No matter how much you love it, running is exhausting. The last thing you need is the search for running earbuds to also be exhausting, which is why we compiled this list of the best running earbuds. Sweat-resistance, a comfortable fit, and reliable connection quality are the most important factors to look out for. Everything else is just icing on the cake. Now, lace up those shoes, slather on that deodorant, and get running.
Editor’s note: this list of the best earbuds for running was updated on October 23, 2020, to answer a question in the FAQ regarding the best cheap earbuds for running.
Cut the cord with the versatile Jabra Elite Active 75t
Jabra’s Elite Active 75t boast an IP57 rating that protects the earbuds from complete submersion.
Jabra Elite Active 75tFull Review
Listeners are afforded 7 hours, 14 minutes of listening on a single charge and the included USB-C case supplies and additional 2.73 charge cycles. Fast charging is also supported: 15 minutes in the case yields one hour of playback from the earbuds. Its downfall is its sound quality.
The earphones only support one high-quality Bluetooth codec, AAC. This is great for iPhone users but leaves a lot to be desired for us Android fans. Since these are specifically categorized as workout earbuds, we won’t knock the lack of aptX support; no one’s trying to analyze harmonic resonances mid-run. This is further confirmed by the heavily bass-oriented sound. Bass notes are three times louder than mids, which can help keep you focused and motivated.
Jabra Elite Active 75t microphone demo:
The earbuds fit really well thanks to the slim design and rubberized coatings. Just as with the previous generation, you can use the Jabra Sound+ app to EQ your music like the Jaybird Vista. 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 some of the best running earbuds. Plus, you can choose your voice assistant and alter how much ambient noise can permeate the earbuds.
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 makes good running headphones and how music can improve workout performance.
If you want the best sound quality and most comfortable experience, a proper fit is crucial. You could have the best earbuds in the world, but if they don’t stay in your ears, they’re worthless. No ear is the same, and if the provided ear tips aren’t working, look into third-party options. Then again, if you’re running outside, be sure to get a pair of earbuds with safety features like Ambient Aware mode or specially designed ear tips that allow the ingress of external noise. While audio quality will be degraded, it’s worth it to remain aware of your surroundings.
What’s an IP rating?
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. If you get something that’s IPX7-certified, it can withstand full submersion for up to 30 minutes. However, this doesn’t automatically make something a pair of swimming earbuds. In order to listen to music underwater, you’ll need a pair of earbuds with on-board storage.
|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
True wireless connection strength is improving
There’s still plenty more room for advancement, though. Compared to its standard wireless alternative, true wireless connectivity still isn’t up to snuff. Although Qualcomm’s True Wireless Stereo Plus technology has been available for nearly two years, yet its expense has severely limited its implementation. Fortunately, we’ll see some exciting changes in Bluetooth coming down the pipes soon.
If you want heart rate monitor features, you have fewer options
Quantifying one’s life is all the rage, and heart rate monitor earbuds are a niche category with just a handful of viable options. It’s hard to pack in all those sensitive components into earbud housings, and if you’re getting a pair of total wireless heart rate monitor earbuds, they’re bound to be bulky.
That said, Bose has a popular pair: the Bose SoundSport Pulse Wireless, which are IPX4-rated and use the same StayHear+ tips as the other SoundSport models. Battery life is relatively short; you’re afforded just five hours on a single charge, but most of us don’t exceed 60-minute workouts anyway. Firmware updates are available via Bose’s free app.
Adjust the sound with the Jaybird Vista
As with Jaybird’s other earbuds, you can make EQ adjustments to the Vista earbuds via the MySound app. 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. You can also apply other users’ sound profiles, which is a neat way of making an otherwise run-of-the-mill app a social one.
Jaybird VistaFull Review
Generally speaking, the Jaybird Vista retain many of our favorite features from the Jaybird Run, including IPX7 certification. These earbuds don’t support any high quality Bluetooth codecs. There is a new and improved JBS1 chipset, which remedies any connection issues that presented themselves with the Run earbuds. We didn’t experience any connectivity drops or stutters within the 10-meter wireless range while testing. Although things can get uncomfortable after prolonged periods of wear, these earbuds offer a stable fit with the pre-installed silicone ear tips. They’re stylish enough that you can even wear them on your morning commute or through the office.
Jaybird Vista microphone demo:
Battery life is fine for true wireless earbuds: we squeezed out 5 hours, 37 minutes from a single charge. Plus, the earbuds and case support quick charging: five minutes of charging grants one hour of listening. No matter where you go, the Vista can accompany you since the case features a braided loop. While these aren’t the most comfortable earbuds, they do have some great features like button reassignment. For ~$160, they’re worth taking out on the trails.
The Bose SoundSport Free sound fantastic
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. Additionally, the only high quality Bluetooth codec they support is AAC.
Bose SoundSport FreeFull Review
Again, these are effective headphones for running, because they actually stay in despite their 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 the gym and on the trail, the SoundSport Free is a great pick with a surprisingly bass-heavy sound.
Related: Best Bose headphones
The Creative Outlier One costs just $38
These are the best bang for your buck when it comes to running headphones. For less than $40, 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. Additionally, these earbuds don’t support any high quality Bluetooth codecs. That said, considering how affordable the Creative Outlier One is, it’s easy to forgive. Keep in mind that these are wired earbuds, so if you want the true wireless version of these buds, look into the Creative Outlier Air.
Have an iPhone? Runaway with the Beats Powerbeats Pro
Beats gets a heck of a lot right with its debut true wireless earbuds. These are IPX4 sweat-resistant and feature a sleek design. It uses the same H1 chip as the Apple AirPods, so you benefit from greater power efficiency (aka longer battery life) and voice-activated access to Siri. Along with this, it supports the AAC codec. It also makes pairing and auto-connecting to iPhones a breeze.
Beats Powerbeats ProFull Review
Many true wireless earbuds suffer from terribly short battery life, but that’s not the case here. No, the Powerbeats Pro defy the rest with its 10-plus hour battery life. The charging case is pretty big and charges via Lightning cable, generally not favorable qualities. However, those are the two biggest drawbacks of the earbuds. Otherwise, the fit is excellent, sound quality is superb for what they are, and the official IP rating assuages any potential durability concerns. We have no problem recommending these: they’re that good.
Beats Powerbeats Pro microphone demo:
Alternatively, if you want nearly all the same features as the Beat PowerBeats Pro include for a fraction of the cost, consider the Beats Powerbeats. These workout earbuds are joined by wire, but still use wireless technology. Its rounded cable stays out of the way during your cario and calisthenic workouts, and hands-free access to Siri is a possibility thanks to the H1 chip.
If you don’t exercise often, consider the Apple AirPods Pro
Alternatively, if you seldom run but still want a great pair of iPhone earbuds that can withstand your sweaty days, consider the Apple AirPods Pro. These noise canceling true wireless earbuds are IPX4-rated and securely fit to the ear, thanks to the angled nozzles. Battery life isn’t nearly as good as the Powerbeats Pro, a consequence of demanding ANC technology. But they support Apple’s high quality codec, AAC. Apple kept the H1 chip in the new AirPods Pro and redesigned the on-board touch controls, so now they’re registered by squeezing either earpod stem.
A budget alternative to the Apple AirPods Pro is the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2. They offer AAC and aptX support, have intuitive touch controls, and have adjustable EQ settings through the SoundCore app. And they’re IPX5 sweat-resistant.
Who should buy the best running earbuds?
Well, if the title of this list weren’t enough of a 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. If you want to remain completely aware of your surroundings without toggling through listening modes or dealing with specialized ear tips, bone conduction headphones may be more for you.
- Anker SoundCore Liberty Neo: For less than $50, these are a great pair of general-purpose and athletic earbuds. They’re IPX7-rated and can be fully submerged for up to 30 minutes at a time. The fit is great, and outside noise is effectively blocked out. If you take most of your runs outside, you should listen in mono mode because ambient aware mode isn’t supported.
- Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2: This is a stellar headset with some of the best microphone quality out there. Each earbud takes a stemmed design, echoing that of the AirPods, but these have distinct nozzles that facilitate a good fit. They’re sweat-resistant and easy to use.
- Anker SoundCore Spirit Dot 2: These earbuds have an IPX7 rating and a very stable fit. They’re comfortable and affordable, and they have excellent connectivity.
- Beats Powerbeats: If you’ve been eyeing the Beats Powerbeats Pro but don’t have $250 just chilling in your bank account, the $150 Powerbeats may be for you. These offer most of the same features as the Pro model with a much more pleasing price.
- Jabra Elite Active 45e: These let you hear your surroundings at all times without activating Ambient Aware mode because of how the ear tips are shaped. The ear hooks keep the fit secure despite the bulky housings.
- Jabra Elite 65t: 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.
- Jabra Elite 75t: These are the updated version of the Elite 65t and offer better battery life and a higher IP rating.
- Jaybird Tarah: Need the Jaybird X4 but restricted by your budget? Get the Tarah instead; these earbuds provide nearly all the same functionality of the X4 with the exception of a shorter battery life.
- Jaybird X4: Jaybird makes great running earbuds and the wireless X4 are perfect for accompanying you on the trail or treadmill. The proprietary wing tips comfortably keep the earbuds in place and the IPX7 rating denotes waterproof properties.
- JBL Endurance Peak: If you’ve been wondering what your next pair of workout earbuds should be and don’t want to shell out $200 for Bose’s bulky true wireless solution, the JBL Endurance Peak is a great alternative.
- JLab JBuds Air Sport: These are an affordable pair of running earbuds. They’re IP66-rated, include advanced touch controls, and the ear hook design keeps them stable. For a more versatile pair of earbuds with a more compact design, look at the JLab JBuds Air Icon.
- JLab Epic Air Sport: While these are a bit pricier than the above JLab model, they offer a more secure, comfortable fit because of the well-constructed silicone ear hooks. The earbuds also have a standalone battery life of nearly 10 hours.
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.
You may also like: Best Bluetooth workout headphones
Why you should trust SoundGuys
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, but 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.
Still looking? Here are a few lists to help you out.
Frequently Asked Questions
For the budget-minded running enthusiast, take a look at the Creative Outlier One. At less than $30, it boasts a durable IPX4 water-resistant design, great battery life, and surprisingly good sound isolation for its price. If you're looking to go spend even less, the JBL Endurance Run is a good choice for under $20. It offers an even more water-resistant IPX5 rating, in-line remote controls, and a versatile design that ensures a proper fit during intense workouts.
How comfortable your earbuds feel depend on your specific ear shape as well as the ear tips you have on your 'buds. Ear hooks and wing tips provide stability, which factors into comfort because it prevents you from having to constantly adjust your earbuds during your workout. We recommend the Bose SoundSport Free from this list if comfort is your main goal. They are stable with wing tips and won't give you pain after wearing them for a long time. The only thing to note is that they are bulky, so if you have a lot of ear piercings, you'll want to go with a sleeker set.