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The best running headphones in 2021

Best running headphones
(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

The best running headphones can do a whole lot more than simply play music. Of course, that’s not to understate the motivational value of having a workout playlist blasting as you push yourself through a tough run — all the headphones and earbuds on this list will help you with that, no problem.

To be a truly great pair of running headphones, though, requires more of a specific fitness focus. That can mean a canny design that will stay firmly in your ears even as you jog along, or IP-rated protection against water and sweat. Of all the headphones we’ve tested extensively, then, these are the models best suited for hitting the pavement: the best running headphones overall.

What are the best running headphones?

Our current top pick of the best running headphones is the Jabra Elite Active 75t. This set of true wireless earbuds is wonderfully light and, despite the lack of ear hooks or wingtips, manages to maintain a secure and dependable fit. Add in good battery life, high audio quality, and full waterproofing and this will serve you well on any run.

In second sits the Beats Powerbeats Pro, which uses the same Apple H1 chip as the superb AirPods Pro for fast and seamless connections to iPhones. The Powerbeats Pro also exhibits a more balanced sound signature than more Beats headphones, and while it doesn’t support active noise cancellation (ANC), you can get this for cheap on the great-value JLab Epic Air Sport ANC.

Special mentions also go to the AfterShokz Aeropex, an excellent pair of bone-conduction headphones, and the Amazfit PowerBuds Pro. This is a looser-fitting set of sports buds, but its assortment of built-in fitness tracking tech has no equal.

The best running headphones you can buy right now

Best running headphones: Jabra Elite Active 75t

Jabra Elite Active 75t (Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

1. Jabra Elite Active 75t

The best running headphones overall

Specifications
Size and Weight: 0.8 x 0.7 x 0.6 inches, 0.2 ounces
Battery Life (Rated): 7.5 hours; 28 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (9 meters)
Water Resistant: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Loud, full sound+Doesn't budge during runs+In-app audio customization+Active and passive noise cancellation
Reasons to avoid
-Can be extremely loud at max volume

Rich-sounding, compact and stylish, the Jabra Elite Active 75t is a fantastic pair of wireless earbuds in general, but there’s a lot here that also makes it a near-perfect set of running headphones. First is the fit: it’s unusual to find a pair of true wireless buds with no wing-tips or ear hooks that manages to stay planted so securely in the ear.

Then there’s the weatherproofing, which scores an IP57 rating: enough to completely protect against dust and even full submersion in shallow water. Sweat or a spot of rain, as such, poses no threat. Battery life beats that of the AirPods Pro, too, and Jabra’s buds even offer ANC for a lower price.

Read our full Jabra Elite Active 75t review.

Best running headphones: Beats Powerbeats Pro

Beats Powerbeats Pro (Image credit: Brian Coule/Tom's Guide)

2. Beats Powerbeats Pro

The best running headphones for iPhone owners

Specifications
Size and Weight: 2.2 x 2.2 inches, 0.7 ounces
Battery Life (Rated): 9 hours, 24 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth Range: 100 feet (30 meters)
Water Resistant: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Magically seamless setup, just like with AirPods+Lengthy battery life+Well-balanced sound+Comfortable, stable fit for running
Reasons to avoid
-Bulky charging case

The Beats Powerbeats Pro might not look like it, but do take strong inspiration from Apple’s AirPods headphones. In fact it even uses the same Apple H1 chip as the AirPods Pro, so shares the ability to instantly pair with iPhones. And, if you’ve updated to iOS 14, you can instantly switch to other iOS and Mac devices you might have at home.

That’s all well and good, but how does the Powerbeats Pro handle running? Extremely well, it turns out. Those ear hooks keep each bud in place during strenuous jogs, the sound signature is suitably powerful and an IPX4 rating notes the inclusion of water resistance. It’s not fully waterproof, but the Powerbeats Pro will stand up to sweat well enough.

Read our full Powerbeats Pro review.

Best running headphones: AfterShokz Aeropex

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

3. AfterShokz Aeropex

The best bone-conduction headphones

Specifications
Size and Weight: 1.7 x 4.3 x 5.1 inches, 0.9 ounces
Battery Life (Rated): 8 hours
Bluetooth Range: 33 feet (10 meters)
Water Resistant: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Comfortable, secure fit+Long-lasting+Fully waterproof+Respectable sound
Reasons to avoid
-Not adjustable-Earbuds sound better

Bone-conduction headphones are great for running as they leave your ears open to listen for potential hazards. And the AfterShokz Aeropex is as good an example of the form as you can get right now: it's not too expensive, but it's easily one of the best-sounding bone-conduction headphones around, and in our battery testing it lasted far longer than any pair of true wireless earbuds.

It also sports an enviable IP67 rating, more than enough to ensure protection against sweat and splashes, and despite the lack of adjustment it fits beautifully. You won't have to worry about the Aeropex wriggling loose as you're out on a run, even though it's comfortable enough to wear for hours without fatigue.

Read our full AfterShokz Aeropex review.

Best running headphones: JLab Epic Air Sport ANC

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

4. JLab Epic Air Sport ANC

The best cheap ANC running headphones

Specifications
Size and Weight: 2.4 x 1.7 x 0.9 inches, 0.3 ounces
Batttery Life (Rated): 15 hours (ANC on); 55 hours (ANC on with charging case)
Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (9 meters)
Water Resistant: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Stable design+Affordable+ANC and transparency modes+Great battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Discharge times are off-Poor call quality

At $99, it’s hard to find a better noise-cancelling bargain than the JLab Epic Air Sport. Sound quality is JLab’s best on a pair of true wireless buds to date, and battery life is excellent: we got 9.5 hours of ANC playback time from a full charge. Just don’t trust the remaining charge percentages your phone tells you.

Crucially for running, it also provides a sturdy fit, and feels more comfortable to wear for long periods than the Beats Powerbeats Pro. IP66 protection covers you for the worst of rain showers, and if you want to briefly switch away from noise cancellation  to listen for traffic, the Be Aware transparency mode will give you that extra awareness without you needing to take an earbud out.

Read our full JLab Epic Air Sport ANC review.

Best running headphones: Jaybird Vista

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

5. Jaybird Vista

Exciting running headphones with customizable wing-tips

Specifications
Size and Weight: 0.9 x 0.7 x 0.9 inches, 0.2 ounces
Battery Life (Rated): 6 hours, 10 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth Range: 35 feet (10 meters)
Water Resistant: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Well-balanced audio+Companion app with several EQ settings+Stable and sturdy design+Super-compact charging case
Reasons to avoid
-Short battery life

Not unlike the Jabra Elite Active 75t, the Jaybird Vista provides a solid, run-friendly fit in a compact true wireless earbud package. To help achieve you your own perfect, the Vista doesn’t just include swappable tips, but a choice of wing-tips as well. This will help accommodate a range of ear sizes.

The tough, waterproof buds also contain powerful 6mm drivers that deliver a fun, bass-heavy sound signature. The extremely strong passive noise isolation is both a blessing a curse: it’s great for letting you enjoy your music without interference from nearby noises, and without the added battery drain of ANC, though you will need to take a bud out if you want to listen for cars or strike up a conversation. 

Read our full Jaybird Vista review.

Best running headphones: Amazfit PowerBuds Pro

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

6. Amazfit Powerbuds Pro

The best running headphones with built-in health tracking

Specifications
Weight and Size: 1.3 x 0.7 x 0.9 inches, 0.2 ounces
Battery Life (Rated): 5.5 hours (ANC on), 9 hours (ANC off), 19 hours (with charging case and ANC on), 30 hours (with charging case and ANC off)
Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (9 meters)
Water Resistant: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Energetic sound+IP55 rating+Doubles as a fitness tracker
Reasons to avoid
-Loose fit-Not all tracking is accurate

The original PowerBuds had its own smarts — namely, a built-in heartrate monitor — but the Amazfit PowerBuds Pro takes health monitoring to a whole new level. This pair of lively-sounding earbuds can automatically detect when you start running or cycling, and can track your steps or distance without any outside help. Granted, it's not as accurate as one of the best fitness trackers, but how many other headphones have this much of a health focus?

The PowerBuds Pro is also a much-improved set of earbuds in general. While still fairly affordable it's gained some effective active noise cancellation, and you can switch to ambient Thru mode if you want to listen out for traffic when out on a run. As long as you don't mind it's looser fit, this could serve well as both your running and everyday earbuds.

Read our full Amazfit PowerBuds Pro review.

Best running headphones: Bose Sport Earbuds

Bose Sport Earbuds (Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

7. Bose Sport Earbuds

The best Bose running headphones

Specifications
Size and Weight: 0.7 x 1 x 0.8 inches, 0.2 ounces
Battery Life (Rated): 5 hours, 15 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (9 meters)
Water Resistant: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Bright, balanced sound+Secure, personalized fit+Bluetooth 5.1
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life lower than competition-No EQ or Transparency Mode

If you’re at all familiar with the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, you might have an idea of what makes the Sport Earbuds so good. This pair doesn’t have the same ANC functionality but adopts a similar winged design that keeps the Sport Earbuds locked securely in your ear canal, not matter how vigorous your running style.

It’s also smaller and lighter than the QuietComfort Earbuds, while the detailed sound impresses during exercise and resting alike. IPX4 water resistance adds to the list of fitness-friendly features, and the 5 hours of battery life should be good for almost any exercise session even if it’s well short of buds like the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC.

Read our full Bose Sport Earbuds review.

Best running headphones: Beats Powerbeats 4

Beats Powerbeats 4 (Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

8. Beats Powerbeats 4

High-performance running headphones at a reasonable price

Specifications
Size and Weight: 2.2 inches tall, 0.9 ounces
Battery Life (Rated): 15 hours
Bluetooth Range: 100 feet (30 meters)
Water Resistant: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Highly secure fit+Impressive sound and call quality+Best battery life on a single charge
Reasons to avoid
-Interfering wire-Feel uncomfortable after a while

The two earbuds of the Beats Powerbeats are connected by a cable that runs behind the back of your neck. Some runners don’t like this design as the wire can bounce around distractingly, but otherwise this pair of headphones is a viable lower-cost alternative to the true wireless Powerbeats Pro.

Aesthetics, build quality, sound quality and call clarity are all significantly upgraded from the old Powerbeats 3, and the looped design is just as effective at keeping the buds in place as it is on the Powerbeats Pro. And long battery life and an accessible price are just two more reasons to outweigh that errant cable.

Read our full Beats Powerbeats 4 review.

Best running headphones: Klipsch T5 II Sport

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

9. Klipsch T5 II Sport

Waterproof running headphones with well-balanced sound

Specifications
Size and Weight: 1.3 x 1.2 x 0.9 inches, 0.3 ounces
Battery Life (Rated): 8 hours; 24 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth Range: 35 feet (10 meters)
Water Resistant: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Well-balanced sound+Completely waterproof with moisture removal protection+Ample battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Bulky and heavy charging case-Bass is stronger on other models

Klipsch built its legacy on remarkable speakers and now the company has transitioned successfully into the sporty wireless earbuds market with the T5 II Sport. These dust-resistant and waterproof buds not only boast some of the highest protection (IP67) in the category, but also come with a sturdy charging case that has a moisture removal system to keep the buds dry when not in use. Klipsch’s oval silicone tips create a tight seal around the ear, while the wings mold perfectly into the concha for optimized fit; these buds will remain put during heavy lateral movements. As for sound, the T5 II falls somewhere between bright and warm, giving your ears a nice blend of rich lows, clear mids, and detailed highs.

If you’re seeking bass-blasters, then the T5 II Sport might not please your audio palette due to its calmer low end. The bulky charging case doesn’t make for the most convenient portability either, though it comes with a lanyard that attaches to most objects, be it your pants, gym bag, or water bottle

Read our full Klipsch T5 II Sport review.

Best running headphones: Jabra Elite Active 65t

Jabra Elite Active 65t (Image credit: Future)

10. Jabra Elite Active 65t

Running headphones with built-in step counting

Specifications
Size and Weight: 1.2. x 1.1 x 0.9 x inches, 0.2 ounces
Battery Life (Rated): 5 hours, 15 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth Range: 33 feet (10 meters)
Water Resistant: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Superb sound+15-hour battery life+Accelerometer for run tracking
Reasons to avoid
-Charging case is annoyingly difficult to open-HearThrough can't be disabled while tracking runs

You might be thinking that there’s no point buying the Jabra Elite Active 65t when its successor is available, and at the top of this list no less. But to our ears the Elite Active 65t sounds just as good as the Elite Active 75t. It also shares the same quality of having a secure, steadfast fit — not even the toughest sprint will dislodge these earbuds.

Paying more for the newer buds will net you longer battery life and better waterproofing (the Elite Active 65t “only” offers IP56 water resistance), but this does have one more secrete weapon. An integrated accelerometer allows the Elite Active 65t to act as a step counter, so you can track your runs without a dedicated fitness tracker.

Read our full Jabra Elite Active 65t review.

How to choose the best running headphones for you

You might prefer an earbud design that hooks over your ear, or sits entirely within your ear. For running, we generally found there’s not much inherent difference between the two styles in terms of stability, though if you wear glasses the addition of an ear hook might mean its gets in the way of your specs.

Even if you’re adverse to running in the rain, we’d strongly recommend a pair of running headphones with come certified water resistance to protect against sweat. An IP rating of IPX7 denotes full waterproofing, while IPX4 represents basic moisture resistance; consider what you’ll need and what the risks are your headphones getting seriously wet.

A lot of the best running headphones feature ANC, but this isn’t necessary for running. In fact you may want to turn if off for better situational awareness near traffic and pedestrians — it will depend on how much you want the absolute best sound quality when exercising. ANC lets you focus on your entertainment but may need to be paused occasionally for safety.

How we test the best running headphones

Like any kind of headphones, we test running headphones by listening to a wide range of music genres — including hip-hop, rock, jazz, classical, and electronic — and will use them for at least one 2-hour session over the course of a week. This lets us both give a fair appraisal of how they sound, and how comfortable they are when worn for long periods.

For running headphones specifically, we’ll take them out for a few runs to see how they hold up when exercising. This includes judging how well they stay in place, as especially with small earbuds, a seemingly stable fit when relaxing can come undone when running ad otherwise working out.

Once all our testing is complete, we rate running headphones on a five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). The very best running headphones are awarded an Editors' Choice badge. 

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James Archer

James joined Tom’s Guide in 2020, bringing years of experience in consumer tech and product testing. As Audio Editor, James covers headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also covers the occasional spot of computing and gaming news, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.