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The best headphones 2021: Workout and running

Check out our top picks for headphones that help you stay active with the best audio technologies for your next run or workout.

When your heart is pumping and you are deep in a workout, the last thing you want to worry about is a pair of faulty headphones. Today's market is full of too many options for headphones. Still, so few are able to offer the comfort, technology, and accessibility that can make a pair of headphones truly best for running and workouts.  As more and more companies struggle to combine breakthrough technologies with improvements in design, some models simply stand out from the rest and earn our top vote based on our proprietary analysis.

These are the best workout and running headphones for 2021.

Headphones

Best for

Price

Waterproof rating

Battery life

AfterShokz Aeropex

Bone conduction

$159.95

IP67

8 hours

Apple AirPods Pro

Noise cancellation

$249.00

IPX4

5 hours

Beats by Dr. Dre PowerBeats Pro 

Running

$179.95

IPX4

9 hours

Bose Frames Tempo

Dual purpose

$249.00

IPX4

8 hours

Bose SoundSport

Wired headphones

$129.00

IPX4 

6 hours

Jabra Elite Active 75T

Serious audio

$179.99

IP57

7.5 hours

JayBird Vista 2

Sturdy fit

$199.99

IP68

8 hours

AfterShokz Aeropex

Best for bone conduction

aftershokz-aeropex.png
Aeropex

At a Glance

AfterShokz's endurance headphones feature an open-ear design that allows for improved bone conduction. That is important because it means you can listen to your music while still hearing ambient noises around you. In addition to the company's 8th-generation bone conduction technology, users benefit from PremiumPitch 2.0 audio and improved Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity up to 33 feet. The headphones are rated IP67, so they are not rated for swimming, but still, it is enough to keep your headphones safe while you sweat or if they are exposed to the elements during use. There is eight-hour battery life, and each set carries a two-year warranty with free shipping and returns.

The Aeropex is available in two sizes, the standard or the mini, which is 0.5-inch shorter. You can also choose from multiple colors that include black, blue, red, and grey.


Pros: 

  • Bone conduction technology
  • 8-hour battery life
  • Lightweight design

Cons:

  • Limited IP67 waterproofing
  • No charging case
  • Crowded button design

Pricing

You can buy AfterShokz Aeropex headphones directly from the AfterShokz website for $159.95 each.


Apple AirPods Pro

Best noise-cancellation

apple-airpods-pro.png
Apple

At a Glance

Apple brings its leading technology to its AirPod Pro earbuds, combining Automatic Adaptive EQ with Apple's H1 chip for improved latency. Users enjoy added features like spatial audio with dynamic head tracking, Active Noise Cancellation for fewer interruptions and a more immersive sound, and Transparency mode when you would rather stay more present within your surroundings. AirPods Pro uses two microphones instead of one, with both inward and outward-facing microphones for improved noise cancellation.

If you are an existing Apple user, there is added convenience with the inclusion of Siri and the ability to link either your iPhone or Apple Watch in seconds. There are three sets of flexible silicone tips to help you find the most comfortable fit, and there is IPX4 waterproofing for straightforward sweat- and water-resistant design. However, watch out for the limited battery. You only receive up to five hours when you turn off Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency.


Pros:

  • Multiple audio modes
  • Integrates with Siri
  • Listen with a partner

Cons:

  • Limited IPX4 waterproofing
  • Restrictive battery
  • No product app

Pricing

Apple AirPods Pro cost $249.00, or you can finance them through your Apple card for $41.50 per month for a six-month term. As a bonus for purchasing through Apple, you also receive free personalization.


Beats by Dr. Dre PowerBeats Pro

Best for runners

beats-pro.png
Beats by Dre

At a Glance

Dr. Dre's namesake earbuds feature an adjustable, in-ear design that is compatible with Android and iOs, even integrating with Siri. These earbuds use the best of Apple's technology; similar to the Apple AirPods Pro; they incorporate the Apple H1 headphone chip with Class 1 Bluetooth for better range and fewer dropouts. The fit is comfortable, too, with snug ear hooks for a secure fit and a sweat- and water-resistant design. It comes in fun colors like cloud pink, glacier blue, and lava red for extra personalization.

The PowerBeats Pro has a long nine-hour battery life, giving you more than 24 hours of use when using the included charging case. There is also five-minute Fast Fuel expedited charging when you need a quick boost on the go.


Pros:

  • Extended nine-hour battery
  • Charging case
  • Discounted pricing

Cons:

  • Restricted IPX4 waterproofing
  • More expensive for Apple technology
  • Big, bulky case

Pricing

All six colors are currently available under the limited-time offer of $179.95 instead of the standard $249.95 price when you buy directly from Beats by Dre.


Bose Frames Tempo

Best dual-purpose

bose-frames-tempo.png
Bose

At a Glance

Ditch the awkward earbuds and the bulky headphones, and opt for the latest breakthrough technology from Bose -- sunglasses with the speakers built right in. These sunglasses have your headphones built right into the frame, keeping the music close without interfering with ear function. There are no more distractions with the Bose Open Ear Audio design, plus users enjoy a comfortable fit with an aerodynamic nylon frame and silicone nose pads. The glasses feature mirrored black polarized lenses with additional colorways that are available in polarized and non-polarized options at an additional cost.

To keep your new high-tech sunglasses safe from the elements, there is also an IPX4 waterproof rating.


Pros:

  • More secure fit
  • Custom polarized glass
  • 90-day risk-free trial

Cons:

  • Expensive buy
  • Single frame color
  • Lacks EQ controls

Pricing

Bose Frames Tempo costs $249 when you purchase directly from Bose, or you can also customize your Tempo lenses with your choice of polarized or non-polarized glass. Available in Trail Blue, Road Orange, and Twilight Yellow, this option costs $39 more. Prescription frames are also available.

Bose offers a 90-day risk-free trial for the Frames Tempo.

Bose SoundSport

Best wired headphones

bose-soundsport.png
Bose

At a Glance

Despite the latest technology, some users simply prefer a wired fit. Although called wireless, the Bose SoundSport earbuds are not entirely wireless because they still utilize a wire to keep the fit secure while you are active in motion. The sweat- and weather-resistant design is available in three colors: aqua, black, and citron.

The rechargeable lithium-ion battery carries six hours on a full battery, but the charging time lasts just two hours. With Bluetooth pairing for both iOS and Android devices, the Bose Connect app also coordinates with your Tile, so even if your headphones are missing, they are never lost. 


Pros:

  • Very secure fit
  • Tile integration
  • More affordable option

Cons:

  • Sub-par noise isolation
  • Limited app functionality
  • Expensively priced

Pricing

SoundSport Headphones are available for purchase directly from Bose for $129.00 per pair. You also have the option to finance your headphones with Bose Pay, which gives qualifying members four payments of $33 instalments. For added peace of mind, Bose offers a 90-day risk-free trial with your SoundSport Wireless purchase.


Jabra Elite Active 75T

Best for serious audio

jabra-elite-active-75t.png
Jabra

At a Glance

The Jabra Elite Active 75t earbuds are created using an advanced algorithmic simulator for high-performance and a comfortable fit, then lovingly crafted in six color options, including an icy mint and glittering rose gold. These are waterproof and sweatproof with four built-in microphones and its signature HearThrough and Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) features to drown out the outside world when you do not want any distractions. It also uses a low-power Bluetooth 5.0 chipset.

The battery lasts just 5.5 hours with ANC or seven hours without, but you can extend playtime to 24 hours when you use the accompanying charging case. 


Pros:

  • Unobtrusive design
  • HearThrough transparency mode
  • Free engraving

Cons:

  • IP57 waterproof rating
  • Average mic quality
  • Subpar call quality

Pricing

You can buy the Jabra Elite Active 75t directly from Jabra for $179.99 with its two-year warranty against dust and sweat. Jabra also offers free engraving with two-day shipping.

Otherwise, you can purchase from popular retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, and Costco Wholesale.

JayBird Vista 2

Best for a sturdy fit

jaybird-vista-2.png
Jaybird

At a Glance

With its revamped version of the Visa, JayBird offers the Vista 2 for better comfort and upgraded sound. These earbuds include both Active Noise Cancellation and SurroundSense, giving you spatial awareness and safety. JayBird adds a sport-focused fit with earthproof durability that has the ability to withstand some of the toughest workouts.

The JayBird Visa 2 also offers dual noise reduction technologies, both passive and active. The earbuds include Clear Voice technology to help with your phone calls, incorporating four microphones and special WindDefense Fabric. There are three sizes of silicone ear gels for the most comfortable fit with IP68-rated waterproofing. Even the wireless charging case carries waterproofing with an IP54 rating. You receive eight hours of battery, which is doubled with the use of your charging case, or you can use the quick charge option that offers 1 hour of playtime for every five minutes that you charge your phone. The Vista 2 comes in four colors, including black, blue and white, or you can opt for the signature Sparkle On option.


Pros:

  • SurroundSense technology
  • Dual passive and active noise reduction
  • Quick-charge battery case

Cons:

  • IP54-rated charging case
  • Call quality lacking
  • Minor connection issues

Pricing

You can purchase the JayBird Vista 2 from JayBird directly for $199.99.


How did we choose these products?

To find the best running and workout headphones, we consider several factors:

  • Fit:  From multiple ear tips to extra-soft materials, there are several ways to make your workout and running headphones more comfortable while you exercise.

  • Waterproofing: The waterproof rating for your workout headphones is important in case you find yourself caught in a sudden downpour or in the middle of an especially vigorous workout. Some charging cases even include waterproofing. 

  • Sound quality: After all, what good are your headphones if you cannot hear your audio? Some headphones feature better technology than others to offer improved sound and call quality.

  • Special features: Spatial awareness can be improved with bone conduction, while active noise cancellation can help drown out the outside world so you can get lost in your workout. Whatever you prefer, consider which audio features are available for your next workout and running headphones. 

  • Price: The price for your headphones can vary significantly, with our top picks running in cost from $129 to $250. Your budget may determine which workout and running headphones are available to you. 

Other factors like call quality and available warranty may also help determine which workout and running headphones are best for you.

Which is the right one for you?

Choose these headphones...

When you want...

AfterShokz Aeropex

Bone conduction technology

Apple AirPods Pro

Leading noise cancellation technology

Beats by Dr. Dre PowerBeats Pro 

If you do a lot of running

Bose Frames Tempo

To wear your audio

Bose SoundSport

Value a comfortable fit above all else

Jabra Elite Active 75T

Premium audio

JayBird Vista 2

An unobtrusive, comfortable fit

FAQs

What is compatible with workout and running headphones?

Your smartphone or smartwatch may integrate with your workout and running headphones for easier use. Several headphones also have an Android or iOS app that is compatible for use.   

Where can I buy workout and running headphones?

Most workout and running headphones are available for sale directly from the manufacturer. However, you can typically purchase most models from leading U.S. retailers, like Amazon and Best Buy.

What types of workout and running headphones are there?

Workout and running headphones are available in several forms, depending on your preferred fit. There are choices available for in-ear, over-the-ear, and wired headphones for your workout and running needs.

Are there alternatives worth considering?

There are many other types of headphones available for running and workout. We also considered these popular models for the best workout and running headphones in 2021.