No matter how much you love it, running is exhausting which is why we compiled this list of the best running earbuds. Instead of wasting precious daylight by clicking around for the best wireless earbuds for running, you can eyeball your way through the pros and cons and choose what’s best for your needs. Now, lace up those shoes, slather on that deodorant, and get running.
Editor’s note: this list was updated on February 19, 2019, to include information regarding true wireless connectivity, in-ear fit, and new notable mentions.
The best running earbuds are the Bose SoundSport Free
The Bose SoundSport Free true wireless made controversial waves when first unveiled for its bulky build and seemingly dubious fit. However, upon testing, we found that the StayHear+ ear tips perform adequately when running and weight-lifting. Unfortunately, these earbuds don’t include an official IP rating, but they are sweat-resistant due to a water-repellent mesh embedded in the ports.
Bose SoundSport FreeFull Review
Again, these are effective headphones for running, because they actually stay in despitetheir size. And the integrated playback and volume controls are easy to operate blindly due to the button separation. Battery life is better than average and clocks in at 4.58 hours on a single charge, and the charging case provides an added 10 hours of playback time. What’s’ more connectivity stutters rarely occur and if you lose the earbuds, you can use the Bose app to locate them.
For runners who want the flexibility to comfortably use their earbuds in gym and on the trail, the SoundSport Free is a great pick with a surprisingly bass-heavy sound.
What you should know about the best running earbuds
Running earbuds are subjected to a lot more abuse than our beloved desktop setups, so you’re going to need a pair of ‘buds that can withstand a bit of roughhousing. If you have time, make sure to read our in-depth feature on what make good running headphones and earbuds.
|IPX1||✓||Dripping water (1 mm/min)
Limit: vertical drips only
|IPX2||✓||Dripping water (3 mm/min)
Limit: Device max tilt of 15° from drips
Limit: Device max tilt of 60° from sprays
|IPX5||✓||Water jets (12.5 L/min)
Example: Squirt guns
|IPX6||✓||Strong water jets (100 L/min)
Example: Powerful water guns
Limit: 1 m. for 30 min
Limit: 3 m. for 30 min
- Proper fit is particularly important with running earbuds. You could have the best earbuds in the world, but if they don’t stay in your ears, they’re worthless. If the provided ear tips aren’t working, look into third-party options.
- IP ratings indicate how water-resistant a product is, and the “X” in something like IPX4 is just a placeholder for a dust protection rating.
- Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is caused by repeated exposure to loud noises over a prolonged period of time. In the world of headphones, it’s often self-inflicted and while it’s enticing to pump up the volume to get in the zone, it’s not worth the damage.
- There are only two true wireless picks, it’s worth noting that true wireless connectivity still isn’t up to snuff compared to traditional wireless options. Although Qualcomm’s True Wireless Stereo Plus technology has been available for a year now, it’s expense has severely limited its implementation.
Adjust the sound with the Jaybird X4
As with the Jaybird X3, the newest model allows listeners to make EQ adjustments via the free app. One of the coolest aspects of this app is that it allows you to save a sound profile directly to the earbuds, so you don’t have to re-create your preferred settings when switching devices. This is great for going from listening on your laptop to listening from your phone while running.
Jaybird X4Full Review
Generally speaking, the Jaybird X4 retain many of our favorite features from the X3 but include one important feature: IPX7 certification. Prior to this model, the X-line only included a sweat-resistant nano-coating. While this is still likely good enough for most of us, the Jaybird X4 can now be fully submerged up to a meter for 30 minutes. Another feature that Adam thoroughly enjoyed is the updated cable cinching mechanism, which keeps the ‘buds stable while running.
Although things can get uncomfortable after prolonged periods of wear, the Jaybird X4 earbuds offer a stable fit with the pre-installed silicone ear tips. And if you want to use them on your morning commute, the included memory foam ear tips improve isolation.
Cut the cord with the versatile Jabra Elite 65t
If you like the Bose SoundSport Free but need something a bit slimmer and with better battery life, the Jabra Elite 65t is an appropriate option. These IP55-rated earbuds are dust and sweat-resistant and include one-touch access to your virtual assistant. So if you’re running outside and need to know when the sun sets, just ask Siri.
Jabra Elite 65tFull Review
What’s more, the Elite 65t has excellent battery life. Our objective battery testing yielded 5.85 hours of constant playback at 75dB(SPL). On top of that, the charging case adds two full charging cycles before needing to be topped up. Unfortunately, the product’s main downfall is its sound quality. The drivers can’t produce that bump that we’re used to hearing in the low-end, but this is also what makes the Jabra Elite 65t so versatile. Sure, they’re lacking in the bass department, but that makes the earbuds better for everyday listening.
With the Jabra Elite 65t you can use the Jabra Sound+ app to EQ your music like the Jaybird X4. One of the most important features for outdoor runners is the ability to adjust how much environmental noise can permeate the earbuds. This allows you to be aware of your surroundings while jogging, making the Jabra Elite 65t one of the best running earbuds. Plus, you can choose your voice assistant and alter how much ambient noise can permeate the earbuds.
The Creative Outlier One costs just $29
These are the best bang for your buck when it comes to running headphones. For less than $30, you get IPX4 earbuds, plenty of wing and ear tips, and 9.4 hours of constant playback according to our objective testing. On top of all of that, these earbuds feel more premium than their price lets on. Unfortunately, the in-line mic leaves a lot to be desired, but who’s going to take a phone call while running anyway?
Creative Outlier OneFull Review
While Adam had these for our in-depth review, he noted how impressed he was with the isolation. This is great for blocking out the pounding of your feet on the treadmill, but again, if you’re going to be outside, listen with caution and scroll down to our final pick.
If you frequently skip songs mid-run, then you may want to get something with a slimmer in-line control module. This one is unusually bulky and cheapens the feel of the model’s build. That said, considering how affordable the Creative Outlier One is, it’s easy to forgive.
Put safety first with the Under Armour Sport Wireless Flex by JBL
What happens when a world renown audio brand and a world renown athletic wear brand team up? We get the Sport Flex Wireless. These sports neckband earbuds include a one-year premium membership to Map My Run, demonstrating that these were made with runners in mind. If you’re an outdoor athlete in need of running earbuds, you can’t go wrong with these as they feature an LED that spans the entire neckband. This combined with the reflective coating is sure to keep passersby aware of your presence.
Under Armour Sport Wireless Flex by JBLFull Review
When you open the Under Armour Sport Wireless Flex by JBL, you’ll notice the wide array of ear and wing tips the companies provide you. This helps in finding the proper fit, but the build of neckband running earbuds isn’t for everyone. If you’re like me, you may find the bouncing neckband too annoying to comfortably run with. Granted, we runners find it comfortable enough to warrant the style.
These earbuds feature a sweat-resistant nano-coating which, while not as effective as a full-blown IP rating, does the trick. And if you’re taking a break to chat up another runner at a stoplight, you can keep the earbuds together via the magnetic housings so they don’t swing around.
Who should buy the best running earbuds?
Well, if the title of this list weren’t enough of a dead-giveaway, these earbuds are for runners. Whether you’re an ultramarathoner or a couch-to-5K runner, there’s a pick on here for you. But, if you aren’t a runner, stick around a while. Our top five picks are versatile and many use them for daily listening too. Plus, the water-resistance and IP-certifications make these earbuds impervious to splashes and spills.
- Optoma NuForce Be Sport4: These IPX5-rated earbuds provide aptX and AAC support, so you can handle playback controls without latency issues.
- BeatsX: These earbuds are sleek and work seamlessly with iPhones. We even have a full comparison of the Apple AirPods, BeatsX, and Beats by Dre Power Beats .
- Fitbit Flyer: If you’re already using a Fitbit, you might as well grab a pair of headphones that are compatible with it.
- Jabra Elite Sport Wireless: These are the predecessor to the Jabra Elite 65t, the best true wireless earbuds, so you know that the Sport Wireless is good.
- JLab Epic Sport Wireless: These earbuds are competitively priced, but aren’t our top pick for the best running headphones because of the dubious fit.
- JLab Epic Air Elite: If you want an earhook design with touch capacitive controls, the JLab Epic Air Elite is a relatively affordable choice. Its dual-purpose charging case can top up your smartphone in a pinch, too.
Related: Best true wireless earbuds
How we tested the best running earbuds
We take a dummy head with a mic inserted between the ears to test things like frequency response, isolation, and battery life. If you have the desire and time, you can read all about our testing methodology here. True, our testing is kept simple, but we focus on the key areas of concern for wireless earbud users. Additionally, bear in mind that battery life will fluctuate depending on the volume levels you’re listening at. And, as always, if you need to improve isolation you should invest in third-party ear tips.
Of course, they were also used outside of a lab environment for actual running. I’ve logged miles upon miles in the name of headphone testing for SoundGuys, and each pair of running earbuds listed is durable enough to withstand my obscene perspiration habits. Well, that, and they’re all equipped with a sweat-resistant nano-coating or received an official IP rating.
Why you should trust us
We’ve spent countless hours reviewing audio products and Adam, Chris, and Lily each have years of experience when it comes to reviewing consumer audio products. We make sure to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of audio products and know how to separate the wheat from the chaff.
At the end of the day, all we want is for you to enjoy your purchase and, in the case of running earbuds, be able to exercise along with your favorite tunes. None of us SoundGuys are allowed to benefit from directing your eyes to one product over another. Granted, this site does make money from referral links, we writers are compensated on our work even if no one clicks the “buy” icon at the bottom of the screen. The SoundGuys ethics policy is available here.
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