Sometimes being a runner can feel like a part-time job. With lots of other activities competing for your time and attention, getting out there regularly to get some miles in can be difficult. That's why we recommend picking up a great pair of wireless headphones for running: pristine-sounding music or your favorite podcasts can catalyze that last bit of necessary motivation. And if you’re looking for the perfect electronic running buddy, you can’t go wrong with the Jabra Elite 7 Active(available at Jabra).
The Elite 7 Active earbuds represent a killer mix of form and function: a rugged and water-resistant design, tons of features (including both transparency mode and active noise cancellation), and easy-press controls so you can keep your phone packed away and keep burning those miles. But everyone has different needs when it comes to fit and features, not to mention budget, so we've lined up plenty of other picks from our favorite earbuds so you can customize your workout. Whether you like a wrap-around design or something wholly unique, we've got a pair for you below.
Here are the best running headphones we tested, ranked in order:
Jabra Elite 7 Active
JLab Epic Air Sport ANC
Beats Fit Pro
JBL x Under Armour True Wireless Flash X
Jabra Elite 4 Active
Bose Sport Open Earbuds
Beats Powerbeats Pro
Jabra Elite 7 Active
The Jabra Elite 7 Active, which step in to replace the Elite Active 75t, are great wireless earphones for just about anyone. But, as you'd guess, they're particularly amazing for folks who spend a lot of time on the track or pounding the pavement, thanks to their nimble design, IP57-rated dust and water resistance, and a stable fit that's comfortable for your marathon sessions.
The Elite 7 Active will net you nearly every bell and whistle you might need. A finder function makes sure you won't lose track of them. Transparency mode lets you hear the world around you, so you can stay safe and aware in nearly any situation, including your favorite jogging route. Noise canceling lets you shut the world out when you need to, and Jabra even released a firmware update that adds multipoint pairing, which makes these buds perfect for moving from outdoor activities to your work calls.
The Elite 7 Active offer solid audio performance, though their brighter sound signature may need some EQ to smooth things out. Still, their sound will satisfy most casual listeners and power users alike, especially once you take Jabra's audio personalization sound test.
Jabra's signature push-button controls are intuitive and customizable (thanks to the loaded Jabra Sound+ app) making it easy to adjust volume, skip songs, and turn on transparency mode on the move. The updated fit, while deeper in your ear, is also more grippy and comfortable, which makes them all the better suited for your sweatiest workouts. That's all bolstered by around 7-8 hours of battery life per charge with ANC, and up to 35 hours with the case, a sizeable step up from their predecessors.
The Jabra Elite 7 Active are a great pick for any runner, offering superb overall performance, durability, and a well-rounded user experience to serve as your go-to headphones on or off the track.
JLab's Epic Air Sport ANC may look like they're sport first and everything else a distant second, but looks can be deceiving. Not only are they great for running, but they're also well suited for anyone worried about getting a good fit, especially those who struggle with traditional earbuds. They’re IP66 rated, meaning they’ve got good dust and water/sweat resistance—but don’t submerge them.
One big reason they work great for high-impact runs is the over-ear loop design. It’s a soft silicone we never found annoying, fitting comfortably even with glasses. Some people aren’t a fan of this style, but it allows for a far more secure fit than any other option—we never once felt that they’d fall out and get lost. That makes them a great trade-out if options like the Jabra Elite 7 Active won't work for your ears. The loops aren’t removable (see their non-Sport sibling), but the Epic Air Sport come with multiple silicone ear tip options, plus a very comfortable foam tip.
Overall the sound is a bit bass-heavy, but that can be a good thing when you're on a heavy run. Plus, JLab's app allows for extensive EQ options to help you fine-tune your preferred sound. Battery life was slightly less than claimed. We measured around 13 hours per charge to JLab’s claim of 15, but still, that’s a ton for true wireless headphones. If you enable features like noise canceling, you’ll get less battery life, but still an entire workday worth on a single charge.
Speaking of noise canceling, like most true wireless options at this price, it’s pretty mild. It doesn’t hurt to have it, of course, but if you’re looking specifically for noise canceling, you’ll want to look at the top picks on our best wireless earbuds list, or our best noise-canceling headphones list. Like the majority of modern true wireless earbuds, the Epic Air Sport ANC also offer adjustable transparency mode, which JLab calls Be Aware, letting you hear your environment in high-traffic areas.
The case, a bit larger than the others in this category, also holds a big battery, offering about 3.5 additional charges. It has an attached USB cable, which is either a strength or a weakness depending on your gear. More importantly, it has wireless charging which is a great touch.
If you’re headed out for a jog or trail-running session, these are a fantastic pair to grab, and at this price, they're very hard to pass up.
The Beats Fit Pro aren't dunkable like a lot of the options on our list, but their excellent fit, reams of features, and solid-enough IPX4 water resistance makes them a sleeper hit as your go-to running headphones. That's especially true for iPhone owners, as the Beats Fit Pro have finally usurped the Apple AirPods Pro as the best choice for most iOS users.
The Beats Fit Pro provide longer battery life than the AirPods Pro (6 hours with noise canceling, 7 without), a more secure fit thanks to their rubbery fins, and comparable if not better sound quality. They offer good noise canceling, and more importantly for your daily jog, natural-sounding transparency mode to hear the world around you for safety. They're also a solid choice for Android users, thanks to the dedicated Beats app.
The Fit Pro also unlock all of the same iOS features you'll get from newer AirPods. There’s iCloud/Music Sharing, Hands-Free Siri, Spatial Audio with Dynamic Head Tracking, and Find My tracking so you won’t lose them. Right down to Apple’s H1 chip, the Fit Pro are essentially the AirPods Pro in a better-fitting, more colorful, and sports-ready package. Their ear fins may not be quite as ironclad as the hooked Powerbeats Pro, but they're more comfortable when you're not running, and in our experience, they should keep these buds stable for just about any workout.
Voracious sweaters may want to choose a pair they can rinse in the sink, but as long as you're not looking for dunkable buds that take a massive beating, the Beats Fit Pro are among the best running companions you'll find. And they're just as versatile for your home office. If you're an iPhone user looking for workout buds that also unlock all your favorite AirPods features, these are your go-to pick.
If you're an athlete or a fitness enthusiast, you probably know Under Armour and its popular range of workout clothes and wearables. More recently, UA teamed up with JBL for the True Wireless Flash X. This pair is actually the second-gen baby of this fruitful collaboration, and they're a stalwart running buddy you'll definitely want to consider.
The True Wireless Flash X's tank-like design makes them great for getting out there and pounding the pavement. They have multiple useful sound modes for hearing what's going on around you, and the earbuds and case are extremely robust and impact-resistant. They're a bit on the pricey side for headphones that might not be your go-to choice for casual or work situations, but if you've got the budget for a more purpose-built pair of headphones that can moonlight for other use cases, they’re an excellent choice.
Where the Flash X really stand out from the pack is in the details of their design and physical components. The earbuds (and stabilizing wings) have been carefully built to be extremely firm and durable, composed of a firm but gently yielding rubber that makes for an extremely tight fit and seal. This is important for both keeping out exterior noise and stability in workouts. You can jump around, drop to the ground, or (we daresay) do a cartwheel through a waterfall and the True Wireless Flash will stay put.
While they can become uncomfortable over time, and forego some desirable features like active noise cancellation, they make up for it in terms of sheer stability. Combined with the fully aluminum charging case—a product that should be able to withstand even the most grueling situations—the Flash X might just be the saviors of your own personal running universe.
Sony's Linkbuds are among the most unique earbuds on the market. In fact, the only headphones we've come across that are similar are Bose's Sport Open Earbuds. Both pairs offer a distinct take on the genre that aims to keep your ears open. But Sony's ultra-light Linkbuds are a simpler, nimbler pair that work very well for running.
The Linkbuds keep you aware of your surroundings in any scenario with their trademark "donut hole" design, which actually shapes the drivers into tiny circlets with a hole in the middle. As you can imagine, that makes these buds pretty excellent for lots of outdoor activities, including hiking and biking in areas where you don't want to lose your aural awareness (i.e. surface streets, highways, and biking trails). What's more, the Linkbuds still manage to offer relatively clear and full sound, though their bass response suffers due to their lack of a tight seal in your ear canal.
Apart from their holey, infinity design, the Linkbuds stand out for their lightweight (only 4 grams per bud) and relatively stable fit, though their hard plastic design can wear on the ears after a while. In place of ear tips, they employ little ear wings in multiple sizes to keep them in your ears, and their IPX4 rating gives them decent sweat and water resistance.
They also offer a fair few features, controllable through Sony's headphone app, including a five-band EQ, extras like Sony's Speak to Chat feature that pauses sound when you speak, and Adaptive Audio which ramps up the sound automatically when your environment gets loud. How important those are to you will vary by user, but there are some solid options.
We found their tap controls—which allow you to tap on the buds themselves or your face to control playback—hit or miss. But when they're tracking well, it offers a very simple way to control basic functions when you're on the go. Battery life is pedestrian but workable at 5.5 hours per charge, with an even less impressive 17.5 hours total with the case. Overall, we wish they were a bit slicker in operation and offered better next-gen features for their price. And of course, you'll have to give up any form of noise canceling. That means they won't be your best option for noisy gyms, among many other scenarios.
That said, if you're the type who does a lot of jogging (or biking) on busy streets and you find microphone-controlled transparency mode features to be insufficient, the Linkbuds could be the earbuds you've been waiting for. They're pricey for earbuds with limited use cases, but there's also nothing out there quite like them.
Much like their pricier siblings, Jabra’s Elite 4 offer a near-comprehensive package that bundles in just about everything you could want in a pair of sport-friendly wireless buds, including a dunkable, sweat-resistant housing that stays put even under duress. The biggest difference? These earbuds tow a price tag that’s among the lowest points of entry we’ve ever seen for a pair of earbuds this loaded.
The stacked feature set offers something for everyone, whether you need a snug pair of earbuds for running and rinsing off in the sink (and even dunk for short periods), or some decent noise canceling to keep out the distractions while working from home. You’ll get plenty of functionality in Jabra’s Sound+ app like a 5-band EQ and an earbuds finder, battery playback of 6-7 hours per charge, and the ability to use either bud on its own. Like the Elite 7, they also offer accurate, push-button controls for everything from volume to song skip and transparency mode/noise canceling. That makes them especially convenient for your daily jog.
These earbuds don’t have it all, of course. You won’t get the seamless connection to Apple’s ecosystem found in iOS favorites like the AirPods or Beats Fit Pro, and you’ll have to forgo the multipoint pairing of Jabra’s top pairs. You’ll also have to give up a few features that come standard in other options at this price, like auto-pause when you pull an earbud out or a wireless charging case. But Jabra attempts to make up for those omissions for Android users with extras like Google Fast Pair and one-tap access to Spotify.
The Elite 4 Active's noise canceling and overall sound performance won’t match what you’ll get from our favorite earbuds, but then again you won’t be paying those sticker-shocking prices. That’s what makes the Elite 4 Active such a tempting option: they give you a big heap of flagship features from top sports buds, at a price that’s easy to justify on just about any budget.
Frankly, you’ll have a hard time beating these buds for the money in the vast majority of categories. For the running nut on your list, these are a great choice at a nice price.
Sony's WF-SP800N are formidable running earbuds offering a ton of features for their price point along with impressive sound, a strong and stable connection, and a sporty, design with IP55 dust and water resistance.
Packing everything from transparency mode and light noise cancellation to location-based audio adjustment, the SP800N are well-appointed for their cost—especially since you can often find them on sale. They're also highly tunable thanks to Sony's Headphones Connect app, including a five-band EQ with a separate bass control so you can easily pull back (or ramp up) their booming "Extra Bass" feature. Their multi-fin ear tips keep them stable in your ears, even on heavy runs.
As for negatives, the SP800N’s noise cancelation is nothing to write home about, the buds are fairly bulky, and the charging case stores only one extra charge, though their 9+ hours of playback per charge makes this a lot more palatable. In addition, we found a tear in one of the silicone ear fins after just a few days, but based on over 1,000 user reviews, we’re inclined to write this off as a fluke. Because their fins are fairly involved, it can also be a pain to put them in and take them out, but that’s also what makes them so stable for high-impact running.
Their impressive playback time of 9 hours with noise cancellation—and as much as 13 hours without it—helps make up for their charging case's shortcomings. Add in their wealth of other features and the SP800N are steeped with value, making them a great pair of action-ready sports buds.
Bose’s Sport Open Earbuds don’t have the wide feature set that many of our top running buds offer. But that’s also because the Sport Open offer a unique, fully open-ear design which could make them an excellent choice for your most demanding running adventures.
Unlike the Linkbuds, Bose's model are completely open headphones (as the name helpfully spells out) meaning they don’t go in your ear canals at all, but sit above them to beam sound in from tiny speaker vents. What’s remarkable about this technology isn’t so much that you can hear things clearly, or even that it offers very minimal “bleed” into the world around you. What’s most impressive is that the Sport Open Earbuds actually sound good. And when you don’t have ear cups or even ear tips, that’s a feat in itself.
The Sport Open use an advanced version of Bose’s OpenAudio technology, which can also be found in the company’s distinctive audio sunglasses, the Bose Frames. The sound has been upgraded, however, adding the crucial element of fuller bass to their already impressive upper register. The result is an enjoyable audio experience that also keeps your ears free to explore (and keep you safe from) the world around you. This makes them great for running and hiking, of course, but they're also among our top pick for cycling, where the transparency mode of traditional wireless earbuds is rendered almost useless.
Bose adds to the package with impressive design, including simple setup, a relatively hearty chassis for each bud, and moderate, IPX4 water resistance to protect them from the elements. They also offer around 7-8 hours of battery per charge alongside a minimalist, but relatively effective control system accessed via a small button on the bottom of each earbud.
There are some drawbacks to being different, starting with the fact that, unlike virtually every other pair of true wireless earbuds we’ve tested, the Sport Open don’t come with a charging case to top off their battery on the go. They also have a relatively austere feature set (as you can imagine, there’s no way to add active noise cancellation here), including a pretty bare-bones app. And, for our ears anyway, they became relatively uncomfortable over time, making their use cases all the more limited.
That said, if you’re looking for groundbreaking buds that sound good and keep your ears naturally free for the most demanding running routine, the Bose Sport Open Earbuds are a great option.
The Beats Powerbeats Pro have lost some luster in recent years due to heated competition, but they still offer impressive playback time per charge, great sound, and a durable, sporty design that makes them a solid pair of running earbuds.
They offer decent (IPX4) sweat and water resistance and vastly improved sound quality over previous Beats earbuds, making them a good choice for general use. Their ear-hook design also makes them incredibly stable for your most challenging running routine, though they can get uncomfortable over time. They come with a pocketable charging case (thanks to their ear hooks, it’s a lot larger than most), but their impressive 9 hours of battery life per charge allows you to leave the case behind.
As you'd expect from Beats, they're relatively stylish, available in ivory, black, navy, or moss colors, and even years on they're an attractive pair—especially for workout buds.
The Powerbeats Pro are less minimalist than options like their siblings, the Beats Fit Pro, and also miss a few key features. They don’t include active noise cancellation, but most notable for runners, they also don't offer any form of transparency mode. This makes them less-than-ideal for jogging in busy areas, but you can use just one of them at a time in such cases to keep aware of your surroundings.
If you’re looking for fitness first, and don’t hold transparency mode as a must-have feature, the Powerbeats Pro are a fine choice—especially if you grab them on a good sale.
For this list, we focus on several key pain points that consumers typically run into when buying wireless running headphones: battery life, ease of use, accessible controls, wireless range, sound quality, sound isolation, water and dust resistance, and comfort, among other features.
Most features are tested in real-life situations, including sweat proofing, short- and long-term comfort, battery life, microphone quality, and connectivity over distances and through obstacles like doors and walls. We also take them on long workouts both in and out of the gym to make sure they stay put under duress and allow for easy control while your body is moving.
For sound quality tests, we use a mix of real-world and lab testing, including data collection and A/B testing on factors like max volume, passive and active noise attenuation (including active noise cancellation), and how well each earbud blocked outside and background noise. We use all the earbuds extensively, playing a wide variety of test tracks ranging from classical to hip-hop, rock, jazz, and more.
Perhaps the biggest missing link in all headphone reviews is durability. It's simply impossible for us to test a single pair and come to a meaningful conclusion about how well they'll hold up over time and with regular use (and abuse). To account for this, we look at things like their IP rating (for dust and water resistance) as well as noting any major issues that popped up in user reviews (where available), and adjust our scoring over time as needed. We also use these earbuds over a prolonged period and update their firmware when available to test out the latest features and update relevant articles and reviews with our findings.
The truth is that wireless earbuds across the board have struggled with durability, so this is a major cause of concern for us. Since some of these models are quite new, we reserve the right to re-evaluate our conclusions as we become aware of any major issues or pain points as time goes on.
What You Should Know About Running Headphones
There are some very important aspects specifically for running headphones, which we targeted for this list. Those include durability, a stable fit, and water/sweat resistance. We also look at other important aspects, such as particularly easy access controls so you won't have to slow your roll to pump up your jams. For instance, headphones with push-button controls, such as Jabra models or the latest Beats, are particularly easy to use when you're hitting the pavement.
Knowing the basic terminology of modern headphones is the best way to estimate what you need, which will guide you toward deciding on where you may want to compromise to fit your budget. Below are a few important terms to know before you shop.
Bluetooth/wireless: A pair of Bluetooth headphones will let you unplug from your source device, while a set of "true wireless" earbuds are even more minimalist, offering totally wire-free listening with no cable between the earbuds. If you're looking for an experience that won't tether you to your phone, tablet, or laptop, Bluetooth headphones are what you need—and fortunately, they're ubiquitous enough these days that you can find them in every style and price range. Every pair on this list supports Bluetooth wireless connection.
Active Noise Cancellation: Noise-canceling headphones, i.e those with active noise cancellation (ANC), aren't just for frequent flyers. Originally developed for pilots, these headphones reduce the intrusion of ambient noise around you. Over the last several years they've become a mainstay for travelers, public transit commuters, gym-goers, and those working in distracting environments in the office or at home. Many of our favorite picks include ANC as the feature has become extremely popular and widely available.You can also check out our guide of the best noise-canceling headphones we've tested.
Transparency mode: This feature goes by many names, including HearThrough mode, ambient sound mode, Be Aware, etc. All of these phrases refer to the same technology, which uses tiny microphones on the exterior of your headphones or earbuds to filter in sound from your environment. The purpose is to keep you aware of your surroundings, letting you play tunes while you jog or hike, while still being aware of dangers or alerts. Not all transparency mode is created equal, though, and how a headphone’s hardware and software handle things like wind gusts can make a serious difference in the feature’s utility.
IP: You'll encounter an "IP" rating across a wide array of electronics but the term is perhaps most important (in the headphone world anyway) when it comes to products designed to take on the elements. You'll often see the code "IPX" with a number at the end, or you may see codes like IP67, etc. The first number is dust resistance—essentially how well the product stands up to ingress, and the higher the number the better. The second number is water resistance. The highest you'll likely see for headphones is "7" which means the product is certified to withstand being fully submerged in one meter of water (freshwater only) for 30 minutes. For workout headphones, anything from IPX4 (meaning the headphones can withstand splashes from any direction) and above is solid. For more info check out our IP guide.
More Running Headphones
The Jabra Elite Active 75t have long been among our favorite running headphones, especially when they went on fire sale. They've since been all but replaced by the Elite 7 Active, and their price has skyrocketed on some sites, but if you can find them on a good sale ($100 or so) they are a fantastic option worth grabbing before they're gone. Get the Jabra Elite Active 75t at Jabra
The Jaybird Vista 2 are a popular pair of workout buds that offer great features, solid sound, and serious weather resistance. We unfortunately experienced some connection issues in testing and multiple other users reported similar problems, but they may still be worth considering if you're a fan of the brand. Get the Jaybird Vista 2 at Amazon
Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.
Hailing originally from Montana, Ryan parlayed his time working as a musician and audio engineer into a career in digital media in 2012. Since then he's had extensive experience as a writer and editor, including everything from op-eds and features to reviews on TVs, audio gear, smart home devices, and more.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.