running headphones

While many over-the-ear headphones offer uncompromising audio, even the most rigid audiophiles must consider fit, battery life, water resistance and durability if they’re going for a run. Luckily, some in-ear headphones don’t compromise much on quality.

The team at SpecOut compiled a list of the best headphones for running. Every pair is in-ear style, fits into the “sport” category and features a built-in volume remote. We’ve included a mix of traditional and wireless headphones, the latter of which are beginning to break into the market as price-competitive alternatives.

The headphones are ranked from lowest to highest Smart Rating, which factors in expert ratings, sensitivity, low and high frequency, and additional features. Note: Though price is noted on each slide, it is not a factor of the Smart Rating.

Compare smartphones, tablets and more through SpecOut’s app on the Google Play Store.

#21. Denon AH-W150

Smart Rating: 74.95Price: $99Wireless: YesWeight: 23 gAvailable Color(s): Blue, Black, Yellow

Although they’re pricier than the average in-ears, these sport headphones achieve better external noise reduction without sacrificing portability. Sweat proof and comfortable, the built-in mic lets users switch between streaming music and phone calls.

#20. Polk Audio Nue Era

Smart Rating: 75.35Price: $45Wireless: NoWeight: 110 gAvailable Color(s): Tortoise, Black

Occasional distortion issues, which are limited to loud sub-bass, are balanced with these headphones by mids and highs that are crisp and true. Multiple ear-tip options are available and the inline remote gels well with mobile devices.

#19. SOUL SL99

Smart Rating: 75.48Price: $55Wireless: NoWeight: 18 gAvailable Color(s): Black

Built to handle the strong basses associated with pop or rock, these in-ear sport headphones are branded by hip-hop artist Ludacris. The SL99 can handle deep, thumping bass at volumes that would result in devastating distortion with most headphones in this price range.

#18. Sennheiser CX 686G SPORTS

Smart Rating: 76.91Price: $70Wireless: NoWeight: 22.7 gAvailable Color(s): Green

Secure, easily adjustable and complete with an inline remote, these in-ear headphones are equipped with interchangeable inserts. Strong, bass-receptive audio means they can follow you out of the gym.

#17. Westone ADV Alpha

Smart Rating: 78Price: $250Wireless: NoWeight: 17 gAvailable Color(s): Grey/Black

These crossover headphones are rugged and waterproof with hi-fi level audio. The unit is not cheap, but the detail, dynamic expression and depth give users exactly what they pay for.

#16. Soul Flex

Smart Rating: 78.72Price: $69.99Wireless: NoWeight: 18 gAvailable Color(s): Green, Blue

Although they can be a bit bass heavy, and the in-ear buds can be tough to get out, these sport headphones are comfy and produce excellent sound. This is especially true for dance music, hip-hop, metal and other workout-friendly tunes.

#15. Klipsch Image S4i

Smart Rating: 78.8Price: $100Wireless: NoWeight: 11.9 gAvailable Color(s): Black,White

Offering truly exceptional sound for the money, this unit goes beyond smartphone compatibility to offer extras like iPod playback. A drawback reported by some users is the thin, tangle-prone cord.

#14. Optoma NuForce BE6

Smart Rating: 79.5Price: $119Wireless: YesWeight: 16 gAvailable Color(s): Gold, Grey

With virtually none of the compromises that plague most ultra-compact sport headphones, the BE6 stand out because they look like traditional earbuds. Not only do they stay secure during bouncing exercises like jogging, but they have bold, easy-to-access controls.

#13. Klipsch Image S5i Rugged

Smart Rating: 82.27Price: $130Wireless: NoWeight: 11.9 gAvailable Color(s): Black

Water resistant, rugged and durable, these sport headphones produce excellent audio overall — including deep, pounding bass. They also are a good fit for sports that require helmets, like snowboarding, skiing and cycling.

#12. Sennheiser OCX 686G SPORTS

Smart Rating: 83.4Price: $109.95Wireless: NoWeight: 23 gAvailable Color(s): Green

On top of the excellent build and design, these sport headphones offer well-controlled bass and strong isolation. Incredibly light, they come with an in-line remote housed under the Y splitter.

#11. Jabra Rox

Smart Rating: 83.83Price: $79.99Wireless: YesWeight: 18 gAvailable Color(s): Black

Perfect for bass-heavy music during a demanding workout, these wireless headphones are Bluetooth ready. Near field communication enabled, the magnetic earpieces keep the cable free of annoying tangles.

#10. Yurbuds Leap Wireless

Smart Rating: 84.22Price: $100Wireless: YesWeight: 17.2 gAvailable Color(s): Black

The $100 price point is a crowded field, and this wireless set boasts both audio and a secure fit that rivals most of the competition. Although the bass response is not booming, the headphones are washable and come with removable tips, which makes them perfect for runners.

#9. Klipsch S4i Rugged

Smart Rating: 84.37Price: $78Wireless: NoWeight: 14.7 gAvailable Color(s): Red, Blue, Orange, Yellow

An excellent mid-range set of sport earbuds, some runners complain that the buds don’t always stay in. The sporty look, ease of use and quality sound, however, make them a great step up from entry level.

#8. Plantronics BackBeat Go 2

Smart Rating: 84.8Price: $44.12Wireless: YesWeight: 14 gAvailable Color(s): Black, White

With a relatively short battery life acting as the only true spoiler, this wireless headset compensates with a case that includes a built-in battery for mobile charging. Although it looks similar to the original BackBeat Go, new engineering launches it near the top of the $100 Bluetooth class.

#7. Phiaton MODERNA MS 200

Smart Rating: 87.09Price: $82.52Wireless: NoWeight: 5.6 gAvailable Color(s): Black,Red

Bass enthusiasts will love the clarity and lack of distortion, even at loud, thumping volumes. Although the eartips don’t always form a perfect seal, purists love the clean sound.

#6. Jabra Sport Coach

Smart Rating: 87.48Price: $128.99Wireless: YesWeight: 16 gAvailable Color(s): Blue/Grey,Red/Grey,Yellow/Grey

Not only does the Coach offer powerful Bluetooth sound, but it provides runners with added fitness app functionality. Bass lovers will not be blown away, but these headphones provide all-around strong, exercise-centric functionality.

#5. Sennheiser CX 275s

Smart Rating: 88.41Price: $39.33Wireless: NoWeight: 15 gAvailable Color(s): Black

Although the sound can at times be tinny and shallow, these headphones boast impressive bass response. Not only are they secure and smartly designed, but they are affordable when considering their functionality.

#4. AKG K391 NC

Smart Rating: 88.97Price: $199.95Wireless: NoWeight: 8 gAvailable Color(s): Black/Silver

With strong, in-canal noise-canceling technology, these sport headphones provide a strong sound signature that isn’t muddled with distortion. The bass response is powerful and they offer convenient USB charging.

#3. Audio-Technica ATH-CKX9iS SonicFuel

Smart Rating: 92.33Price: $66Wireless: NoWeight: 10 gAvailable Color(s): Black, Silver

With enough bass to get by, SonicFuel is built with in-ear security in mind. Although single button controls can be tedious, strong highs and powerful bass adjustment make for overall powerful audio.

#2. Atomic Floyd SuperDarts

Smart Rating: 92.91Price: $260.15Wireless: NoWeight: 5.6 gAvailable Color(s): Red/Black

With a sleek, V-shaped design, these in-ear headphones provide amazing bass and super-crisp highs. Although they are not priced for the casual listener, enthusiasts will appreciate the overall quality.

#1. Logitech UE 900

Smart Rating: 96.63Price: $299.99Wireless: NoWeight: 16 gAvailable Color(s): Blue

Pricing out all but the most committed audiophiles, the UE 900 provides enough sound quality and accessories to justify the price. Moderately elevated highs back up strong bass performance.

Compare Headphones on SpecOut