Best running headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best running headphones 2022.
Whether you're going for a run once a day, once a week or once a year, a good pair of running headphones will make it all the more enjoyable.
The best running headphones will deliver great sound while offering sweat-resistant designs that stay in place, and with wireless options aplenty, you won't be short of choice. Most of them pack a decent battery life, too.
From cheap true wireless buds that completely remove the wire, to in-ear wireless earphones and neckband designs, these are the best running headphones we've reviewed.
How to choose the best running headphones for you
A few things to consider when picking your new running partner. First, do you want wired or wireless headphones? All of our models below are wireless, because of the added convenience and no snagging your arm on a dangling cable.
If you do plump for a wireless model – and we strongly suggest you do – you'll need to consider battery life. We've given three indicators of battery life in our specs: the battery life of the buds themselves, how long the charging case will last before needing juicing up from a wall socket, and the total battery life (which is the other two measurements combined).
If you're running outside and not just on a treadmill, you'll want some kind of waterproofing in case of a downpour. IPX4 is the minimum you'll want (all of the below have at least this rating), as that means they'll withstand water splashing. But some models can be fully submerged for swimming or just a post-workout shower.
Also consider the charging case. Some models have different waterproof ratings for the case, which is worth remembering so it doesn't get ruined.
Noise-cancelling will neutralise background noise and help you focus, and be better for your hearing as you can hear the detail of your music without cranking the volume up. But it could be a hazard if you're out running as it makes you less aware of approaching cars.
Lastly, weight. Around 5g per earbud is very good indeed, but some can weigh twice that. In some cases, the listing only gave the weight of the buds and case combined. We've made clear in the specs where that's the case.
These are some of the best-sounding, most reliable running headphones you'll find for this money. They're not a true wireless pair, as they have a soft cable connecting the two buds to each other. But along with the in-ear hook on each earbud that keeps them securely in place, it means they're less likely to be lost.
The in-cable remote won't weigh you down either, as it's nice and lightweight. And it's another advantage over a true wireless pair.
When it comes to performance, they're more than up to the task, being sweat-resistant and IPX4 splashproof, too. They won't survive being submerged in water, but for running in a downpour, you're golden.
NFC is onboard for one-touch pairing with a mobile device, and the earbuds pack a punchy, powerful bass that just might get you running that bit faster. The battery life might be a modest six hours but we'd imagine that'll do most people for a few runs or circuits. If you outlast them, you deserve a medal.
Read the full Bose SoundSport Wireless review
The standard Reflect Flow have been a mainstay on this list since they launched in 2019 (and can still be found below). JBL's newer, pricier, premium-er Pro pair replicate that success admirably.
They add active noise cancellation to the mix, along with ambient and TalkThru modes that make you more aware of your surroundings (handy while you're out running). They're dust-tight, and can be fully immersed in water, so won't be troubled by even the heaviest of downpours.
They sound pretty great too, with plenty of bounce to power you through that fifth mile. They're not quite as refined as a dedicated music pair, but for sports-focussed buds, they tick all the boxes.
Read the full JBL Reflect Flow Pro review
JBL is a heavy hitter when it comes to running earphones and the JBL Reflect Flow is a hotly anticipated entrant to the flourishing, albeit rather niche, true-wireless-for-sports market.
In their niche category, though, the JBL Reflect Flow headphones are impressive performers for the money, especially if you want a bass-heavy sound for the treadmill without resorting to a pair of over-ear cans. Plus the 10-hour battery (or 30 with the case) will outlast a seriously long running session.
There are better wireless buds for pure sonic performance. But if you want a pair for running, these might just be the best bet.
Read the full JBL Reflect Flow review
If you're looking for premium running headphones to slip into your ears, these sweat-resistant, 2021 Award-winning Sonys need to be at the top of your list. They have dynamics and detail in spades and offer a balanced performance, with taut and weighty bass and sophisticated mids and highs. You can't help but be carried away by their sense of musicality.
Those who prioritise battery life in their running headphones should find the eight hours promised by the Sonys more than sufficient. The wireless charging case extends this by a further 16 hours.
The Sonys are comfortable enough for a marathon, with touch-sensitive controls and ear tips that provide excellent noise isolation. Combine this with brilliant noise cancelling courtesy of Sony's Integrated Processor V1 and the WF-1000XM4 are difficult to fault.
Clever features like Quick Attention and Speak-To-Chat both allow you to have a conversation without removing the earbuds – great for a mid-run chat. If you've got the budget for a premium pair of running headphones the WF-1000XM4 need serious consideration.
Read the full Sony WF-1000XM4 review
Think of Sony's WF-C500 wireless earbuds as a no-frills version of the WF-1000XM4 above. They deliver a lot of what makes those wireless earbuds a success without cutting too many corners.
They're good for running and sports, thanks to their IPX4 rating, while you also get ‘fast pair’ connectivity with Android devices and ‘swift pair’ with Windows 10 PCs.
The sound is nicely balanced, there's loads of mid-range detail on show and it's presented in a cohesive and musical package.
Battery life is 10 hours from the buds themselves, which should be plenty for most, and the case provides another 10 hours, so the total battery life can be bettered by some rivals. But if you're after some of the best running headphones for under £100, the WF-C500 should be on your shortlist.
Read the full Sony WF-C500 review
Historically, the vast majority of Bose's noise-cancelling headphones have been on- and over-ear designs, but the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are up there with the very best wireless earbuds for running.
They're lightweight and we have no issues listening for a hours at a time. For the average commute or exercise session (the QuietComforts are both sweat and weather-resistant) they are great to live with and they feel like a quality product too. Battery life is six hours from a single charge, with the charging case supplying an extra two charges, making 18 hours in total – decent, but by no means class-leading. Being able to customise some features and controls, and adjust the excellent noise-cancellation in the companion app, enhances ease of use. Touch controls for volume are the icing on the cake.
Sonically, their enthusiasm and excitement is highly infectious. There’s power, poise and a fantastic sense of dynamism. Bass notes sound full-bodied, go deep and the QuietComforts squeeze out lots of detail.
All in all, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are great all-rounders, capable of impressive musicality and topped off with excellent noise cancelling. They’re more than a match for any running headphones they go toe-to-toe with.
Read the full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review
The Earfun Pro buds take the standard – and excellent – Earfun Air and add active noise cancelling (ANC), more mics and larger drivers. That all adds up to a better sonic performance as well as clearer voice calls – very handy if your running route goes near noisy roads.
The headphones pair easily, and they're comfortable enough for even the longest of workouts. The controls are a doddle to use, too. Two taps on the right bud pauses or resumes playback, while three skips to the next track.
They're built to survive a downpour, so are happy to deal with however much sweat you throw their way. All in all, it’s a lot of tech and durability for not a lot of money. Now you've no excuse not to get out and pound the pavement.
Read the full Earfun Air Pro review
These headphones boast app support, customisable EQ settings and both white and black colour options. But the real selling point is battery life.
Like their predecessors – the now-retired Melomania 1 – the 1 Plus will keep you entertained for an impressive nine hours off a single charge. Throw in an additional four charges from the carry case, and that makes 45 hours of total run time (excuse the pun). That's a long time between charges, even if you're racking up marathon-training-esque sessions.
There's no noise-cancelling onboard, but that's a small price to pay at this level.
The Melomanias deliver an open and powerful musical performance. They sound clear and more dynamic than the original Melomanias and there's a smidgen more detail too. If you want an affordable and accomplished pair of running headphones the 1 Plus should earn a place on your list.
Read the full Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus review
This little-known Hong Kong audio company doesn't have many products to its name but it has managed to do something that many bigger brands have not, and that's come up with a super-affordable set of running headphones that are actually worth buying.
Not only do the Earfun Air give a very worthy listen but they're feature-packed too. While you won't get active noise cancelling at this price, the noise isolation of these comfortable, well-fitting earphones does an excellent portion of that same job. They're waterproof to IPX7 standards (1m submersible for up to 30 mins), they have voice assistance built-in and they support Qi wireless charging.
Call handling is responsive and clear, and the battery life is a pretty stonking 35 hours when using the charge case. Amazingly it all feels fairly premium too. The Bluetooth 5.0 connection never lets us down and, while the audio is no match for headphones at double the price, they still offer some grippy, energetic listening and an excellent sense of space.
If you’re after something inexpensive that’ll sound good on your run, the Earfun Air buds could just be the ideal proposition.
Read the full Earfun Air review
Panasonic isn't a brand that immediately springs to mind when you think of running headphones. But perhaps it should be. The 2021 Award-winning RZ-S500W are the company's first foray into a wireless noise-cancelling model and they're sensational performers at a low price.
Specs are thorough, with noise-cancelling tech, an Ambient Mode, twin mics for voice calls, and a battery life that totals 19.5 hours (6.5hrs from the buds and 13hrs from the charging case). They're built to withstand rain, and a 15-minute USB-C quick charge can deliver 70 minutes of playback. The touch controls on each bud are responsive and intuitive, allowing you to control your music and switch between noise-cancelling modes with zero fuss.
You also get five sizes of ear tips to help with fit. We found this a little hit and miss, so we would definitely experiment and consider mixing the sizes if it means getting a more secure fit.
Both noise cancelling and sound quality are excellent. Music sounds clear and there's a great deal of refinement on show, while bass is deep and detailed. To sum up, these Panasonic earbuds are superb for the money. A great buy for runners on a budget.
Read the full Panasonic RZ-S500W review
The Vista 2's case is a runner's dream, small enough to fit inside the pocket of a running belt. Wing tips keep the earbuds in place, and three sizes of interchangeable eartips mean you should get a decent fit.
The buds are resistant to water and dust, and so is the case (though to a lesser extent). Noise-cancelling is on board, but you can let some noise in if you like using Jaybird's SurroundSense mode (handy when cycling on busy roads).
Battery life is a very healthy eight hours, plus two full charges from the case, bringing it to a total of 24 hours. Sonically, they're clear, upfront, energetic, and on the right side of refined. A great companion, whatever your workout.
Read the full Jaybird Vista 2 review
Anyone looking for an affordable pair of running earbuds should look this way. Because these Sonys are not only modestly priced, they also have a very reasonable battery life of 18 hours – nine hours from the buds, nine hours from the case – while their IPX4 water resistance rating provides protection against ‘water splashing’. They're light and secure in your ears, too.
Bluetooth 5.0 is onboard to provide reliable connectivity between your source and the earbuds, and a longer range between the earbuds and source than you probably need (240m).
The WF-XB700 are part of the company’s Extra Bass range of audio products and are tuned to emphasise low-frequency response, rather than deliver a neutral sonic balance. And although there’s meat behind their low-end – which should spur you on during a run – it doesn't overshadow mid and high frequencies. It's actually complemented by decent punch and pleasing tautness and agility. Some rivals boast greater detail and subtlety, but at this price, you could do a lot worse.
Read the full Sony WF-XB700 review
A cheaper version of Bose QuietComfort Earbuds? Sounds good, right? These more affordable Bose earbuds certainly get close to delivering on that promise but don't quite match the performance value of the flagship buds.
They feel a little cheaper, which is to be expected, but you still get a choice of three finishes and a selection of eartips. They're sweat- and water-resistant, while battery life is a pretty average five hours, with a total of 15 hours thanks to the case. Connectivity doesn't seem quite as slick as the more expensive models but if you're only connecting to one device – rather than, say, a phone and a laptop – that will make it easier.
In terms of audio quality, they deliver a balanced, full sound. The very best pairs at the top of this list deliver a little more detail and a little more subtlety, but these remain easy to listen to. Their musical, powerful balance is easy to get along with and they will work well for runners who don’t want a bass-heavy sound.
Read the full Bose Sport Earbuds review
The Jaybird Vista have been surpassed by their successors further up this list, but the originals are still a decent pair. And chances are they can be had on a deal well under their original RRP.
They’re the company’s second shot at a truly wireless model, and another entry in its fairly long line of running headphones. So they have plenty of pedigree. And it shows, with a comfortable, secure fit and an accompanying set-up app that's a joy to use.
They sound good, too, with only the best rivals offering a slither more detail and composure. They're sweat-proof, comfortable, secure and come with a range of features, ensuring they're a good bet for any budding runner.
In fact, one of our only criticisms of them in our original review was the price. Find them on a deal, and you'll be onto a winner.
Read the full Jaybird Vista review
How we choose the best running headphones
Here at What Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products every year – and that includes plenty of headphones. So how do we come to our review verdicts? And why can you trust them?
We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London and Bath, where our team of expert reviewers do all our testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency.
All products are tested in comparison with rival products in the same price category, and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than an individual reviewer, again helping to ensure consistency and avoid any personal preference.
The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years experience of reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics.
From all of our reviews, we choose the best products to feature in our Best Buys. That's why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended above, or on any other Best Buy page, you can be assured you're getting a What Hi-Fi? approved product.