The Best Running Headphones of 2024

Best Running Headphones for 2024

Buying the best running headphones can be a dice roll. Virtually all of us use them, but these techy tidbits come in all over the board. Depending on what you’re doing, they can miss the mark. The best running headphones provide strong field performance like fit and durability. Condition-specific factors — touch functionality, water resistance, and connectivity — could make or break anyone’s hype on a run.  

How can you be sure whether the headphones you’re thinking about will stay put if you take a spill, go parkour, or run during an earthquake? And if you’re going the distance on a triathlon or ultramarathon, will your headphones’ batteries survive?

Of course, the best headphones for running bring the noise no matter what mile you’re on. And here, our runners covered the distance to bring you our favorite picks.

GearJunkie’s testers have cut trails and pounded pavement since the days when wearable heart measurement technology was novel. To find the best running headphones of 2024, we tested buds on choppy trails in Texas and crowded city streets in southeast Asia. With dozens of earbud tests under our belts, we identified six of the best running headphones for this best-of list.


Best Overall Running Headphones


Soundcore AeroFit Pro

Specs

  • Battery Life
    14 hours (tested), 46 with case (claimed)
  • Weight
    95.5 grams (with recommended neckband)
  • Water Resistance
    IPX5
  • Features
    Detachable neckband, Customizable EQ or spatial audio


The Best Running Headphones of 2024

Pros

  • No pressure points

  • Good balance between earphone sound and ambient sound

  • Comfortable adjustable neckband design

  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Loose fit without neckband


Sam Anderson

Best Budget Running Headphones


JBL Vibe Beam

Specs

  • Battery Life
    8 hours (tested), 32 with case (tested)
  • Weight
    48.4 grams
  • Water Resistance
    IP54
  • Features
    JBL Headphones app compatibility


The Best Running Headphones of 2024

Pros

  • Durability

  • Water resistance

  • Very carryable, tightly-built case

  • Long-term reliability

Cons

  • Can jostle loose

  • Easy to activate touch controls while adjusting the fit


Sam Anderson

Best-Fitting Running Headphones


JLab Epic Air Sport

Specs

  • Battery Life
    15 hours (claimed), 50+ with case (claimed)
  • Weight
    96.3 grams
  • Water Resistance
    IP66
  • Features
    3-setting ANC, Integrated charging cable, Customizable touch control


The Best Running Headphones of 2024

Pros

  • Secure over-ear fit

  • Loud

  • Good voice call function

Cons

  • The case takes up lots of room

  • Little difference between ANC/non-ANC


Sam Anderson

Best Waterproof Running Headphones


H2O Audio Tri Pro

Specs

  • Battery Life
    4.5 hours (tested)
  • Weight
    33.5 grams
  • Water Resistance
    IPX8
  • Features
    On-board playlist function, Swim-friendly


The Best Running Headphones of 2024

Pros

  • Very easy to hear surrounding noise

  • Tight waterproofing

  • Listening doesn’t require paired device

  • High voice call quality

Cons

  • Quiet sound except underwater

  • Short battery life

  • Proprietary charging port


Sam Anderson

Best Sounding Running Headphones


Beats Fit Pro

Specs

  • Battery Life
    6 hours (tested), 24 with case (claimed)
  • Weight
    66.1 grams
  • Water Resistance
    IPX4
  • Features
    In-ear wingtips, ANC Siri compatibility, Biomapped EQ, Find My


The Best Running Headphones of 2024

Pros

  • Extremely high sound quality

  • Tight fit, in-ear profile

  • Easy touch control

  • Very strong ANC, very penetrable non-ANC

Cons

  • Moderately low battery life

  • Loose case construction


Sam Anderson

Best Mid-Range Running Headphones


Skullcandy Push Active

Specs

  • Battery Life
    10 hours (claimed), 44 with case (claimed)
  • Weight
    93.5 grams
  • Water Resistance
    IP55
  • Features
    Voice control, Find My, Customizable EQ


The Best Running Headphones of 2024

Pros

  • Easy to dial in fit

  • Loud

  • Easy voice commands

  • Fun app functions

Cons

  • Bluetooth wasn’t perfect during test

  • Stay Aware function sounded windy


Sam Anderson

Running Headphone Comparison Chart

Running HeadphonesPriceTypeBattery LifeWeight (with case)ANC
Beats Fit Pro

$200

In-ear, secured

6 hours, 24 with case

66.1 grams

Yes
JBL Vibe Beam$45

In-ear

8 hours , 32 with case

48.4 grams

No

JLab Epic Air Sport$100

In-ear, secured

15 hours, 50+ with case

96.3 grams

Yes
H20 Audio Tri Pro

$180

Bone conduction

4.5 hours

33.5 grams

No

Skullcandy Push Active

$90

In-ear, secured

10 hours, 44 with case

93.5 grams

No

Soudcore AeroFit Pro$170Open-ear10 hours, 44 with case95.5 grams (with recommended neckband)No
Testing ANC capabilities in Singapore; (photo/Sam Anderson)

How We Tested Running Headphones

GearJunkie’s runners have tested hundreds of men’s and women’s products on trails, in busy urban centers, and during competitive Adventure Racing. 2024’s running headphones tests built on that theme, with our testers ranging from Texas trails to central California, Singapore, and Thailand. 

Performance demanded resilience under extreme heat (up to 95 degrees at 80% humidity on the Singapore streets) and during travel. City traffic, sweaty ears, and logistics of battery life and case carrying were constant factors. Testers put water resistance to the test in events including a brisk cool-down swim. 

Testing periods ranged from months to years. We decharged and recharged headphones frequently and retested units to find our favorite applications for each product. Testers used their assigned headphones during recreational runs but considered possible uses during competitions within rule allowances. 

The testers for this article have combined experience of over 20 years in middle-distance trail running, competitive track racing, and multi-sport activities like CrossFit. Our editorial team includes GearJunkie Adventure Racing team members, and editors for iRunFar.com provided product consultation. 

We’re also real people, so we use headphones just like everyone else — running errands, attending meetings, and taking phone calls. We worked out, traveled, and vibed out to music in our running headphones. One improvised water resistance test took place when we forgot a pair of earbuds in a shorts pocket and threw the shorts in the washing machine.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose Running Headphones

Fit/Comfort

Even if you only go on short, half-hour jogs, the wrong-fitting headphones can still give you an earache. That said, it’s not always as simple as picking the set of rubber tips that feel the best and popping the headphones in. Pain from earbuds can come from the tips, over-ear or concha ridge hooks, or even constant re-adjustment. 

Look for springy but flexible ear hooks like the ones on the JLAB Epic Air Sport, or a bone conduction set like the H20 Audio Tri Pro. For most, Apple AirPods can be a good choice — but because there’s no fit adjustment, there’s some possibility you’ll find yourself constantly fiddling with them to keep them snug.

A perfect fit is key to long-term comfort; (photo/Sam Anderson)

Battery Life

Not every runner needs best-in-class headphone battery life, like the JLab Epic Air Sport provides. To be honest, most of us can’t run for 10 or more hours straight, no matter if we want to or not. But it’s always best to consider how else you’ll use your headphones outside workouts and what it takes to recharge them if the worst happens.

If you’re a daily commuter with an office job and an after-work running routine, consider headphones with long battery life on a single charge. It’s possible you’ll want more than 4 to 6 hours of listening time per day, and it’s easiest not to recharge unless you have to.

If you’re a marathoner, we’d encourage the same thing — start your run or race with a full charge and save precious grams by leaving the case behind.

If you’re a hardcore adventure runner who can do 30, 50, or 100+ miles, look for quick recharge time and a well-built, compact case. You might not hit 0% on your run, but your headphones likely will.

Touch/Voice Controls

The key to success in headphone touch controls for runners: simplicity. 

Most of us don’t want to think about anything while we’re running. Others get their best thinking done while they’re knocking out miles. The common denominator is that the last thing any of us want to think about is how many taps it takes on which ear to activate what function. 

“OK, so do I tap my left earbud three times for the last track, twice slowly then once quickly to activate voice control, and one-touch followed by two clicks to toggle ANC? Or is it only once slowly then twice …”

Nobody wants that. Our staff also prefers button or voice control over touch control. It may be common for runners to scratch itches, wipe sweat from their faces, etc. Pawing a touch-activated earbud repeatedly can lead to functional frustration. We got along well with the Skullcandy Push Active voice assistant and button controls.

Noise-cancelling features can tune out wind and other distractions during runs; (photo/Sam Anderson)

Noise Canceling or Non-Noise Canceling

Active noise canceling (ANC) headphones have skyrocketed in popularity as the technology has improved in smaller and smaller packages. ANC uses one or more microphones to collect, measure, and “cancel” incoming sound by producing counteracting sound waves. 

So, do you need ANC in running headphones? Safety-conscious, urban runners or those who just like listening to the birds and the bees may resist it. As our testing revealed, some of today’s ANC is extremely potent, making it impossible to hear normal noises anywhere nearby. It can be intimidating.  

However, audiophiles or runners who prefer to zone out can revel in the sonic focus ANC provides. To jam out on music and let the vibes take over (testing or otherwise), our testers reach for the loudest pair of ANC headphones. The technology pairs especially well with the surge in custom equalizer tools for headphones . And if you’re ably sighted, you can always keep your head on a swivel to keep yourself safe. 

In-Ear or Open-Ear

Each of these categories carries one main drawback and one main advantage. Headphones with in-ear designs sound louder but can become painful after hours of wear. Open-ear designs are more comfortable, but never bring the same thump as in-ear buds. 

Runners can consider mileage to help call a shot. Do you really want anything in your ears for 10, 24, or 30+ hours? Not all in-ear buds are created equal, it’s true — and the better the fit, the less earache you’ll face. But the advantage of open-ear buds over extended wear periods is that there’s actually a possibility you’ll forget you’re wearing them. Not only that, but you’ll also stay more directly tuned to the outside world. The Soundcore Aerofit Pro showed very balanced open-ear sound quality during our tests.

On the other hand, the whole reason you run might be that you like getting lost in your own world. In that case, an in-ear set can better defend your groove from the ingress of external hassles we all navigate.

IPX ratings indicate how waterproof/resistant headphones are; (photo/Sam Anderson)

Water Resistance/Ingress Protection

The IP system strikes again! Remember, look at the last two digits (either an X and a number or two numbers). The first digit stands for dust and debris resistance, the second is water. The common IP54 means that it can let in some dust but not enough to hurt the device (5), and that it’s protected from splashing water (4). 

Anything beyond this, and you’ve got a pretty robust earbud for running. IPX5 is water jet-protected, and IPX6 gear won’t yield to “powerful water jets” or “heavy seas.” 

Yo ho, yo ho.

FAQ

Which headphones don’t fall out while running?

Headphones with rubber or silicone hooks that loop over the top of the ear are likely to inspire the most confident fit in the category. But that doesn’t mean other types will just fall out willy-nilly.  

Beats Fit Pro’s “wingtips” provided a tight fit in our testing. The tips hold pressure against the inner ear ridge which, while not super comfortable over time, was unquestionably secure. 

In open-ear sets, neckbands not only help keep a set together if you take a tumble, but also add positional stability. The H2O Audio Tri Pro even includes a rubber leash you can attach to your glasses or goggles during races or swimming.

Is it safe to wear headphones while running?

Running safety questions virtually always have situational answers. (Is it safe to run without water? If you’re in a busy city, sure — if you’re in the Moroccan desert, not so much. And so on.) This is one of those questions. 

Depending on your running conditions, you could need a pretty disparate kit to keep yourself safe. Let’s say you’re in the suburbs, running on straight-line sidewalks that border 45 mph traffic. In this case, our testers reach for an open-ear set. It’s safety first in traffic, and we want to key in on it as far in advance as possible. 

While testing trail running in a remote area, our testers might pick up their favorite ANC headphones and let the trail lead the way. That could change, though, depending on traffic. Mountain bikers or one-wheel riders can come up quick — especially on switchback terrain or in narrow corridors — and nobody wants to jam up traffic or, worse, hit the dirt in a heap.  

Also be smart about wildlife. Make noise as you run in remote areas with large predators, and stay aware of your surroundings.

Can sweat ruin headphones?

Though we’ve heard stories of some especially slimy athletes killing headphones with sweat, most of us won’t come anywhere close. 

Most running headphones are built to survive light rain, and some go beyond that. There’s plenty of crossover between running, triathlon, and paddling sports, and standards for water resistance can be very high. Check out the H2O Audio Tri Pro’s IPX8 rating, which helps it survive permanent submersion in water up to 13 feet. 

Sweat hits different, though — can the salty, particulate discharge from our pores corrode earbud components even worse? The upshot is that prolonged exposure to moisture can cause electrical problems, like refusal to charge. This can take years. 

Your best bet is to let your headphones air dry, outside the case, after a soggy run. This should keep the connections and any ingress points clean and functional — both on the buds and inside the case.

How long should headphone batteries last?

They can last anywhere from 6 to 14 hours on a single charge and at least 24 with a fully charged case. The JLab Epic Air Sport claims the burliest battery in our test, at 15 hours in the buds and 50+ combined with the case.

How do you clean headphones?

Carefully and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Tools of the trade basically include lint-free cloths and/or Q-tips, warm water, and isopropyl alcohol (in some cases). Cleaning eartips is simple enough. One tester sometimes uses a toothbrush or paperclip to gently lift out any grime inside microphone ports or speaker housings. 

Unit-specific instructions from most manufacturers are available via a basic Google search.

The post The Best Running Headphones of 2024 appeared first on GearJunkie.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.