A report published in Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport discovered a strong connection between music and making moves in your workouts. Ultimately, those blasting high-tempo playlists during their sweat sessions were able to exercise for longer and with more intensity. Bottom line: a pair of quality earbuds can be one of the most powerful tools in your running armoury.
However, with a plethora of headphones to choose from, settling on the right equipment for the job can be a struggle. Thankfully, you can simplify your search by prioritising a few important categories. Namely, your running buds need to be sweat-proof, pump out high-quality audio and pack enough hours of playback to see you through your commute, 9-to-5, sweat sessions and back again.
Here are a few of our favourite wireless earbuds across every category:
1. Best Bass: Beats Fit Pro True Wireless
Beats buds are known for pumping out mega bass. This new iteration lets you take that thumping tech on your runs, giving you access to rich sound on every stretch of your tarmac or trail stints. Sporting a set of secure-fit wingtips that flex with the movement of your ears, these still feel comfy even during longer training sessions.
However, they feature fully adaptive Active Noise Cancelling, using real-time audio calibration to continuously identify and eliminate unwanted external sounds. That also means that when you need to be alert to your surroundings, you can shift over to Transparency mode to leverage the power of an external microphone to catch important environmental and ambient sounds.
2. Best Safety: Shokz OpenRun Bone Conduction
These novel earbuds rattle your bones rather than vibrating the air in your ear canals. The result? You get crystal-clear sound but still hear everything that’s happening around you. They also won’t collect gunk and grime like their in-ear counterparts. Fuss-free, workout-ready and packing eight hours of playback; what’s not to love?
3. Best All-Rounder: JBL Endurance Peak III
An active lifestyle requires a pair of buds that can actually keep up—especially when you’re chasing new PBs. The Peak IIIs are geared towards staying power across the board, whether you’re kicking up dust on the trail or racking up reps in the gym.
We like the Powerhook and TwistLock tech which provide a secure, comfy fit. Plus, these feature Ambient Aware, a nifty innovation that’ll help you stay alert to your surroundings without having to pause your playlist. All this is tied up in a durable package with the headphones sporting an IP68 dust and waterproof rating. (That means they can even survive 30 mins up to 1.5m under the water.)
4. Best Precision Audio: Sennheiser CX Sport True Wireless
These headphones merge Sennheiser’s next-level audio performance with a hardy outer shell that’ll survive even the most brutal workouts. The CX Sport True Wireless buds feature a customisable fit so that they will sit securely on your ears without losing footing even when you lose your footing. Sennheiser’s earphones are also dust-, sweat- and splash-resistant, so they’ll give you solid mileage outside of the gym, too.
5. Best Everyday Earbuds: Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen)
The latest gen of Apple’s AirPods Pros is their greatest yet. Advertising longer battery life, crisper audio and improved syncing with all your other devices, the new Pros are the dictionary definition of pick up and play. We dig the responsive controls and Siri integration for on-the-go playlist reorganising and impromptu Google searches. A quick swipe along the earphones will also let you adjust the volume.
6. Best Mid-Range Pair: Skullcandy Push Active
At just shy of R2k, Skullcandy’s offering represents one of the best in the midrange category. Designed to stay glued to your ears, these are engineered to keep your playlist going during even the most gruelling runs. Plus, with a full charge of the case, you’ll get 44 hours of total battery life from a single charge. Sweet.
7. Best Earbuds for City Running: Sony LinkBuds S
These buds from Sony feature adaptive sound control. In other words, they’ll respond in real-time to your actions and your surroundings—letting in sound when, for instance, you might need to be cognizant of an approaching car, and sealing you off for your slog in a tranquil locale. The best part: a single charge of both the case and the cans will let you tap into 20 hours of playback.
8. Best Versatility: Jabra Elite 4 Active
If you’re looking for a pair of wireless buds that still has legs outside of your workout sessions, the Elites check all the right boxes. These headphones are super durable, providing adequate water and sweat protection. Outside of its impressive audio chops, these are some of the most customisable cans available. They feature a tweakable equalizer to let finetune your listening experience, Spotify tap playback and the ability to answer phone calls on the go. After all, the trail is a much better home office than your, well, home office.
9. Best Compatibility: Huawei Freebuds 4i
These bite-sized buds will give you a luxury listening experience at a small fraction of the sticker price of most other wireless workout wingmen. But in their pursuit of affordability, Huawei hasn’t sacrificed comfort: ergonomically designed for a snug fit that won’t slip and slide while you run, they’re ready (out of the box) to tag along for your next tarmac caper. Under the hood, you’ll find a 10mm dynamic coil driver that serves up rich textured sounds, crystal-clear vocals and the sort of thumping bassline that’s practically mandatory when you’re working up a sweat.