Which headphones are best for exercising outside?

Choosing the right pair of headphones for exercise takes a little extra time, especially if you work out in the great outdoors. You may want to be aware of your surroundings, such as other people or traffic, or you may want to drown out the sounds of the gym with a noise-canceling feature. Whether you prefer on-ear headphones, earbuds or bone conduction technology, there are plenty of models available with great sound quality, reasonable prices, advanced features or some combination of the three.

Best earbuds for outdoor exercise

Earbuds are a go-to style for indoor and outdoor exercise, mainly because they’re compact, lightweight and often connect to your smartphone easily via BlueTooth. No matter your budget, there are plenty of great in-ear models to choose from, many of which are versatile enough to wear just about anywhere. Compared to other exercise-friendly headphone styles, earbuds generally offer more premium features, such as advanced Bluetooth codecs and active noise canceling.

Jabra Elite 4 Active

Jabra Elite 4 Active

These true wireless earbuds have it all, including a secure fit, great sound quality and active noise canceling. It also has an optional transparency mode that lets you hear your surroundings. You can opt for the Elite 7 Active, which is Jabra’s more premium option. It has slightly better battery life and sound quality but is more expensive and doesn’t support the aptX codec.

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Anker Soundcore Life A2 NC

Anker Soundcore Life A2 NC+

If you want several advanced features without spending a fortune, consider these updated in-ear headphones from Anker. Their multimode noise cancellation offers indoor, outdoor and transport settings that block out different sounds. These modes allow you to enjoy your music while being aware of what’s happening around you. 

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Beats Powerbeats Pro

Beats Powerbeats Pro

Whether you’re running in the woods or lifting at the gym, the Powerbeats Pro are some of the most comfortable and secure earbuds available. Thanks to their powerful Apple H1 processor, they deliver great audio and enhanced bass response.

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Anker Soundcore Life P2i

Anker Soundcore Life P2i

These are great general-purpose earbuds for anyone who wants to save a little money. While they lack most advanced features, they have a long battery life, are lightweight and use Bluetooth 5.2 for a robust wireless connection. 

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Anker Soundcore Spirit X2

Anker Soundcore Spirit X2

Anyone who has trouble with earbuds staying in their ears should consider this option from Anker due to their comfortable ear hooks. They’re completely waterproof, with an IP68 rating, so they’ll hold up even if you get caught in heavy rain. 

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Bose Sport

Bose Sport

From one of the most well-known headphone manufacturers, these are a great choice if you value premium sound quality in addition to comfort and convenience. If you want active noise canceling, however, you’ll have to invest in their more expensive relative, the Bose QuietComfort earbuds.

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Best on-ear headphones for outdoor exercise

Over-ear headphones generally don’t work as well for exercise because they’re bulky and hot. On-ear headphones, however, are ideal for people who dislike the fit and feel of earbuds. If you’re one of those people, there are some excellent on-ear models specifically designed for breathability and comfort during exercise. Another benefit of on-ear headphones is that you can hear more of your surroundings.

Adidas RPT-01

Adidas RPT-01

If you don’t like earbuds, the Adidas RPT-01 should be at the top of your list due to the removable and washable knit ear cushions. They are well-ventilated, and the IPX4 rating means they’re resistant to sweat. The control knob is easy to use, even when you’re exercising. 

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Plantronics BackBeat Fit 500

Plantronics BackBeat Fit 500

Ideal for those with small ears, the Fit 500 is compact and weighs just over 5 ounces. They’re equipped with nano-coating that can repel a significant amount of water, and they’re incredibly affordable too. 

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JBL Tune 600BTNC

JBL Tune 600BTNC

These are one of the extremely rare on-ear models that boasts active noise canceling, which makes them more versatile than much of the competition. If you don’t need noise canceling and want to save money, consider their more affordable option, the JBL Tune 500BT.

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Best bone conduction headphones for outdoor exercise

Bone conduction technology creates a different sound than normal headphones. Instead of pumping sound directly into your ears, they send vibrations through the bone and cartilage in the sides of your head. As a result, bone conduction headphones let 100% of outside sounds pass through, so you’ll be aware of your surroundings.

The downside of bone conduction is that they don’t deliver much bass, and if your headphones don’t fit right, you’ll have trouble hearing some genres of music. On the other hand, bone conduction headphones are great for vocal-centric music or podcasts and perfect for passing the time while running or lifting weights.

Shokz OpenRun Pro

Shokz OpenRun Pro

These are the most refined model yet from the premier manufacturer of bone conduction headphones, and they offer a better fit. They have a better overall sound than any others on the market. The only drawback is that they’re relatively expensive. 

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Shokz OpenMove

Shokz OpenMove

If you want bone conduction headphones but don’t want to spend a fortune, this is an effective pair that’s sweat-resistant, moisture-resistant and uses Bluetooth 5.0. Their six-hour battery life will last you through your longest workouts. 

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Acreo OpenBuds

Acreo OpenBuds

The Acreo OpenBuds lie somewhere between bone conduction and typical wireless earbuds. They use more traditional dynamic drivers like normal headphones but lack the ear tips that many find uncomfortable. These earbuds do a better job of transmitting bass than normal bone conduction does.

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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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