There are headphones that are simply better than others for running, working out, training, and other sports activities, whether outdoors or in the gym. While they are not necessarily built like a tank with impeccable water and sweat protection, the best sports headphones have a more breathable and more stable fit. They are also comfortable to use for hours and are portable enough for easy carrying.
Whether you are a professional athlete or simply a fitness enthusiast, the following products are the best options if you are shopping for sports headphones. Almost all of the products listed here are earbuds and in-ear headphones – they are the most suitable for sports use due to their breathable, stable, and portable design. Some of the products are also good for commuting and office use, specifically those with good noise isolation performance.
Table of Contents
- Best Wireless In-ear Headphones: Jaybird Tarah Pro
- Best Truly Wireless Headphones: Beats Powerbeats Pro
- Best Noise-canceling Headphones: Apple AirPods Pro
- Best Open Headphones: AfterShokz Trekz Air
- Best Wireless Over-ear Headphones: Beats Studio3
- Best Budget Headphones Under $50: Anker SoundCore Spirit X
Best Wireless In-ear Headphones: Jaybird Tarah Pro
The Jaybird Tarah Pro are versatile headphones that are not only great for sports use but are also good for casual everyday use. They are wireless in-ear headphones featuring rugged earpieces and a durable braided cable. With their excellent battery life, they can last an entire week if you usually run or work out for just a couple of hours per day. While they are some of the more expensive sports headphones on the market, they are worth every penny.
Available in different colors, the Jaybird Tarah Pro are ruggedly built headphones that are sturdy and durable enough to survive minor drops. Their IPX7 rating means they have excellent sweat protection, which is important for sports use. Unlike some sports headphones, their ear tips and stability fins are a single unit. This means you can’t mix and match different ear tips and stability fins for a more stable and more comfortable fit.
Lightweight and highly portable, the Jaybird Tarah Pro are stable headphones that stay securely in your ears even during intense workouts. With their rotating design, you can wear them either over or under your ears – their stability is equally great in both setups. They are comfortable to use continuously for several hours due to their breathable design. If you need to take a break, you can simply snap the two magnetic earpieces together around your neck for better security.
For controls, the Jaybird Tarah Pro have a curved inline remote with a built-in mic, a multi-function button, and volume buttons. The buttons are well-spaced and have good tactile feedback, while the remote itself is easy to access. You can use the inline remote for managing your calls and music, adjusting the volume, and activating your voice assistant. The headphones also automatically go to power saving mode when you snap them together.
Unlike some sports headphones, the Jaybird Tarah Pro only come with a soft pouch, which protects them against scratches. There are three ear tip sizes included in the box, along with a shirt clip and the proprietary USB charging cable, which has a cradle that makes it more cumbersome to carry in person than other charging cables.
The Jaybird Tarah Pro are decent-sounding in-ear headphones with a good companion app for sound customization. Their wireless range is excellent, but they lack NFC technology and don’t support multi-device pairing. Of the wireless in-ear headphones in this guide, they have the best battery life, capable of running up to 14 hours on a single charge, which is great for marathons. Furthermore, they charge really fast, with five minutes of charging already providing two hours of playback.
In addition to running and workouts, the Jaybird Tarah Pro are also good for commuting, travel, and office use, making them some of the more versatile sports headphones. While they lack active noise-canceling technology, they block a good amount of ambient noise. Their sound leakage is also minimal at higher volumes, allowing you to turn up the volume to further reduce background noise.
Overall, the Jaybird Tarah Pro is outstanding sports headphones with few flaws outside of their subpar mic performance. They are ruggedly built headphones that sound decent and are stable and comfortable to use for running and working out at the gym. Their battery life is excellent while their control scheme is user-friendly.
Best Truly Wireless Headphones: Beats Powerbeats Pro
The Beats Powerbeats Pro are recommended for those who still find in-ear headphones like the Jaybird Tarah Pro too cumbersome due to their cable. They are truly wireless headphones that work great even for the most rigorous workouts. Available in four different colors, they are well-built headphones with great battery life, good sound quality, and user-friendly controls.
Featuring ear hooks for better stability, the Beats Powerbeats Pro are stylish headphones with a secure and comfortable in-ear fit. While they are made of plastic and don’t feel as premium as their expensive price suggests, their overall build quality is good. Compared to the Jaybird Tarah Pro, their IP rating – IPX4 – is inferior, but their sweat resistance is good enough for sports use.
With their secure and breathable design, the Beats Powerbeats Pro are excellent for running and working out. They will stay securely in your ears even when doing intense physical activities with a lot of head movement. There are four ear tip sizes included in the box, allowing you to choose the most comfortable fit. On the other hand, their ear hook design might not be the best or most secure fit for those who wear glasses.
The Beats Powerbeats Pro are easy to carry due to their extremely compact design, with their hard case providing better protection against damage than a soft pouch. They are lightweight and take up minimal space in your gym bag or waist pack. The included case also doubles as a charging dock and holds an additional charge for extended playback. Outside of the case, the charging cable, and the extra pairs of ear tips, there are no other accessories included in the package.
With their responsive and easily accessible controls, the Beats Powerbeats Pro allow for easy call and music management and voice assistant activation while on the move. They also automatically pause when you take them out of your ears, conserving power. You can access the controls with either hand, as both earpieces have a multi-function button and a small volume rocker, which is convenient.
Regarding sound quality, the Beats Powerbeats Pro are good, with their great bass and mid-range performance being some of their high points. On the other hand, their integrated mic is decent at best and is not the most suitable for business calls, especially in a noisy environment. Their noise isolation is also subpar, but if you prefer to be more aware of your surroundings when running or working out, then this shouldn’t be an issue.
As mentioned, the Beats Powerbeats Pro have a great battery life that makes them suitable for extended physical activities, either outside or at the gym. They can run up to nine hours on a single charge, with their charging case providing an additional 15 hours of battery. Moreover, they charge fast, offering around one hour and 30 minutes of playback after just five minutes of charge time.
On the whole, the Beats Powerbeats Pro are an excellent pair of truly wireless headphones that are ideal for professional athletes, gym rats, and fitness enthusiasts. They are good-sounding headphones with better stability than other similar products due to their ear hooks. While their companion app doesn’t offer a lot of customization options, they are very easy to use.
Best Noise-canceling Headphones: Apple AirPods Pro
A pair of truly wireless headphones, the Apple AirPods Pro are recommended for those who prefer noise-canceling headphones for sports use. They are better than previous AirPods models, with their active noise cancellation feature being their most notable upgrade. They are great not only for sports use but also for commuting and office use.
The Apple AirPods Pro looks similar to previous AirPods models, but they have an in-ear design, which is either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your preferences. They are premium headphones with a closed-back design, featuring silicone ear tips that provide a good seal. With their lightweight design and snug in-ear fit, you’ll barely feel them in your ears, making them comfortable to use for hours. You can choose between three pairs of ear tips for the best fit for your years.
Although they lack ear hooks and stability fins for better stability, the Apple AirPods Pro are suitable for sports use. They stay securely in your ears and don’t easily pop out during intense workouts with a lot of head movement. They are IPX4-rated headphones, which means they are protected against sweat and water, though not as much as the Jaybird Tarah Pro.
The included case feels just as premium and is just as portable as the headphones. It’s a hard case type, which means it offers better protection than a soft pouch. It supports Qi wireless charging and holds additional charges for extended playback. Considering its small footprint, the case takes up minimal space in your bag, making it easy to carry for everyday use.
Featuring a force sensor on each earpiece, the Apple AirPods Pro have a decent control scheme that is limited but easy to use. With the controls, you can pause/play music, skip tracks, answer calls, activate Siri, and enable the active noise cancellation feature. You can’t adjust the volume, though, which is disappointing but hardly a deal-breaker.
The Apple AirPods Pro are decent-sounding truly wireless in-ear headphones that are suitable for casual everyday use. With their active noise-canceling technology and effective in-ear seal, they are excellent at blocking out background noise. This is especially beneficial for commuting, travel, and office use and for working out in gyms with poor taste in music. The sound leakage is also minimal at higher volumes, allowing you to blast your music in full volume to further mask ambient noise.
You can easily pair the Apple AirPods Pro with iOS devices, but they don’t come with a dedicated companion app for customization. They can run up to four hours and 30 minutes per charge with active noise cancellation enabled and the volume set to 50 percent. You get more than 24 hours of total battery life with the additional charges in the charging case.
While they are quite expensive – which is hardly surprising for an Apple product – the Apple AirPods Pro are great headphones for both sports use and everyday use. They are comfortable to use and have decent single-charge battery life. They have a stable and secure in-ear fit and block a lot of background noise with their great active noise cancellation feature.
Best Open Headphones: AfterShokz Trekz Air
If you prefer better situational awareness when doing outdoor physical activities, the AfterShokz Trekz Air are the most suitable sports headphones. Unlike all the other products in this guide, they are bone conduction headphones, which means they leave your ear canals completely uncovered, making them even better than regular open-back headphones. They are great for sports use, but for other usages, they are not good, especially considering their non-existent noise isolation.
Selling for around $120, the AfterShokz Trekz Air are unique-looking headphones that are available in four different colors: midnight blue, canyon red, forest green, and slate gray. They have ear hooks that connect to a thinner headband that goes around your head, making them distinctly different from headphones like the Beats Powerbeats3 and the Bose QuietControl 30. Their build quality is good, with an IP55 rating for sweat and dust protection.
With their lightweight and completely breathable design, the AfterShokz Trekz Air are comfortable to use for extended outdoor physical activities. They are 20 percent lighter than the popular Titanium model, which is more affordable. They are suitable sports headphones for those who find earbuds and in-ear headphones generally uncomfortable – especially the latter.
Composed of small buttons, the control scheme is decent and easy to use once you get accustomed to the button placement. While a bit cramped, the control buttons have good tactile feedback and don’t feel cheaply implemented. With the controls, you can manage your calls and music and switch between the EQ presets, which is nice since there is no companion app for sound customization.
For accessories, the AfterShokz Trekz Air include a USB charging cable, a pair of earplugs, and a silicone carrying case for basic protection when the headphones are not in use. If you buy them from some Amazon sellers, you also get stick-on reflective strips for making drivers aware of your presence when running or cycling at night.
The AfterShokz Trekz Air are compatible with both iOS and Android devices. They support multi-point pairing and can connect with up to two devices at the same time. While they lack NFC technology for quicker setup, they easily pair with compatible devices. They are great for outdoor sports use, with their ear hooks making for a more secure fit, which is especially important for more intense physical activities. Their single-charge battery life is six hours, which is decent and should be good enough for daily workouts for most people.
Considering their sports-oriented open design, it’s not surprising that the AfterShokz Trekz Air are mediocre for other usages. While they are very portable, they are not good for commuting, travel, and office use due to their non-existent noise isolation. Their sound quality is also unremarkable, so if you want good-sounding headphones for running and working out, these headphones are not for you.
With their completely open design, the AfterShokz Trekz Air are the best headphones if you prefer sports headphones that allow you to monitor your surroundings. They have a stable and secure design and are comfortable to use for long runs. Although they are not as versatile as some sports headphones, they are great at their intended purpose.
Best Wireless Over-ear Headphones: Beats Studio3
Over-ear headphones are not usually recommended for sports use due to their bulkier and less stable design compared to earbuds and in-ear headphones. But there are some models that are fairly decent for jogging and light workouts. If you prefer over-ear headphones for sports use, the popular Beats Studio3 are recommended headphones.
The Beats Studio3 are wireless over-ear headphones with closed-back ear cups and noise-canceling technology for better noise isolation. They are stylish headphones that are easily recognizable due to their branding. They are available in a variety of colors, including blue, gray, and black. There are also designs featuring NBA team colors and logos, with options for fans of the Los Angeles Lakers, the Golden State Warriors, and the Toronto Raptors, among others.
Lightweight and foldable, the Beats Studio3 are comfortable to use for jogging and light workouts, but since they cover your ears, they are not as breathable as in-ear headphones. While they are not as bulky as some full-sized over-ear headphones, they are still bulky and are not the most portable. They have well-padded ear cups and a sturdy, metal-reinforced headband.
Compared to most other over-ear headphones, the Beats Studio3 are more stable due to their tighter clamp. They don’t easily slide off when jogging and doing light workouts. This is the chief reason they are decent enough for sports use. However, for more intense physical activities, especially those with a lot of head movement, they are not suitable.
The Beats Studio3 have a discreet on-cup control scheme that is easy to use and offers call and music management. You can answer calls, pause/play music, skip tracks, and adjust the volume with the on-cup controls. You can also disable the active noise cancellation, which is a common function for wireless noise-canceling headphones.
Although they won’t impress serious audiophiles, the Beats Studio3 are decent-sounding headphones with good bass performance. In addition to being decent headphones for sports, they are suitable for casual everyday use. Their good noise isolation makes them suitable for commuting and office use, especially for the latter, as their sound leakage is also low at higher volumes.
With active noise cancellation enabled, the Beats Studio3 can run up to 22 hours on a single charge, which is good enough for all-day use. Without active noise cancellation, the battery life jumps to an incredible 40 hours. The headphones charge really fast, offering three hours of playback after just 10 minutes of charging. You can also switch to a wired connection with the included audio cable, which has an inline mic and remote.
The Beats Studio3 is very expensive, though. They sell for the same price as the Sony WH-1000XM3 and the Bose QuietComfort 35 II – both of which are better noise-canceling headphones. But if you prefer to use over-ear headphones for sports, look no further than the Beats Studio3. You can also check out the more affordable Beats Solo3 if you prefer on-ear headphones due to their relatively more breathable and more compact design.
Best Budget Headphones Under $50: Anker SoundCore Spirit X
If you have a tight budget and can’t spend too much on sports headphones, check out the Anker SoundCore Spirit X. They are some of the best budget headphones under $50, especially for running and sports use in general. You can get them for less than $40, making them significantly cheaper than all our top picks above.
The Anker SoundCore Spirit X are wireless in-ear headphones with a behind-the-neck cable and an inline control scheme. They are lightweight and extremely compact headphones that are easy to carry for daily workouts, either in person or in your gym bag. They have ear hooks and soft silicone ear tips with stability fins. There are multiple pairs of ear tips and stability fins included in the box, allowing you to mix and match to get the most comfortable fit.
Although they are budget headphones, the Anker SoundCore Spirit X doesn’t feel as cheaply built as some products in the same price range. Their build quality is decent; their IPX7 rating means they are well-protected against water and sweat. They are durable headphones that are suitable even for the most intense workouts – but their thin cable’s build quality feels cheaper than the earpieces.
With their breathable and comfortable in-ear fit, the Anker SoundCore Spirit X are great for running and working out. Their flexible ear hooks and stability fins allow for better stability and a more secure in-ear fit, which are especially beneficial for workouts with a lot of head movement. They also include a cable clip for keeping the cable organized.
Like other similarly designed headphones, the controls are integrated into the cable. The inline remote has well-spaced and responsive buttons with good tactile feedback. You can easily manage your calls and music and adjust the volume with the inline controls. The inline remote also has a built-in mic, but it’s not good for taking calls while running outdoors.
Unlike some budget headphones, the Anker SoundCore Spirit X don’t sound like complete trash. They are actually decent-sounding in-ear headphones, but they are more suitable for those who prefer a more bass-heavy sound. At around 12 hours per charge, the battery life is also great and should be good enough for several days, assuming you only run or work out for a few hours per day.
The Anker SoundCore Spirit X have subpar noise isolation, though. This makes them unsuitable if you want to completely tune out your surroundings when running or working out, either outdoors or at the gym. But on the other hand, their sound leakage is minimal even at higher volumes, allowing you to reduce ambient noise by turning the volume up.
Overall, the Anker SoundCore Spirit X is a great pair of budget sports headphones. They are well-designed headphones that sound decent and are comfortable to use for hours. They are most suitable for those who prefer to be more aware of their surroundings when running and working out, especially in an outdoor setting.