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Headphones

Best headphones for running

We round up an assortment of top headphones that are well-suited to runners.

Over the years I've tested a lot of sports headphones, and some work better for running than others. What makes for a good running headphone? Well, for starters, it should be wireless, because who needs a wire getting in the way, right? Secondly, and more importantly, they should give you a secure and comfortable fit. Decent sound is also a requirement, as are durability, decent battery life and reliable performance (minimal dropouts).

With those criteria in mind, I've come up with a selection of headphones I've tested that I think are well-suited for running. I'll update these picks as I review more headphones. 

Disclaimer: CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.

Jabra Elite Active 65t, $190

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The totally wireless Jabra Elite Active 65t is the sportier version of the Elite 65t. It offers slightly better sweat resistance, which is why I'm recommending that runners should spend the extra $20 on the Active version. They may not look like they'd stay in your ears, but they do. While they may not fit everybody's ears equally well, I found them quite comfortable to wear. There's a HearThru setting in the app that allows some ambient noise in, but even with it on, you do have to lower the volume of your music to hear traffic.

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The Jabra Elite Active 65t is the current CNET Editors' Choice for truly wireless headphones.

Read the full Jabra Elite Active 65t review.

Available at Amazon

Bose SoundSport Free, $200

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Bose's totally wireless earphones, the SoundSport Free, arguably have the best sound of any truly wireless earphones. They have a few small downsides (both the buds and carrying case are a bit big), but they have a secure fit, work reliably, and are waterproof.

Read the full Bose SoundSport Free review.

Available at Amazon

AfterShokz Trekz Air, $150

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AfterShokz wireless bone-conduction headphones deliver sound through your cheekbones. The big benefit of this technology is that, thanks to its open design, you can hear what's going on around you while listening to music or having a phone conversation through the headphone. That openness allows runners to hear traffic, an important safety feature. Also, some race coordinators don't allow runners to wear anything in their ears, which is where a headphone like this comes in handy, particularly for people who need to listen to music while they run. The Trekz Air sound still isn't great, but it's better than what I experienced with earlier AfterShokz  models. The step-down Trekz Titantium weighs more but can be had for less than $100.

Read the full AfterShokz Trekz Air review.

Available at Best Buy

Bose SoundSport Wireless, $150

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Bose SoundSport Wireless is one of the most popular wireless sports headphones out there and for good reason. They're comfortable to wear, fit securely in your ears, and deliver very good sound quality for wireless headphones. The only downside is that they protrude from your ears a little too much.

Read the full Bose SoundSport Wireless review.

Available at Amazon

Sony WF-SP700N, $178

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Sony's latest truly wireless earphones are a sports model that features a comfortable, secure fit and active noise-canceling technology. The battery life could be a little better, but these guys sound quite good for a truly wireless headphones.

Read the full WF-SP700N review.

Available at Amazon

BeatsX, $100

Sarah Tew/CNET

The price for Beats' BeatsX neckband-style earphones tends to flucuate and sometimes dips below $100 online, with refurbished models selling for closer to $60. It's a good all-around model that performs well as a running headphone, thanks to the included secure-fit wingtips.

Read the full BeatsX review.

Available on Amazon

Apple AirPods, $160

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple's AirPods are actually great for runners because they're so light and also have an open design, which allows you to hear traffic. The only issue -- and it's a big one -- is that they have to fit snugly in your ears to work for running. Alas, I can't run with them (they fall out of my ears), but many people can. You can buy third-party wings to make them fit securely, but you have to take the wings off every time you put the AirPods back in their charging case. That's a pain.

Read the full Apple AirPods review.

Available at Best Buy

Plantronics BackBeat Fit, $75

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The Plantronics BackBeat Fit have been around for a few years and have been popular with runners because of their secure fit and open design (allows you to hear traffic). Although they've come down in price and are fairly affordable, they are due to be updated.

Read the full Plantronics BackBeat Fit review

Available at Amazon

Anker SoundBuds Slim, $26

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you don't want to spend a lot on a set of Bluetooth sports headphones, there are some decent inexpensive models to choose from, including Anker's SoundBuds Slim, which retail for around $25 (you can sometimes get them for a few bucks less on Amazon). Anker also sells the newer SoundCore Spirit Sports, which have been upgraded with Bluetooth 5.0 but cost $33.

Read the full Anker SoundBuds Slim review.


JBL Endurance Sprint, $50

Available at Amazon
Sarah Tew/CNET

The Endurance Sprint's touch controls are a little finicky, but these earphones are well built and sound good for $50. They're in the same vein as Beats' popular Powerbeats 3 earphones but cost a lot less.

Read the full JBL Endurance Sprint review.

Available at Amazon

Jaybird Run, $135

Sarah Tew/CNET

Jaybird's truly wireless Run earphones had some issues with dropouts and audio/video syncing at launch but have since improved via firmware upgrades. They were a little expensive at their list price $180 but have come down in price online. Not surprisingly, with a name like Jaybird Run they're designed to appeal to runners. They fit my ears securely and sounded good, too.

Read the full Jaybird Run review.

Available on Amazon

JBL Reflect Mini 2, $100

Sarah Tew/CNET

JBL's Reflect Mini 2 feature a reflective cord that glows in the dark when a light is shone on it. I don't run at night, but it's a notable safety feature for those who do. The headphones also fit comfortably and sound pretty good, too. I'd just like to see them cost less.

Read the full JBL Reflect Mini 2 review.

Available at Amazon

V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless, $130

Sarah Tew/CNET

V-Moda isn't the first name you associate with a sports headphone, but its Forza Metallo Wireless earphones are well-designed for everyday use and running. They sound very good for a wireless headphone.

Read the full V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless review.

Available at Amazon

UA Sport Wireless Flex engineered by JBL, $130

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The UA Sport Wireless Flex is a likeable wireless sports headphone that features a flexible neckband. The only issue is its price. It should cost less than $100.

Read the full review of the UA Sport Wireless Flex.

Available at Best Buy

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