15 of the best pairs of wireless headphones to run with

·16-min read
Photo credit: Maridav - Getty Images
Photo credit: Maridav - Getty Images

Looking for a reliable pair of headphones to wear as you clock up the miles? We've been putting some of the most popular running headphones on the market through their paces in our in-depth test.

What to look for when buying running headphones

  • A comfortable fit: There's nothing worse than your headphones digging into the side of your head in the final miles of a long run. These days, you can get all sorts of headphones designed for sport that wrap around your ears in various weird and wonderful ways. When scrolling through the list below, have a think about whether you'd prefer wireless headphones that are still connected to one another with a cable, or earbuds. It's worth highlighting the Powerbeats Pro here, which have an innovative over-ear hook design that all runners testing found extremely comfortable.

  • Waterproof casing: Sure, you can run with a 'normal' pair of headphones, but they probably won't be built to withstand heavy rain showers, or a great amount of sweat (nice). A good pair of running headphones will have a waterproof casing that probably can't be submerged underwater, but will save them from getting destroyed if you're running a rainy race.

  • Sound quality: Of course, you're using headphones to distract yourself as you clock up the miles. They might not pick up as much as your day-to-day headphones, but a good pair of running headphones will still have a decent sound quality, while still letting you hear the traffic. For those who are guilty of blasting their music, the AfterShokz Aeropex below are worth taking a look at.

Runner’s World Expert Tested

Look out for our Runner’s World Expert Tested badge, as products with this insignia have been put through the wringer by our lab tester.

This involved seeing how each pair of earbuds performed while stationary and running, to make sure the impact of heels repeatedly striking tarmac didn’t send them tumbling floorward. They were also judged on their design, ease of use and performance, with the final category including criteria such as battery life, comfort and sound quality.

Products were also sent to an independent sound technician to make sure they could provide the crisp treble and powerful bass needed to help us push our pace.

Runner’s World Editor’s picks

Leaving no stone unturned when it comes to finding the finest earpieces for running, the other products on our round-up have been hand-picked by our editors.

Using their extensive knowledge of running tech – courtesy of countless hours in the gym, on the trails and at the track testing headphones, GPS watches and various other quirky gadgets – they’ve picked their top pairs guaranteed to stay put and sound great.

The best Prime Day 2022 deals

Prime Day is here for 2022, and we've scoured Amazon'd price reductions to highlight the best deals on wireless headphones for runners.

Best for entry-level open-ear headphones: Shokz OpenMove Now £63.96 (was £79.95) saving £15.99

Best for in-ear noise cancelling: JLab JBuds Air Sport Now £39.99 (was £69.99) saving £30

Best over-ear headphones for runners Philips A4216BK/00 On-Ear Sports Headphones Now £20.99 (was £59.99) saving £39

Best for great sound: Jaybird Vista 2 Now £116 (was £189.99) saving £73.99

Best for a comfortable fit: Jabra Elite 85t Now £119 (was £219) saving £100

Best for quick-charging Beats PowerBeats Pro Now £149 (was £219.95) saving £70.95

Which are the best headphones on the market for runners in 2022?

So, without further ado, here's our list of the best running headphones on the market right now.

1. Sennheiser CX Sport

Our score: 9.5/10

‘I don't need the things to power the space shuttle, I just want something that doesn’t sound crap, is simple to use, will stay in my ears and doesn’t have to be handled with care.’ Does this sound like something you would say? If so, the CX Sport earphones are for you.

There aren’t many bells and whistles, but the sound is warm, deep and crystal clear. The neck cable is pleasingly flexible (there is a cable organiser that allows you to tailor it to suit) and the control pad and in-line mic aren’t so heavy that they drag on the earphones and pul them out, which can happen with some other brands. The CX Sport can also be quick-charged in 10 minutes for an hour of play.

These are perhaps a touch pricey for what you get, but we think they will see you right for a long time.

Key specifications
Type: In-ear, near-wireless
Battery life: Six hours
Noise-cancelling: No
Accessories included: Micro USB charging cable, three differently sized fins and four silicone tips
Location of in-line controls: Buttons on cord

2. Beats Powerbeats Pro

Our score: 9.3/10

These headphones don’t come cheap, but we think they’re worth every penny. The punchy bass is great for pacing and their adjustable hooks fit around the ear to make sure they stay in place throughout any workout.

Despite having a bulkier design than most, courtesy of the aforementioned hooks, we found them supremely comfortable to wear. As they’re manufactured by Apple, they’re definitely best-suited to iPhone users, with the ability to summon Siri and display their battery on your mobile’s home screen.

We were also big fans of the magnetic charging case, which boosts the total battery life up to 24 hours.

Read a full review of the Powerbeats Pro here.

Key specifications
Type: In-ear, true wireless
Battery life: Nine hours (24 hours with charging case)
Noise-cancelling: No
Accessories included: Charging case, ear tips in four sizes, USB charging cable
Location of in-line controls: Buttons on earbud

3. Apple Airpods Pro

Our score: 9.1/100

Perhaps predictably, the all-conquering tech giant is near the top of our chart with its premier in-ear wireless headphones: the Airpods Pro. Alongside Apple’s signature sleek design, these buds offer exceptional sound quality and allow you to flip between active noise cancellation and transparency modes. As the names suggest, these dictate how much of the outside world you can hear while listening to music — handy when running through busier areas.

The innovative Ear Tip Fit Test is brilliant for making sure your headphones stay securely in your ears when running. All you have to do is wear the Airpods, connect them to your phone and select the test, then your phone will tell you whether the small, medium or large silicone tips (which come with the buds) will be the best fit for you.

Key specifications
Type:
In-ear, true wireless
Battery life:
Four and a half hours (24 hours with charging case)
Noise-cancelling:
Yes
Accessories included:
Three different-sized silicone ear tips, charging case, USB charging cable
Location of in-line controls: On earbud

4. Jabra Elite Active 75T

Score: 9.1/100

Giving the pricier Powerbeats Pro and Airpods a run for their money are the Jabra Elite Active 75Ts. The designers clearly had exercise on their mind when crafting these impressive earbuds, which are able to withstand a fast-paced track session thanks to their sweatproof and waterproof capabilities.

They come with a selection of three differently sized sticky silicone tips so you can find a secure fit that won’t come loose mid-stride. Responsive touch and voice controls allowed us to control our music, take calls and more while leaving our phone in our pocket, and (this is one for the true musos among you) you can tinker with the bass and treble settings on the free Jabra app — something we definitely appreciated.

Key specifications
Type:
In-ear, true wireless
Battery life:
Seven and a half hours (28 hours with charging case)
Noise-cancelling:
No
Accessories included:
Three sizes of silicone ear tips, charging cable, charging case
Location of in-line controls:
On earbud

5. Urbanears Stadion Trail

Our score: 9/10

The first thing you notice about these is the unusual coil design of the wires. They stretch to fit your head and then sit there snugly, with no irritating flapping on the back of your neck. On-ear fit is secure and there are three buttons on the back of the bar that are extremely easy to locate and use for play/pause/skip/volume control. There is no noise cancellation, which is a good safety aspect on the run, as you’ll hear background noises.

The sound quality is decent, but not amazing; however, our view is that this is a secondary issue on sports headphones, and the comfort and ease of functionality more than make up for this. In short, they're a thoroughly competent, hassle-free delight.

Key specifications
Type: On-ear, near-wireless
Battery life: Seven hours
Noise-cancelling: No
Accessories included: Charging cable
Location of in-line controls: Buttons on the bar

6. Bose Sport Earbuds

Score: 8.8/10

These earbuds are extremely comfortable to wear, slipping into the ear seamlessly and (most importantly) staying there whether we were doing sprint intervals or slower-paced recovery runs. As an extra line of defence against falling out, they also have clever little hooks that sit against the inside of the ear to keep them secure.

As you’d expect from a brand like Bose, these earbuds offered a brilliant blend of booming bass and crystal clear treble. Put another way: our playlists have rarely sounded better. There’s no active noise cancellation, but if that’s not a dealbreaker for you then we can’t recommend these highly enough.

Key specifications
Type: In-ear, true wireless
Battery life: Five hours (15 hours with charging case)
Noise-cancelling: No
Accessories included: Three sizes of silicone ear tips, charging cable, charging case
Location of in-line controls: On earbud

7. Jaybird Vista

Score: 8.8/10

Comprehensive touch controls, voice assistant compatibility, a choice of silicone tips for the best possible fit and a compact case for on-the-go charging all contributed to these headphones’ impressive performance.

We found them comfortable to wear and the sound quality was solid, though the bass sometimes sounded somewhat muddy when we cranked up the volume.

However, their sweatproof qualities and the ability to listen through one earbud at a time — handy when you need to be more aware of your surroundings while running — ensured the Jaybird Vistas still took a top score.

Key specifications
Type: In-ear, true wireless
Battery life: Six hours (16 hours with charging case)
Noise-cancelling: No
Accessories included: Three sizes of silicone ear tips, charging cable, charging case
Location of in-line controls: Button on earbud

8. HONOR Earbuds 2 Lite

Score: 8.7/10

These HONOR earbuds prove that your bank account needn’t take a three-figure hit when buying a quality pair of headphones. Despite looking similar to the Apple Airpods Pro and boasting a remarkably well-balanced sound, you can pick a pair up for under £50.

Even before you consider their portable charging case, they offer 10 hours of playback time on a full tank. The noise cancellation feature cut out almost all external audio, minimising distractions (useful if you’re training in a busy gym), and the silicone tips offered an incredibly comfortable fit.

Overall, an accomplished performance, particularly considering their low price point.

Key specifications
Type:
In-ear, true wireless
Battery life:
10 hours (32 with charging case)
Noise-cancelling:
Yes
Accessories included:
Charging case, USB charging cable
Location of in-line controls:
On ear bud

9. JBL Reflect Flow

Score: 8.7/10

Another sport-specific set of headphones, the JBL Reflect Flows use Freebit technology (a small silicone wing attached to each earbud that presses against the inner ear) to ensure they stay put throughout runs and workouts.

The ambient aware feature is really handy for allowing external noises in without having to pause your music, so you no longer have to choose between ditching your favourite playlist and giving your running partner the cold shoulder. They’re sweatproof too, allowing you to push the pace without worrying about protecting your earbuds.

Key specifications
Type: In-ear, true wireless
Battery life: 10 hours (30 hours with charging case)
Noise-cancelling: No
Accessories included: Three sizes of silicone ear tips, three sizes of silicone ear hooks, charging case, USB lead
Location of in-line controls: On ear bud

10. Urbanista Chicago

Our score: 8.5/10

The single biggest annoyance we have found with earphones is their tendency to fall out on the run or in the gym, either because of sweat or the constant jostling of a treadmill session. These stay firmly put, so they get a big tick even before we factored in the rich sound, which can be enjoyed in isolation or with awareness of your surroundings, depending on which buds you fit.

The control panel is small and unobtrusive, and changing/pausing songs or adjusting volume is a cinch, as is answering calls. Bluetooth connectivity is fast and strong, and you get a generous seven hours of power from one charge.

A final neat touch is that the buds are magnetised, so they can be stuck together and hung safely around your neck when they are not in use.

Key specifications
Type: In-ear, near wireless
Battery life: Seven hours
Noise-cancelling: No
Accessories included: Magentic pogo pin charger with USB connector
Location of in-line controls: Buttons on cord

11. Aftershokz Aeropex

Our score: 8/10

What sets these apart is the bone-conduction technology, which sends audio vibrations through your cheekbones to your inner ears, bypassing your lugholes. This is great from a safety perspective and comes with surprisingly little compromise on sound quality, which is excellent.

There’s also a comfort bonus – you don’t have to ram and twist them into your ears as you do with some buds. Battery life is solid (roughly eight hours of playback), while a nano protective coating and watertight rubber gaskets make them fully sweatproof and waterproof. Playback and calls are easily controlled by a single multi-function button.

On the downside, our tester found the rocker switch that controls power and volume rather fiddly and had to resort to using their phone mid-run. All in all, though, an excellent package.

Key specifications
Type: Bone conduction
Battery life: Eight hours
Noise-cancelling: No
Accessories included: Two magnetic charging cables, silicone rubber case, earplugs
Location of in-line controls: Buttons on band

12. Mifo O5 Plus

Our score: 8/10

The remarkable sound quality was the standout feature here – every use is like being in a concert hall. And the Mifo's excellent noise-cancelling capabilities totally blocked out the awful, thumpy gym music when we cross-trained: such bliss. Set-up is idiot-proof, with minimalist, Apple-style instructions, so they are perfect for the technically challenged.

Functionality is where these need to be improved: the buttons are ludicrously small, so if you have bigger fingers you’ll find making a track or volume change on the run a bit of a pain. But the battery life (more than 100 hours if you use the charging case) is superb, the durability is good, they’re waterproof and the overall look and feel are premium.

If button functionality had been better, we’d have scored these even higher.

Key specifications
Type: In-ear, true wireless
Battery life: Seven hours (more than 100 hours with charging case)
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Accessories included: USB charging cord, seven sizes of silicone ear tips, charging case
Location of in-line controls: Buttons on earbuds

13. Google Pixel Buds A-Series

Score: 7.8/10

Whether we were running hill sprint intervals or grinding through sets of burpees and box jumps, these earbuds didn’t budge. The tips felt tight, comfortable and secure, and we really liked the discreet design that sat flush within our ears.

Our independent audio expert raved about their dynamic range, which lends itself particularly well to heavy guitar anthems (rock fans, rejoice). Happily, there was next to no sound leakage, so you can blast your top tunes on the tube without inadvertently sharing your music taste with fellow passengers.

There’s no noise cancellation, and their five hours of playback time on a full tank isn’t amazing in the grand scheme of things, but this can be boosted to 24 hours thanks to their portable charging case.

Key specifications
Type: In-ear, true wireless
Battery life: Five hours (24 hours with charging case)
Noise-cancelling: No
Accessories included: Ear tips with three size options, charging case, USB charging cable
Location of in-line controls: On ear bud

14. Huawei FreeBuds 4

Score: 7.8/10

Sticky silicone-tipped earbuds may be a mainstay for many runners, but they’re not for everyone. If that’s the case for you, we prescribe these open-ear headphones from Huawei, which are designed to cover your ear lobes without sitting inside your ear canal.

Open-ear headphones don’t fit as tightly as their in-ear counterparts, but we found the FreeBuds to be lightweight, comfortable and surprisingly secure. Our sound expert said the noise cancellation feature made little difference, but he was a big fan of their bass and detailed sound, which made them a great match for electronic music.

Key specifications
Type: Open-ear, true wireless
Battery life: Four hours (22 hours with charging case)
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Accessories included: Charging case, USB charging cable
Location of in-line controls: On earbud (swipe, tap twice or press and hold)

15. Adidas FWD-01

Score: 7.7/10

If you don’t trust true wireless in-ear headphones to stay in your ears while running, try this near-wireless pair from Adidas instead. The two earbuds are connected by a quality cable that sits around your neck and acts as an added level of security if they fall out.

We found the buds a bit bulky and they did tend to slip from our ears during higher impact activities, so we’d recommend them for more stationary exercises like resistance training in the gym. The excellent bass is also a great motivator when lifting heavy.

Key specifications
Type: In-ear, near-wireless
Battery life: 16 hours
Noise-cancelling: No
Accessories included: Ear tips with four size options, carry pouch, USB charging cable
Location of in-line controls: Buttons on cord

Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

SIGN UP

You Might Also Like

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting