The Best Running Headphones, According to People Who Run a Crapton
The Best Running Headphones
Runners tend to fall into two camps: Those run with music, and those who run without. Those who run without are wrong (don't @ me), and those who run with music know that the most important piece of gear after your sneakers is your headphones.
The best running headphones IMO are the Beats by Dre Powerbeats 3 Wireless (Buy It, $114, amazon.com): I ran my first three marathons (and all the training miles leading up to them) in an earlier iteration until they literally disintegrated in the middle of a 20-mile long run; the next day, I replaced them with the updated version and I've run three more marathons in those. I'll run shorter distances in my Apple AirPods, but I would never leave my house on race day without my Beats in hand.
But just like every runner's feet are different, so are their ears. The last thing you want when you're logging serious miles is headphones that chafe, a wire that tangles, earbuds that constantly fall out, or a pair that dies mid-race. It's hard to know how a pair is going to fit before you hit the road with them, though; unlike sneakers, headphones aren't exactly something you want to test in a store (gross). What you need is a recommendation from someone you can trust—and who better than these run coaches and marathoners, who put their favorite headphones to the test mile after mile...after mile?
Boltune Wireless Headphones
"My current favorite running headphones are the Boltune Wireless Headphones (Buy It, $28; amazon.com)—they're simple, practical, and comfortable," says Thomas Watson, a UESCA-certified running coach, ultra-runner, and founder of Marathon Handbook. "Their Bluetooth has been faultless with no connectivity issues, and the battery life seems to last forever; when they do eventually die. They take five minutes to charge enough for me to squeeze a 10K in. I run a lot in humid environments and have wrecked a couple of pairs of headphones by flooding them with sweat, but these are totally waterproof and still sound great after months of sweaty runs!"
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"I'm a huge fan of Apple AirPods (Buy It, $160; amazon.com)," says Corinne Fitzgerald, a triathlete, certified personal trainer, and head coach at Mile High Run Club treadmill studio in New York City. "Not only are they wireless, but you can run with only one in at a time, which is particularly useful for safety reasons if you're running alone or at night. You can also customize them for different functions, like programming them to skip to the next song if you double tap the left side and pausing the music if you double tap the right, which keeps your hands free on the run. I know they don't fit everyone, but if regular Apple headphones fit in your ears and don't fall out, you won't have any issues with these slipping out, either." (Also, the finally have enough battery to last through a full marathon!)
Powerbeats Pro True Wireless In-Ear Headphones
"My go-to headphones are the Power Pro True Wireless In-Ear Headphones (Buy It, $200, target.com)," says Michael Keeney, a Daily Burn running coach. "The Powerbeats have nine hours of battery life, so you know you're set for your entire run, and they're sweat-resistant, so they won't fall out when sweat starts dropping into your ears. The shape and structure really keep them in place, even without a wire, and I find them to be super comfortable."
"I've been using UrbanEars Stadion headphones (Buy It, $50, amazon.com), and I'm literally obsessed," says Lindsey Clayton, a marathoner, RRCA-certified run coach, and trainer at Barry's Bootcamp in New York. "They don't budge on the run, there's no cord getting tangled in front of my face or behind my head, and there are buttons on the back that let me skip and repeat songs, adjust the volume, etc. But I think the best feature is how comfortable they are—they fit so perfectly around my head and in my ears, I almost forget they're there sometimes! It's one less thing to worry about on a long run." (Clayton is also a co-founder of the Brave Body Project, and is on a mission to shut-up body-shamers.)
"No matter what type of run I'm doing, the Aftershokz Aeropex wireless headphones (Buy It, $160; aftershokz.com) always stay in place," says Amanda Nurse, a Boston-based run coach, elite runner, and Olympic Marathon Trials competitor. "The fit is perfect; they go around my ears, not inside them so I don't have to worry about them slipping out when I get sweaty. And I love the bone conduction technology, not just because they produce great quality sound, but because I still feel safe while running (I can hear bikes passing by and car horns despite having the volume up). Also, the battery life is amazing—eight full hours!—so I'm never worried about them dying during 22-mile long runs!"
Jaybird Sport Vista
"The Jaybird Sport Vista headphones (Buy It, $180; amazon.com) are the only wireless headphones that actually stay in my ear," says Jes Woods, a Nike Run Club Coach in New York City, ultrarunner, and the creator of this guide to How to Train for a Half Marathon for Beginners. "They come with three different rubber sizes, so hopefully everyone can find the perfect fit and have the same 'never falls out' experience that I do (through rain and sweat). Also, the sound quality is almost too good—as in, I have to be sure to not max out the volume while running the streets in New York City for safety reasons. But at the track, I crank it up."
Sony Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones for Sports
"These Sony Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones (Buy It, $178; amazon.com) quickly became a favorite in our house because of the noise-cancelling feature," says Amanda Brooks, a running coach, certified personal trainer, and creator of Run to the Finish. "At the gym, they help to block things out so I can focus on my podcast or following a strength workout on my phone, and outside, I can turn that feature off while running to stay aware of my surroundings."