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Best Running Earbuds and Headphones for 2022: Our Top Choices, Ranked

Are you in need of a pair of running headphones or earbuds for your fitness needs? Here are the best ones.

We have a list of best workout headphones, but this list for best running headphones is more geared to those who want their cans and buds to stay on their heads even while sprinting. So I look for some design element -- a sport fin, wing or ear hook when it comes to earbuds -- that offers some added security. Comfort, durability and sound quality are also key factors. So too is some sort of transparency mode -- or an open design -- that allows you to hear ambient around -- and traffic in particularly -- for safety reasons. Most noise-canceling earbuds like the AirPods Pro now have a transparency mode that lets sound in, but look for that feature before you buy noise-isolating buds with ear tips.

The majority of the headphones on this best list are true wireless, but there are also a few other types, including around-the-ear wireless bone-conduction headphones that are popular with runners and bikers because their open design allows you to hear the outside world. For this update to the list, I've added a few new models, including the Soundcore by Anker Sport X10, Cleer Arc, Sennheiser Sport True Wireless, Tribit MoveBuds H10 and JBL Live Free Pro 2.

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Shokz

Water-resistantYes (IP55 rating -- can withstand heavy sprays of water)

AfterShokz has changed its name to Shokz and released new 9th-generation bone-conduction headphones that offer slightly improved bass performance compared with the company's earlier flagship model, the Aeropex (now called the Shokz OpenRun). That makes the OpenRun Pro model the best bone-conduction headphones you can get right now, although they still can't match the sound quality of traditional headphones.

Bone conduction wireless headphones don't go on your ears -- they actually deliver sound to your ear through your cheekbones. The big benefit of this technology as a safety feature for running is that, thanks to its open design, you can hear what's going on around you -- traffic noise in particular -- while listening to music or having a phone conversation (yes, they perform well for voice calls). Also, some race coordinators don't allow runners to wear anything in their ears, which is where headphones like this come in handy.

Like the Aeropex, the OpenRun Pro have a lightweight, wraparound titanium frame and are rated for up to 10 hours of music playback and you can get 1.5 hours of battery life from a 5-minute charge (they have a proprietary charging cable instead of USB-C, which is unfortunate). I found them comfortable to wear but you may have to adjust them on your head to relieve potential pressure points. While they do offer incrementally improved sound that's a bit fuller with more bass, like other bone-conduction headphones these are strongest in the midrange where voices live so they're very good for podcasts, talk radio, newscasts and audiobooks. For music, they're only OK.

Note that Shokz makes other, more affordable bone-conduction headphones, including the OpenRun, if you don't want to drop $180 on its current flagship model.

David Carnoy/CNET

Water-resistant: Yes (IPX5 rating -- can withstand heavy sprays of water)

If you like the style of the Beats Powerbeats Pro but don't want to spend $150 or so on them, there are plenty of budget alternatives out there. I like the Tranya T40 earbuds, which list for $50 but are often discounted to $40 or less. They sound quite good for the money, fit comfortably and securely and have good battery life (up to 8 hours). I also like that they have physical buttons for controlling playback and volume rather than touch controls.

Their charging case, which charges via USB-C, doesn't feel terribly sturdy and is somewhat bulky, but all in all these are a good value.

David Carnoy/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating -- splash-proof)

Technically, the Beats Fit Pro ($200) aren't AirPods, but they're built on the same tech platform as the AirPods Pro (Apple owns Beats). Unlike Beats' earlier and less expensive Studio Buds, the Beats Fit Pro include Apple's H1 chip and have most of the AirPods Pro's features, including active noise canceling, spatial audio, Adaptive EQ and a very good transparency mode that lets ambient sound in. I'd venture to call them the sports AirPods you've always wanted. And for some people, they might just be better than the AirPods Pro.

Read our Beats Fit Pro review.

 

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Water-resistantYes (IP55 rating -- can withstand heavy sprays of water)

Shokz's OpenMove bone-conduction headphones list for $100 but are currently selling for $80. These replace the older Titanium headphones, which are still on sale (also for $80). The OpenMove headphones have some small design upgrades. I found them comfortable to wear and while the sound isn't great, it's relatively good for a bone-conduction headphone (again, keep your sound quality expectations in check or you'll be disappointed). They're very good for listening to podcasts, audiobooks and news broadcasts while you run (I have a tendency to listen to XM radio while running). 

This model charges via USB-C and includes a simple carrying pouch. Battery life is rated at up to 6 hours.

David Carnoy/CNET

Water-resistant: Yes (IP55 splash-proof)

With so many new wireless earbuds and headphones being released on what seems likely a weekly basis, it's not easy for companies to differentiate their products in the marketplace. Skullcandy hopes its new voice-driven platform, Skull-iQ Smart Feature Technology, will do just that. Similar to the Apple AirPods' "Hey, Siri" feature, Skullcandy's version allows you to say, "Hey, Skullcandy" to issue hands-free voice commands without touching a button. Skull-iQ debuts on the sports-oriented Push Active and the $100 Grind Fuel earbuds, which will be firmware-updatable via the Skullcandy App.

With their ear-hook design, the Push Active earbuds are essentially a more affordable version of the Beats Powerbeats Pro and they fit my ears slightly better. I'm not usually a fan of ear-hook style buds, but this is one of the better versions.

The Push Active earbuds are equipped with Bluetooth 5.2, are IP55 splash-proof, have built-in Tile Finding Technology and are rated for up to 10 hours of battery life on a single charge at moderate volume levels.

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David Carnoy/CNET

Water-resistant: Yes (IPX5 rating -- can withstand heavy sprays of water)

I was a fan of Earfun's earlier Free Pro earbuds, which offer good sound for around $50 and have little sport fins that help keep them in your ears securely. Now Earfun has released the Earfun Pro 2 buds with aluminum alloy caps, improved noise canceling and a couple of extra microphones that help boost voice-calling performance.

The Free Pro 2 deliver good sound for their modest price (click to use the coupon), with decent clarity and deep but well-defined bass. They produce relatively big, open sound. They don't have such extra features as an ear-detection sensor that would make it so your music automatically paused when you took one or both buds out of your ears or an app that would allow you to update their firmware. But they're lightweight, should fit most ears well and have decent noise canceling along with a transparency mode. (It's not as good as the AirPods Pro's transparency mode, which is hard to beat.)

I found the voice-calling performance good but not great. The Free Pro 2 earbuds did an acceptable job of reducing background noise and picking up my voice in noisy environments, but they aren't necessarily top-notch in this department. Battery life is rated at up to 6 hours, the earbuds are IPX5 splash-proof and their elongated, wirelessly charging case is compact, lightweight and better designed than the Free Pro case.

David Carnoy/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IP68 rating -- dust-proof and fully waterproof)

The Jaybird Vista 2 sports buds are similar in design to the original Vista buds but have a couple of key upgrades: active noise canceling and a transparency mode called SurroundSense, which allows you to hear the outside world, an important safety feature for runners and bikers (as well as skiers). 

The Vista 2 buds have an IPX68 water-resistance rating, which means they're both dust-proof and fully waterproof. Jaybird says they're also sweat-proof, crush-proof and drop-proof. And the compact case is now splash-proof and dust-resistant, with an IP54 rating.

They sound quite good once you tweak the EQ settings to your liking, but their sound quality isn't quite up to the level of some other premium earbuds. Their noise-canceling, transparency mode and voice-calling are decent though unspectacular (the Beats Fit Pro earbuds perform better in all departments). But if you're buying these, you're buying them for the secure fit and durability.

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David Carnoy/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IPX7 rating -- fully waterproof)

The new Soundcore Sport X10 have an interesting design with rotating swiveling ear hooks that flip up when you're using them and flip down when you want to set them in their charging case, which has a smaller footprint than a lot of buds with ear hooks. 

As long as you get a tight seal, they sound good, with powerful, punchy bass and good detail. They also have active noise canceling, which is effective though not as good as Sony or Bose's noise canceling. They're also fully waterproof with an IPX7 rating, which means they can be fully submerged in up to 3 feet of water for 30 minutes. Battery life is rated at up to 8 hours with an additional three charges in the charging case.

Sennheiser

Water-resistantYes (IP54 rating -- splash-proof and dust-proof)

The Sport True Wireless earbuds are essentially Sennheiser's CX True Wireless earbuds with sport fins (for a more secure fit) and better durability. They have an IP54 rating that makes them splash-proof and dust-resistant. The CX True Wireless (IPX4) don't offer dust resistance.

These aren't noise-canceling earbuds, but they do have an awareness mode that allows ambient sound to leak into the buds so you can hear what's going on around you for safety reasons. They use Bluetooth 5.2 and have support for the AAC and AptX audio codecs. Battery life is rated at up to 9 hours at moderate volume levels with an additional two charges in the charging case (there's no wireless charging).

Featuring clean and well-balanced sound with punchy bass, they sound very similar to the CX True Wireless and CX Plus True Wireless.  

David Carnoy/CNET

Water-resistant: Yes (IPX5 rating -- can withstand heavy sprays of water)

Cleer's Epic Arc buds are similar to Bose's Open Sport Earbuds (see below) but are actually a little more comfortable to wear thanks to their swiveling hinge. Like the Bose buds, they rest on the top of your ear just above the ear canal and fire sound into your ears. They're open so they let ambient sound in (that's a plus if you're a runner or biker and want to hear traffic), but their 16.2 mm drivers provide ample bass and volume. They don't sound quite as good as the Bose Open Sport Earbuds but they're pretty close.

I liked the case, which is a little big but pretty thin. While it has an integrated USB charging cable (that's nice), like the Bose Open Sport Earbuds case it doesn't have a rechargeable battery so it's basically a dock for charging the earbuds, which are also available in black. Battery life is rated at up to 7 hours and they're IPX5 splash-proof.

Some of these types of ear-hook-style earbuds have physical control buttons but these have touch controls. I found they worked pretty well but not great. The buds do have a companion app that allows you to upgrade the firmware and tweak the sound profile.     

David Carnoy/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating -- splash-proof)

The Beats Studio Buds look a lot like the rumored stemless AirPods some people were waiting for. Geared toward both iOS and Android users, they are missing a few key features on the Apple side of things (there's no H1 or W1 chip), but they're small, lightweight earbuds that are comfortable to wear and offer very good sound. While their noise cancellation isn't as good as you get from the AirPods Pro, they do have a transparency mode that lets ambient sound in and they're decent for making calls. Ultimately, their fit and sound quality are their strongest selling points -- and they're about $50 cheaper than the AirPods Pro.

They fit my ears securely (I ran with them without a problem), but you could get some slippage if you sweat a lot. In that case, it may be a good idea to invest in some foam ear tips, which improve grip a little (I use them with the AirPods Pro).

They list for $150 but have been discounted to as low as $100.

Read our Beats Studio Buds review.

 

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Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating -- splash-proof)

As headphones go, Bose's Sport Open Earbuds are pretty funky. Not to be confused with the company's more traditional in-ear Sport Earbuds and QuietComfort Earbuds, they feature an open design without a tip, meaning the earpiece sits on top of your ear and doesn't penetrate your ear canal.

Geared toward runners and bikers who want their ears open to the world for safety reasons -- or to people who don't like to have any sort of bud in their ears -- they sound surprisingly good. I ended up liking them, but their design isn't for everybody, and how comfortable you find them will determine how much you like them.

Read our Bose Sport Open Earbuds review.

 

Angela Lang/CNET

Apple AirPods Pro

Best noise-canceling earbuds for runners

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating -- splash-proof)

While they're not advertised as sports earbuds, the AirPods Pro are very good truly wireless headphones for running. That's largely due to their winning lightweight design and fit, improved bass performance, effective noise cancellation and excellent call quality. While I can't run with the standard AirPods (those in-ear headphones don't fit my ears securely), I had no trouble running with the AirPods Pro, which have a noise-isolating design with a silicone tip that sits snugly in your ear. That said, I got an even more secure fit by using a pair of Comply foam ear tips ($25).

It's worth noting that these wireless running earbuds have transparency mode that allows sound to leak in. You'll still have to lower the volume of your music to hear the sound of traffic noise. The AirPods Pro are also officially rated as being sweat-resistant.

Read our AirPods Pro review.

 

David Carnoy/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IPX5 rating -- can withstand heavy sprays of water).

Over the years, JBL has put out some decent true-wireless earbuds, but nothing that really got me too excited. That's finally changed with the arrival of the Samsung-owned brand's new Live Pro 2 and Live Free 2 buds. Both sets of buds -- the Live Pro 2 have stems while the Live Free 2 have a pill-shaped design -- offer a comfortable fit along with strong noise canceling, very good sound quality and voice-calling performance, plus a robust set of features, including multipoint Bluetooth pairing, an IPX5 splashproof rating and wireless charging.

The Live Pro 2 and Live Free 2 are equipped with the same 11mm drivers, six microphones, oval tubes and oval silicon tips. Aside from the design, the biggest difference between the two buds is battery life; the stemless Live Free 2 is rated for up to seven hours, while the Live Pro 2 is rated for 10 hours. The Live Pro 2 is available in four color options.

Read our JBL Live Pro 2 first take.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating -- splash-proof)

Yes, the Beats Powerbeats Pro's jumbo charging case is a notable drawback. But the combination of incorporating all the features that make Apple's AirPods great while delivering richer sound quality and better battery life in a wireless design that won't fall out of your ear (ear hooks for the win!) ultimately is a winning proposition for earbuds for running. Just make sure you buy these running earbuds somewhere that has a good return policy in case you're in the small minority that has ears that aren't quite a match for the Bluetooth earbuds. Note that these headphones are frequently discounted and have been on the market for a few years, so you should only buy them if they are substantially discounted.

Read our Beats Powerbeats Pro review.

 

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Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating -- splash-proof)

Bose's QuietComfort Earbuds and Sport Earbuds both make good workout earbuds, thanks to their StayHear Max tips and secure fit, but the Sport Earbuds are more compact and lighter and also more affordable (the QuietComfort Earbuds do have excellent active noise canceling, however).

They have the same IPX4 splash-resistance rating as the QuietComfort Earbuds, are equipped with Bluetooth 5.1 (my connection was rock-solid) and share a similar design aesthetic, with three color options available. Unlike their step-up sibling, they have no active noise canceling and 5 hours of battery life instead of 6 hours, and they don't have wireless charging. While they do stick out from your ears, they're noticeably smaller and lighter than the QuietComfort Earbuds and their case is about 30% to 40% smaller. The case still isn't as small as the cases for such competitors as the AirPods Pro, but it feels reasonably compact.

Read our Bose Sport Earbuds review.

 

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Shokz

Water-resistant: Yes (IPX5 rating -- can withstand heavy sprays of water)

The headphones formerly known as the AfterShokz Aeropex are now the Shokz OpenRun. They don't have quite as good sound as the flagship OpenRun Pro and they come with a soft case rather than a hard case, but they're similar in many ways. The Aeropex model, which you can still find, includes two charging cables while the OpenRun includes only one (it's proprietary rather than USB-C).

David Carnoy/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IPX8 rating -- fully waterproof)

While the Tribit MoveBuds H1 only sound decent, not great, there's a lot to like about them. They feel sturdy and are fully waterproof with an IPX8 rating. They also have very long battery life -- up to 15 hours -- and support Qualcomm's AptX audio codec. Many Android smartphones offer AptX Bluetooth streaming.  

David Carnoy/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating -- splash-proof)

Google's Pixel Buds A-Series are kind of unusual, in that they're new but not exactly an upgrade. They look and sound very similar to last year's Pixel Buds 2, which debuted at $179 but are now selling for less. However, instead of getting new features -- like active noise canceling -- they've lost a few. Why? The A stands for affordability: They only cost $100. That new lower price is the real story here, making these a bona fide true-wireless value, particularly for Android users. And the integrated stabilizer arcs (aka sport fins) help keep the buds securely in your ears during sporting activities. Read our Pixel Buds A-Series review.

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Bose

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating -- splash-proof)

The Bose Frames are one of those products you have to try in order to fully appreciate -- or dismiss. The concept is that you're getting a decent pair of sunglasses with a pair of headphones that don't actually go in your ears. Rather, integrated micro speakers in each arm direct a beam of sound to your ears. That design could be appealing to people who don't like having headphones in or on their ears, and also offers a degree of safety for runners and bikers who want their ears open to the world.

Bose has updated its line of audio sunglasses with three new models, including the Tempo sports model, which offers better sound and battery life than the more traditional-looking Tenor and Soprano. The Tempo has better specs all around, with USB-C charging and larger 22mm drivers. It also delivers up to 8 hours of battery life.

Their sound is definitely improved from the original Frames. Bose says the Tempo plays "deeper and louder -- loud enough for cycling at 25 mph -- while [you're] still able to hear traffic and your training partners." They're sweat-, weather-, scratch- and shatter-resistant, according to Bose, and fit under most protective helmets. (I had no problem using them with a couple of bike helmets.) They also work really well for making calls, thanks to a new dual-microphone system. Optional lenses are available for $39 and you can order prescription lenses through Lensabl.

Read our Bose Frames review.

 

David Carnoy/CNET

Water-resistant: Yes (IPX4 splash-proof)

I liked Shure's original Aonic 215 true-wireless earbuds, but they were buggy and Shure pulled them off the market. From a design standpoint, the second-generation earbuds are essentially identical, but not all the performance kinks have been smoothed out. 

Weirdly, they're kind of the audiophile equivalent of the Beats Powerbeats Pro. They have a hook that wraps around the top of your ear and they stayed in my ears very securely (even more securely than the Powerbeats Pro earbuds). And like that Beats model, they have a jumbo charging case. Even though it's technically bigger than the Powerbeats Pro's case, it doesn't feel bigger, perhaps because it's slightly thinner.

What's interesting about them is that the Bluetooth module is detachable (I liked the physical control button they have instead of touch controls). As the name implies, the Aonic 215 True Wireless Noise-Isolating Earphones incorporate Shure's SE215 buds, the $99 model in its line of earbuds that have detachable cables. But the modules, which can be bought separately for $230, are designed to drive any Shure earbuds that have a detachable cable, including the $1,000 SE846.

Headset performance has improved (they're now stereo rather than mono for calls) and they now have an IPX4 splash-proof water-resistance rating. They have clean, well-balanced sound with nicely defined bass -- but they just don't have a ton of bass. I'd like to see them cost about $50 less, but they do make for good sports earbuds that you don't have to worry about falling out of your ears.

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