Best running headphones to buy in 2017

The first thing that a lot of readers are going to say when they get to this guide is “aren’t the best running headphones just any set that doesn’t fall out when I’m running?” Well, for the longest time, that wouldn’t exactly be far from the truth, however, because of some rapid advancements in headphone tech, many manufacturers have come up with some amazing products in this category. The advances in wireless connectivity and battery life alone are breathtaking, especially for anyone who likes to listen to their favorite music or podcasts when running, especially during marathons.

Thanks to stunning innovations with wireless headphones, gone are the days where you have to constantly be looking out for protruding objects that just love to yank earbuds out of your ears. The best running headphones will also keep your tunes going for your entire run thanks to their long battery life.

The best running headphones, these days, are no longer limited to only playing music, many sets feature heart rate monitors and AI personal trainers. These features are not only nice to have, but they make these headphones some of the best running gadgets you can get your hands on.

Many headphone manufacturing giants like Sennheiser and Under Armour, to relatively unknown names like KuaiFit and Life BEAM are going head-to-head to try and earn their place in your running kit.

One more thing you should keep in mind: there has been a ton of research that proves music can help you improve your game. So with that all out of the way, let’s get started on our list of the best running headphones for every budget.  

Note: we've ranked these from cheapest to most expensive according to prices at time of writing.

1. Monster iSport Victory In-Ear Bluetooth Headphones

Basic Bluetooth but ideal for quality on a budget

Weight: 15g | Battery life: 10 hours | Heart rate monitor?: No | On-ear controls?: Yes (on the neckband)

Comfortable
Secure fit
Sound quality isn't great
No heart rate monitor

While lacking some of the newest running headphone technology, these earbuds more than make up for it in comfort, durability and their inexpensive asking price.

One of the most annoying issues when you’re running is when your earphones come loose or, worse still, fall out. The iSport Victory stay securely snug in your ear throughout your run, thanks to the rubber ‘wings’ and a surprisingly wide variety of ear tip options. Naturally, they’re sweat resistant and, at only 15g, they’re the most lightweight headphones on this list.

And, with 10-hours of Bluetooth battery life, they could feasibly get you through your workday and your post-work run. Sound quality doesn’t quite cut it for regular use and it’s lacking a heart rate monitor but, for the price, they’re still a great simple option for most runners.

2. BTS Pro Wireless Sports Headphones

Long-lasting battery, impressive wireless range

Weight: 83g | Battery life: 40 hours | Heart rate monitor?: No | On-ear controls?: Yes

Great battery life
Long wireless range
No heart rate monitor
Heavier than most

Our sole on-ear entry hails from the relatively obscure start-up 66 Audio and stands out in several key facets. Firstly, the BTS Pro earphones offer a ludicrous 40+ hours of continuous playback from a single charge along with an stunning wireless range of 100-feet.

Most Bluetooth headphones give you about 30-feet of leeway, but thanks to the aptX 3D antenna tech you can wander much further away from your mobile device, which is especially handy for track sessions.

For runners who like as much control over sound equalization as they do their fitness levels, the Motion Control app allows effortless control of the sound output.

The native apps (there’s also one for Apple Watch) also have a useful ‘Find My Headphones’ feature too. But most importantly, the sound is phenomenal for the relatively low price and they offer noise-cancelling microphones. 

3. Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Headphones

Great for races

Weight: 37g | Battery life: 6 hours | Heart rate monitor?: No | On-ear controls?: Yes

Lightweight and comfortable
Let you hear the world around you
Not as loud as some
Battery life isn't the best

If you can get past the annoying misuse of ‘k’ and ‘z’, this is a superb wireless option for urban runners. Sound is delivered through your cheekbones, thanks to bone conducting tech which leaves your ears open, free to hear the traffic around you.

If you run with a partner, it also means you can still enjoy a chat along the way, provided, of course, that your friend isn’t pushing you to run 5-minute miles.

What really sets these headphones apart is they're one of the few sets that are 'race-legal' in some countries, as they allow you to hear the commands of marshalls and traffic on open-road courses. If you want to run with music in smaller races, these are really your only option.

There’s also a handy multifunction button that lets you control music, calls and access voice dialling. They’re lightweight, comfortable and sweat-proof and have a good secure fit. Also, consider this: If there’s no earbuds then they can’t fall out. Bonus!

4. Jaybird X3 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

Compact comfort, good quality, competitive price

Weight: 17.9g | Battery life: 8 hours | Heart rate monitor?: No | On-ear controls?: Yes

Excellent adaptable sound
Durable and compact design
Proprietary charging dock
Intermittent signal

The compact, durable and affordable Jaybird X2 in-ear buds proved mighty popular among runners. The new Jaybird X3 neckband offers improvements across the board with an even more favorable price point.

Despite being slightly smaller, they’ve retained the sweat-proof design and surprisingly great sound. Greater control over the audio is also possible due to a new companion MySound app, while the abundance of fitting options means they stay secure in your lugholes.

They’ve also been updated to Bluetooth 4.1, which means longer battery life, although we struggled a little with intermittent Bluetooth dropouts.

5. KuaiFit Sport Headphones

Perfect if you like to leave your phone at home

Weight: 31g | Battery life: 7 hours | Heart rate monitor?: Yes | On-ear controls?: Yes

8GB of storage
Heart rate monitor and coaching
Middling battery life
Some training plans cost extra

Whoever came up with the expression ‘jack of all trades, master of none,’ never used the KuaiFit Sport headphones. With 8GB of storage they’re a music player, fitness tracker, heart rate monitor, real-time running coach and a pair of wireless headphones all in one.

KuaiFit sells fitness plans created by Olympic athletes and verified coaches as part of its offering, and its headphones will store and deliver voice notifications based on your progress towards goals – all while leaving your phone at home.

The KuaiFit app for iOS and Android will store all your data and, if you want to link up to your phone, play music from Spotify too - although we do wish that was supported offline too...

6. Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones

Big sound and simple setup

Weight: 17.9g | Battery life: 6 hours | Heart rate monitor?: Yes, with Pulse variant | On-ear controls?: Yes (in the neckband)

Comfortable and secure
Optional heart rate monitor
Battery life could be better
Heart rate monitor version is pricey

If you need your power song to give even more umph, then the Bose SoundSport might give you exactly that extra push you’re looking for. With the unmistakable sound signature of the US audio heavyweight, these lightweight earbuds feature a comfortable and secure fit thanks to the StayHear+ tips.

For runners with NFC-enabled smartphones and music players, the SoundSport buds can be paired in the blink of an eye. The Bose Connect app also allows music sharing with more than one pair of earbuds, ideal if you’re out running with a buddy (and we love that they name which device is connected, something that's great if you're carrying around a phone, media player and tablet).

The SoundSport range comes in two flavors. For an extra $50 you can pick up the Pulse edition which features a built-in heart rate monitor. Depending on your training method, this could be a worthwhile investment as we've found their heart rate monitor to generally be fairly precise from the ears with these.

7. Under Armour JBL Sport Wireless Headphones

Powerful bass and regular updates

Weight: TBC | Battery life: 5 hours | Heart rate monitor?: Yes | On-ear controls?: Yes

Progress updates
Built-in heart rate monitor
Short battery life
Not cheap

Under Armour’s first foray into headphones entrusts the audio tech to a worthy partner: JBL. With a built-in heart rate monitor you can finally ditch the chest strap, while also summoning voice updates on your progress with a simple tap on the right bud.

When paired with the UA Record app you can even configure these updates to be read out at predetermined intervals, so you know whether you’re hitting your zones. The over-the-ear buds also feature 5.8mm dynamic drivers and JBL’s PureBass Performance tech on board.

Combined with JBL’s TwistLock tech, the firm is guaranteeing you a custom and secure fit, meaning you’ll never have to deal with the faff of them falling out mid-run.

8. LifeBEAM Vi Bluetooth Headphones

Top-quality audio meets cutting edge AI coaching

Weight: 37g | Battery life: 4-6 hours | Heart rate monitor?: Yes | On-ear controls?: Yes

AI coaching
Quality sound
Battery life isn't great
Expensive

Leading the way in a new generation of ‘hearable’ tech, the LifeBEAM Vi combines a voice-powered personal running coach with top-class Harman Kardon audio. The on-board AI uses your heart rate and body temperature to adapt to your fitness level and goals.

If it knows if you’re near a personal best, Vi will spur you on to get you over the line. It will challenge you to match your running cadence with a beat, and will learn your effort levels to offer feedback on your pace.

It can also use your running history to suggest how hard you should push. If you’ve been running the same pace and distance over time, it will suggest ways to shake things up. It even provides contextual advice based on your location and weather conditions.

Voice controls are two-way and you can request things like your heart rate. The buds pull out from a flexible, comfortable neckband that can be worn all day and used for handling calls. It has an iOS and Android Vi Fitness companion app and will sync with Spotify to ensure your power playlist is seamlessly integrated.

9. Jabra Elite Sport True Wireless Earbuds

Completely cordless design perfect for minimalists

Weight: 17.9g | Battery life: 4.5 hours | Heart rate monitor?: Yes | On-ear controls?: Yes

Truly wireless
Includes a charging case
Only 4.5 hours of life
Very firm-fitting, can be painful

There’s wireless, and then there’s true wireless. The top-end Jabra Elite Sport are the latter. Beyond the cordless design, the headline feature is the Hear Through tech that allows you to alter the way the buds filter out ambient noise.

If your run takes you from a park to a busy road, a quick button press enables you to pick up your surroundings as well as your tunes. They’re also designed for calls, allowing you to wear one at a time if you desire. Each bud offers two microphones, which help to filter out background noise for the person on the other end of the line.

The on-the-go charging case provides 13.5 hours of battery life in total (similar to Apple’s AirPods), but with just 4.5 hours available from a single charge slower marathoner and ultra runners will probably want to jog on - although for 99% of your training this won't be an issue.

Although not marketed for swimming, they’re also IP67 certified water resistant. The companion app also utilizes the built-in heart rate monitor to enhance your workouts, along with the internal accelerometer to monitor your reps of squats, lunges and the like.

These are expensive buds, but the amount they can do is incredible - for many, they'll be your go-to choice.

10. Beats PowerBeats 3

Fitness-focussed in-ears get the W1 treatment

Weight: 1.06 oz | Battery life: 12 hours | Heart rate monitor?: No | On-ear controls?: Yes

Great battery life
Good wireless range
Fit could be better
High price

The PowerBeats 3 running headphones are yet another pair for of headphones from Beats that aim to keep your tunes pumping while you keep your legs pumping. They may come with the high price that is a signature of the Beats and Apple brands, but they offer a lot for runners, and especially for Apple users.

With a 12-hour battery life and quick charging that can add an hour of battery life in a few minutes, the PowerBeats 3 should rarely run out of juice in the middle of anything short of an insane ultra-marathon. They’re also ready for all the sweat from your brow, and can even handle a run in the rain.

While they may not top some of the other wireless headphones on this list for features, the PowerBeats 3 headphones will truly shine for major Apple lovers. They feature Apple’s W1 chip, which makes the Bluetooth pairing process with multiple iCloud-linked devices incredibly easy in addition to boosting wireless range.

Read the full review: Beats PowerBeats 3