Whether you’re a professional sprinter splitting gathering information or an anxious starter taking on your first-ever athletic footwear, your favourite songs can provide the extra inspiration you need to proceed the pain hurdle.
Everyone has their favourite music that can get them inspired, so songs can be the perfect partner whether you’re operating long-distance or working on your dash rate.
Best Fitness Headphones of 2020
The right pair of running headphones can boost your performance and keep your mind busy as you run, whether you like to pound the pavement, run on trails, or hit the treadmill at the gym.
One of the biggest factors to consider when looking for the best running headphones for you is: will they stay in place? That means you’ll need running earphones specially designed for runs and intense workouts, as well as some built to withstand sweat and rain. What’s more, you’ll want the music to sound half-decent too.
We believe that the best running headphones can improve your performance significantly; there’s plenty of research that proves songs can supercharge your runs.
Just mainly because waterproof headphones are best for swimming, so to are the greatest running headsets optimized for the unique challenges of staying secure while you jog and sprint your way to optimal fitness.
Thankfully, there are plenty of great options, many of which don’t require a huge budget either. For our pick of the very best running headphones out there, you’ll find everything you need in the guide below.
1. Beats PowerBeats Pro
Beat’s latest true wireless earbuds, the PowerBeats Pro, are something special – they’re supremely comfortable, sound decent and seem to never, ever fall out, which is why we think they’re the best running headphones of 2020.
They’re ideal for running thanks to their close-fitting ear hooks and IPX4 sweatproof rating, as well as nifty additions like the pressure-reducing micro-laser barometric venting hole, their long battery life, and their superior sound quality.
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.
But take them outside for a jog, and they’ll still do the trick, because of their energetic audio.
2. Sennheiser CX Sport wireless earphones
If the most important aspect of choosing the best running headphones for you is the audio quality, these wireless earbuds from Sennheiser could be a fantastic choice. With a lively, bass-heavy presentation, and a comfortable fit, the Sennheiser CX Sport wireless earphones can really bolster your operating performance through sound quality alone. They don’t come with a heart rate monitor, but the inclusion of ear fins and sporty neon colour scheme makes them ideal for casual workouts. With a battery life of six hours, they’re great for your average working session, or even your daily commute – but marathon runners will want to look elsewhere.
3. AfterShokz Trekz Air headphones
Replacing the AfterShokz Trek Titanium is the newer Air model. These are a touch more expensive, but they’re lighter and we’ve found the sound quality has improved as well.
AfterShokz specializes in making wireless options designed in a way that particularly suits urban runners. Sound is delivered through your cheekbones, thanks to bone-conducting tech which leaves your ears open, free to hear the traffic around you.
You can keep chatting with those around you easily and if you’re in a race you’ll be able to hear the cheering from the sidelines too.
What really sets these running headphones apart is they’re one of the few sets that are ‘race-legal’ in some countries, as they allow you to hear the commands of marshalls and visitors on open-road courses. If you want to run with music in smaller races, these are really your only option.
We found the Air to be more comfortable than previous AfterShokz models so if you don’t mind shelling out a little extra money there will be one of the best for you. Plus they’re sweat-proof, have a good secure fit and they can’t fall out when you’re jogging either as there aren’t any earbuds.
4. Adidas RPT-01 Wireless On-Ear Sport Headphones
If you’re looking for some rugged running headphones, the Adidas RPT-01 could be a good fit – sure, not everyone wants to wear on-ear earphones while working out, but the breathable design of these Adidas cans means you won’t overheat.
The knitted headband and ear cushions can even be removed and washed after particularly sweaty sessions. Plus, with a 40-hour battery life, they’ll last you for multiple marathons.
While the sound quality isn’t the finest we’ve ever heard, the RPT-01s are suitably loud and bassy, which is something you’ll want to push you through that final lap. They’re certainly the best running headsets we’ve tested with this form factor.
5. Jaybird X4 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
Now committed to a yearly refresh of the popular mid-range model, the Jaybird X4 manages 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 with it.
The Jaybird X4s also have the ability to keep the series’ surprisingly good sound. These earphones are certainly fitness first, but that doesn’t mean the other things people look for in a pair of earphones – you know, like music – have fallen by the wayside.
Jaybird’s excellent app also 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 are in the market for a pair of truly wireless earbuds.
6. Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones
If you need your power song to push you through that extra mile, then the Bose SoundSport might give you that more force you’re looking for. With the unmistakable sound signature of the audio heavyweight, these lightweight earbuds feature a comfortable and secure fit thanks to the StayHear+ tips.
For runners with NFC-enabled smartphones and music players, the SoundSport buds can be paired in the blink of an eye. The Bose Connect app also allows songs sharing with more than one pair of earbuds, ideal if you’re out running with a buddy (and we love that they name which device is connected, something that’s great if you’re carrying around a phone, media player and tablet).
For an extra $50 you can pick up the Pulse edition which features a built-in heart rate monitor. Depending on your training method, this could be a worthwhile investment as we’ve found their heart rate monitor to generally be fairly precise from the ears with these.
7. JBL Under Armour True Wireless Flash Earbuds
The Under Armour True Wireless Flash earbuds 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 really make your purchase last throughout the week.
There’s 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 remaining earbud twice) recreates outside noise using external microphones.
UA has gone for stamina rather than convenience, though, and the charging case can feel like a bit of a brick to carry around – especially during exercise. 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. But for the sporty among you, the pros should certainly outweigh the cons.
8. Jabra Elite Sport True Wireless Earbuds
There’s wireless, and then there’s true wifi, and the top-end Jabra Elite Sport are the latter. Beyond the cordless design, the headline feature is the Hear Through tech that allows you to control the way the buds let in or filter out ambient noise – with just a quick button press. 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 furthermore 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. These are expensive buds, but the amount they can do is incredible – for many, they’ll be your go-to choice for your new running headphones.
9. Beats PowerBeats 3
The PowerBeats 3 running headphones are yet another pair of Beats headphones that aim to keep your tunes pumping while you keep your legs pumping. They may come with the high price that is a signature of the Beats and Apple brands, but they offer a lot for runners, and especially for Apple users.
With a 12-hour battery life and a quick charge function that can add an hour of battery life in a few minutes, the PowerBeats 3 should rarely run out of juice in the middle of anything short of an insane ultra-marathon. They’re also ready for all the sweat from your brow, and can even handle a run in the rain.
While they may not top some of the other wireless headphones on this list for features, the PowerBeats 3 earphones will truly shine for major Apple lovers. They feature Apple’s W1 chip, which makes the Bluetooth pairing process with multiple iCloud-linked devices incredibly easy in addition to boosting wireless range.
The Beats Powerbeats 4 could be coming soon, too – and they could make perfect running headphones. After some digging around in iOS 13, a new icon for the upcoming buds was discovered, which shows they’ll sport the same workout-friendly design as the true wireless Powerbeats Pro.
10. Jaybird Vista True Wireless Earbuds
The Jaybird Vista earbuds are the latest true wireless headphones from Jaybird, an audio brand focused on making products for real and budding athletes – or those of us who just want the best fitness gadgets out there.
They’re truly astonishing in what they achieve. Despite being fitness-first headphones, they still manage to offer incredible audio alongside water and sweat resistance like the best of them.
They’re certainly at the premium end of the market. But the combination of stark colouring, compact and lightweight design, and premium sound makes them a no-brainer for your next true wireless earbuds – whether you’re training for a marathon or just walking briskly to the office.
11. Jabra Elite 75t
The Jabra Elite 75t improves upon its predecessor (the 65t) in just about every way, except tonal balance.
The 75t offer much-improved battery life, a much smaller charging case, and more comfortable fit but their bass is overwhelming… and not in a good way. While the EQ in Jabra’s app fixes that, the EQ settings won’t be saved if you’re using them with a computer, making them compromised for any device that doesn’t support Jabra’s app.
Having said that, they’re a great pair of wireless buds. Although they may not be designed specifically for running, they’re a good workout option because they offer 7 hours of battery life, a compact design and a comfy fit.
12. JBL Reflect Flow
JBL is a heavy hitter when it comes to sports earphones and the JBL Reflect Flow is a hotly anticipated entrant to the flourishing, albeit rather niche, true-wireless-for-sports market.
In their niche category, though, the JBL Reflect Flow headphones impressive performers for the money, especially if you want a bass-heavy sound for the gym without resorting to a pair of over-ear headphones – and the 10-hour battery (or 30 with the case) will outlast a seriously long gym session. There are better wireless earbuds for pure sonic performance but if you want a sporty option, these might just be the best bet.
13. Sony WF-1000XM3
The best true wireless earbuds just got better! The latest version of Sony’s earbuds, the Sony WF-1000XM3 offer an all-new Bluetooth chip which sharpens up music synchronization and a noise-cancelling processor which claims to bring a 40 per cent upgrade on its predecessor. Everywhere else, pretty much everything has improved, from the fit to the battery life, to the sound quality. A five-star all-round option and a decent bet for the gym, too.
14. Bowers & Wilkins PI3
Bowers & Wilkins has successfully made a smooth move into the headphone market, building on its almost unrivalled reputation when it comes to making speakers. In-ears of this design, which makes us think of sport and the gym, haven’t necessarily been on the hit list, however – fear not, B&W has knocked it out of the park with these wireless in-ears too.
The PI3 earphones are a dual driver design, complete with a flexible neckband. We would prefer a few more ear tips to get the optimum fit, so it might be one to try before you buy. They deliver a decent battery life and though they aren’t technically waterproof, B&W claims they are “resistant to light rain, splash and sweat”.
Happily, they deliver a clear, controlled, punchy and well-balanced sound. From rock to pop to hip-hop, the B&W PI3 earphones deliver a confident, entertaining sound. Another fine option from B&W.
15. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1
If top value sound quality from true wireless earbuds is what you’re after for a pair of gym headphones, Cambridge Audio has answered your prayers. For an affordable price, the Melomania 1 earphones deliver an open, detailed sound that’s hard to beat without spending more money.
A good fit is essential, and, due to the length of the earpiece itself, that might not be as easy to come by for everybody, but their sonic talent is such that it’s worth the effort and potential purchase of extra buds.
With nine hours battery life from the buds themselves, plus four additional charges from the case, that means an impressive 45 hours of continuous use from this little set-up. There’s no noise cancelling, but it is clear Cambridge Audio’s focus has been on great sound over bonus features.
16. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 are arguably the most refined-sounding wireless earbuds that we’ve heard. The earpieces are slim and comfortable, while, unlike the 1st Gen pair, they now sport noise-cancelling. And it works extremely well. They’re nice to use too, with touch-sensitive pads on each earpiece which can be customised to control music playback and features.
Battery life is competitive, with a single charge giving seven hours of playback and the charging case providing an additional three charges, bringing the total battery life up to a solid 28 hrs.
Sonically, highs and lows are composed and controlled, while still delivering impressive dynamics. The Sennheisers present a detailed soundstage with impressive scale and authority. They’re a little pricier than other wireless earbuds, but if your budget can stretch, your ears will be rewarded, and your workout will fly by.
17. Apple AirPods Pro
The AirPods Pros can’t quite match the best-in-class noise-cancelling true wireless headphones for sound quality, but the user experience and unprecedented levels of comfort still make them a very strong new option in the category.
And by combining that excellent noise-cancelling with a transparency mode that feels almost as natural as wearing non-isolating earphones, Apple has created a pair of headphones that’s as well suited to a long-haul flight as it is to a run around the block. For many, they could be the only pair of headphones they ever need.
18. Bose SoundSport Free
Built with sporty types in mind, the SoundSport Free in-ears are both sweat- and water-resistant, and have a suitably rugged feel to them. They stick out a bit more than some rival wireless earbuds, and you could argue that some of the competition look both more stylish and more discreet. But it’s more than made up for it by the performance. After some initial connection issues, Bose seems to have sorted this with an update – and we never had a problem with the sound quality. There’s no noise-cancelling but there is a bold but balanced sound with plenty of bass. Good battery life, buoyed by a charging case, are the icing on the cake.
19. Jaybird Vista
The Jaybird Vista are true wireless earbuds aimed at athletes. They’re the company’s second shot at truly wireless in-ears and the latest in a fairly long line of sports headphones from Jaybird. And it shows, with a comfortable, secure fit and an accompanying set-up app that’s a joy to use. And they sound good, too, with only the best wireless earbuds offering a slither more detail and composure. They’re sweat-proof, comfortable, secure and come with a range of features, ensuring they’re a good bet for any budding runner.
20. Anker Soundcore Spirit X2
The Anker SoundCore Spirit X are good sports headphones, versatile enough for most use cases. They have an above-average build quality that feels a lot more high-end than their price would suggest. They also have a decent sound with a lot of bass, a comfortable and stable in-ear fit for the gym, and a better control scheme than the similarly designed Anker Soundbuds Curve. Unfortunately, like the Curve, they won’t be the best choice for loud, noisy environments, watching movies or gaming. Good headphones for sports and fitness use. The Anker Spirit X have an ear-hook design that is great for sports. Even during intense movements, they shouldn’t fall off, but the seal isn’t perfect so the sound changes a bit as they move, which isn’t ideal for jogging. They are comfortable for longer workouts, and they breathe well. They’re very compact headphones that are easy to carry around, but they are a bit larger than true in-ear due to the ear-hooks. They produce a decent audio that’s better suited for bass-heavy genres.
21. Jaybird X2 Wireless Headphones Review
The Jaybird X2 are great sports headphones and a good choice for most use cases. They have a stable wireless design. a decent sound that unfortunately isn’t as customizable as the Jaybird X3 but should still be good enough for some and they barely leak. They also block ambient noise better than some sound-cancelling models which makes them a good option in quiet and loud environments. However, the in-ear fit may not be as comfortable for everyone.
The Jaybird X2 are good headphones for sports. They will have a well-balanced in-ear match. They’re also wireless and sufficiently compact to carry around on your person everywhere you go. Also, their passive isolation is more than enough for the ambient noise of a gym but might be a bit too closed for runners and bikers that have to monitor their environment for cars and traffic.
22. Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless Headphones Review
The Echo Buds are decent truly wireless in-ear headphones. Their sound profile is fairly well-balanced and should be suitable for most genres of music. They’re one of the cheapest pairs of truly wireless in-ears with active noise cancellation (ANC) that are available, and do a very good job at blocking out engine rumbles and background chatter, though most of this is done passively and the ANC only helps marginally. Their case is a bit on the bulkier side, but it provides a total of 32 hours of battery life, which is excellent. The Echo Buds are great for sports. Even without their included stability fins attached, they stay in the ear well. When you attach the stability fins, however, they’re even more stable and really should stay static in your hearing even during fairly strenuous workouts. The earbuds themselves are quite small and portable, and even though their case is a bit bulky, they should still fit in almost all pockets or bags. The headphones are also rated IPX4 for water resistance, though we don’t currently test for this.
23. Jaybird Tarah Wireless Headphones Review
The Jaybird Tarah are great wireless sports in-ears that are versatile enough for everyday casual use. They are very similar to the Jaybird X4 but are slightly cheaper. They isolate a decent amount of noise and have a similar sound signature to the X4, with a bit less bass. They’re comfortable and stable for most sports and this time, Jaybird decided to make the tips and the fins into one piece (called ear-gels) instead of two different units, which is disappointing since you get fewer options to find a good fit. On the upside, the Tarah is also compatible with the MySound app for audio customization. Great sports headphones. They are very steady, and you shouldn’t have any problem while training with them and they won’t make you sweat more thanks to the in-ear design. The controls scheme didn’t change much from the previous X4 model, so it is still easy to use. Their wireless style also reduces the risk of getting a wire stuck or hooked on something, pulling the headphones out of your ears. Unfortunately, they only come with 3 ear-gels options for you to find a perfect match, which is not as versatile for all users as some other Jaybird models.
24. JBL Endurance Sprint
The JBL Endurance Sprint are good sports headphones, decent enough for most use cases. They have a unique and sporty design that feels decently well-built and compact enough to carry around on your person. They also have a stable in-ear fit that blocks a lot of noise, making them suitable for running and working out as well as commute and travel. Unfortunately, they aren’t the most comfortable headphones for long listening sessions, and their control scheme isn’t as precise. They’re also slightly lacking inactive features, but on the upside, they sound balanced enough for some genres. The Stamina Sprint have a well balanced ear-hook style that will prevent the headphones from falling off your ears no matter the physical activity. There is also good battery life and provide all the essential functions with their touch-sensitive handle scheme. Regrettably, their control scheme is not as precise and they do not come with foam tips for better comfort.
25. JBL Endurance Dive Wireless
The JBL Endurance Dive are good sports headphones that have acceptable sound quality. These headphones are advertised to be waterproof enough for swimming thanks to the IPX7 rating. They also have 1GB of internal storage, which is useful for swimmers since Bluetooth won’t work well in the water, or for working out without your phone. They are quite versatile for other everyday uses such as commuting since their fit blocks out a good amount of ambient noise. Unfortunately, their design is a bit bulky and their battery life is worse than the similar, and better-sounding. These headphones’ match creates an air-tight seal that blocks a good quantity of ambient sound, including the deep rumbles of a bud or plane engine. This means they’ll suitable for public transit, and since they practically don’t leak, you’ll be able to drown even more noise by raising your volume without disturbing people around you. Also, their battery life is long plenty of for your daily commute, but might not be enough for very long trips. If you can’t find a good suit, these in-ears won’t be comfortable to wear for a long period of time as well.