Finding the perfect pair of running headphones is like picking out those shorts that'll minimise chaffing on your long weekend run or a running watch where the GPS doesn't decimate the battery life in minutes. Get it wrong and it could be agony.
The good news is that there's a ton of great in-ear and on-ear headphones for runners out there at both ends of the price spectrum. Whether it's wireless you need, in-ears that stay put or a pair that actually don't sound like a tinny mess.
Essential reading: The best fitness trackers
We've tried and tested a host, so for those long distance marathon training runs or interval treadmill sessions, these are our top running headphones to spend your money on now plus the ones to look out for in the not too distant future.
Wareable's top pick
Jabra Sport Pulse
For cutting-edge tech, sound quality and a secure fit, there's few that come close to Jabra's sporty in-ears. The wireless Bluetooth headphones have a built-in heart rate monitor to track the intensity of your running sessions with a simple ear hook design that make them some of the most comfortable to wear outside and in the gym.
There's plenty for bass lovers and audiophiles to enjoy in the sound department and the easy to use companion app might see you ditch your current running app favourite.
In depth: Jabra Sport Pulse review
Best for sound quality
UA Headphones Wireless
If sound quality is your number one priority, Under Armour's headphones deliver in a big way. The JBL powered in-ears scream with bass and power but doesn't trample all over the clean, crisp treble making it a great all rounder for music or even tucking into an audiobook.
Read this: Best fitness watches with music playback
They're sweat proof so built to handle a hard workout and use the TwistLock technology inherited from the Yurbuds sports headphones ensure they stay put. Our one criticism was that it could do with some additional earbud sizes so it's good news that you can order some extra sizes for free.
Expect 8 hours of battery life and a built-in mic on the tangle-free cord when you have to accept a call mid run.
Best for battery life
Plantronics BackBeat Fit
If you prefer a little more stamina from your wireless running headphones, the BackBeat Fit are, well, a better fit than the Jabras. Ditching the trailing wires, these neckband-style Bluetooth in-ears are built to fend off sweat and deliver on the audio front as well.
The Fit has an impressive eight hours of battery life and with its DeepSleep power-saving hibernation feature, it'll turn off the headphones when away from your connected phone to make sure those eight hours last you a week's worth of workouts.
Best for nighttime runs
Trainer by Gibson
For those who aren't fans of the intrusive in-ear fit, Gibson's are offer a comfortable alternative for your running sessions. The small framed headphones feature a rubbery headband that can be flicked out to make sure they stay put and pack plenty of controls on either side of the ear cups to scan through music.
The sweat- and water-resistant frame also includes removable cushions you can give a clean and there's an LED light to aid visibility on those night time runs. The 40mm drivers deliver punchy sound and an impressive 10 hour battery life means they can go the distance as well.
Best for the gym
Monster iSport SuperSlim
For those who don't want to hear the Bieber playlist being pumped out of the speakers at the gym, Monster's wireless in-ears are well equipped at drowning out the world. The top notch noise isolation on board means you can focus entirely on your own music.
While that sound signature can slightly over do it on the bass, these are still a solid sounding pair of running headphones. Monster's ear hook design and tangle free cord mean they stay secure, there's a decent 5 hour battery life and you can actually wash them under the tap when things get really sweaty.
Best for a tight budget
AUKEY Bluetooth V4.1 sports headphones
We thought it was impossible, but there is a pair of cheap wireless running headphones out there that don't absolutely suck.
What the Aukey V4.1 lack in eye-catching looks it makes up for in other departments. The sweat proof in-ears with an earhook design comes with interchangeable buds to find the comfiest fit and they do stay put.
Running tips and tricks
- How to use your running for interval trainingGetting the most from your GPS wearable for high intensity interval training
- A guide to working out in heart rate training zonesHow to use your heart rate monitor or running watch to supercharge your training
- Understanding your running watch statsWe demystify the jargon to help you get more from your running watch
The right side features controls to skip through tracks and take phone calls hands free, while the five hour battery life is a pretty strong effort when you consider the price.
In the sound department, you do have to sacrifice the exceptional clarity you get on the Jabra Sport Pulse and Under Armour's wireless headphones, but there's plenty of warmth and bass making it good enough for most. You'd be hard pressed to find Bluetooth sports headphones that sound as good for the price.
Best for truly wire-free running
It's been a long time coming, but the truly wireless ear buds are finally shipping to backers of Bragi's crowdfunding campaign and is now available for everyone to buy. Aside from having no cables to get in the way of your perfect running technique, the Dash can track biometrics like heart rate and can even be worn in the swimming pool. They also manage to pack in 4GB of storage to load on some tunes so you can run without your phone strapped to your arm.
Read this: Bragi Dash review
Running headphones to look out for
Bose SoundSport Pulse
Bose is the latest high profile audio company to jump aboard the smart sports headphone bandwagon in the shape of the SoundSport Pulse. The wireless headphones pack in an optical heart rate sensor much like the Jabra and Under Armour in-ears. The big difference here is that the sensor will work with Runkeeper and Endomondo to combine it with your other running metrics.
$199.99, bose.com, shipping 15 June 2016
Samsung Gear IconX
Following in the footsteps of the Bragi Dash, Samsung's first ever wireless earbuds are packed with run-friendly features. The Gear IconX squeeze in an accelerometer and heart rate monitor to track workout intensity and the standard running metrics like distance covered.
There's touch controls to tap and swipe through features and 4GB of onboard storage to store your music. There's a Voice Guide to provide instant feedback, and it'll also play nice with the likes of Endomondo, MapMyRun, Runkeeper and Strava.
$199, samsung.com, launching late 2016
The self-learning set of sports headphones offers real time coaching based on a user's own physiology. It'll interpret data to deliver actionable insights such as weight loss optimisation, exhaustion level management and even running technique. Audio performance is aided thanks to a partnership with Harman Kardon.
Read this: Meet Vi, the first true AI trainer
$179, life-beam.com, shipping December 2016
UA Headphones Wireless Heart Rate
We've run with the wireless UA headphones but we're still waiting to try out the ones that can stream heart rate data from the ears and sync it to the Under Armour Record smartphone app. Sound is powered by audio giants JBL and the Twistlock fit inherited from its acquisition of YurBuds, make sure they don't budge on the move either.
$250.00, harman.com, shipping summer 2016
Announced at CES at the beginning of the year, Jaybird (recently snapped up Logitech) has redesigned its other sports headphone range adding a more durable metal body and a host of different colours including the very an on trend rose gold option. Battery life is just four hours, but there's a charging clip you can add on to give that a much needed boost. If it sounds and fits as good as the X2s, then they'll have been worth the wait.
$199.95, jaybirdsport.com, out now