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5 Great Headphone Options to Get You Through a Sweaty, Song-Filled Summer

5 minute read

Summer is in full effect, which means barbecues, bashes, and begging for an end to the global pandemic. But as 2021’s hot girl summer rages and the temperatures soar, that doesn’t mean you have to deal with gross, musty cans when you want to enjoy some music solo outside (or inside).

Whether working out in the heat, sweating up a storm on a hike or just walking around by yourself on a warm day, you need a pair of headphones that won’t give up after a few sweltering sessions. Here are our picks for the best headphones to use during another super sweaty summer.

Ultimate Ears UE Fits

Price: $199

For earbuds that will stay in and keep you focused when working up a sweat outside, the Ultimate Ears UE FITS wireless earbuds are certainly a unique option. For one, setup includes creating a custom-fit seal using the silicone tips filled with a special plastic that molds to the shape of your ears. To activate the process, you stick the earbuds in your ears, open the companion app, and wait about a minute to feel the warmth of the custom molding process happening right inside your ear canal (don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt).

After the molding process is complete, the sweat-resistant UE Fits will, well, fit pretty nicely. While there’s no noise cancellation functionality, the custom-fit seal will block a lot of ambient noise, so you can hear your tunes more clearly. From there you can fiddle with EQ settings in the app, as well as adjust rudimentary control functions on the earbuds themselves.

Powerbeats Pro

Price: $179

For hardcore movers, shakers and everyone in between, you can’t go wrong with the tried and true Powerbeats Pro headphones. The dependable wraparound design means your Powerbeats will stay on your ears, no matter what. You can play hard without worrying they will slide off or get in the way of your activities.

There’s no noise cancellation, but the in-ear fit and stable design means it keeps a great deal of ambient noise out. You’ll get that deep bass that’s notable in Beats headphones, while keeping the world out. The carrying case might be a little too big for your running shorts, but they’ll fit in a jacket pocket or bike pouch easily. It will also keep you charged for your marathon runs or all-day tournaments. If you’re an iPhone user, you can even charge the Powerbeats Pro with your Lightning cable.

Bose Frames Tempo

Price: $249

If you’re doing something requiring your full attention — say, riding a bike — it helps to not have any obstructions in the way, especially ones that compromise your hearing. Enter Bose and its earbud-free Frames. The Bluetooth-enabled Tempo Frames are sunglasses that feature a sporty design, complete with polarized interchangeable lens and silicone nose guards so they stay affixed to your face during the most jittery conditions. The Frames use focused audio sent directly into your ears. That means your music won’t bother anyone when you’re outside, though it’s not an ideal way to listen to tunes indoors if you’re around people, who might catch hints of your jams.

They ditch the old Frames’ proprietary charging cable too, so you can use the same USB-C cable you use to charge your other gadgets. Bose Frames stay on your head and out of your ears during a long, hot day (the Tempo frames last about eight hours before needing a charge).

Apple AirPods Pro

Price: $250

Apple’s ever-popular AirPods Pro wireless earbuds are pretty good all-around headphones, and do a great job during the summer months. Active noise cancellation and passthrough audio (called Transparency mode) make it a great choice for runners who want more situational awareness, or gym rats who just want some peace and quiet when they lift. The in-ear design means they’ll remain in place more so than the less capable AirPods. Touch controls on each earbud make it easy to control your music, and the always-on Siri functionality makes accessing your voice assistant pretty easy.

Even the case is small enough to slip into a pair of shorts during a run, unlike some chunkier wireless earbuds. Additionally, the IPX4 rating means they can withstand a day spent sweating in the sun or a quick drizzle, but aren’t great for extreme conditions. You should probably take them out before diving into a pool.

Jabra Elite 85t

Price: $230

A longtime favorite, and sequel to the excellent Elite 75t, the Jabra Elite 85t are high-end wireless earbuds that rival Apple’s AirPods Pro in functionality. With both active noise cancellation and passthrough audio — letting you hear the world around you while you listen to tunes — you’ll be able to enjoy your music and stay safe on a run, or tune the world out when you’re laying in the park.

They feature physical buttons rather than touch controls, and are small enough to fit in a pocket. With a charge that lasts over five hours at a time, they’re perfect for a long hike. The IPX4 rating also makes it perfect for sweaty runs or quick rainstorms, and its array of six microphones makes you sound pretty darn clear on a phone call.

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Write to Patrick Lucas Austin at patrick.austin@time.com