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I sweat so much it damages earbuds. Here's what I wear to run now instead

If you find yourself damaging every headphones due to sweat, it's time you consider this type of hardware.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
The Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones.
Jack Wallen/ZDNET

When I first got serious about running 10 years ago, I found myself burning through every pair of headphones I could find. It didn't matter how much a company claimed their earbuds were impervious to sweat, somehow the alien-level liquid seeping through my pores never failed to wind its way through the "waterproofing" to damage whatever I wore. 

Also: The best earbuds right now

And I tried so many different pairs. I even had one company (that shall remain nameless) challenge me on this. They sent four pairs of their headphones and promised there was no way I could go through them.

It took one August to sweat through each pair.

Yeah, I'm that profuse a sweater.

After going through a few more "traditional" types of earbuds, I decided to go a different route with bone-conducting headphones. These seemed like the perfect solution, as they aren't inserted into the ears (which seemed to be the cause of my earbud sweating issue). Instead, bone-conducting headphones sit near your ear and transmit sound through bone. This helps air have easy access to the hardware to help dry it off and prevent sweat from accessing the internals of the headphones.

Also: These $99 bone conduction headphones work underwater

I was skeptical but I was ramping up my mileage and didn't want to get lost in my own thoughts for that long. Running is made exponentially more enjoyable with good music to motivate you through the suffering.

I found a pair of bone-conducting headphones, by way of the Shokz company, and purchased them from Amazon. The pair was one of the first they released, so they were a bit clunky and didn't sound all that great. In fact, those early iterations sounded pretty much like someone cranked the midrange, forgot about the bass, and only marginally enjoyed a bit of treble. Even with the less-than-stellar sound, that first pair of Shokz lasted me for over a year. No matter how much I sweat with them on, they were unfazed. 

After about a year with that first pair, I decided to upgrade. Shokz had released their next version, which promised to improve the sound. The new pair was a marked improvement over the previous pair with better sound, better battery life, and a more sleek design.

Review: Shokz OpenRun Pro: Outstanding bone conduction headset for safe training

These days, I'm using the Shokz OpenRun Pro, which retails for about $149 and has greatly improved sound and impressive battery life. In fact, I purchased the OpenRun Pro last year before running my first marathon. My previous pair of Shokz had a battery life of about three hours, and I was certain my marathon time would go well over that. Turns out the OpenRun Pro was able to go well beyond my 3:48 time for the run. The claimed battery life is 10 hours and I've come very close to that with a week's worth of running and no charge.

The Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones.

Bone-conducting headphones aren't nearly as hard to get used to as you might think.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

When the OpenRun Pros do need a charge, they use a magnetic charger, which easily attaches to the side and can fully charge far quicker than you might think.

The Shokz OpenRun Pro charging port.

Even the charging "port" of the OpenRun Pro is sweatproof.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Even better, the OpenRun Pro sound offers more bass than you'd expect for a pair of bone-conducting headphones, and the fit is so minimal that you forget that they're on your head.

Also: The best fitness trackers

Most important, however, is the fact that ambient noise isn't drowned out with bone-conducting headphones. I cannot tell you how many times I've been running on the road and have heard either cars or bikes coming up behind me. 

Thanks to the open nature of those headphones, I can avoid disaster simply because I can hear it coming (while still being able to hear my tunes).

At this point in my life, I cannot imagine running with a pair of traditional headphones. Not only would I sweat through them faster than I could replace them, but their ability to cancel out surrounding noises makes them too dangerous for those of us who run (or bike) on the road and need music to help us keep going. 

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If you're in the market for a new, sweat-proof pair of headphones, I highly recommend you take a look at the Shokz line. Take it from someone who sweats profusely -- you won't regret the purchase.

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