Best Running Headphones of 2024

Our team tested dozens of headphones in many different categories in order to find the best options for running.

By on May 1, 2024 | Comments
Best Running Headphones - wearing the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) - feature photo

The iRunFar team named the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) the best running headphones. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

While headphones can be a surprisingly controversial topic in the running world, if you like to listen to music or a podcast on a run, you’ll want to find the best running headphones for your ears. Listening to music or podcasts on a run can be an excellent way to break up the monotony of training — and learn something new — and many of us swear by having our earbuds in. For others, running can be an important time of quiet meditation.

Either way, being present and aware of your surroundings is important both for your safety and that of others. If you want to spend a run catching up on your favorite podcast or true crime series or listening to tunes to get amped up, we’ve got you covered. The iRunFar team tested over a dozen headphones and earbuds for several months to find the best running headphones to fit any budget. In the end, we kept returning to our favorites, the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation). Open-ear headphones are starting to gain traction amongst runners, and we found that the Shokz OpenRun Pro worked the best.

Take a more detailed look at our picks below and browse our How to Choose, FAQs, and Methodology sections to learn more about picking out the best running headphones for you.

Best Headphones for Runners

Best Running Headphones - Running with the Beats Powerbeats Pro

Alli Hartz of iRunFar tests the Beats Powerbeats Pro earbuds during a road run. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Best Overall Headphones for Runners: Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) ($269)

Best Running Headphones - Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) - product photo


  • The earpieces are comfortable and secure
  • Noise-canceling mode is awesome
  • Excellent sound for music


  • Relatively short battery life
  • Podcasts don’t sound great

We admit that it feels a little bit cliche to choose the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)  as our top headphones. But we also admit they’re excellent earbuds that are ideal for running, and we kept coming back to these regardless of how many other options we tried. Throughout the testing process, we used the original, second, and third generations of Apple’s AirPods, and it was the second generation we loved most. This model features improved active noise cancellation technology — something we enjoyed, whether using them on a plane or while working in a coffee shop. The touch control is super handy, and while the improved six hours of battery life is better than the previous model, we’d still like to see that time lengthen even more for our longer runs.

If you’re also like us, you’re probably concerned about how securely they fit in your ear while running and the potential for them to fall out during a trail run and get lost. While other earbuds we tested did feel a bit more secure, we had no issues with these falling out, even during a couple of hard falls. These earbuds are pricey, but we believe they are the best running ones available and worth the investment.

Shop the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)

Best Headphones for Runners Runner-Up: Jabra Elite 7 Active ($114)

Best Running Headphones - Jabra Elite 7 Active - product photo


  • Four additional earbud pieces help dial in the fit
  • Easy and quick Bluetooth connection
  • Adjustable noise canceling and “hear-through” modes
  • Comfortable and secure


  • Requires downloading an app

If you don’t want to spend $250 on a pair of earbuds but still want a quality audio experience, we highly recommend the Jabra Elite 7 Active earbuds. These compact earbuds feature proprietary ShakeGrip technology to improve their fit. They come with four additional earbud pieces to further dial in the fit, which makes these headphones feel incredibly comfortable and secure in our ears. We never worried about them falling out while we were out running.

We also appreciate the adjustable active noise cancellation, which is especially clutch for runners and our need to be aware of our surroundings. We were able to turn the noise canceling down when we were out on trails but then back up when we wanted to work in a coffee shop or tune out noise while sitting on an airplane. Jabra claims the battery life lasts eight hours. A five-minute fast charge of dead earbuds will net you an additional hour of listening if you find yourself caught out. While we appreciated how quickly and easily the earbuds connected to our devices via Bluetooth, we didn’t love downloading an app to use them.

Shop the Jabra Elite 7 Active

Best Open-Ear Headphones for Runners: Shokz OpenRun Pro ($180)

Best Running Headphones - Shokz OpenRun Pro - product photoPros:

  • Good battery life and easy-to-use
  • Quality sound
  • Secure fit


  • Bone conduction/open ear isn’t a very versatile option

The Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones use bone conduction technology to transfer sound to the inner ear and are an excellent option for headphones that don’t go over or inside your ear. We’ve used multiple versions of these headphones and found that the latest version is the best yet. This new version is noticeably more comfortable than previous ones, and the upgraded fit doesn’t bounce or shift. We had issues with the previous versions that would move around when we were wearing a hat or putting hair up in a ponytail. The improved fit also helps with the overall sound quality since they don’t shift around. They’re super convenient to drop around your neck when you don’t want to wear them, and you don’t have to worry about them falling off and disappearing into the grass or dirt like tiny earbuds.

While we love the simplicity of the bone conduction style of headphones — it is much easier it is to be aware of your surroundings when running — they’re not very practical or versatile outside of using them when active. While you can still listen to music or a podcast wherever you are, you won’t be able to cancel ambient sound while working in a loud coffee shop or on an airplane.

Shop the Shokz OpenRun Pro

Best Budget Headphones for Runners: JLab Go Air Sport ($30)

Best Running Headphones - JLab GoAir Sport - product photo


  • Excellent earbuds for the price
  • Over-ear hooks are soft and feel secure
  • Three different earbud sizes included


  • No noise cancellation or transparency modes

If you don’t wear earbuds often or just want a budget option, you’ll love the JLab Go Air Sport earbuds. First, for $30, you really can’t beat the value. We especially liked the over-ear hooks, which are soft and feel secure. The three additional earbud sizes help boost security and fit. Tap controls make it easy to make calls on Siri or Google, and you can also use voice command instructions to answer and hang up calls. It’s a small detail, but we like that the charging cord is built into the charging case so it doesn’t get lost.

The Bluetooth connection was quick and easy to use. Unlike most of the other headphones on this list, this pair of earbuds lacks a noise cancellation mode. While this makes it easier to hear noises around you when you’re out running, it makes them less versatile for use in coffee shops and airplanes when you want to block out other ambient noise.

Shop the JLab Go Air Sport

Best Waterproof Headphones for Runners: H2O Audio Tri Pro Multi-Sport with Playlist+ ($180)

Best Running Headphones - H2O Audio Tri Pro Multi-Sport with Playlist+- product photo


  • Wearable while swimming
  • Able to load music directly to the headphones, but the process was a bit cumbersome


  • Bulkier and heavier than other headphones
  • Shorter battery life

If you live and train in a rainy environment and are concerned about electronics failing from moisture, we recommend the H2O Audio Tri Pro Multi-Sport with Playlist+ headphones. These are also an excellent option for multisport athletes who want to listen to music during a swim workout. They are a bone conduction/open-ear model of headphones, and while they are a bit bulkier and heavier than some of the other options that we tested, they were still comfortable and secure.

The extra bulk is most likely due to the onboard music storage, a feature that sets this set of headphones apart from the rest included in this guide. You can actually load music and podcasts onto the earbuds via Spotify or MP3 files and listen without having your phone around. The loading process from Spotify wasn’t straightforward, but we figured it out eventually. This feature is obviously geared toward swimmers who want to listen to music without needing to keep their phone around. If you’re a runner who doesn’t like to carry a phone but still wants to listen to music or a podcast, these are a great option.

Shop the H2O Audio Tri Pro Multi-Sport with Playlist+

Other Great Running Headphones

Beats Powerbeats Pro ($250)

Best Running Headphones - Beats Powerbeats Pro - product photo


  • Connects instantly with iPhones
  • Excellent sound quality and interaction with Siri
  • Tech features like notifications and responding to texts with voice commands
  • Good battery life


  • A little big but still comfortable and secure with ear hooks and earbud piece
  • Not immediately obvious how to turn off

Like some of the other top headphones in this guide, the Beats Powerbeats Pro is a premium earbud with all the upgrades you’d expect for the price. And as expected from the brand, these have top-shelf sound quality. The connectivity is seamless and easy, especially if you use an iPhone. We especially enjoyed the advanced options like hands-free voice commands with Siri and the ability to answer text messages without having to pull our phone out. They’ve become the go-to earbuds for a few of our ultrarunning testers because of their impressive nine-hour battery life.

We did have a few testers initially complain about the size and over-ear hooks but were able to adapt to them. It felt like a small price to pay for all these earbuds’ other advantages. Even with the initial issues, the earbuds fit well and stayed secure in our testers’ ears. Our one gripe is that it’s not immediately obvious how to turn off the earbuds, and one tester had issues with them coming back on while being stored in her running vest. But these were minor nitpicks for an overall quality product, especially for the music nerds who are looking for the best sound quality possible.

Shop the Beats Powerbeats Pro

JBL Endurance Peak 3 ($100)

Best Running Headphones - JBL Endurance Peak 3 - product photo


  • Good sound quality
  • Great value
  • Solid waterproofing


  • The case and actual headphones are a bit bulky

We love the JBL Endurance Peak 3 as a middle-of-the-road pair of earbuds. They have good enough sound quality for most people, a comfortable over-the-ear fit, and solid waterproofing. And at a reasonable price, they’re an excellent value and a good choice for someone not wanting a top-end or low-end set of headphones. JBL claims the headphones have 10 hours of playtime and an additional 40 hours of charging in the case. Our one issue with these earbuds is they’re a bit bulkier and less comfortable than others on the list.

Shop the JBL Endurance Peak 3

Comparing the Best Headphones for Running

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) $269 6 hours Yes In-ear
Jabra Elite 7 Active $114 8 hours Yes In-ear
Shokz OpenRun Pro $180 10 hours No Open
JLab Go Air Sport $30 8 hours No In-ear
H2O Audio Tri Pro Multi-Sport with Playlist+ $180 5 hours No Open
Beats Powerbeats Pro $250 9 hours No In-ear
JBL Endurance Peak 3 $100 10 hours No Wrap

How to Choose the Best Running Headphones

Styles of Headphones
The options for the best running headphones are as varied as the type of audio entertainment available for listening. There are three main types of headphones: those that go over your ears, those that go in your ears, and bone conduction headphones, like the Shokz OpenRun Pro, that are placed adjacent to the ear. You may see runners with anything from over-ear headphones that look like they’ve come straight out of a DJ booth to those with tiny little buds that fit almost invisibly into the ear. Most runners opt for in-ear headphones, like the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation), because of their light weight and ease of use. Within this category, you can find headphones that fit comfortably into your ear without any other types of attachment, those that clip on over your ear, and those with chords that attach one bud to the other to make it easier to keep track of them.

Headphones can also be corded, attached directly to your phone, or operate with Bluetooth wirelessly. Most people have moved away from headphones with chords, except for maybe people who like to watch movies on long-haul flights that require plug-in headphones.  The other advantage of headphones with a cord is that you only have to worry about your phone battery, not your headphones’ battery. Even long-lasting Bluetooth headphones won’t get you through a really long ultra if you’re listening continuously.

You can also choose between noise-canceling headphones that block out ambient noises and those that allow you to hear what is happening around you.

Types of Headphones to Use While Running
Choosing the best headphones for running depends almost entirely on personal preference and budget. Some may prefer over-ear headphones, while others might opt for buds that fit inside the ear. Some might want wireless Bluetooth headphones, while others might prefer a cord that attaches to their phone. Some might prefer noise-canceling earbuds, while others prefer to hear at least portions of their surroundings.

We generally choose Bluetooth earbuds as the best running headphones because they’re lightweight and don’t have a cord that can get in the way or be annoying while running. Since it’s good to be aware of your surroundings when running, we recommend using earbuds that are either not noise canceling or have adjustable noise canceling levels, like the Jabra Elite 7 Active. Knowing what’s happening around you is important, whether running on trails, roads, or a bike path. If your earbuds are noise-canceling, we recommend wearing just one so one ear is open. You’ll want to have the volume low enough so that you can hear if someone has come up behind you and wants to pass.

Adjustability and Fit
As with all pieces of gear, you want headphones or earbuds that are comfortable to wear. While there are different ear shapes and sizes, most headphones will fit most people, and the fit is a matter of personal preference.

In-ear headphones are placed relatively deep inside the ear to stay put and have little adjustability. However, some have extra material that will go over the top of your ear. Others, like the JLab Go Air Sport, will come with a few different interchangeable pieces of different sizes that allow you to make slight adjustments. More than anything, you don’t want your headphones or earbuds falling off while running and jostling, so a tight fit tends to be better.

Best Running Headphones - running with corded headphones

Corded headphones still have a place in running, especially when battery life is an issue. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Wireless Versus Wired Headphones for Running
While wired headphones were the only option for a long time, most runners have migrated to wireless in recent years. Not having to deal with a cord between your phone and earbuds makes it easier to store your phone in a pack or carry it in your hand without worrying about getting tangled up. Still, wired headphones have their place. Since they don’t have their own separate battery, like wireless headphones, you don’t have to worry about keeping them charged. This is especially useful if you’re running an ultra that exceeds a Bluetooth headphones’ battery life. But for most runs, the nine-hour battery life of earbuds like the Beats Powerbeats Pro will be plenty.

Bluetooth Headphone Battery Life and Charging
The average battery of most Bluetooth headphones provides five to six hours of listening time. This will get the majority of people through most of their runs. If you regularly run longer than this and want reliable music for the entire duration, you’ll want a higher-end set of Bluetooth headphones with longer battery life. That, or go with the tried and true corded headphones that will run off of your phone’s battery. To help keep headphones charged, turning them off after use is important. Most headphones charge off a standard USB cable and will reach full charge in a few hours. The fast-charging option of the Jabra Elite 7 Active provides an hour of additional listening for a quick five-minute charge.

Noise-Canceling Headphones
One of the newer innovations with headphones is their ability to cancel ambient sounds. While this technology was initially available only on high-end, big, over-the-ear headphones, earbuds also boast the technology nowadays. Noise-canceling headphones are excellent in some situations, including airplanes and other places where you want to tune out the outside world. but they’re not always the greatest for running. Hearing your surroundings is essential for both trail running and road running. On the road, you’ll want to be able to hear cars coming up behind you. When running on a trail, it’s crucial to have situational awareness to hear other trail users coming, especially mountain bikers who are moving fast but generally making a fair bit of noise. Most trail users have had at least one frustrating experience of trying to pass someone with headphones in and cranked up who won’t move out of the way. Don’t be that person. If you want to wear noise-canceling headphones, consider running with just one of the earbuds so that you can hear and respond to your surroundings. The JLab Go Air Sport doesn’t include any noise canceling technology, making them a good option for someone who wants to hear their surroundings while running.

Best Running Headphones - Running with the Jabra Elite 7 Active

Max Robinson wears the Jabra Elite 7 Active earbuds while running in the Fruita desert. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Water and Sweat Resistance
While some headphones specifically designed for swimmers, like the H2O Audio Tri Pro Multi-Sport with Playlist+, are fully waterproof, most options that appeal to runners are merely water resistant. This means they’ll withstand a sprinkling of rain or a dousing of sweat, but they won’t survive a full dunking in a river or a trip through your washing machine.

Sound Quality
When it comes to sound quality, you generally get what you pay for. Most of the best running headphones are small, compact, lightweight, and have reasonable sound quality that most people will find perfectly adequate for listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks during a run. If you’re looking for the best sound quality in headphones that are small enough for running, consider the Beats Powerbeats Pro, which provides excellent sound quality in a small package. If you’re a music aficionado who places a high value on exceptional sound quality, you’ll probably want a pair of high-quality over-ear headphones for home and a second pair that you use exclusively for running.

Built-In Microphones
Most headphones on the market come with a built-in microphone that allows you to talk on the phone or communicate with your phone. While most runners don’t use this feature during runs unless dialing in on a work Zoom call on mute and pretending to be in the office, it could come in handy if you just need to answer a quick call or send a voice text. And if you only have one set of headphones for everything you do, you’ll want to choose a set with a high-quality microphone, like the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation), to take calls, control Siri, or send voice messages during other parts of your life.

In-Ear Versus Over-Ear Headphones
While most runners will choose in-ear headphones due to their weight, comfort, and compactness, some will choose over-ear or on-ear headphones. In-ear headphones fit into the ear, and while the speaker location in this headphone style can vary, they all fit similarly. Some in-ear headphones, like the JLab Go Air Sport, have an additional attachment system that goes over the top of the ear to help secure the bud inside your ear. Other headphones will slot securely into the ear without any extra material.

Over-ear and on-ear headphones are commonly associated with DJs or those who are working at a desk and want to send a clear message that they don’t want to be disturbed. They’re larger and fit over and around the entire ear. These headphones tend to have better sound quality, but they are also cumbersome. Still, some people love running with them.

Best Running Headphones - Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and case

The iRunFar team appreciated the fit and sound quality of the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) earbuds. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Compatibility with Devices
While most headphones will work with most phones, there are a few compatibility issues that are good to be aware of. If you have an Apple phone, you can use Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) to listen, talk, and control Alexa. They will also work with an Android phone to listen to music and talk, but you won’t be able to use Siri. If you’re about to purchase a set of corded headphones, you’ll want to ensure that your phone has an actual headphone port, as many modern phones have completely done away with this feature.

Most in-ear headphones will last two to three years if taken care of. Even with the best care, wires will work loose in many headphones, rendering one or both earbuds useless. As with most products, paying more for headphones generally means they will last longer. If you tend to lose small items like headphones, buying a less expensive pair, like the $30 JLab Go Air Sport headphones, could be a good idea so that it doesn’t cost much to replace them when they inevitably get misplaced.

Safety Features
While most headphones have volumes that will top out at about 100 decibels, keeping them below 70 decibels is recommended to prevent damage to your hearing. Generally speaking, if you’re keeping the volume low enough to hear noises around you, which is highly recommended for safety, then you’re not in a volume range that could cause damage to your ears. Some devices will allow you to set a maximum volume so you don’t inadvertently turn them up too high. Bone conduction headphones, like the Shokz OpenRun Pro, also can minimize potential damage to your ears.

If you’re concerned about hearing damage, over-ear headphones are better for ear health since the speaker is farther away from your ear drum. Taking breaks from listening to music after an hour is also recommended to give your ears a chance to recover.

Customer Service and Warranty Information
Most headphones and earbuds include one and two-year warranties. However, some will be 30 days or less. The scope of the warranties and customer service varies from brand to brand.

Best Running Headphones - running wearing the Shokz OpenRun Pro

iRunFar’s Alli Hartz wears the Shokz OpenRun Pro bone conduction headphones during a desert run. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Why You Should Trust Us

We started this guide with extensive research, compiling a list of over forty headphones geared toward running and sports on the market today. We narrowed this list to some top choices in several different categories and spent several months using them in various settings to find the best running headphones in each category. We logged hours of trail and road running and daily “real life” use to determine which rose to the top regarding sound quality, safety, noise-canceling capabilities, comfort, and battery life. Our testers compiled the feedback that we used to determine the top picks in this guide.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Running Headphones

What is the difference between regular headphones and running or sports headphones?

Running or sports headphones are generally lightweight, water- and sweat-resistant, and designed to stay secure in the ear. Many sport-oriented headphones also have a longer battery life, so you can take them out on longer runs. They’ll likely have a streamlined and secure fit to stay in your ear while you’re running and jostling them. The different sizing options available on the Jabra Elite 7 Active earbuds make it easier to dial in their fit. Sport-oriented headphones are also more likely to have materials that won’t hold onto stench or be damaged from sweat. Running headphones are also more likely to be wireless.

What is better for running, headphones or earbuds?

While it comes down to personal preference, most runners prefer earbuds to over-ear headphones because they are lighter, less cumbersome, and tend to stay in place better. However, some people dislike the feel of in-ear devices. Bone conduction headphones, including the H2O Audio Tri Pro Multi-Sport with Playlist+, are becoming increasingly popular because they allow you to hear your surroundings while listening to your audio.

Best Running Headphones - Running with the Shokz OpenRun Pro

Bone conduction headphones like the Shokz OpenRun Pro can keep runners aware of their surroundings. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Are running headphones waterproof?

Most sports or running headphones and earbuds are water-resistant but not waterproof. While they’ll withstand sweat or light precipitation, we do not recommend dunking your earbuds into the water, and it’s a good idea to put most pairs away if it starts to rain heavily. Some headphones or earbuds, like the H2O Audio Tri Pro Multi-Sport with Playlist+, are designed for swimming and are completely waterproof. If you run in the rain often or swim as a form of cross-training, it could be worth investing in a pair of fully waterproof headphones.

What is an IP rating for running headphones?

IP stands for Ingress Protection and is a rating system assessing the waterproofness of a product. An IP rating, which the International Electrotechnical Commission gives, usually includes IP and two numbers behind it, like IP37. The first number is a product’s rating against solid materials, like dust, on a scale of one to six. The second digit is its waterproof rating on a one to eight scale. The higher the number, the more waterproof it is. If there is an “X” in the rating, IPX7, for example, there is no solids rating. The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) has an IPX4 rating and is considered safe from splashes and drips of water.

How do bone-conduction headphones work?

Bone conduction headphones, including the H2O Audio Tri Pro Multi-Sport with Playlist+ and the Shokz OpenRun Pro, rest on your cheekbones instead of in or around your ear. Instead of sound waves vibrating through your eardrums, they vibrate and pass sound waves through your skull bones. This technology provides a way to listen to audio without covering or blocking your ears. Bone conduction headphones are an excellent option for those with hearing impairments or anyone wanting to listen to something while keeping their ears open so that they can stay aware of their surroundings.

Can wireless headphones be charged on the go?

Most wireless headphones cannot be used while they are being charged, limiting their usefulness for long runs where you want continuous music. If you’re worried about taking your headphones off to charge them during a run, you might want to get a set of corded headphones that will run off your phone’s battery. Some earbuds — like the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) — have charging capabilities while stored in their cases. Others may charge with a USB cord plugged into a wall, laptop, or car outlet.

Best Running Headphones - Wearing the Beats Powerbeats Pro headshot

The Beats Powerbeats Pro provided some of the best sound quality of the headphones tested. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

How can I safely wear headphones and hear other sounds around me?

Being aware of your surroundings while running is always a good idea. That’s why we don’t recommend running with noise-canceling headphones unless you have the option to make them not fully noise-canceling or are willing to leave one earbud out. The Jabra Elite 7 Active has noise-canceling adjustability, making it a versatile option for running and everyday use. We wouldn’t recommend over-the-ear noise-canceling headphones for running because they make it hard to keep track of sounds around you. Maintaining situational awareness of what’s going on around you is an important aspect of staying safe while running.

What is Active Noise Cancelling?

Noise-canceling technology generally comes in two forms — active and passive. Passive is the simpler of the two and includes using ear cups to seal out background noise. Active noise canceling is more complicated as it uses microphones and speakers to eliminate background noise. Active noise canceling technology is traditionally found in over-the-ear headphones, but the technology has advanced to be used in earbuds. Nowadays, earbuds like the Jabra Elite 7 Active and headphones will include adjustable active noise canceling technology, meaning you can adjust just how much ambient noise is canceled.

How do wireless headphones connect to my devices?

Wireless headphones connect to devices via Bluetooth. This will require a pairing process when you first set up your headphones. After connecting them once, you should have minimal issues connecting them in the future. Most headphones will work with all devices, but the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) has limited compatibility with Android phones.

Are headphones and earbuds one size fits all?

Most headphones will come in one size, but they’ll be adjustable. Headphones will adjust for head size, and most earbuds, including the JLab Go Air Sport, come with replacement pieces of different sizes to fit various ears.

Call for Comments

  • Do you frequently run in headphones?
  • What are your favorite headphones for running?
Best Running Headphones - putting in the Jabra Elite 7 Active

The Jabra Elite 7 Active has several sizing options to fit different ears. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Carly Eisley
Carly Eisley is a trail runner, hiker, mountain biker, and traveler. Her home base is in Connecticut, where she lives with her husband and two rescue dogs. When not writing or adventuring, she works as an emergency department nurse practitioner. Follow her on Instagram.