What are the best running headphones for run and the gym?
Best running headphones: A solid soundtrack can be a key component of any workout, but it all starts with the right pair of sporting headphones to complement your style. With so many options out there however, a little guidance can be essential.
After all, sound quality is just the start of it. You also have to consider the style of headphones you’ll need – some fitness fanatics swear by band headphones but others (like myself) prefer the unrivalled freedom that a pair of true wireless earbuds can offer when you’re working up a strain.
Similarly, having a sweat-resistant pair of headphones is crucial, but if you also plan on taking the brunt of the elements during a run or an upcoming marathon, then an official IP rating is a must for ensuring proper water resistance.
Taking all these factors in mind across a range of potential budgets, we’ve narrowed down the absolute best sporting headphones. Just read on for our advice and you’ll be beating your personal best – and perfecting your running playlist – in no time.
- Best overall: Jaybird Vista
- Best value running headphone: Jaybird X4
- Best premium running headphone: Jabra Elite Active 75T
- Best comfortable sport headphone: Jaybird Tarah
- Best running earbuds: Sony WF-XB700
- Best fit running headphones: Beats PowerBeats Pro
- Best rugged sports headphone: Adidas FWD-01
- Best basic running headphones: Rock Jaw T5 Ultra Connect
- Best budget running headphone: Creative Outlier Gold
- Best cheap sports headphone: Treblab xFit
- Best durable running headphone: Adidas RPT-01
Related: Best wireless earbuds
A wealth of gym and running features
- Great seal
- Solid build quality
- Super-stable connection
- No ambient sound mode or aptX
- Charging case only has 10 hours battery life
The top dog and Trusted Reviews’ best running headphones, the Vista are designed with runners and gym-goers in mind. They tick all the boxes when it comes to fit and functionality, and have a wealth of custom features that avid sports people will love.
They offer one of the best seals on a true wireless set, excellent build quality and a solid wireless connection. Their 6g weight makes them super-comfortable to wear, and with an IPX7 water/sweat resistance rating, this means they can survive the wear and sweat during a gym session.
Great and cheap
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- Solid, comfortable fit
- Decent sound for a sports set
- Great build quality
- Prone to dropouts in busy areas
The Jaybird X4 offer a robust IPX7 design that’ll easily survive an unexpected mid-run downpour or a sweaty gym sessions. A generous selection of silicon tips and wings options, along with an intelligent cable management system make it quick and easy to achieve a solid seal for your workout.
Add a lengthy 8hr battery life and above-average audio quality, and the Jaybird X4 easily merit their place on this list.
Jabra Elite Active 75T
Great, even if you’re not sporty
- Powerful sound performance
- Comfortable and secure fit
- Easy-to-use onboard controls
- Not that different from Elite 75T
- Mic quality good, but not fantastic
While there’s little to differentiate the Elite Active 75T from the cheaper Elite 75T; these are one of our favourite pairs of true wireless sporting earbuds – if you can splash the cash.
While the Elite Active 75T aren’t cheap, in return you receive one of the most premium experiences available on a pair of running headphones. Boasting an IP57 rating, 7.5 hour battery with additional 28-hours in the charging case, the Elite Active 75T can keep you going through the most demanding of marathons.
The X4’s affordable sibling
- Great value for money
- Excellent fit and build quality
- Sound good for the price
- Battery life could be better
The Jaybird Tarah are the even cheaper sibling to the Jaybird X4. For less than £100 they offer solid audio quality, a tight and comfortable fit, plus IPX7 sweat and dust resistance.
The only difference is that the Tarah have single-piece wings and tips, making them slightly less customisable than the X4’s separate tip and wing pieces. If you want an unbreakable fit it’s best to invest in the X4.
The Tarah also have a slightly shorter 6hr battery life, though unless you’re planning to run an ultra-marathon this isn’t a deal-breaker.
Fun sound and long battery life
- Excellent battery life
- Fun, punchy sound
- Powerful sub-bass
- Quite large
- No active noise cancellation
While the WF-1000XM3 are our best true wireless, they’re more for music lovers than fitness fanatics. The lack of an IP rating makes them a terrible option, which is where the WF-XB700 comes in.
With a fun, vibrant sound that puts most running headphones to shame, the WF-XB700 boasts an incredible 9-hour battery life on a single charge. That’s the kind of battery life that puts most wireless earbuds to shame, let alone the other fitness-focused options it’s up against.
Beats PowerBeats Pro
Long battery life
- Stable, comfortable fit
- Decent sound
- Very good battery life for true wireless
- Connectivity isn’t perfect
- Slightly synthetic mid texture
- Bass boost improved, but not high-end
The Powerbeats design is made for sports, with the use of plastic keeping their weight low and also helping with their stability.
The earphones resist water and sweat (though this is not tied to any specific IP rating) and each earbud has an proximity sensor, so they automatically pause your music when it’s taken out, and start it up again when they’re put the earphone back in.
These aren’t the best-sounding true wireless earphones, but sound quality is very good by Beats standards, making for a satisfying pair of earbuds.
Rock Jaw T5 Ultra Connect
Simple, affordable earphones
- Secure fit
- Tuning filters
- Rugged build
- Lean character to the sound
The Rock Jaw T5 Ultra Connect are the first wireless in-ears from British audio brand Rock Jaw. They boast 11-plus hrs of battery life, HD Audio support, switchable tuners and an IPX5 rating.
Available for less than £100, the T5 Ultra Connect are good value for money, though the design is more function over style. They lack the warm sound some rivals achieve, but offer a good-quality sound and rugged build.
- Great battery life
- Solid audio
- Rugged design
- Bulky casing can cause fit issues
If you’ve ever felt that wireless earphones were lacking a certain rugged quality, then the FWD-01 is here to win you over. Combining a shoelace style band with huge earbuds and bigger winged tips, these earphones are built to withstand plenty of damage.
Battery life is substantial, clocking in at 16-hours on a single charge. With solid audio, these are good pair who like to go for lengthy runs.
Creative Outlier Gold
Great value for money
- Better balanced sound than the Outlier Air
- Great fit and finish
- Improved battery life
- Super X-FI is limited
- Better sounding options at the price
- Playback controls may cause discomfort
The Outlier Air offered great value for money, but the company surpassed itself with the Outlier Gold update.
Bringing a better and more stylish finish, the Outlier Gold packs a more balanced audio quality this time around, allowing you to enjoy more detail across the board.
While there are no wing tips to speak of, the Outlier Gold fits snugly within your ears to minimise any risk of becoming dislodged during a workout. Plus, the improved battery life over last year’s pair make them a solid upgrade.
Solid quality at penny-pinching price
- Very affordable
- Compact design
- Solid battery life
- Not the best sounding
- No wing-tip options
The xFit true wireless earbuds defy their absurdly low RRP by standing out as a surprisingly stable piece of kit.
The sound quality pales in comparison to some of the more expensive efforts on this list, they are decent for the money. What’s more, the xFit actually have 3.5-5 hours worth of battery life on a single charge, so while they won’t last a marathon, they’re definitely worth a go for the gym.
Can last as long as you can
- Decent sound
- Simple controls
- 40+ hour battery life
- Sound could do with more finesse
- Multi-directional button is a bit fussy
For those who prefer the more secure fit of an on-ear pair, look no further than the RPT-01.
Boasting a mix of comfortable yet surprisingly durable materials, the RPT-01 manages to look like a fairly fashionable pair of headphones despite its focus on fitness. The killer feature here is the 40-hour battery life. Most gym-goers would struggle to deplete that charge in less than a week, giving the wearer the confidence to keep going on and on.
How we test the best running headphones
The best test of a pair of running headphones is, of course, running. Our reviewers have amassed marathons’ worth of miles, pounding the park surfaces and hitting the treadmill to put these running headphones through their paces.
We make sure they’re not going to fall out of your ears, and that they can survive sweaty conditions without ending up in a sad heap (even that’s exactly what we do sometimes).
We’re also conscious you might want to use your running headphones for other exercise, such as the gym. We wear them under different scenarios, from an explosive Olympic weightlifting session to a spin class, and we also test running headphones away from the track or gym to see how they cope with regular listening.
We also take into account factors such as how securely they fit, their durability, sound quality and battery life.