They may not be entirely essential to great running, but I can’t think of anything I’d be more gutted to realize I’d forgotten to bring on a run than my headphones. They provide my motivation, company, and support: whether it’s a great running podcast, a gripping audiobook or my go-to running playlist. You might even rely on audio prompts from your running app
But it’s tricky to find your perfect match. Wireless headphones are vital for running so you don’t have loose cables to contend with, but this means that pesky earbuds can fall out – and finding the right fit is even more difficult if you have smaller ears.
Best running headphones round-up:
- Shokz OpenRun Pro bone conduction headphones: Buy now
- Oladance OWS2 Open Ear Headphones: Buy now
- Beats Studio3 Wireless Noise Canceling Over-Ear Headphones: Buy now
- Adidas ZNE 01 True Wireless headphones: Buy now
- HUAWEI Freebuds Pro 2: Buy now
- Shokz OpenRun Mini bone conducting headphones: Buy now
Jump to best headphone category:
What is the best type of running headphones?
The first thing I look for in a good pair of headphones, for running or not, is the sound quality. There’s nothing worse than forking out for a product only to find that its primary purpose hasn’t been prioritized. Trying them on first is always ideal, just like with running shoes, but if you know you’re going to be listening to music and you really care about the audio fidelity then look out for headphones with two drivers – one for treble, one for bass – is a good call.
If you do a lot of road running, watch out for noise-cancelling headphones. Safety is paramount, and you don’t want anything that stops you from hearing traffic or other dangers.
Another critical factor is the fit: again, trying them on would be ideal, but it’s often tricky to get your hands on a good deal without ordering online. Keep an eye out for interchangeable earbud tips in a variety of sizes, so you can have the best chance at finding one that fits your ear perfectly. The better the fit, the less you’ll have to fiddle around them when you’re running!
Battery life and storage are also going to be key for runners: if you’re following a marathon training plan for example, or you’re running an ultra, you’ll want to make sure battery life is strong and lasts you at least 6 hours at a time. A good charging case can offer additional battery life – the longest I’ve come across was a whopping 100 hours – and it’s a bonus if this case is compact enough to fit in a back or thigh pocket.
Finally, you’ll want to keep an eye out for any special features: I find headphones with touch technology really helpful for running, so a quick tap can skip a song or pause a podcast and I don’t have to stop and get my phone out mid-run.
I’ve focussed entirely on wireless headphones here, as these are universally considered to be the standard for runners: most people won’t want cables flapping around or sweaty on-ear padding cramping their style.