The 15 Best Wireless Earbuds for Runners

We tested the newest models against established contenders on our daily runs. Here’s what we found.

Wireless earbuds are smaller and cheaper than ever, yet it’s tough to know what kind of sound you can expect from these tiny devices before you buy. To help you make the right choice, our editors tested 40 pairs for at least two weeks of running and cross-training. These 15 models passed our tests, but two rose above: The Jabra Elite Active 75t is the best pair of truly wireless running earbuds, while the Anker Soundcore Spirit Sweatguard took the title for best budget earbuds. Learn more about our top picks below, then keep scrolling for more information on what makes an excellent set of wireless earbuds as well as reviews of the 13 great runners-up.

The Best Running Earbuds

Jabra Elite Active 75t


  • IP57 full waterproof and sweatproof
  • 7.5-hour battery life
  • Excellent sound quality
  • HearThrough mode allows you to adjust ambient sound


  • HearThrough ineffective in high wind

Jabra nailed the shape on the Elite Active 75t. Credit that to the angular build that nests snugly in the outer ear canal, without giving you that tightly sealed, high-pressure “thud” with each foot strike. The sound quality is crisp, dynamic, and full, rivalling Apple’s AirPods Pro—but these Jabras will cost you less and offer about 90 more minutes of battery on a single charge. (However, the hear-through mode isn’t quite as impressive.) For dust and water protection, they’re rated IP57, meaning they should withstand a sandstorm or a monsoon. Competing earbuds from Apple, Bose, Jaybird, and others may offer even better sound or superior comfort or exceptional ambient awareness modes, but none do all of those things better than the 75t.

The Best Cheap Running Earbuds

Anker Soundcore Spirit SweatGuard Headphones


  • IPX7 waterproof rating
  • 8-hour battery life
  • Still performing after 8 months of use


  • Minimal ambient sound

Assistant digital editor Jessica Coulon has been using the Anker Spirit SweatGuard for the past eight months, and the $33 buds haven’t ceased to impress. The sound quality is better than you get from a cheap pair of wired Skullcandy headphones, Coulon says, although the SweatGuard could use a bit more bass. The earbuds stay in place, thanks to four included ear-tip sizes and two wing sizes, and the connecting cord wasn’t distracting, save the occasional snag. The metrics are impressive, too: An IPX7 waterproof rating and eight-hour battery life rival earbuds at the $100 level. The quality and lack of ambient sound leave something to be desired, but for $33 there’s a lot to like about this offering from Anker.

The Three Types of Buds

For the sake of making useful comparisons, we segmented our test pool into three categories: truly wireless; truly wireless with a hook over the ear; and wire-connected, which means there’s a wire or band joining the two earbuds to each other. We also added a fourth category of cheap earbuds—under $70. Here’s what to expect from each type.

Truly Wireless

These buds have neither connecting wires nor hooks that extend around your ear; you just push them in and go. Being compact makes them lightweight, and their small batteries means shorter runtimes, although all of our test models came with charging cases that allow you to juice them up on the go. They also tend to be the most expensive. An example is the Jabra Elite Active 75t above.

Truly Wireless With Ear Hooks

Adding a hook can improve an earbud’s fit, since there’s a second point of contact to hold it in place. The hook can also store antennae or a battery, helping these buds play longer than their truly wireless counterparts. They’re generally marginally cheaper than truly wireless models, but some cost more than $200 anyway. Examples include the Beats Powerbeats Pro, JBL Endurance Peak, and Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100.

Wire-Connected Earbuds

These earbuds are still untethered from your phone, but they use a wire or band to connect the buds and store batteries, microphones, or an antenna. If you can get past the connecting wire, you’ll enjoy better battery life (eight or more hours, compared to four from truly wireless) and a significantly lower price.

How We Tested

To keep the playing field level, we asked for the same feedback from all of our testers, thinking about which qualities were important to us as runners who use these devices. Here’s how we evaluated:

Sound Quality

Our staffers aren’t audiophiles, so evaluating sound quality is largely subjective. Still, we’ve all used earbuds before, and we asked our testers to compare to others they’ve tried and provide specific feedback on the way their test buds made their favorite songs and podcasts sound.

Fit and Ambient Sound

How an earbud fits affects how much outside sound it lets in, and there’s no ideal balance for everyone. Some runners like buds that fit deep in their ears and block all outside noise, allowing them to focus on the tunes, while others prefer lots of environmental sound from a looser fit. (The latter fit is safer for running outside and among other people.) So although we didn’t rank the earbuds by ambient sound, we did rank them based on whether they stayed in our testers’ ears.

And because isolating you from the outside world should lend a clearer sound, we expected better sound quality from earbuds that fit snug in the ear than we did from earbuds that let in a lot of noise. For the best of both worlds, some of the pricier models offer an ambient sound mode, which uses the device’s microphone to bring in outside noise while maintaining a tight fit.


We also asked testers to evaluate how quickly and easily the buds connected to their phones, and how far they were able to get from their phones before the signal cut out. And we recorded any mid-run connectivity issues.


In two weeks of testing, we encountered few quality issues, but we also asked our testers to discuss how the earbuds felt—you’d expect a $200 set of buds to feel premium compared to a $40 pair. For long-term quality assessment, we checked user reviews from Amazon and other retailers looking for persistent issues, and we’ll update our findings if any issues crop up as we continue to run with these models.

Water- and Sweat-Resistance

None of our testers had issues with water or sweat ruining their buds, but in a longer test scenario, moisture can and will destroy earbuds that aren’t capable of repelling it. So we factored in each device’s IP, or Ingress Protection, rating. The rating consists of two numbers. The first indicates dust protection, the second is for water protection. “X” in place of either number means there’s no data (so an “IPX” rating means dust protection wasn’t evaluated). The second number, for liquid ingress, is the one that matters most to runners.

A score of one or two means an earbud can withstand dripping water; Scores of three to six mean it will survive increasing amounts of rainfall for longer periods of time. The gold standard is a score of seven to nine, meaning the earbud can be submerged in varying depths of water without failing. Most earbuds in this test have an IP rating, and most ratings were IPX4 or above.

Battery Life

We checked manufacturers’ claims against our testers’ experience and noted discrepancies where they occurred.

We’ll continually update this roundup with our test impressions of the latest wireless earbuds for runners. Tell us what you think about your buds in the comments.

Truly Wireless

Jaybird Vista

These compact buds are more durable than ever


  • Waterproof
  • 6-hour battery life
  • 5-minute quick charge yields 60 minutes of battery

The Vista lasts six hours on a single charge, long enough to get you to the finish line of your next 26.2. Jaybird also beefed up the durability, completely sealing the buds from moisture and dust—go ahead, try to kill these with sweat; we haven’t been able to. The brand also built its own Bluetooth chip, improving the connection with your phone. The buds stuttered a little in the most challenging environments in New York City, but stayed interruption-free far more regularly than competitors. Bonus: They’re smaller than all but AirPods and have a pocketable case that stays closed in your gym bag.

Jabra Elite Active 65t

High-end sound in a small package that stays put


  • Secure fit
  • Balanced, dynamic sound
  • 5-hour battery life


  • HearThrough mode is mostly wind noise

The Elite Active 65t is no longer Jabra’s top sport earbud, but it’s almost as good as its successor. (The 75t has slightly better battery life, fit, and sound, and a much better HearThrough mode.) Both of our testers found a secure fit with the three included sizes of silicone inserts, and special projects editor Kit Fox—a regular AirPods user—said the Jabras had the best sound quality of any wireless headphones he’d tried. The bass isn’t as impressive as offerings from Bose and Sennheiser, but the buds still thump when you’ve established a tight seal and deliver a balanced sound across hip-hop, rock, folk (Fox’s second favorite), and podcasts (his favorite). The lightweight buds didn’t move once our runs began, and the HearThrough mode brings in ambient sound when necessary. However, the ambient sound quality still isn’t great when they’re sealed properly in your ears. Another tester said he went down an insert size, losing some of the in-ear sound quality to gain ambient noise for outdoor running. The five-hour battery life is enough for most runs, and the small charging case packs an additional 10 hours. Sound investment: Jabra’s warranty covers the earbuds for two years of dust and sweat damage.

Bose SoundSport Free

Exceptional sound but inconsistent connectivity


  • 5-hour battery life
  • Best-in-class sound


  • Bigger than other truly wireless buds, requires more adjusting

If you’re going to pay $200 or more for anything Bose, it should first sound very good. The SoundSport Free delivers. “The sound quality is amazing,” said video producer Pat Heine. “Deep bass and crisp high tones. I mean, it’s Bose, not just a bass boost.” At 60 percent of his device’s highest volume setting, he could still hear nearby cars, so there’s a decent amount of ambient sound as long as you’re not blasting your tunes. However, the buds required continuous adjustment during runs, and the biggest gripe was connectivity. Heine said the earbuds would cut out when he moved his hand between his iPhone 6 and his ears, even with his phone in a pocket on his chest. Runner-in-chief Jeff Dengate had no problems, however, when using a pair with his iPhone XS.

Truly Wireless With Hooks

Beats Powerbeats Pro

Big battery, expansive sound, stays put—near perfect


  • 9-hour single-charge battery life
  • Expansive sound
  • Ear hooks ensure secure fit

The Powerbeats Pro is the complete package: both well-rounded as wireless sport headphones and literally a large box that contains the earbuds and an additional 15 hours of juice. Not that you’re likely to need it; the buds last for nine hours on a single charge. “The sound you get from the Powerbeats Pro is really expansive,” said Dengate in his full review. “Every song sounds like you’re listening in a larger room, with speakers positioned away from you.” Ambient noise starts out minimal but increases as sweat causes the earbuds to lose some of their seal. The music gets a little hollower, but the awareness means you’ll pick up loud environmental noises like sirens and horns. Bluetooth pairing is immediate with an iPhone, and a five-minute quick charge delivers 90 minutes of playback. The Powerbeats are rated IPX4 so they’ll withstand a rainstorm (but not submersion), and despite their large size, the buds keep a low enough profile to be comfortable with a hat and sunglasses.

Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100

A safe balance of ambient noise and great sound


  • Enough ambient sound for urban running
  • 5-hour battery life


  • Bluetooth interference

Features director Matt Allyn used the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 in midtown Manhattan traffic and on a serene Pennsylvania rail trail, finding their sound and awareness worked well in both areas. “On the rail trail, I could still make out the sounds of birds flapping nearby,” he said. He also felt aware enough to Citi Bike around New York City wearing them, although they struggled with interference from other devices (most wireless models we’ve tested have this problem). The buds hover over the ear canal, rather than fitting within it, and use the hooks to stay in place—they didn’t require adjustment once running. However, the hooks do make them less comfortable to wear with sunglasses.

JBL Endurance Peak

Comfortable with quality sound, but don’t expect to hear much else


  • IPX7 waterproof rating
  • Smart ear hooks switch buds off when not in use


  • Minimal ambient sound

After six runs and some in-office use, one tester said she’d buy JBL’s Endurance Peak with her own money. Music sounded clear and balanced. Using the smallest ear tips, the buds stayed in her ears and the hooks didn’t ruin the fit of her sunglasses, staying comfortable after hours of wear. On anything but low volume, ambient sound was minimal. And despite being larger than many similar headphones and bearing the “Endurance” moniker, they delivered just four hours of battery life.


Plantronics BackBeat Fit 2100

Lightweight, with lots of ambient sound


  • Lackluster sound quality

At 26 grams, the BackBeat Fit 2100 is ultra-light, and the rubberized connecting wire is rigid, eliminating bouncing against your neck. The ear tips sit just outside your ear canal—that pumps up ambient sound and lets you hear traffic but prevents the sound quality from being as good as it could be. We haven’t had any issues with our test pair, although a worrisome number of Amazon reviews chronicle a hissing noise that develops after a couple of months.

Aftershokz Trekz Air

The ultimate headphones for urban running awareness


  • Most ambient sound of any workout headphones
  • 6-hour battery life


  • Thinner, quieter sound than in-ear buds

For road runners who aren’t comfortable jamming an earbud in as cars whiz past, there’s the Trekz Air. These headphones use bone conduction technology to transfer sound through your cheekbones, leaving your ears open to hear potential hazards before they sneak up on you. Compared to in-ear designs from Jaybird and Bose, the sound is “admittedly thinner and quieter, but I find it totally suitable for the occasion,” said Dengate in his full review. The headband is lighter and slimmer than the previous model, which allows you to wear sunglasses with the headphones. A six-hour battery life and a sweat-resistant IP55 rating puts the Trekz Air on par with truly wireless buds of a similar price—you’re losing an in-ear headphone’s full sound but gaining total awareness.

JBL Reflect Mini 2

Clear sound and a secure fit for less than competitors’ buds


  • Snug, secure in-ear fit
  • 10-hour battery life


  • Very little ambient sound

The JBL Reflect Mini 2 isn’t the newest pair of headphones, but a price drop to $40 (down from $100) makes them an attractive value proposition. The buds form a tight seal in your ears and don’t move after you’ve started to trot. The downside for outdoor runners is the lack of ambient sound, which also isolates your tunes from the outside world. Video production manager Jimmy Cavalieri also used them while mowing his lawn. “Although I could still hear my lawnmower, the earbuds blocked out enough engine noise that the quality of the audio still sounded good without having to max out the volume,” he said. “The sound quality was clear enough that if you concentrate and really listen to the music, you can identify each instrument.” The connecting wire between the buds is lightweight and hardly noticeable midrun, and the Reflect Mini 2 quickly connected via Bluetooth and stayed connected up to 100 feet away. The earbuds also sport reflective cables for nighttime visibility, an IPX5 water-resistant rating, and an impressive 10 hours of battery life.

Bose SoundSport

A comfortable, in-ear fit with excellent sound


  • Excellent sound quality
  • Secure, comfortable fit
  • 6-hour battery life


  • Little ambient sound

The Bose SoundSport is among the best in this test because of its superior fit and impressive sound quality. Test editor Bobby Lea quickly dialed in the comfort so the buds didn’t pop out mid-workout, despite the big speaker housing. And the sound quality was as crisp and dynamic as you’d expect from Bose. The earbuds quickly connected to Lea’s iPhone 7 and stayed tethered more than 100 feet away from it. Alas, the buds don’t let in much ambient sound. “They make you largely oblivious to the world around you, even at half volume,” Lea said. The SoundSport will give you a quality audio experience, just don’t let it ruin your awareness.

Jaybird Tarah Pro

The ultrarunner’s choice for all-day audio


  • 14-hour battery life
  • Crisp, balanced sound


  • Minimal ambient sound

The Tarah Pro’s biggest selling point is its claimed 14-hour battery life. We got 12 to 14 during testing, but there’s more to like about these ultra-optimized earbuds. Our music sounded clear and crisp, with an even balance of bass and treble. After gear & news editor Drew Dawson mixed and matched insert sizes, he found a fit that didn’t irritate his ear canal. Ambient noise was minimal because of the in-ear fit—you might hear a diesel truck, but a Prius could sneak up on you if you’re not aware. He appreciated small, overlooked details like the cinch that keeps excess cord from bouncing around and the magnetic earbud backs, which snap the buds together when they’re around your neck so you don’t lose them on the trail.

Cheap Earbuds

Aukey EP-B60

Sacrifices some sound for a secure fit


  • IPX6 water resistance
  • 8-hour battery life


  • Hollow sound

These headphones feature a convenient trick: Separating the magnetic buds activates them and connects them to your phone, and snapping them back together turns them off. The wing-shaped tips provide a steady fit; we didn’t have to adjust them whatsoever mid-run. The EP-B60 is IPX6 water-resistant—enough to withstand typical running conditions—and the buds are light enough to stay comfortable on a long run. (The bouncing wire and control panel eventually fade into the background, although they might annoy some runners.) This is all good news for a $45+ set of earbuds, but with sound quality, you get what you pay for: Music playback is tinny and hollow, so audiophiles best look elsewhere.

Skullcandy Ink’d Wireless In-Ear Earbud

Get these handy budget buds while you still can


  • Deep bass, in-ear fit yields full sound
  • 8-hour battery like


  • Minimal ambient sound

The Ink’d Wireless has recently been replaced by the Ink’d+, which introduces rapid charging and active voice assistant functions. We’ve yet to try the shiny new version, but after seven months of testing its predecessor, our tester found the original worth a recommendation (especially considering the sale price on Amazon). The eight-hour battery means they don’t require charging after every other run, and they’ve stood up to all the times he’s pulled them by the earbud from the depths of his gym bag. The sound and fit are decent, featuring Skullcandy’s characteristic, noise-blocking, in-ear fit and deep (if slightly muddy) bass. The tips at the ends of the band tend to bounce around on your collarbones if you don’t tuck them beneath your shirt collar, so the band will eventually fall off your neck if you’re not wearing a shirt—our tester used a string to tie the ends of the band together, fashioning a necklace that stayed in place while running. For that, they’re not perfect, but they’ve still shown us great quality and value.

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