How many of runners have had headphones that constantly fall out of their ears, or headphone leads that are too short and tug on the MP3 player in their pockets? Unfortunately, we’ve all been there. Headphones should fit your ears like your sneakers fit your feet: they should be snug, comfortable, and durable. Throw out the crappy set you got with your cell phone—we all use them— and invest in a pair that will keep your love for running alive!
What Runners Need
Like any other purchase, the headphones you buy should be suitable for what you need them to do, and runners have a few extra things to consider when buying headphones.
When it comes to running, the most important feature of headphones is without, a shadow of doubt, the fit. Headphones are useless if they fall out your ears every five minutes or get skewed in your ear so the music sounds terrible. No; what runners need are well-fitted, comfortable headphones that will stay put for the entire run.
Many runners just hit the roads, running on the pavement. It’s important that they have a set of headphones that are somewhat noise cancelling. While we still need some ambient noise so we can identify hazards, we don’t need to hear the constant drone of traffic.
Rain or shine, a true runner gets out there no matter the weather, and they need headphones that are as tough as they are. Sweat and rain shouldn’t cause a problem, so it is important to make sure your headphones are made out of good quality materials that will weather the elements and keep playing the song that spurs you on for your last mile.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at a few headphones that are the best for runners today.
The Best Headphones for Runners
Best for: Wireless connectivity
First up are the unique looking JayBird BlueBuds X headphones ($119.99 –Amazon).
These interesting headphones are completely wireless, yet still offer up to 8 hours of playback time: long enough for even the toughest of runners. Their custom Bluetooth codec provides a rich, clear sound that can challenge even the best of wired headphones. What’s even better is that the Bluetooth connectivity is completely standard, meaning you can pair it with any Bluetooth enabled music source.
The sound quality is very good considering the amount of tech packed into these headphones. They have a rich, deep bass that doesn’t overpower the clarity of other instruments, so you can enjoy your favorite music crisply and clearly, as it was intended.
Thanks to the patented secure fit for sport, the ear pieces stay snug in your ears even when belting down the road. They lock into place, giving you support from the top, back, and bottom surfaces of the inner ear, making them rock solid and ideal for any kind of sport, especially running. On the topic of fit, their patent pending X-fit allows the cord to move from the traditional place of under the ears, to the place for sports use, over the ears.
The Signal Plus technology means you can store your music device anywhere on your person: in your front pocket, back pocket, or anywhere you desire; these headphones will pick up the signal! There is also a built-in feature that gives you control of your music and volume. It even lets your answer calls.
Finally, a cool little gift from Jaybird is the lifetime warranty against sweat: you never have to worry about breaking your headphones because they slipped off while you were sweating!
Best for: Never falling out!
The next to be featured in my list of the best headphones for running are the Yurbuds Ironman Inspire Pros ($44.00 – Amazon). “Developed by athletes, for athletes” is their saying, and they have come up with a pretty decent set of headphones.
The patent pending Twistlock technology will guarantee that these headphones never budge once they are in place, even if you are off-track and sprinting on some rough terrain. The bud design is ergonomic, comfortable, and a tight fight. Even though they sit tight and cozy in your ears, they still manage to let in some ambient sound, which is ideal for helping you identify hazards. They are also sweat resistant and washable, and come with in two different sizes.
They have a fully sweat resistant control and microphone, so you have full control over your music and take calls if you want. They also come with a 4 foot long cord, eliminating the frustration of a short cord tugging on your mp3 player and pulling your buds out mid run. The cord is quite weighty, however, and can bounce around when running, so it’s best to keep everything in place by using the clip that is supplied with the headphones.
These headphones are slightly lacking when it comes to sound quality, as the lower frequencies seem to be missing so the bass is weak, however; given the right EQ setting on your music player, you won’t notice much quality loss.
Best for: Sound Quality.
Up next is a mashup of two brands with proven track records in their fields of expertise. With Sennheiser providing quality audio, as always, and Adidas injecting their sporting knowledge into the design of the headphones, they have come up with a product that is almost perfect..
If it’s quality audio you are after, then these are the headphones for you. For a remarkably low $33.00 (Amazon), the Sennheiser CX 685 Adidas headphones offer the best quality sound out of the headphones on this list. These little beauties have a mixture of crisp, clear tones mixed with powerful, deep bass that will pump you up and egg you on when out on your runs.
The acoustically closed canal buds are water and sweat resistant and come with a variety of sizes. They also have an innovative secure fit design called EarFin. It’s like an adjustable hook that secures the buds in your ears and prevents them falling out. This works well and the fit feels secure and comfortable at the same time. They also feature strong, reinforced cables for extra durability and strength.
Almost perfect, however; one thing that seems to be missing is an inline remote, which is odd. Most of us can live without a remote these days, as we tend to create our running playlists in advance, so it’s no big loss, but would still be nice to have.
All in all, these headphones offer great quality sound with a good secure fit, all for an absolutely great price compared to some other sports headphones.
Best for: Off-roading and Trails
Running isn’t always a road exclusive hobby, and some people like to add a little more excitement by taking it off road and getting out in the sticks. If you are going to make your running a bit more extreme, it makes sense that you have the headphones to suit. Enter the Pioneer SE-E721 ($65.00 – Amazon).
With their “skull fit” hanger-style design, these headphones tightly hug your ears and stay put for as long as you need. They are actually comfortable, which is surprising as they are a bit more rugged in design. They are also sweat proof, and their rubber coating grips your ears like a falcon grips its prey, minus the discomfort.
The adjustable, active-fit earbuds make them customizable to any ear by providing a ball-joint-like motion to help them fit perfectly, while the coiled speaker wires make the headphones feel almost wireless and prevent the tugging that occurs with standard headphone wires. These features really make the headphones dynamic, allowing all kinds of movement, and running with them is a breeze!
“BASS HEAD” is the caption that Pioneer put out with these headphones, and the high performance 9 mm speaker units with their deep powerful bass make the sound live up to this statement. You can tell that they were designed for extreme athletes that enjoy their music pumping like their hearts.
And there you have my top 4 headphones for running, with something for everyone!
Worth a Look
While the headphones featured in this article are what I consider the best, some others that came close are listed below:
Sennheiser OCX 686G SPORTS – $109.99 at Amazon
Monster iSport Strive – $49.99 at Amazon
Sony XBA-S65 – $79.00 at Amazon