12 Best Sport Headphones for Any Recreation

Last updated: 2 months ago, May. 12. 2020
Article Contents

    Find good sports headphones for recreation and physical activity. Enjoy your pastime with music in your ears.

    Comparison of Sport Headphones

    TypeMic & Controls
    Jabra Elite Active 75t
    best overall
    More info
    under $200IP57 (IPX7)
    7 hours+
    20h in case
    true wireless
    Beats PowerBeats Pro
    best bass
    More info
    under $250IPX49 hours+
    (Lightning to USB)
    true wireless
    Jaybird X4
    best sound
    More info
    under $100IPX78 hours

    best bone conduction
    More info
    under $160IPX7
    8 hours
    bone conduction
    BackBeat FIT 500

    best on-ear
    More info
    under $80sweatproof18 hours
    Key Series T10

    best affordable TWS
    More info
    under $120IPX57 hours
    true wireless
    Key Series B80

    great value
    More info
    under $100IPX68 hours

    SwimBuds Flip

    best for swimming
    More info
    under $40IPX8n/a
    Jlab Audio Jbuds Air
    best under $50
    More info
    under $50IPX56 hours
    +15h in case
    true wireless
    Bose SoundSport
    best wired
    More info
    under $50IPX4n/a
    Bluetooth Earbuds

    best battery
    More info
    under $20IPX724 hours
    Aukey EP-T21
    best cheap
    More info
    under $30IPX44.5 hours
    20h in case

    If you are looking for headphones for physical activity, there is specific criteria to consider.

    • Will they get in the way of your sports activity?
    • Do you need to hear what is going on around you?
    • Will they stand up to movement and activity?

    We’ve explored the best sport headphones in this guide, as well as providing information on how you can choose the right model for you.

    Table of Contents

      Check related:

      Best workout headphones for the gym

      Top headphones for running

      The best swimming headphones

      What Features Make Good Sport Headphones?

      Naturally, there are certain features to look for. A quick overview of the essential features should include:

      • Water resistance. If your sport is played outdoors, then you will want them to be able to stand up to rain.
      • Battery life. If you’ve gone for wireless, long battery life will help, especially with sports played over long times like trail cycling.
      • Stability. Earbuds constantly falling out is infuriating and defeats the purpose.
      • Durability. You want to wear your pair of headphones and stay confident they won’t break. Sports can be strenuous, and you need a sturdy option.

      Best Sport Headphones

      1. Jabra Elite Active 75t (best overall)

      Jabra Elite Active 75t black earphones

      The best sports headphones overall

      Jabra Elite Active 75t are even better than their equally sporty predecessor.

      See the Jabra Elite Active 75t review.

      Type: True wireless
      Bluetooth 5.0
      Water-protection: IP57 (IPX7)
      Battery life: Over 7 hours (20h of battery in the case)

      Why Buy These?

      For all kinds of sports, the Jabra Elite Active 75t are the best choice.

      You can use them for blocking background noise, or activate HearThrough mode when you need awareness (like when running).

      They stick in the ears like glue, and it’s hard to lose them during activity.

      To make sure the music keeps playing, you get 7 hours of battery per charge and 20h more in the case. With full physical controls and a 4-microphone system, you can make phone calls hands-free.

      Plus, IP57 water resistance makes these good sport headphones that stand up to the outdoor elements and a dip in the water.

      The Bad

      Since they’re premium sport headphones, they cost a bit more. All sounds come from the middle of your head.

      The Sound

      Jabra Elite Active 75t have a bass-boosted sound that can be equalized with the Sound+ app. Thanks to the app, you can make them sound great for all types of music. Find out more in the review.

      The best and most versatile sports headphones, the Jabra Elite Active 75t, make the competition scared.

      Check the full Jabra Elite Active 75t review.

      2. Beats PowerBeats Pro (best bass)

       Beats PowerBeats Pro

      Best bass earbuds for sports

      True wireless earbuds are the top option for all types of sports and PowerBeats Pro are among the best with fantastic battery life and bass-heavy sound.

      Read the full PowerBeats Pro review.

      Type: True wireless
      Bluetooth 5.0
      Water-protection: IPX4 sweatproof
      Battery life: 9 hours (24 hours in case)

      Why Buy These?

      If you need headphones for recreation that require a stable fit, like basketball, then these are the top choice.

      They stick in ears amazingly well even if you do gymnastics. Lightweight design with ear hooks stick to the head like glue.

      You can enjoy music for over 9 hours per charge, and there’s enough juice for 24h in the charging case. It’s super quick too. For a 5-minute charge you get 1.5h of playback.

      For everyday convenience, you can make phone calls and make voice commands with the help of built-in microphones. And, you can control music and volume with built-in physical buttons that are easy to use.

      Plus, they’re water resistant with IPX4 protection.

      The Bad

      A bit more expensive. The earphones might be uncomfortable for people with smaller ears.

      The Sound

      What you can expect from Beats is strong bass and PowerBeats Pro deliver. An emphasis on lows and highs makes for a nice V-shaped sound that creates a sporty feeling in music.

      It’s suitable for all genres but these are the best for bass intensive songs that have the beat.

      Beats PowerBeats Pro offer fantastic battery and stability for every bass lover who wants a pair of sports true wireless earbuds.

      See the full Beats PowerBeats Pro review.

      3. Jaybird X4 (best EQ)

      Jaybird X4 wireless sports earbuds

      The best sports earbuds with sound equalization

      If you love that extra bit of control that an EQ can give, these wireless buds could be great for you. You can match your music genres to different EQ settings for listening pleasure.

      Read the full Jaybird X4 review.

      Type: in-ear
      Connection: Bluetooth
      Water-protection: IPX7 (fully waterproof)
      Battery life: Up to 8 hours

      Why Buy These?

      With a great noise-isolating design, the X4 earphones are a better option than the Tarah, which are another model within the brand’s range. The X4 come with better battery life and design while costing almost the same.

      You can use the app EQ (equalization) to give your music a bass boost or change the sound signature to your preference. There are many presets to choose from that offer you virtually unlimited options.

      They have an 8-hour battery life, which is decent, but the charger itself is proprietary, which can be an annoyance.

      For a comfy fit, the earphones have Comply Ultra memory foam tips. These adjust their shape to fit in ears with the warmth of your ear canals.

      Also, they’ve got IPX7 protection that’s perfect for sports (can be submerged but don’t work).

      The Bad

      One area which lets these buds down is the build quality. It’s below average, and while we didn’t find any faults with them during our testing, there are more negative reports about durability than usual.

      Jaybird offers a warranty which you should take advantage of if you find your X4s to kick the bucket.

      Also, the charging cable is specific to the brand, meaning an extra proprietary cable to use.

      The Sound

      The sound is excellent with wide frequency response, and the extra bonus of an EQ app will satisfy even the more demanding users.

      You can make them bass-heavy or flatten them out to a natural-sounding signature. It’s simple to use with a smartphone app, and you can even create custom presets for yourself.

      For the best sound in corded Bluetooth pastime earbuds, consider the Jaybird X4.

      There is more info in the full Jaybird X4 review.

      4. AfterShokz Aeropex (best bone conduction)

      AfterShokz Aeropex

      Best bone conduction sport headphones

      Bone conduction headphones offer a different way to listen to music and keep the ear canals open to hearing your surroundings.

      Read the full AfterShokz Aeropex review.

      Type: Bone conduction
      Connection: Bluetooth
      Water-protection: IP67 (fully waterproof)
      Battery life: Up to 8 hours

      Why Buy These?

      Bone conduction headphones have given us a new option. The AfterShokz Aeropex vibrate the sound through bones rather than into the ear canal.

      The main advantage of these is unobstructed hearing and perfect awareness of your surroundings.

      The brand has a number of patents for bone conduction technology. PremiumPitch 2+ is one of the upgraded tech features which improved the bass to cut through better.

      Moreover, the lightweight (26g) and titanium headband make for a super comfortable fit that’s suitable for all kinds of pastime.

      The Bad

      You can feel the vibrations and not everyone likes it. Sound quality isn’t as good as with conventional headphones.

      The Sound

      The sound fidelity is wonderful, and the technology which boosts the bass makes these the best bone conduction headphones yet.

      There are no bone-conducting alternatives with better sound than these. All that said, compared to regular drivers, it still lacks a bit of bass and clarity in highs.

      For the top choice of headphones with perfect awareness, get the AfterShokz Aeropex that are a favorite among many elite athletes.

      Check the full Aeropex review.

      5. Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 (best on-ear)

      Plantronics BackBeat Fit 500

      Best on-ear sports headphones

      On-ear headphones aren’t always the most stable choice. However, these offer a brilliant solution for those who like the feel of on-ears.

      Type: On-ear
      Connection: Bluetooth
      Water-protection: Sweat resistant with P2i nano-coating
      Battery life: Up to 18 hours

      Why Buy These?

      The Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 have comfort on their side. Memory foam earpads and headband give a cushy feeling.

      Though some people don’t enjoy on-ear headphones for recreation, these have been built for being active. There’s P2i coating which also resists moisture, both sweat, and rainy conditions.

      Plus, the battery life is better than with in-ears at 18 hours.

      For less strenuous activity without a lot of head movement, these are great.

      The Bad

      Bluetooth issues sometimes occur; they can forget connections, so you have to restart the linking process.

      Also, on-ear options don’t have the same stability. If your head moves fast during sports, they may fall off.

      The Sound

      The sound is of good quality without being amazing. The power and frequency response of these action headphones are definitely above average and more than adequate for most active users.

      The bass is punchy enough to give you a good rhythm and keep you pumped for more.

      If on-ear is your preference, your answer is the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500.

      6. Aukey Key Series T10 (affordable true wireless)

      Aukey Key Series T10

      Best affordable true wireless headphones for sports

      TWS earbuds are convenient and popular, though, they can be pricey. In contrast, this is an affordable option with excellent features.

      Check the full Aukey T10 review.

      Type: true wireless
      Connection: Bluetooth
      Water-protection: IPX5 waterproof
      Battery life: Up to 7 hours (charging case can increase this to 24 hours)

      Why Buy These?

      The cost of around $100 is a huge plus point, but there’s plenty on offer with these buds besides the price benefits.

      It charges using a USB-C charger, and there is also a charging case which can turn the overall battery life from 7 into 24 hours.

      You can control the TWS earphones while playing sports by tapping the earpieces.

      A built-in mic allows you to make phone calls, and stability wings in different sizes make sure they stay put throughout the exercise.

      The Bad

      The main downside is the fact that the controls (tapping on the earpieces) can be a little awkward. Some users have also reported a patchy connection to Bluetooth.

      The Sound

      For the price point, the sound quality is perfectly acceptable, and the bass frequencies are particularly strong.

      The audio quality is geared towards on the go use, which means lower frequencies (bass) is more prominent.

      For affordable true wireless earbuds for sports, opt for the Aukey Key Series T10.

      More info in the Aukey T10 review.

      7. Aukey Key Series B80 (best under $100)

      Aukey Key Series B80

      Best sport headphones under $100

      A $100 budget should be plenty for a good set of wireless sport headphones. The Aukey B80 model proves this is the case.

      Read the full Aukey B80 review.

      Type: In-ear (with ear hooks)
      Connection: Bluetooth
      Water-protection: IPX6 – waterproof
      Battery life: Up to 8 hours

      Why Buy These?

      These earbuds have been created for activity, and are good for inside sports as well as outdoors.

      The stability is provided by ear hooks which keep things steady. Also, memory foam ear tips give extra comfort and comfort to your ear canal perfectly.

      Though not noise-canceling, they are noise isolating and do a decent job of blocking a lot of background noise.

      8 hours of battery life is solid, and 10-minutes of USB-C charging gives you 2-hours of listening time if you need to quick charge.

      IPX6 protection is pretty standard and gives rain and sweat protection. You can even wash them under tap water.

      The Bad

      The only criticism we have is that they generate a silent white noise when active. It’s only audible at really low volumes.

      The Sound

      The price isn’t the only thing to like. The sound is balanced, and the dual driver design means there’s a little extra volume and power.

      The bass isn’t overpowering but still gets punchy and gives rhythm to the music. It’s suitable for all genres.

      For affordable wireless fitness earbuds that won’t break the bank, consider the Aukey Key Series B80.

      Find more in the full Aukey B80 review.

      More: Find top wireless buds under $100

      8. SwimBuds Flip + iPod Shuffle by Underwater Audio (best for swimming)

      iPod Underwater Audio Swimbuds Flip

      Best headphones combo for swimming

      If you’re into swimming and water sports, you will need a specifically built set of headphones that work underwater. These are the go-to option.

      Find more swimming headphones.

      Type: In-ear
      Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
      Water-protection: IPX 8 submersible
      Battery life: n/a

      Why Buy These?

      Though not relevant for those who aren’t exercising in water, these can be an amazingly useful design for underwater.

      They are totally submersible and connect via a golden cable to a waterproof iPod shuffle. You can go up to 10 feet deep without worries.

      The Swimbuds, as the name suggests, are specifically designed for swimming and come with 11 pairs of eartips, so you can choose the right size for you.

      This combo of waterproof headphones and the iPod is the most popular among serious swimmers who want to listen to music in the pool.

      The Bad

      The extra waterproof capabilities come at a price. It’s quite hefty compared to non-swimming alternatives.

      The Sound

      The sound is respectable. Clarity is often hard to achieve underwater, and volume is vital. These have plenty of power so you can hear among the underwater noises.

      Just don’t expect sonic fidelity, as it’s quite a feat to listen to music under water.

      If you need to exercise underwater and are a regular swimmer, there’s no beating the SwimBuds and iPod Shuffle combo.

      9. Jlab Audio Jbuds Air (best under $50)

      Jlab Audio Jbuds Air

      The best sports earbuds under $50

      Jlab Audio Jbuds Air are good quality true wireless earbuds that do most things right and can be yours for a cheap price. While you aren’t getting the cream of the cream, you get fantastic value for money.

      The Jlab Audio Jbuds Air review.

      Type: In-ear
      Connection: Bluetooth
      Water-protection: IPX5 – sweatproof
      Battery life: Up to 6 hours

      Why Buy These?

      Jbuds Air are versatile sports headphones that fit into many roles. You can take them on a hike, climb a mountain or kayak down the river.

      These true wireless earbuds are small and easy to pack with you. They can survive sweat or an accidental shower thanks to IPX5 rated structure.

      To keep the music playing, you get almost 6 hours per charge and 15h more in the case.

      If you feel like calling your friends or using a voice assistant, you can do so with built-in controls.

      Plus, they stay in ear really well without the need to constantly readjust.

      The Bad

      Since they’re a bit wider, they might be uncomfortable for smaller ears.

      The Sound

      Audio quality is fine for the price, but not perfect. You get to choose from 3 EQ presets (Jlab signature, balanced, and bass boost).

      While that’s a nice feature, they lack more sparkle and details compared to more expensive headphones. Nonetheless, for an average user, they’re more than good enough.

      For great affordable wireless earphones that can survive most activity, check out the Jlab audio Jbuds Air.

      Check the Jlab Audio Jbuds Air review.

      10. Bose SoundSport (best wired)

      Bose SoundSport Wired workout headphones

      Best wired sport headphones

      If you’re satisfied with wired headphones for your needs, your best option are the Bose SoundSport earbuds.

      Type: In-ear
      Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
      Water-protection: Sweatproof
      Battery life: n/a

      Why Buy These?

      These are sweatproof headphones and have a clever, comfortable design. In-line controls and microphone are included, and these earbuds generally offer plenty of good features as well as great sound.

      They are lightweight, and the way the design curves in your ear keeps them very stable. There are also 3 pairs of tips with ear wings to help them to stay in place.

      But due to the proprietary Bose ear tips which don’t go as deep into the ear canal, the noise isolation isn’t so effective. Nonetheless, this gives you better awareness of your surroundings.

      The Bad

      Wired headphones are not perfect and can rub on your skin during movement or get in the way.

      Unfortunately, a lot of sound can leak out of these, and there is not much isolation. If you’re playing with others, they may hear your earbuds.

      The Sound

      Bose has a reputation for great sound, and they’ve earned it. These have a good frequency response and crisp highs as well as full, well-rounded bass. It’s typical Bose audio quality.

      If you want wired sport headphones, SoundSport Wired are good-quality earbuds from a top brand.

      11. iTeknic BH001 (best battery)

      The longest battery earbuds for sports

      If you’re looking for monster battery life in affordable, quality earbuds, these could be your answer.

      Read the full iTeknic BH001 review.

      Type: In-ear
      Connection: Bluetooth
      Water-protection: IPX7 – fully waterproof
      Battery life: Up to 24 hours

      Why Buy These?

      The number one feature of these cheaper activity earbuds is the battery life — an incredible 24 hours of listening time.

      It might be hard to believe, but we tested it ourselves, and we really did get 1-day of music on 1 charge (full review).

      Reliable Bluetooth and reasonable stability make these a good option, though they can sometimes fall out of the ears due to larger casing.

      IPX7 protection means you can wear these in all conditions. They make good hiking headphones due to the fact they can be worn for an extended time and in the rain.

      The Bad

      The fidelity of the audio is not as good as some of the other choices, but this is natural when you think about the price point of these earbuds.

      The fit isn’t top-notch, it can get uncomfortable over long spells.

      The Sound

      The sound is respectable without being spectacular. It is more than good enough for most non-audiophiles and has a decent frequency response with a little boost in bass frequencies.

      Overall, for the cheap price and monstrous battery, iTeknic wireless earbuds have a lot to offer.

      You can read more about the battery in our full review.

      12. Aukey EP-T21 (best cheap)

      Aukey EP-T21 sweatproof earbuds in rain

      Best cheap sport earbuds

      If you need a pair of cheap headphones for sports that still do the job, then check the Aukey EP-T21 true wireless earbuds.

      Read the full Aukey T21 review.

      Type: In-ear – true wireless
      Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
      Water-protection: IPX4 – sweatproof
      Battery life: Up to 4.5 hours (20h in case)

      Why Buy These?

      Thanks to a lightweight design, they’re comfortable and suitable for all types of activity. The buds keep in place due to Airpod-like ergonomics. They’re a blatant copy, and that’s fine.

      To keep the water away, they have an IPX4 protective layer that effectively makes them sweatproof (though you can’t submerge them).

      Moreover, the battery is solid among true wireless headphones with up to 4.5 hours of battery life per charge with 20h more in the case.

      That’s plenty of time for even longer trips. And, if a friends calls you, you can talk on the go with the built-in microphone and touch controls.

      This headset has everything a modern product needs, and it’s super cheap.

      The Bad

      While the earbuds stick in the ears quite well, they do require occasional readjustments. Touch controls don’t support volume regulation.

      The Sound

      It’s not as good as with more expensive headphones, but surprisingly good for the price. With its balanced sound quality, you can enjoy all types of music or videos. Read more about it in the review.

      If you’re looking for dirt-cheap true wireless earbuds, the Aukey EP-T21 make an unbeatable offer.

      The Aukey EP-T21 review.

      Honorable Mentions

      Plantronics BackBeat FIT 350: Another great option from Plantronics offers excellent value-for-money and clear audio as well as in-ear stability. Check price

      Jaybird Tarah –  Cost almost the same as X4 but have worse battery life and more basic eartips.

      VAVA Moov 28: Cheap waterproof wireless earphones, a good alternative.

      Senso Bluetooth earbuds: Ear hook buds with Bluetooth that are popular because of their dirt-cheap price.

      Different Levels of Water Protection

      Make sure to choose the IPX for your needs.

      IPX rating - infographic

      How to Choose Sport Headphones

      Think about what features and headphone functionality you want for your needs before purchase.

      Ask yourself:

      • where do you plan to use the headphones
      • how long you will use them for
      • what features you prefer

      Are Wires an Option?

      It is recommended in most scenarios that you get wires out of the way.

      In some sports, you may get away with wearing wired earbuds. But think about how strenuous the activity is and whether the wires are likely to be a hindrance.

      Imagine wearing headphones with wires during tennis practice; they’re going to get in the way.

      We usually recommend in-ear monitors for activity, which are wireless or true wireless. They are far better suited for the job. Just make sure you get a reliable battery life and Bluetooth.

      The Environment Conditions

      Think about where your sport is taking place.

      • If you’re taking a hike in bad weather you want at least some water protection (minimum IPX4). You can choose from running earphones too.
      • Canyoning, rafting, boating, river trekking, and other water sports require high IPX protection. You can check the headphones for swimming with the highest levels of water protection (IPX7+). IPX explained here.
      • If you’re trekking outside in a city or nature, consider awareness. Being aware of your surroundings can save you from accidents. Get an open design or earphones with a shallow fit that let in more ambient noise.

      Things to Avoid When Buying Sport Headphones

      There are likely to be a lot of options which suit your needs. But not all are good. Here are some things to avoid:

      • Don’t buy headphones that struggle to stay stable over the ears. On-ears and over-ears are examples of this
      • Avoid earbuds that don’t have water resistance, especially if using outdoors
      • Dismiss wireless models with low battery life. It will only drive you mad
      • Stay away from obvious durability issues and bad user reports
      • Make sure they sound good. You don’t want headphones that aren’t up to the job in terms of audio fidelity