If there’s one thing lots of runner’s love, it’s listening to a pair of headphones during their workout. Whether listening to your favourite music, interesting podcast or a captivating audiobook, headphones truly add something special to your running life.
In this article, we look at some great headphones for running so you can get headphones that are right for you.
Aren’t all headphones the same, does it really matter?
Like most things in life, headphones for running come in many shapes and sizes. There’s a lot of variety, and every pair is different.
It used to be that the only thing separating a cheap pair from a decent pair was whether or not they fell out of the ears when you started running, having to continually re-adjust them. However, this just isn’t the case for modern-day runners.
It’s a great time for runners who use headphones
There’s been lots of fantastic innovations and improvement in headphone technology, and manufacturers have upped their game to build the best headphones possible.
Some headphones are wireless, some measure heart rate, with some even featuring AI personal trainers to coach you in-ear during a workout. Of course, there are classic and simple models out there too.
This is brilliant news for runners, everywhere, who now have a choice and decent variety in their selection.
Read up on some headphones first
Before you go rushing down to your local technology store, buying the first pair of headphones you see, it’s important to do a bit of research first on what’s out there.
You wouldn’t book a holiday without knowing crucial details like flight times and dining options, nor would you purchase a guitar without finding out as much as you could about it.
We like to be aware of what’s on the market, so we can compare each option, allowing us to choose the option we like best. That’s what this article is all about. Giving you all the information, so you can make an informed choice.
What are some important features for running headphones?
It doesn’t matter how stylish a pair of headphones appear, if they aren’t designed with fit in mind they will probably prove to be a shoddy investment.Making sure they fit properly and feel snug but not too tight is a huge priority. Neck bands and adjustable over-ear hooks offer a flexible and guaranteed stay-put fit, so the headphones aren’t just comfortable but they’re also secure.Luckily, all the headphones in this article have been designed with an adjustable fit in mind. For instance, a lot of them contain a selection of wing tips and silicone buds so you can customise your fit. Don’t worry, you’re covered.
- Sound quality
It might seem obvious, but an important factor is decent audio quality. Whether you listen to music, audiobooks or podcasts, a top pair of headphones will have you covered from every angle. A good set of running headphones will have audio finesse and give you crystal clear audio.Think of it as high definition for your ears. If you’re listening to a band, for instance, you’ll want to hear every layer of the music as it was originally intended.Think of bands with impressive and complicated albums like The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely-Hearts Club Band, Currents by Tame Impala or The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. You’ll want to hear the fine details of these tunes, and a good pair of running headphones will ensure that.Also, audiobooks and podcasts demand crystal clear sound capability from the device they’re listened to on, and most running headphones truly deliver.
- Wireless connectivity
Any runner who has worked out with wired headphones will know the wire can be annoying, and cause problems.Not only do wires get in the way, but they also flail around the place which can be a nuisance. I’ve been smacked in my eye with a headphone cord on a windy run, and I can assure you it’s not fun.That’s why most running headphones are designed with wireless connectivity in mind.The technological innovation of these listening devices means you can ditch the cables and connect wirelessly – mainly via Bluetooth – without the fear of draining your battery.Headphones have become efficient and can connect to most devices for a comfortable and smooth run, which is why wireless connectivity is a huge factor in choosing decent headphones.There are two wireless options including Bluetooth headphones which come with a cable connecting the earpieces in the form a loose wire or a headband.On the other hand, there’s the truly wireless version which comes in the form of two buds which you simply pop into your ears.
They’re both as good as each other, and it’s down to a matter of personal preference which you prefer.
Runners know that their sport is tough, and there’s a lot to contend with. Ultimately, a decent pair of running headphones will need to be durable through a range of situations from extreme sweating, bad weather, and even being placed in a pocket or workout bag.Many of the headphones on this list come with certified ratings known as ‘IPX’ ratings to confirm they are resistant against moisture and dust. If durability is something that particularly concerns you, make sure you look out for this factor when considering to buy a pair of headphones for your runs.
Without further ado, here are some great headphones for runners
1. AfterShokz Treks Air Headphones
This popular model is a comfortable and stable fit, looks stylish, and helps to keep you aware of your surroundings.
Being a bone-conducting model, the headphones transmit the sounds you’re listening to through your cheekbones rather than going directly into your ear.
As a result, you can enjoy some music or a podcast whilst still being able to hear sounds (like traffic) in your environment. Safety first people. They weigh 30g, feature in-ear controls and have good sound quality.
A few downsides of the AfterShokz Trekz Air model is a slightly shorter battery life and lower volume than other models (due to their bone-conducting nature). Additionally, they don’t feature any cool features like monitoring your heart rate, but for a lot of runners who prefer simplicity, this affordable pair is just what they’re looking for.
2. Jaybird X3 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
These slick headphones are durable and compact, feature excellent adaptable sound, have a long battery life of 8 hours and feature on-ear controls.
Carrying on the legacy of the popular Jaybird X2, the new X3 model connects to your phone via Bluetooth so you can listen to music without having to contend with a wire constantly getting in your way.
The headphones are designed with running in mind as they contain Hydrophobic Nano coating to ensure the buds are safeguarded against sweat damage and rain showers, even during intensive exercise, allowing you to run with confidence.
3. KuaiFit Sport Headphones
Ideal for runners who don’t like taking their phone with them on workouts, through the hassle of having to carry it or worry that it might get damaged. The KuaiFit might just be what you’re looking for.
These headphones allow you to store 8GB worth of data directly into them, without having to rely on a phone to connect with. Truly revolutionary.
It features a handy heart rate monitor, on-ear controls and the opportunity to access and buy online fitness plans created by Olympic athletes and verified coaches. The downside to this is that some of these training plans come at an extra cost, however, the cost is small.
The headphones deliver voice notifications which update you on the progress of your goal, even without a phone present, so you stay motivated and on track to achieve.
The headphones connect to the KuaiFit app, accessible for IOS and Android, which will store all your data. The app is handy, as you can access your progress anywhere and at any time.
4. Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones
These headphones are comfortable and secure, look elegant, come with a heart-rate monitor and have optimal sound quality.
The Bose SoundSport headphones are wireless and come with easy Bluetooth and NFC pairing aided by voice prompts which make them incredibly convenient.
The exclusive ‘Stay Hear+’ tips keep the headphones comfortably in place whilst you run, so you don’t need to worry about them falling out and being damaged.
The battery life is 6 hours, and they take 2 hours to charge from empty. The headphones are sweat and weather resistant, so you don’t need to worry about damage during an intense workout.
5. Jabra Elite Sport True Wireless Earbuds
These game-changing headphones are completely wireless, making them ideal for minimalist runners who aren’t keen on wires. They include a stylish charging case, comes with a heart-rate monitor feature and have on-ear controls.
They have inbuilt microphones, which also make them ideal for taking and responding to calls with personalised equalizer profiles and settings.
They’re waterproof and offer protection against rain and heavy sweat. Though the battery life is a short 4.5 hours, they come with a portable charging case giving a total of 13.5 hours of battery life, meaning you can charge them on the go.
The Jabra Elite Sport Earbuds feature personalised in-ear audio coaching, a race pace calculator and recovery advice, making them a perfect running companion.
The headphones are handy as they give you the option to filter the sounds around you to stay safe, allowing you to also wear one or both earbuds. Truly designed for convenience and style, the Jabra Elite Sport Earbuds are a runner’s favourite.
6. Beats PowerBeats 3
For those looking for style and an amazing battery life, these headphones could be what you’re after.
Featuring a whopping 12-hour battery life, great wireless range, on-ear controls and the ability to charge quickly, the Beats Power Beats 3 make for a decent pair of headphones. The long battery life makes them ideal for long-distance runners, like those training for an ultra-marathon for instance.
They connect via class 1 Bluetooth with your device for wireless running freedom, are sweat and water resistant for tough training, come with flexibility for a snug fit, and allow you to take calls.
If that’s not enough, they come with ear tips with four size options, a carrying case, a USB charging cable and a quick start guide on how to get them on and go running immediately.
7. LifeBEAM Vi Bluetooth Headphones
For those who warm to the idea of AI coaching, this LifeBEAM model might be for you.
Coming with a voice-powered personal running coach with brilliant Harman Kardon audio, the inbuilt artificial intelligence uses heart rate and body temperature to adapt the workout to your fitness abilities and goals. The key word with these headphones has got to be ‘personalised.’
If that’s not enough, the vI Sense headphones come with biosensors to detect heart rate, motion, elevation, proximity, and touch, meaning you’ll have access to lots of detailed data.
They are sweat and water resistant with an all-day battery life, making them perfect for working out and taking calls (should the need arise).
These headphones are particularly useful if you struggle with overcoming the mental difficulties of running when you feel like you just can’t go on. The in-ear AI will spur you on and offer words of encouragement to challenge you yet keep you safe. You know you can rely on these headphones to get you running to the best of your ability.
8. Under Armour JBL Sport Wireless Headphones
If you’re someone that loves to run with music, being able to hear all the frequencies in high definition, these are the headphones for you.
The Under-Amour headphones, from JBL, features a built-in heart rate monitor (which is accurate), in-ear progress updates, and the ability to pair it to the UA record app so you can configure updates at predetermined intervals. It’s a pretty useful pair of headphones for those who love setting themselves running targets and then tracking whether they’re on track to meet them.
A few disadvantages of these headphones is the short battery life (5 hours) and the fact they’re slightly more expensive than some other headphones on the market. However, the excellent tracking features and crystal clear sound quality make up for these two aspects of the headphones.
Under-Armour JBL headphones are popular amongst the running community and for good reason.
9. Monster iSport Victory In-Ear Bluetooth Headphones
These headphones are comfortable, have a long battery life, and have great Bluetooth capabilities. They’re highly affordable, stylish and have a fantastic 10-hour battery life, making them a popular headphone of choice for many runners.
Though they lack a few features from some of the other models on this list (like heart rate monitoring and AI coaching), the iSport Victory is a decent product.
Being incredibly light (15g), having ‘rubber wings’ to stop them coming out of the ear, and a stylish and distinct look, these headphones are designed for simplicity and effectiveness. Perfect for runners who want headphones for basic functions, like listening to music or podcasts.
10. Jaybird Run
These headphones are excellent for runners, sitting in a trendy position in your ears. At a mere 15 grams, they are one of the lightest set of headphones on the list, coming with a carry case (to protect your headphones when not in use) and full Bluetooth connectivity, this is surely one to think about.
These headphones deliver deep, rich sounds, allowing crystal clear audio experience so you can hear every recording exactly how it was intended to be heard.
Though the battery life is a little shorter than a lot of the other headphones (4 hours), it’s charging case can carry another 8 hours of back up battery. Handy for when you’re on the go and you really need some charge.
Like most of the other headphones on the list, the Jaybird Run is sweat proof and water-resistant and they even come with a “find my buds” feature in the app if you’re forgetful and misplace them. Though it’s one of the more expensive headphones on the list, it certainly is one of the best available for runners.
11. Urbanista Boston Night Runner Reflex
One of the more affordable headphones on the list, the Urbanista Boston Headphones come with full Bluetooth connectivity and a stylish design.
The wireless sound quality is pretty good, considering the lowered price, and the water and sweat resistant IPX5 rating means they repel sweat or rain. You don’t need to worry about an intense workout or bad weather when wearing these headphones, they have you covered.
Coming with three pairs of ergonomically-shaped GoFit earbuds for a perfect fit, the buds sit snuggly in the ears whilst the Bluetooth technology is stored in the back of the cord. This is convenient for keeping the headphones from flailing around whilst you run, due to the extra weight.
The Urbanista Boston Night Runner Reflex headphones come with a handy control panel, and a battery life of 6 hours is decent considering the price and sound quality of the headphones. If they seem like the headphones for your running style, check them out.
Note on in-ear headphones during races and other events
In some countries, the use of in-ear headphones is strictly banned during both amateur and professional events like half-marathons and 10Ks.
In the UK, for instance, the use of in-ear headphones is not prohibited during events by UK Athletics. The reason for this is to promote safer running where you can hear the environment and stay aware of what’s going on, to reduce the likelihood of an accident.
Though this can be an inconvenience for many, there is a way around it. In many situations, the use of bone-conducting headphones is permitted in races because they sit over the ears rather than in them. As a result, runners using bone-conducting headphones can enjoy music, a podcast or an audiobook, whilst staying aware of their surroundings.
For example, England Athletics has an exciting partnership with AfterShokz, the number one bone conducting headphone. If needing to run races and events with headphones in is a priority for you, I’d recommend going for the AfterShokz headphones solely or having a pair of them to whip out on race day.
The choice is yours, just make sure you’re aware of the rules on race day and you have a backup if mainstream headphones aren’t allowed.
If you’re interested in more clothing and accessory related articles, check out the following blog posts:
- 9 Reasons You Should Buy A GPS Running Watch
- 10 Great Energy Gels For Runners
- 30 Great Gift Ideas for Runners
- 30 Great Fancy Dress Ideas for Runners
- The Benefits of Running Sunglasses
- 7 Signals You Need New Running Shoes
- 5 Best Men’s Running Shoes for 2018
- Top 5 Running Shoe Brands