Legs beg for a break and lungs inflate for air, while sweat creates an unsightly Rorschach test down the back of your unfortunately gray t-shirt. I need a break, your internal monologue says. Then, you hear the intro to Eye of the Tiger, and exhausted legs reprise for the final dash of your run. There’s nothing quite like a good song to keep you motivated, but you should treat yourself to any of the best running headphones to keep the jams pumping.

Maybe that’s not every run, but the right song can jolt morale and make that last haul feel like a cut-scene from Rocky. Though running with music isn’t for everyone, many still opt to liven up workouts with something from Spotify’s dime-a-dozen curated playlists. To make those heart-pumping songs sound that much better, we present to you the best running headphones.

Editor’s note: this list was updated on July 29, 2o21, to address the Jaybird Vista 2.

Related: Best true wireless earbuds

The best running headphones is the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100

If in-ears aren’t cutting it for your runs, check out the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100. These workout headphones come with an IPX5 rating, meaning that they won’t break a sweat when you’re sweating from your runs.

Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100

Full Review

The BackBeat FIT 6100 is designed with several features that make it ideal for runners. Its lightweight construction ensures that you won’t be weighed down by the headphones. Its use of Bluetooth 5.0 helps provide a stable connection, allowing for an uninterrupted listening experience during your runs. Sound-wise, these headphones feature a boosted low-end, where bass synths and kick drums may sound twice as loud as the mids and highs—a common preference for workout headphones.

One of the best features of the BackBeat FIT 6100 is its battery life. From our testing, the headphones provided us with 26 hours and 49 minutes of playtime on a single charge. That being said, these headphones are guaranteed to last several running sessions without the need to charge in between uses.

What should you know about running headphones?

There are a few things to know about running earbuds before buying since they’ll be roughed up a bit.

IP ratings denote durability

 Water-resistantWaterproofCan withstand
IPX0Not water-resistant
IPX1Dripping water (1 mm/min)
Limit: vertical drips only
IPX2Dripping water (3 mm/min)
Limit: Device max tilt of 15° from drips
Limit: Device max tilt of 60° from sprays
IPX4Splashes, omnidirectional
IPX5Water jets (12.5 L/min)
Example: Squirt guns
IPX6Strong water jets (100 L/min)
Example: Powerful water guns
IPX7Complete submersion
Limit: 1 m. for 30 min
IPX8Complete submersion
Limit: 3 m. for 30 min

IP ratings denote if and to what degree a product is water-resistant or waterproof. The “IP” stands for Ingress Protection and the “X” that sits between the numeric ratings (e.g. IPX7) is just a placeholder, meaning that the product has yet to receive an official dust-resistant rating. For most running and workout earbuds, the gold standard of IP ratings is IPX4. This means it can handle water sprays from all directions. If you need waterproof earbuds, settle for nothing less than IPX7 or greater.

What is a Bluetooth codec?

Bluetooth quality isn’t as good as wired audio quality, but for exercising it doesn’t make much of a difference. After all, you’re running, not analyzing every treble spike in your music. If you want commands to occur immediately, look out for aptX or AAC if you use an iPhone, those codecs reduce delay. This is also important for anyone who likes to stream video from the treadmill. If you get a pair of earbuds that only supports SBC you’ll likely experience some sort of audio-visual lag. While it’s not the end of the world, it can be annoying.

A proper fit improves sound quality

A top-down image of the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 with the right earbud panel facing the lens and the left earbud facing down to show the Ambient Aware ear tip shape.

Connectivity is disappointing relative to other Plantronics products, which flawlessly remain connected. The earbuds struggle when outside.

Proper fit is especially important with running earbuds. After all, how good are earbuds if they can’t stay in to be heard? A standard in-ear design is the most traditional fit and will likely cast the widest net in terms of preference. If the provided ear tips don’t fit well, take a few minutes to test out any alternatives.

See: Best earbuds for running

Getting the pair that works best for your ears improves isolation which translates to marked audio quality improvements. Why? It’s because the ear tips are able to form a physical barrier between you and the outside world. Thus, you’re avoiding the common phenomenon of auditory masking. That said, if you’re running outside, be sure to get a pair of earbuds with safety features like Ambient Aware mode or one with specialized ear tips like the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100.

Who should buy running headphones?

Runners will benefit most from a dedicated set of running headphones, though athletes at large and the profusely sweaty can appreciate them too. After combing through a range of reviews and lists, we’ve concluded that these are the standouts for cardio kids. Furthermore, if your current pair of running headphones are hindering workouts, any of these will be a welcome upgrade.

For a good fit, listen with the Jaybird Vista

The Jaybird Vista is among the best running headphones for those in need of a secure fit. Just like the Jaybird X4 and Tarah earbuds, the Vista features an IPX7 certification which denotes complete water resistance. You can submerge the earbuds for 30 minutes to depths of one meter before running the risk of water damage.

Jaybird Vista

Full Review

The Vista earbuds use Bluetooth 5.0 firmware and feature a new JBS1 chipset to ensure immediate and reliable connecting to your phone. The same chip allows users to listen to one earbud in mono mode, which is great for outdoor exercise.

Battery life is pretty good: you get 5 hours, 37 minutes of playtime before needing to pop the buds back into the compact case. If you’re just going to the gym, five minutes in the case provides one hour of listening. Another great feature of the earbuds is found in Jaybird’s app: you can create custom EQs and test out other athletes’ sound profiles.

Related: Best true wireless workout earbuds

What’s the difference between the Vista and Jaybird Vista 2?

The Jaybird Vista 2 in black on top of a wood surface.

The Vista 2 is Jaybird’s debut noise cancelling earphones.

The Jaybird Vista 2 features more advanced features like active noise cancelling, an improved IP68 rating, and a USB-C wireless charging case with an IP54 rating. Jaybird maintained the general design of the Vista when making the Vista 2, but swapped out the earbuds’ plastic panels for cloth-wrapped ones. This design aesthetically separates the otherwise identical earphones, and reduces wind noise.

Need true wireless earbuds? The Jabra Elite Active 75t is your best bet

When it comes to running headphones, if you want true wireless, the Jabra Elite Active 75t is the newfound champion. These earbuds feature an IP57 certification and are dust- and water-resistant.

Jabra Elite Active 75t

Full Review

These earbuds use Bluetooth 5.0 with support for multipoint, so you can connect to two devices at once. Jabra packed in a four-mic array that makes it great for taking phone calls. Bassheads will enjoy the default bass-heavy frequency response that others can equalize in the mobile app. signature that appeals to bassheads.

A free firmware update through the Jabra Sound+ app unlocks active noise cancelling on the Elite Active 75t, allowing you to block the world around you—at the gym or on the road to work. Its active noise cancelling may not be as effective as the Jabra Elite 85t, or even the Sony WF-1000XM3, however, it’s still a welcome edition that improves the product’s value.

The JBL UA Sport Wireless Train is a great set of on-ear headphones for running

JBL and Under Armour foster a strong partnership and the JBL UA Sport Wireless Train is a favorite among athletes of all kinds. These on-ear headphones fit snug against your head without inducing discomfort or pain thanks to the lightweight and breathable ear pads.

JBL UA Sport Wireless Train

Sweat resistance protects the headphones from water damage, and the 16-hour battery life lets you get through more than a week’s worth of workouts before you need to reach for that pesky microUSB charging cable. One of our favorite things about this headset is its huge, accessible onboard controls. These are extremely easy to operate without taking away attention from your workout.

Sure, the Bluetooth 4.1 firmware is outdated, but that shouldn’t affect your day-to-day use. The biggest benefit of Bluetooth 5.0 and later firmware is battery life and, well, the Sport Wireless Train is fine in that regard.

Put safety and stability first with the Aftershokz Aeropex

Aftershokz is known for making some of the best bone conduction headphones on the market, and the Aftershokz Aeropex is no exception. It’s the best that the company has to offer, prioritizing portability and usability above all.

Aftershokz Aeropex

There’s no denying that the Aeropex is a very rugged piece of hardware. It features a lightweight, flexible plastic construction that allows the product to fit comfortably around your head. The Aeropex also sports an IP67 certification, rated against damage from dust and water. On the inside, its battery holds enough of a charge to last roughly eight hours. It connects to devices using Bluetooth 5.0, providing users with a reliable and stable connection.

Read on: Bone conduction headphones: Gimmick or godsend?

If sound quality is your priority, bone conduction headphones may not be for you since it doesn’t have any form of isolation. However, if you’re a runner who wants to jam out without drowning the world, the Aeropex should be high up on your wishlist.

Best running headphones: Notable mentions

The Bose Sport Earbuds true wireless workout earbuds sit outside of the closed charging case, all objects are covered in sprinkles of water.

The Bose Sport Earbuds are great for runners and general athletes.

  • Aftershokz Trekz TitaniumThis set of bone conduction headphones promotes safety, but fit, sound quality, and functionality are lacking.
  • Anker SoundBuds: This is similar to the Aftershokz headset but the connectivity is less stable. However, Anker’s opinion is more affordable.
  • Anker Soundcore Life A1: This pair of true wireless earbuds costs less than $50 and includes premium features like an IPX7 rating nd wireless charging case.
  • Beats Powerbeats Pro: The earhook design of these earphones is stable and touch controls are easy to use. The defined nozzles comfortably sit in the ear and stay there during vigorous movement. Of course, if you don’t want to shell out for the Beats brand, there are plenty of great alternatives.
  • Beats Powerbeats: Traditional wireless earphones that offer basically the same experience as the Pro model, but with better battery life.
  • Bose Sport EarbudsIf you value a comfortable fit and a perfect touch control system, get Bose’s workout earbuds.
  • Bose Sport Open EarbudsOutdoor enthusiasts who want to remain aware of their surroundings at all times should pick up this headset, and no, it doesn’t use bone conduction technology.
  • Jabra Elite Active 45eIf you want neckband-style earbuds with extreme durability and great safety features, this is what you should look into.
  • JLab Audio FlexThis lightweight headset is easy to clean, features an IP44 rating, and 20 hours of battery life. You can compact the headset and carry it from your home to the gym, no problem.

Can music improve your workout performance?

Pexel stock image of a running man who's outside in a desert with a bright blue, clear sky.

Running may be less of a chore if you’re listening to music.

No matter where you go to exercise, you probably see other athletes rocking workout earbuds. Many of us agree that it makes exercise more enjoyable, or at the least less painful, but why? Well, studies indicate music may have a positive impact on athletic performance.

In short, music may decrease anxiety levels and temporarily increase pain tolerance while uplifting one’s mood. Even if you’re unaffected by it in a more profound, physiological sense, it serves as an effective distraction from the pain and monotony. This works similarly to auditory masking: our brains only have so much bandwidth to process stimuli. Streaming your favorite tunes creates two different stimuli your brain needs to analyze, which may make it more difficult to perceive pain.

How we picked the best running headphones

While we’ve gotten our hands on plenty of audio products here at SoundGuys, we haven’t tested every product. To counteract our unavoidable biases, we conducted as much objective testing as possible.

An image of the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 true wireless earbuds outside of the case and in focus. The charging case is out of focus and open in the background. Both objects are on a cloth surface.

We put running headphones through the same objective testing as all-purpose earbuds.

Like all of our best lists, this list represents our collective experience as a staff regarding running headphones. At the end of the day, we want to provide you with the information needed to make the best-suited purchase for you. And if you don’t see your favorite product listed, feel free to comment because this list is a living document that we periodically update.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

We focus solely on all things audio. The team has a diversified understanding of audio and respects that certain aspects are objective and quantifiable without disregarding the importance of subjective enjoyment. When it comes to consumer audio, SoundGuys strives to cut through the muck, granting readers more time to enjoy their music. Ultimately, the team hopes to educate readers with each post and pique the interest of fellow audio geeks.

A woman wears the Mobvoi Earbuds Gesture true wireless earbuds in profile to illustrate the stemmed design.

We test as many earphones and speakers as we can so you don’t have to.

When it comes to making these lists, we do our best to make sure we can stand behind these products. Whether that means getting them in-house to test ourselves or just doing a ton of research to make sure none of the products break after a week, we try to narrow it down to the products we would spend our own money on.

Next: Best cheap true wireless earbuds

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