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Best Earbuds for Running, Tested and Reviewed

Best Earbuds for Running
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Updated October 11, 2023

Ask any runner who has logged more miles than you can imagine, and they’ll say a few things are essential to a successful jog: High-quality, supportive running shoes, the right fuel, and a solid set of earbuds. 

Whether a killer Spotify playlist or an inspiring, exciting podcast motivates you to put one foot before the other, a reliable pair of earbuds is a must-have accessory. While there are hundreds of styles and fits, I challenged runners to put the top contenders to the test and narrowed down our picks to seven. 

What to consider when buying earbuds for running

I spoke with Corey Lewis, a runner and the co-founder and CEO of 1AND1, about what is most essential when shopping for earbuds for fitness. He outlined three top considerations:

Sweat and water resistance

Lewis says to look for earbuds specifically designed for sports or running, with high sweat and water resistance. This ensures they can withstand your intense workouts and won't get damaged by moisture.

Secure and comfortable fit

Opt for earbuds with different sizes of ear tips or adjustable ear hooks to find the perfect fit for your ears. As Lewis reminds us, a secure and comfortable fit is essential to prevent them from falling out during your runs and to minimize discomfort.

Noise isolation and safety

Consider earbuds that offer noise isolation without completely blocking out external sounds. Lewis says this allows you to enjoy your music while being aware of your surroundings for safety during outdoor runs.

Our top wireless earbuds for running picks

Best battery life earbuds for running: JLab Epic Air Sport ANC

There’s nothing more disheartening than preparing your body for a long endurance run—and your earbuds die a few miles into your training. While nearly all earbuds promise an impressive battery life, this JLab set is the most dependable. The runners testing out this set ran a handful of miles four days a week and didn’t need to charge them once! While they might not look as sleek as others that were tested, the fact that these could be used for days without having to remember to plug in the case was appreciated 

Both music and a 30-minute podcast were part of the tests, and overall, the sound quality was amazing. While they are noise-canceling, they don’t have to be since you can choose from three different modes: noise-canceling on, noise-canceling off, and Be Aware, which lets in the ‘outside world’ for extra safety. 

The earbuds come with six gel ear tip sizes, and after trying out two of them, it was easy to find a comfortable, secure fit that didn’t cause trouble during our runs. They also have an IP66 rating for water, so if you did get caught in the rain, you wouldn’t have to worry about ruining our electronics. When testing, it was easy to pull out one of the earbuds—and the music stopped automatically. This feature is great since finding your phone and pausing your jams can be a pain. 

Our only true grievance with the JLab is the app. It was glitchy with a steep learning curve. Once we figured it out and worked through a few mishaps, we could easily use the earbuds. We were pairing with an iPhone, and some users reported easier pairing with an Android device, thanks to Google Fast Pair. For under $100, these are a worthwhile investment for the frequent runner. 

Specifications:

  • Noise cancellation? Yes. Control how you hear outside noise with three noise control modes in the hardware: ANC On, ANC Off and Be Aware (pass through outside noises). 
  • Battery life: 15+ hours
  • Water resistance: These earbuds have an IP rating/waterproof rating of IP66 for the earbuds only, not the case.
  • Multipoint? No
  • Works best with: Android; compatible with all devices that support Bluetooth 5.0
  • Features: Wireless charging case, Google Fast Pair and Wear Detect Sensor, and three noise-canceling modes
  • Price at time of  publish: $99.99

What we like:

  • Long battery life
  • Great sound quality
  • Secure fit

What we would change:

  • App has glitches/can be difficult you use
Best battery life earbuds for running
JLab Epic Air Sport ANC

JLab Epic Air Sport ANC

Best noise canceling earbuds for running: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

After many years of being a dedicated Apple products megafan, our tester—reluctantly—agreed to test out these Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, generation two. And much to their surprise—they have been converted to a Bose groupie! At first glance, these look mighty similar to Airpods, just slightly bigger, with a longer case. These could easily fit in our expandable running belt and felt comfortable enough to hold in our hand, as some runners prefer to do.

After charging and pairing these, we took them out on a trail run in our community—about a 2.5-mile hilly trek. Instantly, the sound quality was much better and balanced, providing a crispy, enjoyable listening experience. The earbuds' shape was very comfortable after we found the right ear tip fit. They didn’t move or jiggle out of our ears while running, even over rocky terrain with branches. They offer touch controls to turn the music up and down or skip a song straight from our ear. Though it took us a bit to master it, once we did, it was second nature.

For our second test, we ran on a treadmill with them to see how noise-canceling they truly were (those belts are loud!). They passed the test with flying colors—and we appreciated the range of cancellations to choose from, with 0 being ‘Aware’ to the outside world and 10 being completely quiet. 

The battery life could be longer—but we were able to go on two solid runs before having to charge the earbuds. It’s important to note they don’t have a wireless charging feature. The only real drawback of this best-seller from Bose is the same complaint most people have: pairing and connectivity issues. 

We had to pair, repair, forget, and remember our earbuds several times. Sometimes the charging case has to be plugged in to pair a device, which could be annoying. We were traveling when we tested these and simply could not get the earbuds to pair at the hotel gym, and we ended up having to run in silence. Though we’ve mostly figured out how to resolve this issue, you’ll need patience. 

Specifications:

  • Noise cancellation? Yes, adjustable between 0 (Aware Mode) and 10 (full noise cancellation)
  • Battery life: Up to 6 hrs
  • Water resistance: The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II have passed IPX4 testing, which means they are protected against sweat and splashing water from any angle
  • Multipoint? No
  • Works best with: A2DP Bluetooth Audio Streaming, and HFP Bluetooth
  • Features: Adjustable EQ, touch controls, and ActiveSense technology
  • Price at time of publish: $299

What we like:

  • Effective noise canceling
  • High-quality
  • Crisp sound quality

What we would change: 

  • Battery life could be longer
  • No wireless charging
  • Can be pairing/connectivity issues
Best noise canceling earbuds for running
Bose QuietComfort® Earbuds II Soapstone

Bose QuietComfort® Earbuds II Soapstone

Best earbuds for running safety: Sony Float Run Open-Ear Wireless Headphones

Though these do have an open-ear design, we counted them as earbuds and gave them a spot on our list because they offer increased safety and awareness for solo runners. And there are more and more long-distance runners who are turning to this approach to listening to music and protecting their hearing health. 

When we first unboxed these, we noticed they had a cool look and were nicely organized in all recyclable packaging. The shape is a little unusual, but it makes sense based on the open-ear concept.

Because these are all one rigid piece, they fit securely, and you hook them over your ears to hold the speaker portion just outside of the opening of your ear canal. Our tester wore glasses and found the rigid over-ear style a bit less comfortable than other over-ear styles connected by a flexible cord. 

To put them to the test, we took these out on a 5K run. We really liked the fact that they allow us to still hear what’s happening around us while still having your running tunes. This made us feel more safe, aware of what was happening around us, and have the best of both worlds: hearing the sounds of nature and life and our pump-up beats.

The sound quality was comparable to other earbuds, and the touch controls were fairly intuitive once we went through a few trial-and-error problem-solving. By midway through the run, our tester started to have some pain on the tops of their ears where the earbuds hooked over them. However, since they wear glasses, that's not uncommon with over-ear earbuds. 

The battery life was enough for at least a few runs, and while we wouldn’t choose them for endurance training, they are a solid investment for shorter runs or walks and for those who don’t want a noise-canceling audio experience. In the era of AirPods and small discrete earbuds, these are a bit bulky yet still compact enough to pack in a running belt. 

Specifications:

  • Noise cancellation? No
  • Battery life: Up to 10 hrs 
  • Water resistance: IPX4 water resistance against sweat and splashes
  • Multipoint? No
  • Works best with: Bluetooth devices; works well with any Android smartphone that supports Bluetooth connectivity; and with accessories like sunglasses or hats
  • Features: Innovative off-ear design, anti-noise canceling for increased safety, long battery life, and water resistance
  • Price at time of publish: $129.99

What we like:

  • Good sound quality
  • Can still hear your surroundings - good for safety
  • Intuitive controls

What we would change: 

  • Bulky
  • Can pinch the ears, especially for glasses wearers
Best earbuds for running safety
Sony Float Run Open-Ear Wireless Headphones

Sony Float Run Open-Ear Wireless Headphones

Most secure earbuds for running: Soundcore Sport X10

Earbuds come in various shapes and sizes, sometimes with hooks or a neckband. This top-selling pair from Soundcore offers a rotatable over-the-ear hook that not only increased our comfort level but also gave us security during our run. Unlike others, where we needed to test out a few fits before finding a comfortable way to wear these earbuds, these were much faster to unbox, charge, and use. 

We took them out for a marathon training run, and from the first moment the beat dropped, we were impressed with the powerful sound. It’s so well-balanced, without being too loud, making it ideal for runners who enjoy music over podcasts. We liked that the earbuds didn’t move up or down or even slightly fall out. 

They were incredibly dependable, allowing us to focus on the task at hand: increasing our mileage before race day. A fun feature for runners going on casual jogs where they can still have a conversation is the ‘wind reduction’ feature, allowing you to hear better and be heard on a call. 

Because these were used for longer runs, we did need to recharge them at the end of the week, but overall, we were impressed with the battery life. They have a waterproof and sweatproof coating, and we didn’t notice any damage, even in the humidity of our area. 

One drawback is the noise cancellation technology—it’s not as effective as others we tested. While it did cut out some background noise, it wasn’t as quiet or alert, and it didn’t offer modes. We eventually figured out the control buttons, but we found them difficult to access and use. We typically just changed the music or volume on our phone to make it faster. 

Specifications:

  • Noise cancellation? No
  • Battery life: Up to 8 hrs
  • Water resistance: Sport X10 workout earbuds have a fully-waterproof, IPX7-rated build that stops liquids in their tracks. For further protection, our exclusive SweatGuard technology defends against the corrosive properties of sweat.
  • Multipoint? No
  • Works best with: Bluetooth 5.2 ensures that your Sport X10 workout earbuds maintain a consistently stable connection with your device throughout the duration of your workout.
  • Features: Wind noise reduction, easy-to-open charging case, and great sound, plus a Soundcore app for customization
  • Price at time of publish: $69.99

What we like:

  • Comfortable
  • Good sound quality
  • Affordable

What we would change:

  • Noise cancellation not as effective as it could be
  • Control buttons are difficult to access/use
Most secure earbuds for running
Soundcore Sport X10

Soundcore Sport X10

Best earbuds for running under $100: Urbanears Juno

When we asked our tester to give these earbuds a whirl on a run—they confessed their idea of running is mostly walking quickly. Or perhaps, a short jaunt followed by a rest. Not everyone is a hardcore, dedicated runner—but you still need a pair of earbuds that will last as long as you want to stroll outside. When we unboxed these, they reminded us of the classic earbud design—and were comfortable from the beginning. They also felt secure enough to bop around without much movement. 

We tested these on a five-mile walk and run. We ran some of it and walked most of it, but no matter what, they were securely in place. The small, compact design makes them easy to toss in a purse or a backpack, so you can use them for work and exercise alike. They offer multipoint connectivity, meaning they can be connected to several devices at once, without disconnecting or forgetting devices and reconnecting. 

We really like the ‘active noise canceling’ feature that effortlessly goes up or down, depending on the environment. While the full quiet noise-canceling wasn’t as effective as others we tested, it was still great quality. The wireless charging option is helpful for those with busy lives, too. The battery life offers up to six hours of playtime and 26 from the case. We used them off and on for a week without having to recharge. 

Our only grievance was the sound quality—but not a dealbreaker for a solid investment under $100.  

Specifications:

  • Noise cancellation? Yes
  • Battery life: Up to 6 hrs 
  • Water resistance: IPX4 in earbuds
  • Multipoint? Yes, up to 2 devices. Switch between devices with ease. Dual connectivity keeps you connected to both at the same time.
  • Works best with: Bluetooth 5.2
  • Features: Active noise-canceling, wireless charging, and clear calls
  • Price at time of publish: $99.00

What we like:

  • Secure fit
  • Wireless charging
  • Versatile

What we would change:

  • Noise cancellation less effective in noisy environments 
  • Limited bass quality
Best earbuds for running under $100
Urbanears Juno

Urbanears Juno

Best earbuds for high-intensity exercise: Powerbeats Pro

When we first pulled the Beats out of the box, we were instantly impressed with the sleek, slim design—and the easy setup with the iPhone. Beats products have native integration with iOS, making it smooth and easy to use—anything from setup to Siri and integration with your favorite apps. Unlike others on our list, this set was probably the most straightforward to connect to an iPhone.

The loop around the ear makes the earbuds feel very secure, with no fear of them falling out during a run or other exercise. However, the wrap around the ear did feel stiff at the top, and we would have liked to see the ability to adjust the top to make it fit better with our ear. Given the tightness of the hook/arm, we felt our ears getting a bit tired from wearing these for a prolonged period of time—similar to how we might feel wearing sunglasses all day. We got used to it after a few minutes but noticed it throughout our run. 

Beats offer a long battery life, making them ideal for a longer workout and not worrying about them dying halfway through. They’re sweatproof too, so we didn’t stress about damaging them out in theheat. 

We found the audio to be very clear and balanced: the bass wasn’t too heavy, but we still enjoyed an excellent depth to the music without distortion. We also listened to a podcast, and the voice and audio were clear. Outside and background noise didn't overshadow the conversations, even without specific noise-canceling technology. 

One complaint with Beats is the charging case. It’s very large, so bringing the charging case on the go is less ideal. The case has a great battery life for recharging the earbuds but feels very bulky. 

Lastly: the headphones do not go into standby mode when not used and left outside the charging case (e.g., if left on a table). We found that the earbuds would continuously be connected to our phone and be in active mode, even when not in use, resulting in us getting updates on battery drainage/connectivity throughout the day.

Specifications:

  • Noise cancellation? No
  • Battery life: Up to 9 hrs
  • Water resistance: Reinforced design for IPX4-rated sweat and water resistance during tough workouts.
  • Multipoint? No
  • Works best with: Bluetooth, wireless; earbuds connect independently via Class 1 Bluetooth for extended range and fewer dropouts; compatible with Apple products
  • Features: Volume and track controls on each earbud, voice capability with Siri, Fast Fuel: a five-minute charge gives 1.5 hours of playback when the battery is low, and enhanced phone call performance
  • Price at time of publish: $249.95

What we like:

  • Clear audio
  • Secure fit
  • Sleek design

What we would change:

  • Strain ears when used for long periods
  • Bulky charging case
Best earbuds for high-intensity exercise
Beats - Powerbeats Pro Totally Wireless Earbuds - Black

Beats - Powerbeats Pro Totally Wireless Earbuds - Black

Best earbuds for running for an iPhone: AirPods (3rd generation) with Lightning Charging Case

No earbud round-up is complete without a mention of the OG: AirPods. As longtime users and Apple fans, we love so many aspects of this best-selling, cult-followed product. After testing so many earbuds, the most important difference is how seamless and easily AirPods connect to the iPhone without any troubleshooting. You simply unbox them, place them near your iPhone—and within a minute, you can listen to your favorite Taylor Swift song or podcast. (This ease is what made AirPods deserving of a spot on our list of the best wireless earbuds.)

They’re lightweight, with a contoured design, and we find they sit at the right angle in our ears to be comfortable. The great sound quality makes them ideal for running errands, going on a run, taking a call, and any other daily task that we might need. We like that you can choose between noise-canceling or non noise-canceling, depending on your comfort level. We are a bit anti-noise-canceling, merely for safety reasons, when going for an outdoor jog. 

Unlike others we tested, AirPods don’t offer multiple fits, so they don’t feel as secure. That’s why we would recommend them for the casual, everyday runner but not for an intense workout where you’ll be getting up and down off the ground. 

Our biggest complaint about AirPods is their charging issues. We often find that one side charges and the other doesn’t, and they tend to lose battery life at different speeds. This can become easily frustrating—and annoying to troubleshoot, resulting in trips to the Apple store for help. Because of this, we don’t think they’re the best pick for a long-distance runner. 

Specifications:

  • Noise cancellation? No
  • Battery life: Up to 6 hours of listening time with a single charge (up to 5 hours with Personalized Spatial Audio enabled)
  • Water resistance: Yes; Both AirPods and the Lightning Charging Case are rated IPX4 water resistant — so they’ll withstand anything from rain to heavy workouts
  • Multipoint? No
  • Works best with: Bluetooth 5.0; Easy setup for all your Apple devices
  • Features: Personalized Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking, Adaptive EQ, Lightning Charging Case, so you can enjoy up to 30 hours of total listening time, and Announce Notifications with Siri 
  • Price at time of publish: $169.00

What we like:

  • Great sound quality
  • Lightweight
  • Easy connectivity

What we would change:

  • Charging issues
  • Limited adjustability for fit
  • Not suitable for intense workouts due to insecure fit for some individuals
Best earbuds for running for an iPhone
AirPods (3rd generation) with Lightning Charging Case

AirPods (3rd generation) with Lightning Charging Case

How we tested and select the best earbuds for running

Our testers put all of these earbuds to the test by going for runs or walks indoors, outdoors, and over varying lengths. They also listened to music and podcasts, plus tested out different features, like touch controls, noise-canceling ranges, and connecting to smartwatches. Our testers ranged from beginners to marathoners—and every type of runner in between. To land at the best-of-the-best, the following factors were considered:

  • Ease of set-up
  • Connectivity 
  • Battery life
  • Sound quality 
  • Comfort and fit
  • Overall durability 
  • Sweatproof/waterproof
  • Staying put in ears
  • Performance
  • Budget

Types of earbuds 

According to certified personal trainer and fitness consultant Domenic Angelino MS, CSCS, FNS, CPT, earbuds can be broadly separated into three groups of categories: 

  • Wireless vs. wired
  • Hooked vs. non-hooked
  • In-ear vs. out-of-ear

As he explains, wireless earbuds are great because they’re less restrictive and more convenient in exchange for having a limited battery life. In contrast, wired earbuds are more restrictive and cumbersome but do not have a limited battery life. 

“Hooked earbuds are more easily able to stay in your ear because they externally anchor themselves to the outside of your ear, however, they are a lot less comfortable than non-hooked earbuds,” he says. “Modern high-quality non-hooked earbuds can be designed to fit in your ear pretty well comfortably, so many people opt for them over the more secure hooked variant.”

Lastly, in-ear earbuds are designed to rest more deeply in your ear canal, which makes them more secure but also more intrusive, while out-of-ear earbuds don’t rest very deeply in your ear, which makes them feel less cumbersome in exchange for being less secure in your ear, he adds.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Are earbuds OK for running?

Of course! For a normal runner or gym-goer, Angelino says earbuds vs. headphones won’t have an inherent and meaningful negative impact. “Think of it like a tool that you can use for motivation to run and ask yourself if using that tool makes it easier for you to feel motivated to run longer, faster, or more often,” he says. “If your answer is ‘yes’ to any of the above, go for earbuds, and if not, then there isn’t a need to.”

What earbuds stay in when running?

According to Angelino, water-resistant earbuds are more likely to stay in while running since one of the most common reasons that low-quality earbuds fall out during a run is because the runner’s sweat reduces the coefficient of friction of the earbuds. 

“Although they aren’t everyone’s preferred earbud type, earbuds that are hooked or curved can effectively stay in the ear because they don’t solely rely on the earbud staying lodged within the ear itself to stay on,” he says. “In-ear wireless earbuds are also easily able to stay in your ear because they are deeply secured in your ear canal, and there’s less of a risk of accidentally hitting the earbud’s wire with your hands and pulling it out while running.”

What is the proper way to wear earbuds for running?

Believe it or not, Angelino says setting up your earbuds properly for running starts before you even begin your run. “It’s important to make sure your earbuds are cleaned and dried before use as clearing up sweat, wax, and other debris will allow your earbuds to fit more seamlessly in your ear while reducing slip risk,” he explains. If you’re still running into challenges with earbuds, consider our list of the best headphones.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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