Great Workout Headphones
These wireless models stand up to sweat, stay in place, and deliver on sound quality
No matter how you burn your calories, a great-sounding pair of workout headphones can be just the thing to keep you moving. We think the best options for most people are wireless headphones because cables can be annoying, whether you’re out for a run or lifting weights at the gym. Every pair here is advertised as water-resistant (CR doesn’t test that feature), so you can get your sweat on without worrying. One model is even marketed for swimming.
You have more choices of wireless models than ever. These models are ubiquitous in part because it’s getting hard to find a phone with a headphone jack. But smartphones aside, wired headphones just can’t keep up with the flexibility that comes with Bluetooth, especially when you’re working up a sweat.
The workout headphones listed below get high marks in Consumer Reports’ tests on criteria including sound quality, features, comfort, and fit. If you’re a Consumer Reports member, you can also browse through more than 170 headphones of all kinds in our headphone ratings.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds are some of the best-scoring portable Bluetooth headphones Consumer Reports has ever tested. That’s all the more impressive given their true wireless design and a price that often dips under $100.
The Galaxy Buds produce exemplary audio quality packed into a pair of unobtrusive earpieces, complete with touch controls for playback, volume, and skipping tracks. According to Samsung, they have a 6-hour battery life and come with a powered carrying case that will recharge the earphones for up to 7 additional hours on the go. The case itself can be charged with a wireless charging mat, and it’s small compared with the cases that come with many true wireless models.
Based on our most recent member survey, Samsung headphones earn solid scores for reliability and owner satisfaction.
Music is great while you’re working out, but cutting yourself off from your environment isn’t always convenient—or safe. Enter the Bose Sport Open Earbuds. This true wireless model has a non-isolating design that lets in outside sound on purpose, so you should have an easier time hearing traffic approaching when you’re on a run.
They have hooks to keep the earbuds in place while you move around, and they sit on rather than in your ears, which some people find more comfortable. And these headphones deliver above-average sound quality. According to Bose, they have an 8-hour battery life and a quick-charge feature for 3 extra hours after 30 minutes of plug-in time. But unlike most true wireless headphones, this model’s carrying case doesn’t double as a portable charger.
In our latest member survey, Bose’s regular stereo headphones earn top marks for owner satisfaction and a solid reliability rating.
Serious athletes or just about any runner will probably tell you that carrying a phone around to hear tunes is a real pain. With the Audio-Technica ATH-SPORT90BTBK SonicSport, you don’t have to. These headphones have a built-in music player with 4 gigabytes of internal storage, so you can load them up with songs or podcasts when you want to leave your other devices at home.
This model has great sound quality, a 6-hour battery life, and a quick-charging feature. They also have handy magnets in the earpieces to hold them in place around your neck when you aren’t listening, and a novel function that pauses your audio when the magnets come into contact with each other.
Adding to the appeal, Audio-Technica gets outstanding ratings for reliability and owner satisfaction.
If you love your gym but hate the music it plays, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds may be just what you’re looking for. These true wireless headphones get top marks for noise cancellation, which you can turn up or down to suit your environment. They also deliver above-average sound quality.
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds have a number of other appealing features, such as built-in tech that the company says makes it easier to hear your own voice during phone calls, and an auto-pause feature that stops playback when you take the headphones out and restarts it when you put them back in.
Bose advertises a 6-hour battery life backed up by the headphones’ charging/carrying case, which should recharge your headphones twice on the go before the case needs to be plugged in again. In our latest member survey, Bose earns outstanding ratings for reliability and owner satisfaction.
The Skullcandy Dime True Wireless earphones are an absolute steal at $25. Their sound quality isn’t outstanding, but it’s above average—and very impressive considering the price. They have an advertised 3.5-hour battery life and a carrying/charging case good for an additional 8.5 hours of power.
One caveat: Skullcandy received a dismal rating for owner satisfaction in our latest member survey on headphones. That doesn’t necessarily mean every Skullcandy product is a dud, though, and the Dime may be worth a gamble at this price.
All the headphones on this list are advertised as water-resistant. The JBL Endurance Dive takes things further. According to JBL, they’re suitable for swimming, good for people who get their workouts in a pool.
Of course, you probably won’t want to take your phone in the water to supply tunes, but the Dive has a built-in MP3 player so you won’t have to. They also have technology that automatically powers the headphones on and off as you put them on or remove them, and a short collar that sits close to the neck and may help keep them secure. The sound quality is above average, though not quite as good as that of the other models on this list. But for a model under $100, these headphones are still a decent choice for critical listeners.
One caveat: Because of JBL’s mediocre reliability rating, this model doesn’t earn a high enough score to receive an official CR recommendation. But if you need headphones for the pool, it’s worth considering.