We've tested the best sports headphones to help boost your motivation

The Beats Powerbeats Pro with charging case on artificial grass
(Image credit: Future)

The best sports headphones are ideal if you do a lot of outdoor activities, like running, cycling, or hiking. They're designed to be durable, long-lasting, and still let you hear what's going on around you with a transparency mode. 

Like many of the best workout headphones, these sports headphones help you keep motivated with your favorite music, audiobooks, or podcasts, and are comfortable to wear, even for extended periods. 

But you can't really know what they're like until you get them in your ear, so we the best sports headphones to the test so you can find the right set for your training. We also checked the sound quality, battery life, and fit of each pair. 

After testing each set, we felt that the Beats Fit Pro were the best sports headphones for most people, but we've also included Shokz headphones that are perfect for running, and several other alternatives to get you moving. 

The best sport headphones you can buy right now

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Best sports headphones overall

The Beats Fit Pro wireless earbuds shown outside of the chargingTop Pick

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)
Best sports headphones overall

Specifications

Weight: 0.2 ounces
Battery life: 6 hours, 27 hours with case
Water resistance: IPX4
ANC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Dynamic soundstage with spatial audio support
+
Strong ANC and Transparency Modes
+
Adequate battery life
+
Offers many AirPods Pro features

Reasons to avoid

-
Android app offers very few extras
-
Eartip Fit Test could be better

It's hard to find a better designed, more comfortable set of sports headphones than the Beats Fit Pro. These earbuds have small wings on each bud to keep them locked in place, making them ideal for working out. 

However, that's not the only reason to like them. We were impressed by the noise cancelation, which easily blocked out unwanted distractions like background and traffic noise. And they have Apple's H1 chip, which means they integrate seamlessly with your other Apple devices, like your Mac. 

And the chip helps power Siri's hands-free commands, and the Find My feature that allows you to recover misplaced buds. Of course, many of these features only work with Apple products, but you can still get a well-fitted, high-performing set even if you use an Android phone. 

Best value sports headphones

The Beats Powerbeats Pro in Lava Redbest value awards badge

(Image credit: Brian Coule/Tom's Guide)
Best value sports headphones

Specifications

Weight: 0.7 ounces
Battery life: 9 hours, 24 hours with case
Water resistance: IPX4
ANC: No

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

If you like the design of Apple's Beats brand, but prefer the security of over-ear hooks, then the Beats Powerbeats Pro may be the best sports headphones for you. These sweat-resistant buds have Apple's H1 chip, so they play well with other Apple devices. 

But, importantly, they also work with Android phones too, ideal if you're a fan of the Beats sound profile, although you don't get access to some iPhone-specific features like Siri and Spatial Audio. 

However, whichever device you use, we found that the Powerbeats Pro have a well-balance audio output — gone is the super-heavy-bass approach found in older Beats sets.  You get 24 hours of battery with the case, and 9 hours per bud. 

Best bone conduction sports headphones

The Shokz OpenRun Pro bone conduction headphones worn over a woman's ear

(Image credit: Future)
The best bone conduction sports headphones

Specifications

Weight: 0.9 ounces
Battery life: 10 hours
Water resistance: IP55
ANC: No

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable and lightweight
+
Good sound for bone conduction
+
Improved call quality
+
Great battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Not adjustable

The Shokz OpenRun Pro are a bit different to the others on this list. Rather than popping the buds into your ear, the OpenRun Pro wrap around your head and sit on your cheekbones, and use vibrations to create sound. 

Of course, this will never sound quite the same as in-ear buds, but, depending on how you like to exercise, it could be a lot more practical. And, like the best bone conduction headphones, since you don't have an obstruction in your ear, you can still hear everything around too. 

This makes them an ideal choice if you're into running, hiking, or cycling — activities where you need to keep an ear out for road traffic or other people. And because of the headband-style design, we found they are some of the comfiest sports headphones to wear as well.

Best sports headphones for iPhone

Man running while wearing the Apple AirPods Pro 2

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Best sports headphones for iPhone

Specifications

Weight: 0.19 ounces
Battery life: 6 hours, 30 hours with case
Water resistance: IPX4
ANC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
World-class noise cancellation
+
Volume controls right on the stem
+
Dolby Atmos spatial audio
+
Improved battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Audio performance needs finessing
-
Lackluster call quality
-
Lanyard costs extra

Apple doesn't aim the AirPods Pro 2 at exercise — they have the Beats Fit Pro and Powerbeats Pro for that — but the popular buds do come with many of the same features and that distinctive Apple-white stemmed design. 

And just because they're not workout-themed, doesn't mean you can't use them for exercise too. In fact, we took the AirPods 2 out on a run and found that the combination of changeable ear tips and a dynamic Adaptive Transparency mode make them ideal for indoor and outdoor workouts. 

As with Apple's original ANC buds, the AirPods Pro 2 are sweat and water resistance to IPX4, but slippage has been improved to feel more secure whether you're on a run or working out, plus Apple’s Ear Tip Fit Test helps achieve optimal fit

Battery life has been increased compared to the first-gen AirPods Pro, with 6 hours on the earbuds and 30 hours from the wireless charging case. And the noise cancelation is easily some of the best we've ever used. 

Best sports headphones for durability

Jabra Elite 8 Active in black held in hand of reviewer

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Best sports for durability

Specifications

Weight: 0.2 ounces
Battery life: 8 hours, 32 hours with case
Water resistance: IP68
ANC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely durable
+
Satisfying sound and call quality
+
Intuitive noise cancelation
+
Lengthy playtimes
+
Impressive 3D audio performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Control scheme affects comfort
-
Missing some upscale features
-
Spatial Sound could use some work

The Jabra Elite 8 Active are some of the most durable sports headphones we've tested. The materials don't chip or fade, the ShakeGrip ear tip design stops them from falling out on runs and high-intensity workouts, and they come with an IP68 rating for water resistance. 

They have Jabra’s warm sound signature to jumpstart workouts the moment you press play, along with adaptive active noise cancellation (with a transparency mode), spatial audio, and some of the longest battery life available. 

Noise cancelation does a fantastic job of reducing unwanted sounds, be it on runs or during video chats. The Elite 8 Active are one of the strongest pairs of workout headphones we've seen, and benefit from solid feature support across both iOS and Android devices.

Best sports headphones under $100

Jlab Epic Air ANC 2 held in hand in front of a fountain

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Best sports headphones under $100

Specifications

Weight: 0.37 ounces
Battery life: 11 hours, 70 hours withcase
Water resistance: IP66
ANC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Best-in-class battery life
+
Sturdy and secure design
+
Well-rounded sound (when enabling Balanced EQ)
+
Wireless charging 

Reasons to avoid

-
Poor call quality
-
Poor ANC performance
-
No USB-C charging port

The JLab Epic Air Sport ANC (2nd Gen) are a budget-friendly set of sports headphones that may be the ideal choice if you're after a set to through into your gym bag or take out on runs and hikes. 

The buds last for 11 hours with noise cancelation on, and this can be topped up to 70 hours with the charging case, so you won't need to recharge them after a couple of uses. The large ear hooks keep them firmly in place too. 

The buds have the brand's lively sound profile, so your favorite playlists and podcasts will still sound good, and there's a transparency mode for when you're training outside and need to stay aware of your surroundings. 

The only setback is that ANC performance as well as call quality and comfort has fallen behind market leaders, but you can only ask for so much when considering the $99 price point.


The Amazfit PowerBuds Pro displayed on a bed of wood chips

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)
The best sport headphones for run tracking

Specifications

Weight: 0.2 ounces
Battery life (rated): 9 hours, 30 hours with case
Water resistance: IP55
ANC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Energetic sound
+
IP55 rating
+
Doubles as a fitness tracker

Reasons to avoid

-
Loose fit
-
Not all tracking is accurate

The PowerBuds Pro are the an upgrade to our old favorite, the Amazfit PowerBuds. We were always impressed by how the older set managed to fit a heart rate sensor into the sports earbuds, but the PowerBuds Pro make this look like a mere toy. 

In addition to heart rate monitoring it can also track your steps and distance, ideal for runs or bike rides, and can even detect if you're sitting in a way that will hurt your spine. Essentially, it's a set of headphones with a fitness tracker built in. 

The fit can feel a bit loose, but it's the trade-off you make for a feature-packed pair at this price. There's also ANC, a transparency mode for outdoor exercise, and you can sync your fitness data to other apps like Runtastic and MapMyRun. 


The Jabra Elite 7 Active held in hand for display

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)
Best budget Jabra sports headphones

Specifications

Weight: 0.2 ounces
Battery life: 11 hours, 42 hours with case
Water resistance: IP57
ANC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Strong sound with multiple personalized settings
+
Customizable ANC
+
Long battery life
+
Excellent wireless performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Underwhelming noise reduction

The Jabra Elite 7 Active have been superseded by the Elite 8 Active, but they're also still available, which makes them a great way to pick up a set of Jabra sports headphones without breaking the bank. 

These were the first set to come with the company's ShakeGrip earbud design — a blend of materials and positioning to prevent the buds accidentally falling out during exercise. It's not fool-proof, but you won't have to spend ages fiddling with them either. 

They can connect to two devices simultaneously (ideal if you're working out with your phone, but need to stay connected to your professional device), and you can use the Jabra Sound+ app to customize the EQ and button functions. 

They're a great companion for sweaty gym workouts and outdoor runs, thanks to the IP57 rating for sweat and waterproof protection. The ANC may not rival Bose, but it does a good job overall of blocking out distractions.  

How to choose the best sport headphones

There are a lot of great sports headphones out there, but you can make it easier to narrow down your options by keeping in mind a few important considerations to help you find the best sports headphones for your workouts. 

Firstly, they need to be durable enough to handle all-weather outdoor exercise and sweaty indoor workouts. So you should aim for a set with an IP rating suitable for your training style, generally IPX4 or higher.

Plus, they need to stay securely in place while you move. Some come with over-ear hooks to stop them escaping, while others use balanced in-ear designs to achieve the same result. Which you choose will come down to preference.

None of us want to recharge our devices several times a day. Fortunately, many of the best sports headphones last up to 8 hours, with three or four full recharges in the case. 

However, it's still important to factor battery life into your decision. If you plan on a multi-hour run or all-day hike, you'll want a set that can last the duration. Or if you're more into short, high-intensity workouts, this might be less of a problem. 

How we test the best sport headphones

To make sure we test the best sports headphones thoroughly, we wear each set for at least two hours at a time to check for comfort, battery life and performance. We look to see how securely they fit during exercise and how they handle background noises, like oncoming traffic or chatter and machines at the gym.

We also download any companion apps and test to see how much you can customize the audio and overall experience. Plus, we check if the buds have on-ear buttons and whether these are easy to use, even when you're sweaty or moving.

And even though you'll be using these during sports and exercise, we also test each pair for audio quality, listening to a range of genres, music styles, podcasts, and phone calls for volume, clarity, and fullness of sound.

Also tested

We test a lot of sports headphones, but not all of them will make our roundup. That doesn't make them bad options though, so if you're after more choices, here are some that didn't quite make the cut.

JBL SoundGear Sense

JBL SoundGear Sense
If you're looking for a set of headphones you can use for outdoor workouts, the open-ear design on the JBL SoundGear Sense make them a good option. However, in noisy environments, we found that the audio would get drowned out. But they are comfortable and durable and good for indoor exercise.

FAQs

What headphones do professional athletes use?

During competitive events and races, athletes don't wear headphones. However, like many other people, athletes need to train and use music to keep motivated during their workouts. 

However, there's no one-size-fits-all answer here, as its often down to personal preference. That said, runners will often default to bone conduction headphones so they can keep aware of their surroundings. 

In fact, England Athletics even notes that: "Bone conduction sports headphones are the only headphones that are approved for use in all road races under the UK Athletics Rules of Competition. 

"The Rules are clear that “in ear” headphones cannot be used in events where roads are open to traffic." The organization partners with Shokz, but you can use any bone conduction headphones to meet the requirements. 

James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is Tom's Guide's Fitness Editor, covering strength training workouts, cardio exercise, and accessible ways to improve your health and wellbeing. His interest in fitness started after being diagnosed with a chronic illness, and he began focusing on strengthening his core, taking regular walks around the city, and practicing meditation to manage the symptoms. He also invested in fitness trackers, home workout equipment, and yoga mats to find accessible ways to train without the gym. Before joining the team at Tom’s Guide, James was the Fitness Editor at Fit&Well, where he covered beginner-friendly exercise routines, affordable ways to boost your wellbeing, and reviewed weights, rowing machines, and workout headphones. He believes that exercise should be something you enjoy doing, so appreciates the challenge of finding ways to incorporate it into everyday life through short muscle-building sessions, regular meditation, and early morning walks.

With contributions from