The Best Headphones for running
Whether you’re a hardcore ultra-runner or a beginner taking your first steps – music is a great motivator, but not if your headphones are constantly falling off, causing discomfort or not producing any noise worth listening to. Which is why we’ve put together this feature on the best headphones for running. From cheap earphones to comfortable numbers, wireless, sweatproof and more. We’ve got the lot. Take your pick from the headphones below.
Sennheiser PMX 686G
What’s their unique selling point? With that round-the-back of the head band keeping the earphones in place, these are going nowhere, even if you like to punctuate your runs with the occasional somersault or star jump. The lead features a titchy remote (for volume and track-skipping) and mic (for making out-of-breath calls).
What’s the sound quality like? Amazing, as you’d expect from Sennheisers costing north of 50 quid. Loud, clear and bright.
Are they comfortable, and do they stay on? If you’re used to soft, foamy earbuds, the PMXs’ hard plastic may feel a little uncomfortable at first. But as we said: once they’re on, they’re on.
Any downsides? The remote isn’t compatible with iPhones.
Who would these be good for? Anyone who wants pristine audio quality and a pair of headphones for running that they don’t have to repeatedly tap back into position.
SMS Audio BioSport
What’s their unique selling point? Designed in conjunction with Intel, the BioSports feature an optical heart-rate sensor within the earpiece. And it really does work: we tested it alongside a FitBit wearable fitness tracker and it matched it heartbeat for heartbeat.
What’s the sound quality like? Good, if very slightly tinny.
Are they comfortable, and do they stay on? Our tester found them a little hard and on the large side, even when using the smaller of the two pairs of earbuds supplied, which resulted in her occasionally having to nudge them back into place as she ran.
Any downsides? See above – if your ears are on the titchy side, beware. Plus, they are pricey, and the instructions are a little vague – our tester had to hit Google to find out how to get the heart-rate monitor up-and-running.
Who would these be good for? When paired with the free RunKeeper app, the BioSports can feed you audio cues while you run, based on your heart-rate. So if you’re seriously into interval or heart-rate-zone training, these are well worth considering.
Price: £3 (!)
What’s their unique selling point? The best headphones for running wouldn’t be complete without a bargain set of earphones. They’re cheap. Dementedly, comically cheap. They’re 43.3 times cheaper, in fact, than the SMS Audio BioSports.
What’s the sound quality like? Do you even need to ask? Music sounds ab-so-lute-ly awful through these – it’s like listening to a 1920s gramophone recording through a pillow. But! Spoken-word audio – podcasts, Radio 4, audiobooks and so on – actually sounds fine. They make our best headphones for running list because, at £3 they’re perfect for those who lose almost everything on any value.
Are they comfortable, and do they stay on? They’re hard plastic rather than malleable foam, as you’d expect at this price, but the behind-the-ear hooks keep them in place even when you’re really powering it making them great headphones for running.
Any downsides? Aside from the fact that they could make the most beautiful song ever written sound like a revolting dirge, not really.
Who would these be good for? Someone who only ever listens to spoken-word stuff when they run, and doesn’t see the point in dropping 50 quid on a pair of audiophile bass-quakers to achieve that.
What’s their unique selling point? Thanks to wireless Bluetooth 3.0 technology and secure over-ear hooks, Sportpods are guaranteed to leave your workout tangle-free. You can also take incoming calls. An icon on your phone screen shows how much battery is left on the headphones, which is a nice touch.
What’s the sound quality like? Not life-changing, but does the job. Our tester had to turn the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Florence And The Machine right up to top volume (which you can be done via an on-ear control), at which point they became nicely audible over the London din without being deafening. Hardcore musos and audiophiles might prefer something more high-fidelity.
Are they comfortable, and do they stay on? Our tester struggled to work out how to put them on at first – a picture somewhere in the instructions would’ve saved a bit of thinking time. Once on, they felt quite snug and slaloming around people in busy central London had no impact on the comfiness or the fit – they stayed in place, no trouble. I felt they looked quite good too – not too high-tech and showy, but a pleasing design.
Any downsides? Making a call wasn’t great– with no mouthpiece, it’s hard for the person at the other end to hear what you’re on about. Best to just stick to the music.
Who would these be good for? People who like their gadgetry to look cool, and don’t want wires getting in the way of their run.
What’s their unique selling point? Technically these shouldn’t be in the best headphones for running article as this is a headband but stick with us! The Bluetooth-linked earphones are hidden inside a sweat-wicking headband, which means no pesky wires or annoying earbuds to contend with as you run.
What’s the sound quality like? Surprisingly good, considering the speakers are covered by a layer of material. You can also still hear traffic noise and ambient sound, which is good for safety.
Are they comfortable, and do they stay on? The headbands come in three different sizes – small, medium and large. Our tester trialled a medium, which was quite big for her average-sized lady head. But although she worried that it’d slip down once she started running, it stayed put throughout, and was much comfier than having something jammed into her ear canals.
Any downsides? As the headband is washable, the earphones and control panel are removable and can move around in the band. This means you need to spend a while getting them into position after each use. It also means the product as a whole feels a teensy bit flimsy, and we’re not sure how tough and durable RunPhones would be over a long period of heavy use.
Who would these be good for? Anyone who hates wires and in-ear headphones, and wants to keep their hair out of their face while using headphones for running.
What’s their unique selling point? The patented Sticky Gels technology means it’s almost impossible to nudge these little guys out of place while you speed around the place, and they’re up to 30% more secure than standard when you’re sweating. All this makes the Skullcandys one of the best headphones for running.
What’s the sound quality like? Great, very clean – although it is hard to hear what’s going on around you, so don’t whack them up too loud if you’re running near busy roads.
Are they comfortable, and do they stay on? The Methods come with two different sizes of earbuds to ensure a good fit. Our tester said she normally struggled to find headphones that stayed in her ears when running, but the larger buds didn’t shift, and were extremely comfy, provided you don’t mind earbuds that go right into your ear canal.
Any downsides? The on-cable remote allows you to pause and resume play, take a call and skip forwards and backwards through tracks – but you can’t adjust the volume, unfortunately.
Who would these be good for? Anyone who wants a decent pair of headphones that’ll stay put during a run, but doesn’t want to fork out too much cash.