When you're racking up miles, some motivating sounds can go a long way in ensuring an epic run. But to get the most out of any podcast, playlist or audiobook, you need the best running headphones to withstand sweat and tough weather while delivering a quality soundtrack.
"There are options from wired pairs to over-the-head options and wireless earbuds, too," says Meghan Hayden, CPT, a certified personal trainer in New York City, tells LIVESTRONG.com. "You need a pair that won't absorb sweat, can withstand sweat — and water if you're running in the rain — and ones that can hold a charge for the entirety of your workout."
Because there are so many running earbuds and headphones on the market, we asked Hayden and other trainers to share the best running headphones of 2021. Check out the pairs below.
1. Best Wireless Headphones for Running: Bose Sport Earbuds
"I love these because they sound great," says Kelvin Gary, CPT, CEO and head coach at Body Space Fitness in New York City. "They also stay put in my ears, and don't get caught in my mask straps at all."
Both sweat- and water-resistant, these earbuds have tips that help them lock into your ears without any wires. They stay put no matter how intense your workouts get.
Each charge holds up to five hours of playing time, and the case — when fully charged — can provide two additional hours.
Buy it: Bose.com; Price: $179.95
2. Best Noise-Canceling Running Headphones: Apple Airpods Pro
The noise-canceling feature on these earbuds is top notch, thanks to Apple's use of outward- and inward-facing microphones that isolate sound. They also come with three different sizes of silicone tips, which have an internal taper that conforms to the shape of your ear.
"These buds have a 'barely there' feel, and I can answer calls in a breeze if someone happens to call me while I'm out on a run," Hayden says.
Plus, with these earbuds, you can dictate messages and have Siri read them through your AirPods — without interrupting your run.
3. Best Inexpensive Running Headphones: Back Bay Duet 50 Pro Earbuds
For less than $60, these earbuds hold up to eight hours of battery life, and the charging case can supply an additional 122 hours (yup, you read that right). Like other running headphones on this list, these sweat-proof and water-resistant buds allow you to pause, play and skip songs, and take calls.
"These buds have 130 hours of battery life, which is way more than most wireless earbuds," Hayden says. "Not only that, but the carrying case can also charge your phone, and I haven't seen a headphone case do that, so it's a really convenient added function."
Buy it: BackBayBrand.com; Price: $54.99
4. Best Custom-Fit Running Headphones: UE Fits Wireless Earbuds
If you have trouble finding running headphones that truly fit your ear shape, these UE Fits earbuds are perfect for you. UE's light technology contours the earbuds to the shape of your ears in under 60 seconds, so no one else is able to use these headphones the same way.
"The buds custom fit to your ears, they have an amazing 20-plus-hour battery life, and the noise-canceling helps me get into the zone for my run," Hayden says. "Also, they have a Google assistant, so you can make calls or find directions on-the-go, and they're sweat-proof, too."
They're comfortable and provide quality sound. You can also use one earbud at a time, in case you want to keep an open ear for traffic when you're running on the road.
5. Best Running Headphones for Intense Workouts: Skullcandy Push Ultra True Wireless Earbuds
Made for your sweatiest, most adventurous runs, these running headphones have moldable hooks that wrap around your ears to help keep them in place. They can get wet, sweaty and muddy and still work well under challenging conditions.
In fact, they have three listening modes for music, movies and podcasts, all of which allow you to hear your surroundings so you stay safe on your outdoor runs.
"I like that the buds have six hours of playtime, and then you can pop them in the case and it recharges them extremely quickly," says Noam Tamir, CSCS, owner and head trainer of TS Fitness in New York City.
Buy it: Skullcandy.com; Price: $79.99
6. Best Wrap-Around Headphones for Running: Powerbeats3 Wireless Headphones
For those who feel more comfortable running with a wire, these headphones hook around each ear and are connected with a small wire that wraps around the back of your neck.
"These headphones have great sound quality, the design and style are cool, and the ear-hook style is comfortable and secure," says Shayra Brown, CPT, a personal trainer at Blink Fitness in New York City. "When not in use, the pair sits comfortably around my neck and hooks together in front, so I'm never worried about them falling off and losing them."
The charge on these headphones lasts up to 12 hours, and when runs out, five quick minutes of charging will give you an hour of playtime.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $137.49
7. Best On-Ear Running Headphones: Adidas RPT-01 On-Ear Wireless Headphones
The durable fabric that encases the headband on these headphones offers extra grip against your head, so they won't slip off as easily as other over-the-ear options. The best part is that the fabric is also removable for an easy wash.
Sweat- and waterproof, these headphones sit comfortably on your head while you pound pavement — and may even keep your ears warm during your cold-weather runs.
Enjoy up to 40 hours of playtime, and set up your own commands with the control knob and action button.
"I like that you can program shortcuts into the headphones to make it easier to control the use of them while you're running or working out," Tamir says.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $136.47
8. Best Running Headphones with a Heart Rate Monitor: Jabra Elite Sport Wireless Earbuds
Earbuds that can track your effort levels — found! These buds have a built-in heart rate monitor, allowing you to track your RPE (rate of perceived exertion), aka how hard you're working out. They also have movement sensors that allow you to monitor your running pace and reps.
"Receiving HR data intra-workout is a great tool if you like to train based on HR zones," Hayden says. "The buds are waterproof, too, which is always good for those rainy day runs."
Among the best wireless running headphones, these earbuds hold 13.5 hours of battery, and they are compatible with iOS and Android devices. You can also accept calls on them while you're logging miles.
Buy it: Jabra.com; Price: $219.99
9. Best Bone-Conduction Running Headphones: AfterShokz Aeropex Wireless Headphones
These best wireless running headphones don't go in or around your ear, but rather sit on the bone directly in front of your eardrum. Through its bone-conduction technology, these headphones deliver sound through your cheekbones, keeping your ears open to other sounds on the road.
"No matter how sweaty you get, these headphones manage to stay in place," Tamir says. "And they're waterproof, too, so you won't have to worry about them getting damaged by sweat or rain."
Use the control buttons on the headphones to turn up the volume or skip tracks for eight whole hours of listening.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $159.95
10. Best TalkThru Running Headphones: Under Armour True Wireless Flash X Earbuds
Among the best headphones for running, these earbuds come with two different listening modes: TalkThru and AmbientAware. TalkThru allows you to chat with a running buddy or hear your surroundings while listening to music. And AmbientAware amplifies the sound so you can immerse yourself in your playlist.
The sport-tip buds lock into place in your ears, so you have an extra-secure fit as you sprint down the streets.
"These buds are waterproof and small, so they don't get in the way when you're running," Tamir says. "Plus, the case is extremely durable — I can toss it into my bag and I don't have to worry about it getting damaged, which is a relief."
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $169.95
11. Best Headphones for Trail Running: Jaybird Sport Vista Earbuds
Take these nature-proof earbuds for a run through rain, snow, mud or a desert sandstorm, and you'll be surprised by how shock absorbent they are.
Tested by athletes performing in treacherous weather conditions, these headphones hold up to 32 hours of charge and provide great sound quality, taking you from zero to beast mode on the trails.
"Their protection from the elements, secure sport fit and sound quality make these headphones the answer for adventures in the great outdoors," Hayden says.
Buy it: JaybirdSport.com; Price: $179.99
12. Best Voice-Assistant Running Headphones: Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
All about that bass? Then you'll thoroughly enjoy the sound coming from the 12mm speaker in these stylish and sleek-looking earbuds. In addition to powering your buds, the case can charge your phone if you're ever in a bind.
"I like that you can use the built-in voice assistant while you're working out to send a quick text or set a reminder," Tamir says.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $162.95
13. Best Secure-Fit Running Headphones: Plantronics Backbeat Fit 3100 True Wireless Earbuds
Not only do these earbuds have plastic tips to help keep them in place, but they also have around-the-ear hooks, so once you have them on, you really don't have to worry about them falling out.
"I really like how secure they are, and that you don't have to worry about losing one while you take off a layer on your run," Tamir says.
They're extremely durable and are sweat-proof and waterproof. They can hold five hours of charge, and their soft case can provide an additional 10.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $79
14. Best Splurge-Worthy Running Headphones: Bose Noise-Canceling Over-the-Ear Headphones
These over-the-ear headphones are pricey, but they deliver unmatched acoustics, so you can really get into the zone. Their patented noise-canceling technology keeps ambient noise out.
And there are 11 different levels of sound control to choose from, ranging from full noise canceling to full transparency.
"The size of these is nice because you won't accidentally misplace them, as you do with some small individual earbuds," Tamir says. "And they sound awesome."
Buy it: Bose.com; Price: $379.95
How to Shop for the Best Running Headphones
You've got a lot of features to consider when shopping for the best headphones for running. For example, do you prefer wireless earbuds or an over-the-ear design? Do you want headphones that allow you send and read messages? Prefer a noise-canceling pair or ones that tune out all outside sound?
Think these things through before picking your ultimate pair.
You can opt for over-the-ear headphones that connect the right and left speakers with some sort of headband, or you can go totally wireless with earbuds. For some people, over-the-head options aren't as secure, while others find that earbuds just won't stay put in their ears.
"Whatever option you choose, it's important to be sure they provide a secure fit over or in the ears for running," Brown says, so you can really focus on your run.
You also want to consider whether they are shock-absorbent and water-resistant if you frequently go on outdoor runs that might make them more vulnerable to the weather.
2. Sound Quality
For some people, sound quality is at the top of their list. They don't want to just listen to music; they want to hear and feel the vibration, too.
But if you want to hear your jams at their best, you will probably need to pay for it. The more expensive headphones tend to offer the best sound quality. However, you can find exceptions.
3. Bluetooth Connectivity
Wireless headphones are the popular choice nowadays, but remember that these tools connect to your phone or music device via Bluetooth. The best Bluetooth headphones for running come from high-tech established brands such as Bose, Samsung and Jaybird.
If your headphones aren't great quality and don't provide a good connection, your music may cut in and out, which can be extremely distracting on runs, Brown says.
4. Battery Life
If you're a marathon runner and frequently go for long runs that last hours, you need a pair of running headphones or earbuds that can last as long as your legs do. There's nothing worse than losing that pump-up mix in those final miles when you need the boost the most, Tamir says.