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10 best running headphones: Wireless earbuds that won’t fall out during a workout

Jon Axworthy
·8-min read
<p>These picks stood the test of HIIT, sprints, spins and yoga</p> (iStock/The Independent )

These picks stood the test of HIIT, sprints, spins and yoga

(iStock/The Independent )

Let’s face it, a run is a lot more fun when you’ve got a playlist to propel you on, and finding the perfect pair of wireless earphones is pretty straightforward as long as you keep the three Ss in mind: sound, sweat-proofing and staying power.

Every product we tested was judged on these criteria, from the in-ear experience of our most motivating tunes, through to how secure they felt during the entire run and how well the headphones coped with being drenched in sweat.

All the sets that made the final edit proved themselves to be highly sweat- and water-resistant.

We also took a look at the battery life, which is always a concern for more hardcore runners who can be out for hours on end, as well as the efficiency of the Bluetooth connection and whether it suffered any dropouts in areas swamped with wireless signals.

All the headphones we’ve included paired easily and stayed connected during the testing period, which took place in a local park on a Saturday morning, full of socially distanced runners.

Read more:

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent. ​

Earfun air pro

Weight: 53g

Time to charge: 1.5 hours

Battery life: 8 hours

The first thing you’ll notice when you press play on these buds is the crisp, sharp treble, big bass and the kind of noise-cancelling technology that you usually get with earphones double the price. They also offer an ambient mode, which lets voices and sounds into your ear through the microphone and speaker, which is useful if you’re running in a built-up area and want to stay a little more aware of your surroundings. The Earfuns come with three sizes of silicone ear tips that make it easy to get a nice, tight inner ear seal and the buds are sweat- and water-resistant, although the manufacturer does ask that you dry the buds before replacing them in the case. The touch controls worked well and we never had any difficulty in playing or pausing a track.

Buy now £69.99, Amazon.co.uk

Adidas FWD-01 sport in-ear headphones

Weight: 25g

Time to charge: 45 mins

Battery life: 15 hours

We found the striking knit cable surround on these to be surprisingly sweat-resistant. Supplied with four varieties of ear tips and wings, it’s worth taking 10 minutes to figure out which combination offers the snuggest fit. Once we’d chosen, we never had any issues with slippage while training.

The audio is excellent, particularly at the lower bass end, which makes them well suited to audiobooks and podcasts too. The raised media controls on the knit cable are easily located and they worked on the first try, every time. We also liked the way the earbuds magnetically found one another when they were draped around the neck while not in use, so you never need to worry about losing them.

Buy now £60.00, Adidas.co.uk

Bose soundsport wireless headphones

Weight: 23g

Time to charge: 2 hours

Battery life: 6 hours

The soundsports were kept in place with an ear hook that worked well at securing our music and creating a seal that emphasised the excellent audio quality that you would expect from the manufacturer. The water-resistant material performed through sweaty speed sessions and a rainy 5K, and the well thought out media controls made it a doddle to manage a continuous soundtrack to our run. Underlying all of this is the superb sound, which was totally immersive and better than some headphones at double the price.

Buy now £129.95, Bose.co.uk

JBL reflect mini NC

Weight: 13.6g

Time to charge: 2 hours

Battery life: 6 hours

When you’re a runner, one of the biggest frustrations is having to stop to adjust the fit of your phones, which is why we were pleased that the three “earfins” and tips supplied with these totally wireless reflect buds made a secure fit easy to come by. That fit wasn’t affected by rain or sweat and we never had that “they’re trying to escape” feeling. We got a great mix of bass, with good sound separation between the mids and highs, although this can be adjusted according to preference using the equaliser in the app, which also lets you personalise the tap functions on each of the buds, which were always responsive.

Buy now £114.00, Jbl.com

Bowers and Wilkins Pl4

Weight: 42g

Time to charge: 3 hours

Battery life: 12 hours

Although not marketed as running phones, these were recommended to us by a friend who is both an audiophile and a committed runner, largely based on the Pl4’s superb sound that can handle the most eclectic of playlists. A combination of silicone and rubber in the buds and cord ensure a good fit and the cord sits comfortably around the neck. The media controls were intuitive and quick, and there is a magnetic clip on the buds which automatically pauses the music when they are not in your ears. And if you’re trying to fit in an impromptu run, but the phones haven’t been charged recently, then just a 15-minute boost will get you three hours of playback – plenty for you to get out and back.

Buy now £269.99, John Lewis & Partners

Apple AirPods pro

Weight: 45.6g

Time to charge: 2 hours 13 mins

Battery life: 4.5 hours

The latest incarnation of Apple’s AirPods have been around for a while now, and for many pavement pounders, they have become as essential for training as their running shoes. The buds themselves are very ergonomic within the ear and once they’re in you can just forget about them and enjoy the audio performance, which is excellent, with rumbling, powerful, bass together with mids and vocals that are clear and warm. Music is easily controlled via the stem sensor, so you can skip to a more motivating track with ease and without dislodging the pods themselves.

Buy now £249.00, Apple.com

Beats powerbeats

Weight: 26.3g

Time to charge: 2 hours

Battery life: 15 hours

If, for whatever reason, you’re a runner who struggles to keep their buds in their ears, then the adjustable hooks on the powerbeats will ensure that they don’t go anywhere even when you’re going hard. There are plenty of ear tips to ensure the best inner-ear fit and the unit is perfectly capable of shrugging off any sweat or water. The audio quality is solid, with plenty of bass and lots of separation between the different layers of the music, which makes for an enjoyable sonic experience. On-the-go DJing is very straightforward too, with a power button on the left bud and volume and track control on the right.

Buy now £129.95, John Lewis & Partners

Jaybird vista

Weight: 32g

Time to charge: 2 hours

Battery life: 6 hours

These sport-specific buds ship with three ear gels that produce one of the tightest fits out of all the buds we tested. They stuck like glue throughout a quick 10k without any slippage and they still managed to feel really comfortable. The tap-enabled controls were sensitive enough to allow us to get to the tracks we wanted or switch playlists without any hassle, but not so sensitive that we ended up chasing our music around. Using the app, you can set the buds up so that the left bud skips back a track and ups the volume, while the right skips forward and quietens things down, which is really handy for in-playlist listening. The app also allows you to fine-tune the music quality, which was clear and very well balanced.

Buy now £139.99, Jaybirdsport.com

Jabra elite active 75t

Weight: 35g

Time to charge: 2 hours 20 mins

Battery life: 5.5 hours

Jabra has gone to a lot of effort to make sure its active earbuds are fit for purpose, starting with guaranteed inner-ear comfort and security, whatever the training intensity. From different sizes of ear gels to a grip coating on the buds themselves that keeps them in place, the Jabras really mould to the contours and profile of the ear to give worry-free running. Excellent noise cancellation, adjusted via a slider on the accompanying app, gave a really immersive audio experience and enabled us to lose ourselves in our playlist and take our mind off the miles ahead.

Buy now £179.00, Currys.co.uk

Aftershokz aeropex

Weight: 26g

Time to charge: 1.5 hours

Battery life: 8 hours

If you want to guarantee your buds will never leave your ear while running, then the best thing to do is not have them in your ear to begin with. The aeropex uses bone conduction for open-ear listening with an over-ear and wraparound fit that was never in danger of shaking loose on our run. If you’re a city runner who likes to be ultra aware of their surroundings while still having music to motivate you, then they are a good option as the balance you get between real-world sounds and your playlist is excellent. Good, deep bass and discernable volume differences deliver a really unique sensory experience that many runners will really love.

Buy now £119.95, Amazon

The verdict: Wireless headphones for running

The buds that scored best in terms of sound quality, sweat-proofing and in-ear security were the Earfun air pros. They are feature-packed and truly excellent value for money.

Still, having trouble deciding which earphones are right for you? We put Apple’s AirPods pro and max models head to head