Most of us need music for a motivational boost in the gym or on the trail. Whether you're lifting weights or running out in the countryside, workout headphones can give you the push you need to go the extra mile. Completely wire-free options from Jabra and Jaybird offer more features at lower prices than in years past, and corded competitors offer more security if you're afraid to lose an earbud while running.
We tested several sports earbuds from the most popular brands to see which are worth your money.
News and Updates (April 2019)
- Samsung's sweat-resistant Galaxy Buds are near-perfect all-day companions, with the ability to transition easily from the gym to your commute. The $130 wireless earbuds aren't designed specifically for fitness, so if you need something a little more hardcore, check out Jabra's Elite Active 65t.
- We're currently testing the latest version of Jaybird's truly wireless sport earbuds, the Jaybird Run XT. The $180 sweat-proof, wire-free earbuds come in two colors, black and grey. Jaybird is emphasizing the Run XT's performance in extreme weather, but we hope the new version maintains a better Bluetooth connection than its predecessor. Stay tuned for a full review.
Here are our current favorite earbuds for sports and exercise.
What to Look For
Since you'll be breaking a sweat in these headphones, you'll want to look for water- or sweat-resistant devices. Some simply say they can withstand water and sweat, and some are IP-certified. If you want to know you are protected, look for headphones with at least an IPX7 rating, meaning they're resistant to water and sweat.
You'll also want to look at the design of the headphones and consider how you want to wear them while working out. They should not only be easy to wear, but also stay on your head without the need for constant readjustment. For earbuds, look at how many ear inserts and wings the pair comes with, to give you the best fit option. Some people may prefer over-ear or on-ear headphones because they tend to do a better job of blocking noise, but some prefer earbuds for their secure fit and lightweight portability.
Be sure to check for an inline remote, which will let you easily control your music without pulling out your smartphone. Completely wireless fitness earbuds allow you to control your music with taps on the earpiece rather than a remote. Some headphones are device-specific; make sure you get a pair that's fully compatible with Android and iOS.
If you're considering wireless sport headphones, make sure they have the endurance you need. Some people need headphones with only 6 to 8 hours of battery life to last through a week of workouts, while others might want a device with extended longevity to get through long runs, bike rides and hikes.
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