Music can be the perfect companion to your running or exercise routine, but you need to take care when choosing a pair of sports headphones. We explain what to look for, highlight some of the most popular pairs and reveal how to find out whether they're worth buying.
Dedicated sports and running headphones are less likely to fall out during exercise, but they often don’t come cheap and you might not like the thought of wearing an expensive set that may get lost or damaged on a long, muddy run.
So are dedicated sports headphones best, or are you better off saving money and going for a cheap set of basic headphones? Read on to find out.
In-ear headphones are usually best for sports, and there are three main styles:
To find the perfect style of headphones for you, first consider what’s most important for the exercise you’ll be performing:
Remember, the headphones below are just examples of the most popular models on the market and those we've most recently tested. Be sure to click through to the reviews to find out whether they're worth buying.
Free from wires, these headphones are great for some sports and exercise routines. But they're expensive, and with vigorous exercise such as running, the risk rises that they’ll fall out.
Here are some of the most popular models.
Beats say the Fit Pro offer ‘secure-fit’ wingtips to keep them firmly in position and ‘comfortably lock in place’ during your routine.
While expensive, they’re also designed for more casual use and come with active noise-cancelling. Beats also claims ‘high-quality’ phone call performance.
Bose has long been a well-respected audio brand, and enticingly its Sport Earbuds are £50 cheaper than Beats’ pair.
They come with three sizes of Bose’s ‘StayHear Max’ eartips, which are designed to give you a highly secure fit for sports and exercise.
They’re also IPX4 water resistant, so they’re not bothered by sweat or if you get caught out in a shower.
Jabra offers this cheaper pair than top-brand rivals, which claims to have a ‘secure active fit designed to stay in while you work out’.
Jabra also says they’re ‘water and sweat proof’, ‘incredibly durable’ and are comfortable to wear.
Skullcandy is well known for its attractively-priced headphones that undercut the competition, and for sports headphones are no exception. This set has full earhooks, which gives the buds added security from them falling out while running.
They’re IP55 rated, meaning they even offer protection from jets of water and dust – great if you like to work out on the beach. Skullcandy also claims an impressive 44 hours’ battery life from the earbuds and case.
These are typically cheaper than wireless, and can be fully wired to your device, or wired only between the earpieces; the latter minimises the amount of daily untangling and snagging during exercise such as running.
Most wired pairs aren’t dedicated for sports and aren’t water resistant, so we’d recommend going for cheaper models in case they get damaged.
With these wireless headphones, the two earpieces are connected by a wire and semi-flexible collar that you wear round the back of your neck.
This means the earpieces are lighter since the battery is integrated in the collar, and you don’t need to worry about the earpieces getting lost if they fall out of your ears. Like most wired pairs, they’re not specifically designed for exercise, but the signature Beats bass should help keep you motivated during your routine.
These headphones might not be new, but they’re still incredibly popular.
The WI-C310 is similar to the Beats Flex, except that there’s no neckband, meaning the wire between the earbuds is flexible.
They’re also £16 cheaper than the Beats Flex. At the price, you don’t get any dedicated sports features (such as earhooks), but it’ll be less of a worry if they get damaged while out on a run.
Apple’s classic EarPods continue to be a favourite for budding runners and while they don’t offer any specific running headphones credentials, their attractive price and solid construction continue their long-running popularity.
Sports and running headphones will take quite a beating, and looking after your headphones probably isn’t high on the priority list. So you may simply want an inexpensive pair, even if they don’t provide top-notch audio.
Few headphones cost less than the MDR-EX15AP, and especially if you’re looking for a well-known brand. Of course, at this price you can expect significant compromises on features and audio quality.