Remember when the techiest running headphones out there looked like two gumdrops attached by a thin, candy-colored wire? Yeah, well, those times are long over. Today, the limit of pods, phones, and buds does not exist. So we went on an internet-wide journey to find the wireless headphones for running that are really, truly a musical investment in your mileage.
If you find yourself raring to replace your current, grimy pair with some of the h-o-t ear technology out today, there a few things you’ll definitely want to consider before you pull out your wallet.
1. Consider how much you’re willing to spend. This one may seem basic, but wireless headphones are often expensive, ranging in price from $50 to upwards of $200. So, ask yourself, how much am I willing to drop on auditory pleasure?
2. Think about the earbud size you need. Most headphone sets come with different sized tips nowadays to accommodate people of all ear shapes. That’s not always the case, however, so make sure your chosen pair will actually get along with your ear canal.
3. Research the warranties on headphones. Like I said, good running gear isn’t cheap and warranties are the way to go. A nice insurance policy gives you the opportunity to test drive the sound and feel of the buds before committing to them for 5Ks, 10Ks, and marathons. So, if you don’t see a warranty on a pair you’re considering purchasing, proceed with caution.
4. Choose a pair that consider your safety. I love listening to loud (and, by this I mean eardrum-damaging) music, but my preferences isn’t “safe” per se. On the road and in nature, it’s useful to have headphones that give you a sense of the environment around you rather than canceling all noise. And thus, “sound quality” in this case really comes down to how aware you feel of your surroundings while still enjoying your playlist.
5. Ask yourself: What battery life matches my go-to distance? It’s a massive bummer when your running headphones die in the middle of a run or race, so ultra-marathoners and other long-distance folks might consider bumping battery life to the very top of their priority list. No silly charging limitations should get in the way of you listening to “Good As Hell” when you hit a runner’s wall. If you’re someone who just loves a good 5K (same), battery life doesn’t need to be your top priority.
Once you’ve ruminated on all the things you need from your headphones (and maybe consulted a Shaman, too, idk), you’re ready to get down to shopping. Below, you’ll find all the deets on the best eight wireless headphones for running.
The 8 best wireless headphones for running, ranked
With a 40-hour battery life, these headphones will let you get a whole lot of mileage out of very little dollars. Their price point makes them a pretty good buy, but reviewers do note that the buttons on the pods are pretty difficult to press and there’s “zero bass.” So if you’re looking for an affordable, workhorse pair, these are for you; if you want something with a little bit more finesse, keep moving.
Bump the price point up $40 and you’ll land on JBL. The 179 reviewers on JBL’s site praise these headphones for delivering great sound in any weather. “These babies withstood miles after mile in multiple rainstorms. The best thing is the sound quality has stayed consistent after each shower. Although you may have to sacrifice some sleekness and style, the headphones make up for it in durability and sound,” says one reviewer. As long as you’re not going for a #fashion vibe while running, these buds will do you good. You’ll get about four hours of battery life from each charge.
ICYMI, the Rock designed a pretty killer pair of headphones last year, and they are made for the sweatiest among us. This design comes with a ton of customizable tips in case your ears aren’t as swole as his. And, meanwhile, the quote “bionic hearing” will help you keep track of your surroundings for up to five hours. “These also passed a running, jumping, and cartwheel rest, writes one reviewer. “They are the most secure fitting earbud I have ever owned.” No stunt is off-limits.
You’ll get five hours of charging with these running headphones, plus the ten extra hours packed into the case. Unsurprisingly for a company like Bose, users can’t rave enough about the sound quality and comfort. “Perfect for those who are athletically active with sound that’s delivered crisp and clear, pleasing bass fans such as myself,” writes one Amazon reviewer. “These are not noise-canceling, but if you’re someone for example who jogs where cars are, these block out enough sound, but let in enough noise to keep you cognizant of your surroundings.” The rest of the reviewers concede that the sound is basically as crisp as it gets, but a few people complain about the bulkiness of the buds. So if you’re someone with smaller ears, consider that before you buy.
3. JABRA ELITE ACTIVE 75T EARBUDS, $200
This pair gets about 7.5 hours of battery life, making it a frontrunner for anyone who plans on spending the majority of their day training. “HearThrough” technology brings you that ambience-aware sound quality, and reviewers rave that the bass is (as the kids say) “sick.” One reviewer says the pair is among the best they’ve owned thanks to portability, battery life, and water resistance.
3. GOOGLE PIXEL BUDS, $179
Google just joined the headphone race with its version of the AirPods, which will cost you $75 less. These buds snuggle into your ears for sound quality that’s getting rave reviews—even though they don’t share the seamless noise cancellation of the AirPods. They do pair more seamlessly with Androids, though, so this bud is a good choice for anyone who wants Google Assistant to be their running partner over the long, long miles.
2. APPLE AIRPODS PRO, $250
While not a “running” headphone per se, the Apple Airpods Pro have undeniably earned a spot on this list. The new design affords people of all ear shapes a comfy yet snug fit. The sound also toggles between normal, noise cancelation, and transparency so that your treadmill workouts can be strict music, while you can easily scope out your surroundings on your outdoor runs. Even though the Pros come at a higher price point, they’re good enough to wear even when you’re not running—so you don’t have to play musical chairs with your headphones.
1. JAYBIRD VISTA, $180
Jaybirds are known for being weatherproof, through and through. They’re also dust-proof, waterproof, and shock-proof for those of you who like your runs on the wilder side of things. Really, though, Jaybird’s earn their number one spot, thanks to the whopping 16 hours of battery life. You can wear them during your warm up, your run, and all day afterward without any trouble. And if you don’t believe me, just read the 266 five star reviews on the company’s website. One succinctly writes, “It’s good quality, period.” So that’s that.
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