The 9 Best Exercise Headphones to Buy in 2018

Shop for the best headphones for swimming, running and more

Koss KSC32L Fitclips Headphones
Photo from Amazon

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Athletes and exercise gurus have always had a somewhat uneasy relationship with headphones. Everyone wants bass-pumping jams to power their workout, but it’s difficult to find a pair of headphones that fit comfortably in the ear while also blasting out some decent sound quality. Digital music and Bluetooth tech have paved the way for a superior listening experience, but there are still a variety of considerations to make before buying a new pair. Here, we’ve put together a list of the best headphones for working out, organized by category.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: SENSO Bluetooth Headphones

SENSO Bluetooth Headphones are a No. 1 best seller on Amazon and for good reason; over 20,000 reviews ranked them 4.2 out of 5 stars due to their price point, eight-hour long battery life, Bluetooth 4.1 CSR tech and IPX-7 waterproof rating.

The SENSO Bluetooth Headphones offer state of the art acoustic components for rich, full sound quality with deep bass and clear treble. Their lithium polymer batteries charge in under 1.5 hours and offer 240 hours of standby. With its Bluetooth 4.1 wireless technology, you can connect your mobile devices up to 30 feet away. Its CVC 6.0 noise suppression means you can enjoy your music without any outside interference. The headphones come with a one-year warranty.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Bose SoundSport

The best exercise headphones should be comfortable to wear and have a secure fit. The sweat-proof Bose SoundSport wireless headphones are both. They come with small, medium and large earbuds that are each equipped with StayHear+ eartips with soft silicon fins. This offers a fit that’s comfortably loose, but also secure and snug. As a runner or biker, it’s especially important that you’re aware of your surroundings while out on the road, and the SoundSport let ambient sound filter in for safety.

As far as sound goes, the Bose SoundSport headphones deliver booming bass that will keep your blood pumping all workout long. And with a six-hour battery life, you should be able to squeeze in about a week’s worth of workouts before re-charging.

Best for Comfort: Jaybird X3

Craving comfort, but don’t want to sacrifice sound quality? The Jaybird X3 headphones are your best bet. Though categorized as sports headphones, thanks to a hydrophobic nano-coating to wick away moisture, the X3’s comfort make them perfect for everyday listening. Plus, with a promising eight hours of battery life, you won’t need to charge up mid-music session.

Silicone ear fins attach to your ear to keep them secure, which makes them a practical choice if you’re on the go. In the box, you’ll also get a wide array of earbud attachments in different sizes to fit you no matter your ear shape. Powered by 6mm drivers, you’ll be pleased with booming bass. But if the sound doesn’t quite match your preferences, you can download Jaybird’s MySound App to customize your sound.

Best Budget: AUKEY Latitude Wireless Headphones

Aukey Latitude’s simple design won’t turn any heads, but when it comes to audio quality, these headphones bring their A-game. Enjoy the rich, pure wireless sound of their aptX technology and choose from three EQ settings to enhance your personal listening experience.

The earbuds feature a two-part design, with a slim in-ear tip and an ear-hook, both made from a sturdy, comfortable silicone material that isolates sound without causing strain. The headphones boast an IPX4 water-resistance rating to guard against sweat and rain, along with magnetic tips that fasten around your neck for hands-free convenience. The battery life lasts is about eight hours — that's 120 songs — and the headphones take just 90 minutes to fully recharge. Aukey also offers a 45-day money back guarantee and a 24-month product replacement warranty should the wireless earbuds not live up to your expectations. 

Runner-Up, Best Budget: Anker SoundBuds Slim

For less than $30, the Anker SoundBuds Slim gives you features slashed on most other budget headphones, including wireless audio, a solid microphone and an intuitive remote.

The SoundBuds are made of rubber that make them water-resistant rated at IPX4 and they house 6mm drivers that will deliver a solid bass. The battery will last you about seven hours, which is impressive in this price range, and they come with an extensive array of customizable earbud and ear fin options to ensure the perfect fit for your ear. Best yet: If you’re uncertain about buying budget headphones, you can rest easy because Anker offers an 18-month warranty.

Best Wired: Sennheiser OCX 686G

Sennheiser OCX 686G
Courtesy of Amazon.com

If you truly don’t mind a pair of wires dangling from your earbuds, then the Sennheiser OCX 686G is the best set of exercise headphones you can buy. These cans are sweat and water resistant, and boast some pretty solid sound quality. If you’re looking for some deep, thumping bass then they’re probably not for you (but then again, in-ear headphones have never exactly been earth-shattering in the bass department). They do, however, over a crisp, high-intensity mid- to high-end range. Sennheiser is one of the top brands in sound technology, so you can expect a certain degree of quality there alone.

Sound aside, the OCX 686G also offers an in-line remote and microphone, allowing you to pause music or takes calls at the push of a button. The earbud design extends into the ear canal, allowing for reduced ambient noise infiltration, and the ergonomically designed ear clips ensure a comfortable fit for most people. (It includes three ear cushion size options.) Oval-shaped, para-aramid cables help prevent tangling, and the anti-bacterial ear adapters add a level of hygiene to your workout routine.

Best for Swimming: Stream Waterproof Bluetooth Player by H20 Audio

When it comes to top-notch underwater performance, nothing compares to the Stream Waterproof Bluetooth player and Headphones by H20 Audio. The water-friendly gadget features an IPX8 rating, which means the headphones are 100-percent waterproof, impervious to perspiration, rain and even submersion up to 12 feet in water. Competitive athletes will be impressed by the product’s hydrodynamic design, which H20 Audio boasts as being “designed by swimmers, for swimmers.” The headphones are tailored to promote proper alignment in the ears and come with eight different sized earbuds, practically ensuring maximum comfort and security.

In terms of audio quality, these headphones sound as good as they feel, with premium underwater sound performance and a punchy bass. The MP3 player has 10 hours of battery life and an 8 GB memory to fit all your favorite music (that's up to 2,000 tunes). The Stream also offers Bluetooth connectivity, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work underwater. Still, with a 30-foot range, Bluetooth works perfectly for jogging and other on-land workouts.

Best for Running: Plantronics BackBeat Fit Wireless Headphones

Plantronics BackBeat Fit Wireless Headphones
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Running headphones have come a long way since the days of the Sony Walkman. While you don’t have to worry anymore about CD skipping on a jog, there are still a lot of other annoying features of exercise headphones and music players. The cord is the most obvious example, but with Bluetooth technology that’s become less of an issue. Therefore, any decent pair of running headphones should be wireless, compact and brightly colored to increase visibility. They also should be easy to control.

The Plantronics BackBeat Fit headphones offer all this. They feature a wireless, wraparound design that’s sure to stay fit and snug during your run. The speakers deliver a surprisingly deep bass presence with a crisp high-end. The interface features controls for volume, play/pause/skip and mute, as well as commands to take or end calls and activate Siri or Google Voice. They come in three bright colors (blue, green, and red) to enhance your visibility on the roads. And they’re flexible for any sort of use. And in case you get caught in a downpour, they’re water resistant.

See more reviews of our favorite Plantronics headphones available for purchase.

Runner-Up, Best for Comfort: AfterShokz Trekz Air Open Ear Headphones

 If in-ear headphones simply don’t work for you, then the OpenFit design of the AfterShokz Trekz Air may be the answer; the headpiece plays music through your cheekbones (using bone conduction technology), keeping your ears free and attuned to your surroundings. The wireless speakers deliver crisp sound, a strong bass, and reduced vibrations thanks to their PremiumPitch Plus technology. At 1.28 ounces, the wrap-around design is 20-percent lighter than the previous Aftershokz model and promises flexible, weightless comfort for your workout. An IP55 certified sweat-proof/weather-resistant rating also ensures remarkable durability in most weather conditions.

The Aftershokz Trekz Air features Bluetooth v4.2 connectivity and is compatible with both Apple and Android smartphones, tablets and Mac and PC computers. In addition to playing music, you can also answer calls on the go with dual noise-canceling microphones that block out ambient sound and enhance your speech. The battery lasts for six hours of continuous playback, or 20 days on standby, and takes just two hours to recharge.

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