LUXURIOUS OVER-THE-EAR CANS are plush, comfortable, and they sound great. But for working out, traveling, and wandering around town, you might want to consider a pair of durable, wireless in-ear buds. I’ve been trail running, hiking, working in my yard, lifting weights, and watching mildly embarrassing barre and yoga videos on my laptop, all while testing the best wireless workout headphones around. If you like listening to music while scrambling up stony slopes or mowing your lawn, here are a bunch of WIRED’s favorite pairs. We’ve worn and sweated on, all of them.
Be sure to check out our favorite completely wire-free earbuds, cheap headphones, Best Bluetooth speakers, smart speakers, and other buying guides.
A Few Pointers
- Should I Get Wired or Wireless Headphones?
- Which buds are right for you? A surprising number of people still prefer wired headphones. When you’re going on a long run, the last thing you want to do is stand on your front porch, shivering in your shorts, trying to figure out why the right earbud isn’t connected. But for obvious reasons, wireless headphones are much more convenient when doing other strenuous physical activities.
- I recommend investing in a pair that has ear hooks, clips, or fins to hold them securely in place; you can also buy ear hooks a la carte online. A tight, secure seal ensures that you get that big bass sound to power you through the last mile. Everyone’s ears are different, and your left might even be different than your right. Don’t be afraid to try mismatching sizes of ear tips or fins for a better fit.
Our head audio reviewer also loves the Jabra Elite 85T. After trying them, I have to agree.
The Elite 85T are tiny—both the case and buds are the smallest of a half-dozen pairs sitting on my desk. I usually prefer workout earbuds with ear hooks or fins to keep them in place. The 85T fits comfortably and securely, even in my small ears. The sound quality is excellent, for both music and calls, and unlike previous generations of Jabra Elite headphones, these have active noise-canceling for when you return to the gym.
If you’re unwilling to shell out the full price for the latest pair, Jabra has a demonstrated commitment to its earlier pairs. The company just added noise-canceling to the still-excellent 75T. It also offers a 2-year-warranty that is far above the industry standard.
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The Jaybird Vista is designed for ultrarunners and extreme sports fanatics, and they stand out for their lightness and extreme durability. I rediscovered these as I was cleaning out my gear closet and was surprised, again, by how light and tiny they are. Each bud weighs a minuscule 6 grams and the case is flat to fit inside your running shorts.
They feature EarthProof encapsulated construction that seals the components inside a tiny plastic bubble, so unlike many buds on this list, they can even withstand full immersion. The battery life is excellent. They have a sterling Bluetooth 5.0 connection, and the controls are simple enough for even an exhausted trail runner to remember.
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Bose Sport Earbuds
I’m currently wearing the latest version of the wire-free Bose Sport earbuds, and they sound amazing. (I also loved the company’s older pair of wire-free sport buds, so that makes sense to me.) In addition to intense bass and a clear mic, the ear fins on this version are soft and comfortable, and the bud itself doesn’t stick out nearly as far from your ear as the original version.
They’re waterproof and the battery lasts 5 hours, so they can keep you motivated for an entire marathon. Unlike some of our options, this case has a latch so it doesn’t fall open when you stick the buds in your fanny pack or backpack.
It’s worth noting: These are larger than some of our other picks, and some of our other options do offer better battery life.