Links on SoundGuys may earn us a commission. Learn more.
Best earbuds for running
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 August 17, 2022, to update the notable mentions.
Why is the Jabra Elite 7 Active the best pair of running earbuds?
Jabra’s Elite 7 Active boasts an IP57 rating that protects the earbuds from complete submersion. This means you can rinse the earbuds off after your run for a quick clean between more involved cleaning sessions.
The earbuds fit quite deep in the ear canal, and while this ensures stability, it may be uncomfortable for some users. Just as with previous Jabra headsets, you can use the Jabra Sound+ app to EQ your music to your liking. 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 7 Active one of the best pairs of running earbuds.
The sound quality on this headset is great, even though you only get SBC and AAC support. The earbuds’ frequency response closely follows our house curve, boosting bass and treble frequencies a bit, but not so much that it outshines midrange frequencies too much.
Listeners get 7 hours, 10 minutes of listening on a single charge and the included USB-C case supplies additional charge time, adding up to a total of roughly 30 hours. Fast charging is also supported: five minutes in the case yields 60 minutes of playback from the earbuds.
The Jaybird Vista 2 includes durable earbuds and a strong case
Those who are tough on their earbuds should look no further than the Jaybird Vista 2. With an MIL-STD-810G certification and IP68 rating, the earbuds can endure just about anything and the case has an IP54 rating, which is rare among true wireless earbuds.
It isn’t just strong, the Vista 2 earbuds feature great isolation and active noise cancelling (ANC), along with a generally consumer-friendly sound. The bass boost is noticeable but won’t overpower other elements of most music. If you don’t like the default sound, you can change it in the MySound app (iOS/Android). Jaybird makes equalization a social thing: you can download and apply other Jaybird users’ EQ profiles.
Battery life is fine for true wireless earbuds: we squeezed out 5 hours, 20 minutes from a single charge. Plus, the earbuds and case support quick charging: five minutes of charging grants 120 minutes of listening. No matter where you go, the Vista can accompany you since the case features a braided loop. While it isn’t the most comfortable pair of earbuds, the Vista 2 buds stay in place no matter your workout.
Get the Bose Sport Earbuds for great sound and a comfortable fit
The Bose Sport Earbuds is among the best true wireless workout earbuds simply because it’s so comfortable. Bose’s StayHear Max ear tips keep the earbuds in place and place just the right amount of pressure on your ear without causing any discomfort. Unlike the company’s debut totally wireless earbuds, the Sport Earbuds features an official IPX4 rating.
Bose dropped the button controls of the SoundSport Free in favor of precise touch controls. You can use either earbud panel to adjust playback, volume, and control incoming calls. The Bose Music app lets you adjust controls, but its functionality is limited: you can’t EQ the sound, but Bose later added this functionality to its IPX4 Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, so we may see this added to the Sport Earbuds too. Bose’s Active EQ technology effectively adjusts the frequency response in real-time to optimize sound quality according to background noise.
You can use the headset in mono mode, but this only works with the right earbud, which leaves out much of the hearing impaired population. The same limitation is found with the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds; hopefully, the company fixes this with future iterations. Auto play/pause functionality is also limited to the right earbud, but works very well.
The JLab GO Air POP is a great pair of cheap running earbuds
If you only have $20 USD to spend on workout earbuds, the JLab GO Air POP is your best bet: this includes a nifty charging case with an integrated USB cable. Like the more durable GO Air, with GO Air POP, you no longer have to keep track of a certain charging cable, just the case. The compact earbuds fit comfortably, even if you have small ears. Despite the economical price, the GO Air POP features touch controls.
Microphone quality isn’t particularly impressive, but that’s to be expected from a pair of budget earbuds. For most athletes, durability and fit take precedence over all else, and the GO Air excels in both of these areas. The earbuds use Bluetooth 5.1 and reliably auto-connect to the last-used device. They don’t support Bluetooth multipoint, but that’s to be expected from a pair of wireless earbuds under $50.
Sound quality is surprisingly good for the price, but you may want to cycle through the onboard EQ options for louder bass. By default, bass frequencies are markedly quieter than upper-mids and treble. This is good for a fairly analytical sound, but seeing how many athletes want more oomph to their music, it may not appeal to everyone.
iPhone owners can run to their heart’s content with the Beats Powerbeats Pro
Beats gets a heck of a lot right with its debut true wireless earbuds. It is IPX4 sweat-resistant and features 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.
Many wireless earbuds suffer from terribly short battery life, but that’s not the case here. No, the Powerbeats Pro defies 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 the buds are, and the official IP rating assuages any potential durability concerns. We have no problem recommending it: it’s that good.
The Beats Fit Pro is a great pair of noise cancelling wireless earbuds, but the active noise cancelling doesn’t work reliably. You can read our full Beats Fit Pro review to get the inside scoop, but all you need to know is that the ANC worked one day and then stopped the next. We’re not the only ones who have run into this issue and months later, the problem still persists.
Anyone willing to take a risk on the ANC quitting out of the blue will be able to enjoy a solid pair of compact earbuds. The IPX4 rating is standard for workout earbuds, but the earbud shape is not. Beats integrates ear wings into the Fit Pro design, which keeps the buds stable during most movement.
We wish the ANC worked reliably because this is otherwise a great headset, it’s just hard to recommend when one of its selling features is non-functional.
Can you use the AirPods Pro for running?
The Apple AirPods Pro is a good option if you seldom run but still want a pair of earbuds that works with iPhones. This headset is IPX4-rated and securely fits to the ear thanks to the angled nozzles. Battery life isn’t nearly as good as the Powerbeats Pro, resulting from demanding ANC technology. But it supports Apple’s high-quality codec, AAC. Apple kept the H1 chip in the new AirPods Pro and redesigned the onboard touch controls, so now they’re registered by squeezing either stem.
You might also consider the Apple AirPods (3rd generation) which lacks the silicone ear tips that some people dislike about the AirPods Pro. Though this makes the headset less effective at isolating sound which will likely decrease its sound quality, it can be considered a safety feature if you’re using it to run. When you’re out running on a busy city street you don’t want the whole world to be blocked out.
The best running earbuds: Notable mentions
- 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 this headset has distinct nozzles that facilitate a good fit. It’s sweat-resistant and easy to use.
- Anker Soundcore Spirit Dot 2: This pair of earbuds has an IPX7 rating and a very stable fit. It’s comfortable and affordable, and has excellent connectivity.
- Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: This pair of true wireless earbuds has an IPX4 rating and wing tips which ensure a stable fit. It also features active noise cancelling technology, which is what makes it pricey, and you can set it to transparency mode as well to make sure you’re aware of your surroundings.
- Google Pixel Buds (A-Series): Though the wing tips on these buds are one-size-fits-most, they are lightweight, have an IPX4 rating, and multiple sets of silicone ear tips. If you have an Android phone this headset will integrate with your system really smoothly.
- Jabra Elite Active 45e: This headset lets 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 85t: The Jabra Elite finally has active noise cancelling with these earbuds, and it can be adjusted alongside a HearThru feature. It also has an IPX4 rating and a stable and comfortable fit.
- JBL Endurance Peak 2: 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 2 is a great alternative.
- JLab Epic Air Sport ANC: With surprisingly great noise cancelling for less than $100 USD, these earbuds are a great option for just about anyone. The frequency response is a bit bass-heavy but, hey, that’s what you get when shopping for exercise earphones.
- Skullcandy Dime 2 True Wireless Earbuds: If you want to spend under $30 but don’t want to sacrifice too much on sound quality or water-resistance, this is a good option. It has mono mode which works in either earbud, serving as a safety feature if you’re running in public. Though its battery life isn’t great, topping out at around 3 hours, most of us don’t go running for more than 3 hours at a time.
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 is IPX4-rated and uses 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.
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.
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.
How should running earbuds sound?
Unlike studio headphones or even standard consumer earbuds, earbuds for runners will have a loud bass response relative to the mids. Boosted bass makes it easier to keep pace with the beat and gives you something obvious to focus on. You’ll see that few running earbuds feature frequency responses that follow our ideal consumer curve perfectly, but that’s okay. If you know you like bass, skim through our charts in each review to find the headset with a bass-heavy sound. Alternatively, go for a headset that you can EQ either through a proprietary app or a third-party EQ app.
How do you know if your running earbuds fit?
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 onboard storage.
True wireless connection strength is improving
While some true wireless earbuds struggle with connection stability, we’ve seen the technology improve leaps and bounds over the past few years. Many headsets use Qualcomm’s TrueWireless Stereo Plus or a proprietary connection method. Others use specialized chipsets to optimize connection stability like Apple’s H1 chip.
How we test the best running earbuds
We test things like frequency response, isolation, and battery life using an artificial head and high-end audio analysis software. If you have the desire and time, you can read more about our testing methodology here. We endeavor to focus our reviews on the key areas of concern for wireless earbud users. Additionally, remember 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 SoundGuys
Each writer at SoundGuys has accumulated years of experience reporting on the consumer audio market, and our staff adheres to a strict ethics policy. We don’t use sponsored content on the website at a time when doing so is the norm. SoundGuys’ survival depends almost exclusively on readers enjoying their purchases. We pride ourselves on transparently outlining objective facts, while accounting for the subjective experience to contextualize an audio product’s performance. When we do misspeak, we correct and own up to it.
Frequently asked questions about running earbuds
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.