The best wireless headphones for running: Truly wireless and budget options

The top wireless, Bluetooth and sports headphones for runners
​The best running headphones

There’s never been a better time to buy a set of wireless running headphones. From sound quality and battery life for those long runs, through to durability and comfort – the choice of Bluetooth buds is better than ever.

But there's so much choice. You can now opt for completely wire-free buds which offer total freedom, but less battery life. You can bulk up a bit more and choose headphones than have a wire or neck support to add stability, which will tend to pack in-line controls and have a longer-lasting battery. You'll want to make sure you're choosing a decent level of water and sweat-proofing, too.

Essential reading: Best running shoes for the road

Truly wireless buds like the Jabra Active 65t and Jaybird Vista are freeing runners from the awkwardness and discomfort of cables, while delivering longer battery life, great sound and a secure and increasingly comfortable fit. Read on for our picks of the best.

Best on test: Jaybird Vista

Buy now: Jaybird (UK) / Jaybird (US) / Amazon | $179.99

The best wireless headphones for running beats

If you like the idea of cutting the cords completely then the Jaybird Vista are hands down the best true wireless buds you can buy right now. The upgrade to the already-solid RUN and RUN XT, the Vista are smaller, lighter (just 6g per bud) and more comfortable.

You get 16 hours of run time in a single 2-hour charge - 6 hours in each bud and 10 hours in the slimmed down charging case. And if you do run out of juice, just 5 minutes on the plug bags you an hour.

The sound is still top notch with good noise isolation and customisable EQ that you can tune to your ears with a simple hearing test in the partner app. Each bud works independently so you can run with just one bud in for added awareness and you still get the full suite of clever features like Find My Buds, auto connect and auto power down that you got from the RUN models. They’re also IPX7 rated so a bit of water and a lot of sweat won’t bother them.

AfterShokz Aeropex

Buy now: AfterShokz (US) / Amazon | $159.95

The best wireless headphones for running beats

The AfterShokz range of open ear bone-conduction headphones have become a bit of a cult smash in the running world. The new Aeropex takes that already popular formula of a lightweight headset that allows for good situational awareness, and moves it further.

At 26g, they’re 12% lighter than previous models and 30% smaller, making them much more comfortable to wear generally on the run but also in hats and sunglasses. They’ve also addressed one of the biggest bugbears with bone conduction; they’re less leaky and they’ve managed to improve the bass and make them sound louder.

You get 8 hours of battery life from a single charge - enough for a marathon but less than most true wireless buds that you can boost with a carry case. They’re also IP67 rated - that’s a step on from the IP55-rated AfterShokz Air - so they’ll survive in up to a depth of 1-meter for 30 minutes.

The introduction of a proprietary charging cable is a bit of a step backwards but if you’re looking for bone conductors, these should be top of your list.

Jabra Elite Active 65t

Buy now: Jabra (UK) / Jabra (US) / Amazon | $189.99

The best running headphones to buy in 2019

Another top notch set of truly wireless buds that put Apple’s ever-more prominent AirPods in the shade. With rock solid Bluetooth connectivity, sound quality that defies the absence of wires, a great fit, sturdy design and adequate battery life there’s everything to love and pretty much nothing to complain about.

The buds automatically pair to your phone or music player when removed from the case, and have proximity sensors that will helpfully pause playback when you remove one from your ears. There’s also a very compact charging case which provides two full charges and additional ten hours of playback.

Some reviews have claimed the buds are uncomfortable after an hour’s wear and using on-bud controls hurts. However, we’ve found that over time both of these concerns are unmerited.

Fitbit Flyer

Buy now: Fitbit (UK) / Amazon | $75

The best running headphones to buy in 2019

Fitbit offers a more affordable solution, with a rock solid Bluetooth connection, attractive design and six hours of quickly replenished (15 minutes for an hour of playback) battery life. They also boast a dual microphone for Siri and Google Assistant support, with music and call controls if you care to have the distraction on your long runs.

Thanks to the ear tips, these have a secure fit and will remain in place, plus a number of options in the box to ensure comfort matches security. In terms of audio quality, these buds serve you well, but there’s limited capacity for customisation of sound; just a bass-amplifying Power Boost mode.

Naturally, given this is a Fitbit product, the Flyer buds are sweatproof and durable, but there’s no IPX7 waterproofing protection here. On the plus side, if you already own a Fitbit smartwatch, these buds pair perfectly and allow you to make use of the music stored locally on the device.

Bose Soundsport Free

Buy now: Bose (UK) / Bose (US) / Amazon | $199.95

The best running headphones to buy in 2019

When the audio gods at Bose jump on the truly wireless bandwagon, you know it’s here to stay. The company’s first cable-free headphones are typically great-sounding and reassuringly expensive.

The buds themselves are a little larger and protrude further from the ear than some rivals, but the design itself is colourful and attractive. Despite the added bulk, the Soundsport FREE buds will remain in place due to the tips that spread contact evenly over the surface of the ear.

The wireless charging case is also a little bulkier than options from Jabra and Jaybird, but it does deliver an additional two full recharges for 15 hours of total playback. There’s no full waterproofing but there is a IP4X, making them sweat, rain and splash resistant. Again, there’s a helpful Find My Buds feature in case the SoundSport FREE buds make a break for it.

Aftershokz Trekz Air

Buy now: Aftershokz (UK) / Aftershokz (US) / Amazon | $119.95

The best running headphones to buy in 2019

If you’re running in urban environments, earphones delivering on the promise of noise cancellation can pose a serious safety risk. Many traffic dodgers prefer bone conducting headphones for this very reason. Despite sitting in front of the ear rather than inside it, the lightweight Trekz Air offers a stable fit and plenty of comfort too.

Previous generations of bone conducting technology have often sacrificed audio quality at the altar of spacial awareness, but the Trekz Air aims to rectify these ills with improved bass and decent overall sound. The volume won’t rise above the din of a busy cityscape at rush hour, but they will keep you safer. The Trekz Air offer six hours of battery life and an hour of additional playback from 15 minutes on charge.

Jaybird Tarah Pro

Buy now: Jaybird (UK) / Jaybird (US) / Amazon | $159.99

The best running headphones to buy in 2019

Finding fault with the Jaybird Tarah Pro takes some serious nitpicking. They’re the consummate running buds, by almost any metric. The killer feature is the unrivalled 14-hour battery life, likely to outlast even the most ardent runner’s gas tank. They also automatically power down when not in use, so they’re ready for the next long run, even if you’re not. And in the rare event that you do find yourself caught short for battery, you can get two hours of life from five minutes on charge.

The audio quality on Jaybird’s buds has never been in question, but the new app-based Personal EQ guides you through a hearing test so you can perfectly tailor your soundtrack to your athletic endeavours.

Jaybird has also put a lot of thought into the design. The buds fit tight and the cables are coated in a comfortable, reflective fabric that doesn’t tangle. The IPX7 waterproof buds link magnetically when worn around the neck and there’s also a new Switch Fit design, which lets you twist the bud and wear them over, or under the ear.

Monster iSport Victory

Buy now: Monster (US) / Amazon $119.95

The best running headphones to buy in 2019

Monster continues to provide solid options at a more accessible price point. The iSport Victory range went wireless a couple of years back and the Bluetooth headphones bring a solid eight hours of battery life from a single charge, along with a durable design that won’t tap out on you midway through a marathon.

They offer more discreet wings to keep them locked in place, while the silicone tips create an excellent seal. The cable is also reflective, if you’re planning an early morning/after dark jaunt around the roads.

As with most Monster head/earphones, the sound is typically bass heavy, with a pair of sound profiles available. The Victory buds promise 90% noise isolation, but that’s more useful if you’re on the treadmill rather than a busy urban environment. Naturally, there’s an inline remote for controlling media and calls.

Tags:    Running
Tagged    Running