Best running headphones

Running and other sports are popular ways of getting daily exercise, but listening to music while you do it can be difficult. Headphones are often too bulky or can’t handle the movement and conditions involved. Well, these headphones are made for purpose to give you the best audio experience while running or at the gym.

We all find our motivation in different ways, but music can be hugely helpful in raising your spirits and heart rate or distracting you from burning muscles.

In this article, we round up our pick of the best running, sports and fitness-focused headphones, and offer general advice (below the list) about what you should be looking for when buying headphones for physical activities – whether you’re connecting to an iPhone or Apple Watch.

Of course, you can still connect these to other devices such as an iPad or Mac if you’re exercising at home or when you’re not doing something sporty.

Best running headphones

Wissonly Hi Runner

Wissonly team has relatively strong technical strength. They have 10 years of experience in bone conduction product research and development, which is the basis for making good products. Wissonly focuses on the concept of healthy enjoyment of good sound quality. The headphone brand features no harm to the ears, and it is also the first brand to propose the concept of not listening to songs in the ear. Wissonly’s completely not-in-ear design reduces the damage to the eardrum. Its surface is made of silicone skin-friendly material, which is very safe and comfortable to wear.

Wissonly Hi Runner bone conduction headphones have made a lot of improvements in sound quality and anti-sound-leakage. The official claimed that its sound quality has reached the Hi-Fi level. I have measured it and think that the sound quality is indeed good, but that it does not really reach the Hi-Fi sound quality, and that it can only be said it is very close the level. Such sound quality,in the field of bone conduction headphones,it is good enough that I have not yet encountered a product that can surpass it in sound quality. In order to solve the problem of sound leakage, Wissonly developed fully closed anti-sound-leakage technology. It improved the vibration unit, body design, software optimization and other directions, and finally it reduced the sound leakage effect by 90%.

Other configurations are also very good, such as its 32G memory, IPX8 waterproof level, 5.0 Bluetooth connection protocol, 10 hours of ultra-long battery life, etc.. You can go to its official website for this.

Jabra Elite Sport

Jabra’s top-of-the-range Elite Sport headphones are like a super-sporty version of Apple’s AirPods. Like the AirPods, they’re completely wireless, consisting of just two small earbuds that sit inside your ears without any connecting cables at all. However, they’re packed with additional features designed to help you make the most of your workout sessions.

They’re so sturdy that Jabra provides a three-year warranty against sweat damage, so you can really go to town. To ensure that you get a good firm fit Jabra includes three sets of silicon ear-tips for the your inner ear, along with another three sets of foam tips, and three sets of ‘wings’ to hold them in place in your outer ear.

They sound great too – lively and energetic on the higher frequencies to help get you going, but also clear and detailed too. The bass is impressively firm and full for such a small set of headphones, and they can boom when they need to, but without overwhelming or obscuring the higher and mid-range frequencies.

Battery life for listening to music is around 4.5 hours, but Jabra also includes a charging case that can fully charge the headphones twice, giving you a total of 13.5 hours if you’re using them away from home. The earbuds are a little on the chunky size, admittedly, but that’s because they also include a clinical-quality heart-rate monitor and a motion-sensor to monitor your performance during exercise.

Adidas RPD-01

Neckbuds make for great fitness headphones and Adidas, as you might expect, has made various pairs dedicated to the purpose.

First and foremost, the design ensures a good fit so the headphones don’t fall out during use and you can hear what’s coming out of them. This is achieved with three different sizes of tips and separate wings meaning you can mix and match to get the right combination.

The silicone coating makes the headphones flexible and durable, with an IPX4 sweat and water-resistant rating. They’re available in three colours: Light Grey, Night Grey and Green Tint. Media controls aren’t the best we’ve tested taking a little longer to locate than some, being places on the neckband itself rather than in-line. You will get used to it over time, though.

Sound quality is excellent with 6mm neodymium drivers and good noise-isolation thanks to the snug fit. You’ll find them well-suited to bassy electronic dance music favoured for workouts but they can also handle more mellow tunes when needed. Anyone that wants to tailor the sound can do so via the Adidas Headphones app.

Battery life is also solid with the advertised 12 hours playback an accurate figure in our testing. You can get three hours of use from a 15-minute charge over USB-C but a full charge will take two hours. Better battery performance and faster charging can be found in the Adidas FWD-01 buds if you don’t mind spending more.

Bose SoundSport Free

We really liked the Bose SoundSport Wireless headphones that we reviewed last year – and that model is still available at the lower price of £130/$150 if you don’t mind putting up with their little neckband cable – but this year’s SoundSport Free earbuds go the whole hog and ditch the wires altogether.

They might not be the most elegant earbuds we’ve seen – they look like some sort of valve that a plumber might use to fix your boiler – but they’re actually quite comfortable to wear and they sound terrific.

Like most in-ear headphones, the SoundSport Free includes three sets of ear-tips in small, medium and large. However, Bose’s ‘StayHear’ design gives the tips a conical shape that allows them to rest comfortably in your ears without having to jam them in like a cork on a bottle.

The conical design also helps to form a good seal and maintain sound quality – and that’s where the SportSound Free really justify their high price tag. With the earbuds resting lightly inside the ear they still manage to produce a really rich, detailed sound, with a clean, crisp bite to the percussion and attractively firm bass.

Sennheiser CX Sport

Sennheiser’s wired OCX 686 headphones are still available, with a price cut to £43/$35 that makes them really good value for money. But it makes sense to go wireless for sports headphones, so the company’s CX Sport model provides a Bluetooth option as well.

The CX Sport hasn’t gone completely wireless, as the earpieces are still connected by a short cable that goes around the back of your neck, and which also houses the battery, microphone and playback and volume controls. However, the headphones still only weigh 15g, so you’ll barely notice them when you’re out running. They feel quite sturdy too, and are splash-resistant and waterproof for outdoor use.

I always have trouble getting in-ear headphones to actually stay in my ears, but the CX Sport provides three different sizes of ‘fins’ that fit into the outer ear to hold the earphones in place, along with three sizes of tips for the inner ear, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a combination that gives you a comfortable fit.

Sound quality, as always with Sennheiser, is very good, with a clear, detailed sound, especially on higher frequencies. The bass isn’t as strong as it is on some headphones, but that’s more a matter of taste than anything else.

Read more:Best running earbuds: Top wireless buds from Beats By Wireless, Jaybird and more

paul george