Zepp Health app on your phone. Data from any other Amazfit fitness trackers and smart scales will be collected in the same place, so you can easily track trends.
When you’re at work, the Powerbuds Pro can also check the position of your head in relation to your spine to determine whether you’re slouching and putting yourself at risk of back and neck problems further down the road. They’re not quite perfect (heart rate measurements were consistently higher than those measured by our chest strap monitor, and there are no ear hooks to hold them securely as there were with the original Powerbuds), but they’re an excellent choice if you just want one pair of earphones for all purposes.
Read our full Amazfit Powerbuds Pro review
The Under Armour True Wireless Flash running headphones are a solid entry into the true wireless market, with strong audio, ergonomic design, and a hefty battery life (25 hours, including the case’s four extra charges) to last throughout the week. There are also two smart noise technologies that help these earbuds stand out. Tapping the left earbud once will activate Talk-Thru, which quietens audio for momentary conversation or when you need to be on alert, while Ambient Aware (tap the left earbud twice) recreates outside noise using external microphones.
UA has gone for stamina rather than convenience with these running headphones though. We felt that the charging case can feel bulky to carry around during testing, especially in the middle of our workouts. You also won’t get any speed charging features here, meaning you shouldn’t wait until five minutes before a workout to plug the case into the wall.
Read our full Under Armour True Wireless Flash review
There’s wireless, and then there’s true wireless, and the top-end Jabra Elite Sport are the latter. Beyond the cordless design, the headline feature of these running headphones is the Hear Through tech, which allows you to control the way the buds let in or filter out ambient noise – with just a quick button press. This is great for staying alert if you run outdoors.
The on-the-go charging case provides 13.5 hours of battery life in total, but with just 4.5 hours available from a single charge, slower marathon runners will probably want to jog on – although for 99% of your training, this won’t be an issue. Although not marketed for swimming, they’re also IP67 certified water resistant. The companion app also utilizes the built-in heart rate monitor to enhance your workouts, along with the internal accelerometer to monitor your reps of squats, lunges and the like. We found them to be a touch too expensive and thought that the heart rate monitor could be more accurate, but the sheer volume of training options more than makes up for them.
Read our full Jabra Elite Sport review
If you don’t want to spend big on the company’s OpenRun running headphones, the Shokz Trekz Air offer many of the same features and overall audio quality for significantly less money. Although not as compact or light in terms of their design, the Trekz Air do come with an IP55 rating, making them fit for sweaty workouts. Adopting the signature wraparound titanium frame, their 30g weight is distributed well to ensure they’re comfortable to wear and stay in place.
Pairing with devices over Bluetooth, these running headphones feature controls to adjust volume and a mute button to make it quick and easy to cut music in busy environments or if you need to have a conversation. Sound quality was, during testing, as good as you’ll find on bone conduction headphones. However, in busier environments, we found that they struggled little to be heard. At full volume, you might experience some of the tickling sensation familiar with bone conduction, so these are best used at moderate volumes. Offering six hours of battery life, the Trekz Air also come with a quick-charge feature that will get you an hour of listening time in just 15 minutes of charging.
Read our full Shokz Trekz Air review
The Mu6 Ring headset leaves your ear canals free so you can hear the world around you, but unlike the Aftershokz running headphones we’ve tested, it doesn’t use bone conduction. Instead, it simply positions a small speaker in front of each ear, which means you don’t get the annoying tickling sensation of something vibrating against your cheekbone, but there’s also a lot more sound leakage.
The headset is lightweight and comfortable though, and didn’t budge no matter how hard we worked during our training sessions. It works well for listening to music and taking calls at your desk as well, and never starts to rub or bite. It keeps running for around eight hours on a single charge, so can keep you entertained for an entire day of Zoom meetings. It’s good value too, costing considerably less than similar style bone conduction headsets. If you can live with the sound leakage, then it’s well worth considering.
Read our full Mu6 Ring review
How to choose the best running headphones for you
Battery life, awareness, and on-ear controls are three key factors in choosing the best running headphones for you. Battery needs to see you through at least one run before you need to recharge – ideally a few – which means those used to shorter runs should be looking for headphones capable of going five hours or more on a single charge. Those who can spend all morning running need to find headphones capable of 10 hours or more.
Do you run on the road, in the park or on a treadmill? If you run outside, you might want to consider bone conduction headphones which don’t sit inside your ear canal. The sound quality isn’t as good, but you can hear potential hazards around you.
A number of running headphones have on-ear controls. Whether you need these or not is down to personal preference, but they’re important if you don’t like getting your phone out to skip tracks or change settings.
Of course comfort and fit is hugely important too. But, you can assume all of the picks on this list will stay in place – even if we do think some are more comfortable and secure than others.
How we test running headphones
We’ve reviewed all the headphones in the guide above to test the sound, fit, specifications, value and design, running with each pair to test their limitations. When testing the best running headphones, sound quality and a secure, comfortable fit are our priorities.
We look at bone conduction headphones, in-ear buds and cans, rating each one for audio experience and fit. If they’re falling out of our ears on a regular basis during our runs, they’re not making the cut.
However, other factors we look for include value for money, helping us pick budget alongside premium headphones, and safety. Be it via a transparency mode, an innovative design, or bone conduction tech to leave your ears exposed, when on a run it’s useful to be aware of your surroundings.
What type of headphones are best for running?
If you’re running somewhere busy, bone conduction headphones that leave your ear canals open will make sure you can hear pedestrians and traffic around you, whereas earbuds with soft silicone ‘fins’ will block out more sound while remaining firmly in place while you run.
Do headphones fall off when running?
Yes, many on-ear headphones will fall off, so you’ll need a pair that are specially designed for sport. When jogging with headphones, they should be sweat-proof so they don’t become slippery, with a springy headband to hold them in place. Alternatively, check out a pair of specially designed running earbuds or a bone conduction headset.