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A couple of years ago, Spotify’s year-end wrapup revealed that I’d streamed more audio content (totaling over 150,000 minutes!) than 99 percent of its U.S. users. I listen to a lot of music, needless to say: Whether I’m writing, cooking, cleaning, shopping, or in transit, there’s always something playing in the background. Unshockingly, I own not one but several pairs of headphones, each reserved for a different purpose. My AirPod Pros, for instance, are perfect travel companions, while my plush over-the-ear set from Sony is a permanent fixture on my desk (where I like listening to hype classical music while doing work). 

But for exercise, I wanted something secure, yet pocket-sized and lightweight. I spent hours researching the biggest factors to consider before buying workout headphones. Based on my findings, I decided to target a wireless in-ear model that offered superior sound quality and stability—and looked good, to boot. Ultimately, I chose a device that fit all of my criteria, and came from a brand I’ve long trusted.

In the market for headphones that would perform well at the gym, on a hike, or even in a pool? Read on for a few points you should ponder before purchasing a new pair.  

What to Consider Before Buying the Best Headphones for Working Out:

Form: What style of headphones do you prefer? There are over-the-ear models, which have soft cups that engulf your ears, connected by a thick headband; bone-conduction varieties, which rest outside your ears and send sound waves through your skull; in-ear monitoring (IEM) buds, which plug into your ear canals and provide great noise isolation; and ergonomic sets with ear hooks, which offer more security. And of course, there are wired and wireless versions of almost every type. Overwhelmed by all the options? Just pick the kind that best suits your personality and favorite forms of exercise. 

Battery Life: How long is your average workout? If you’re looking for headphones to wear on quick gym runs, a short battery life shouldn’t be a dealbreaker. But if you’re planning to use them during triathlons, longer-lasting models are a must. Note that the battery-life spans listed below are based on how long a device can last between charges, and doesn’t take into account any extra juice that can be stored in its case.

Also keep in mind that headphones with active noise canceling (ANC)—which reduces background noise by neutralizing external sound waves—tend to require more power while in that mode. So if that feature is important to you, aim for an option with a longer battery life. 

Water Resistance: How likely are your headphones to get drenched wet? For those who enjoy exercising outdoors, it would be best to invest in a set that’s rated at least IPX4, which is code for splashproof and capable of withstanding a little rain and sweat. (For a more detailed explanation on IP ratings—which determine how resistant a product is to solids and liquids—click here.) Swimmers, on the other hand, should opt for a device with an IPX7 or IPX8 rating, which indicates it can be fully immersed to a certain degree. 

Best Noise-Canceling Workout Headphones

For those who use exercise as a way to escape reality, this premium pair of headphones does a phenomenal job blocking out all kinds of sound—so you’ll never be bothered by the shrieks, clinks, and clangs of surrounding machines. Unlike some over-the-ear sets that can feel clunky and constricting, this dapper model—available in a handful of fun colors—is super comfy and lightweight, with cups that are soft enough to keep your ears from feeling crushed. And it provides up to 20 hours of nonstop playback—so you have plenty of time to get lost in your own world.

Style: Over-the-ear.
Battery Life: 20 hours.
Water Resistance: IPX4 (resistant to light rain and sweat).

Most Durable Workout Headphones

Crafted out of shatter-resistant sapphire glass and housed in a Kevlar charging case for added protection, these metallic buds are built to endure even the most vigorous workouts. They offer both active noise-canceling and ambient listening modes—not to mention intuitive controls and the ability to customize your sound profile through the M&D app. Choose from five silicone and two foam ear tips for the best custom fit, and tack on the MC100 Charge Pad for effortless wireless charging. 

Style: Wireless in-ear.
Battery Life: 12 hours.
Water Resistance: IPX4 (resistant to light rain and sweat).

Best Workout Headphones for Running

I’m not a runner—but I know a few, and they all swear by these bud-free headphones, which allow you to listen to your favorite playlist or podcast without losing awareness of your environment. Featuring a lightweight, wraparound titanium frame that won’t budge while you’re jogging, the Bluetooth-compatible set features bone-conduction technology that delivers premium audio through your cheekbone. Bonus: Just a quick five-minute charge will give you an extra 1.5 hours of juice, so you can go for miles and miles. 

Style: Bone conduction.
Battery Life: 10 hours.
Water Resistance: IPX5 (resistant to heavy rain and sweat).

Best High-Fashion Workout Headphones

Guaranteed to turn heads, this chic set—a nod to the designer’s Tambour Horizon Light Up watch—is made of aluminum and sapphire glass etched with LV’s signature flower motif. Equipped with both ambient listening and noise-canceling modes, the beautifully crafted pair lights up in a brilliant array of hues while in use. Made of polished stainless-steel, the matching charging case showcases an LED light ring with the same Connected Monogram pattern. The Bluetooth-compatible buds also come with a matte-black case with a snap hook that lets you clip it anywhere for easy access. 

Style: Wireless in-ear.
Battery Life: 12 hours.
Water Resistance: IPX5 (resistant to heavy rain and sweat).

Best Cold-Weather Workout Headphones

If hitting the slopes is part of your regular fitness routine, these headphones are a smart investment. Compatible with most audio-ready helmets, the compact set—which has been rigorously tested in subzero temperatures—touts glove-friendly controls and a built-in, hands-free mic that allows you to pick up a call mid-run (without the risk of dropping your phone in the snow). 

Style: Over the ear (helmet not included).
Battery Life: 10 hours.
Water Resistance: IPX5 (resistant to heavy rain and sweat).

Best Luxury Workout Headphones

Fitted with sumptuous lambskin ear cushions and memory foam, this gilded model boasts both enviable looks and superb sound. Bang & Olufsen has been producing unparalleled audio for nearly a century, and these gorgeous foldable headphones—which come in an elegant aluminum case—epitomize the high quality, design, and craftsmanship the Danish brand is well known for. Noteworthy technical features include four built-in microphones and user-friendly controls that let you easily toggle between the noise-canceling and transparency modes.  

Style: Over-the-ear.
Battery Life: 38 hours.
Water Resistance: None.

Best Workout Headphones for HIIT

Always afraid your headphones will come loose mid-burpee or sprint? A modern, ergonomic design with adjustable hooks keeps these wireless headphones stuck to your ear, no matter how you move. Compatible with both iOS and Android, the high-performance pair is sweat and water resistant and supports spatial audio, with each bud equipped with full volume and track controls. 

Style: Wireless with ear hooks.
Battery Life: 9 hours.
Water Resistance: IPX4 (resistant to light rain and sweat).

Best Wired Workout Headphones

If you’d rather stick to old-school wired headphones that you can drape around your neck (and won’t fall into a sewer in case they get knocked out), these sleek IEMs are for you. Showcasing precision-milled housing carved out of a single block of aluminum, the hand-assembled pair—fully crafted in Germany—is resistant to corrosion and compatible with a variety of mobile devices. It also comes with three detachable cables and two types of ear tips (foam and silicone), each with three different sizes—so you’re bound to find the right fit.

Style: Wired in-ear.
Battery Life: N/A.
Water Resistance: None.

Best Waterproof Headphones

Capable of being submerged in fresh or saltwater as deep as 6.5 feet for up to 30 minutes, this wraparound headset is perfect for water sports and swimming. The Bluetooth-compatible piece can store up to 4GB of audio content but also supports streaming from your smartphone. Plus, it can stand extreme temperatures (read: between 23 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit), making it fit for even the toughest terrains.

Style: Wraparound in-ear.
Battery Life: 12 hours.
Water Resistance: IPX8 (fully immersible).

Best Overall Workout Headphones

Arguably the top audio company in the U.S., Bose has consistently churned out pro-grade speakers and headphones since the 1960s. I’ve bought a number of its products in the past, many of which ended up lasting way longer than I expected. My latest purchase from the iconic brand are these glossy buds, which offer great noise isolation, three listening modes, and good stability, with nine different fin and ear tip combinations. They might not take the cake in any particular category, but they check all the boxes, providing excellent comfort, security, sound quality, and portability. 

Style: Wireless in-ear.
Battery Life: 6 hours.
Water Resistance: IPX4 (resistant to light rain and sweat).

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