Jul 17, 2023

10 Best Wireless Earbuds for Working Out (2023)

Adrienne So

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Luxurious over-the-ear headphones are plush and comfortable, and they sound great. But for most everyday activities—working out, traveling, and wandering around my house pretending to put things away—I much prefer a pair of convenient, durable, wireless workout buds. Since I started testing them, their sound and comfort have improved dramatically. I trail run, hike, work on my yard, lift weights, and watch mildly embarrassing barre and yoga videos on my laptop, all while testing the best wireless workout headphones around.

If you like listening to music while scrambling up stony slopes or mowing your lawn, here are a bunch of WIRED's favorite pairs. We've worn and sweated on all of them. Don't see anything you like? Check out our Best Wirefree Earbuds, Best Cheap Headphones, Best Bluetooth Speakers, or any of our other buying guides for more.

Updated October 2023: We added the Jabra Elite 8 Active, the new AirPods Pro, the JLab Audio JBuds Mini and the Nwm MBE001. We also updated links and pricing throughout.

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Which buds are right for you? A surprising number of people still prefer corded headphones. When you're going on a long run, the last thing you want to do is stand on your front porch, shivering in your shorts, trying to figure out why the right earbud isn't connected. But for obvious reasons, wireless headphones are much more convenient when doing other strenuous physical activities.

I recommend investing in a pair that has ear hooks, clips, or fins to hold them securely in place; you can also buy ear hooks a la carte online. A tight, secure seal ensures that you get that big bass sound to power you through the last mile. Everyone's ears are different, and your left might even be different from your right. Don't be afraid to try mismatching sizes of ear tips or fins for a better fit.

One of the best qualities of Jabra is that its earbuds don't change very much. This year, the company updated the Elite 7 Active to the Elite 8 Active. When I put them on, I was overjoyed to find out that, bar a few small improvements, the earbuds feel and sound pretty much the same. Jabras are just way more comfortable and more secure and sound better than pretty much any other workout headphones I've tested.

The Elite 8 Active are now IP68 rated, which means you can accidentally run them through both the washer and the dryer and they'll survive. With a new, bigger charging case, their battery life has improved by a few hours. As someone with horrifyingly tiny ears, it's a minor miracle that Jabras fit so well. That makes the noise-canceling especially effective, but they still have Jabra's HearThrough technology to let you hear ambient noise. They're covered with a comfortable soft silicone. The buttons are satisfying to press and not too sensitive; I've never accidentally skipped or stopped music while adjusting my hair or a hat. And they sound great! I love the sparkle of the steel pedal guitar and the sweet twang of the fiddle while listening to George Strait. I love not worrying if these are going to fall out during a run even more.

Alternatives: You really don't have to buy the latest Jabra buds, ever. I've had 2021's Elite 7 Active ($165) for several years, and they still sound fantastic and are in great shape (the battery life has degraded a bit, but not irritatingly so). You can also still find the Elite 4 Active (9/10, WIRED Recommends) on sale for even cheaper.

Workout buds are getting cheaper and better all the time (I've recommended other pairs that I like below) but JLab's are really in a different class. The Go Air Sport are the sport version of the insanely affordable Go Air (8/10, WIRED Recommends), with a slight markup for over-ear hooks and case with a cover.

You just can't find buds with quality this good for this price. They come in a sturdy case with a built-in USB charger. The build quality is solid, and touch controls are not too sensitive; I don't accidentally turn off my music or turn up the volume whenever I adjust my hair or my hat. They have a solid 30 hours of battery life when you recharge them in the case—I wore them for two weeks for a few hours each day while running and walking my dog, and I never had to recharge them. And the Bluetooth connection is stronger than in other affordable earbuds that I've tried; I don't have to be wary about walking around a corner, away from my phone. As a bonus, they also come in a wide array of playful colors.

Alternative: Is your biggest problem with workout buds that you can never find the darn things when it's go time? Save yourself some trouble and attach the JBuds Mini ($40) to your gym bag. These are the cutest, tiniest headphones I've ever seen, and I'm in love. They sound decent and fit pretty well, considering how small they are. The battery life is a perfectly adequate five hours or so outside of the case, and they come in a wide variety of fun colors.

Not only are the Beats Fit Pro (9/10, WIRED Recommends) one of the best workout buds for Apple users, they're one of the best everyday buds, period. They have squishy ear tips and elegant fins (that may be a little big for smaller ears, unfortunately). They have the Apple H1 chip and pair seamlessly with Apple products, but they also have a great app for Android that includes one-touch pairing, customized controls, and a fit test.

The noise-canceling works extremely well, and you can click on a physical button on the buds to pause and let ambient noise in. The sound signature is remarkably sculptured, according to WIRED associate editor Parker Hall, meaning you can enjoy music in all genres, movies mixed in Dolby Atmos, and get great-sounding Zoom calls. Most important, unlike many of our other picks, they come in a signature Beats-style eye-catching purple (they now also come in coral, pink, and blue). I also wholeheartedly recommend Beats' previous, and now cheaper, Powerbeats workout buds; they still work reliably after years of heavy use.

Simon Hill

Julian Chokkattu

Simon Hill

Carlton Reid

I'm legally required to put these in the roundup. As we noted in our roundup of Apple's latest AirPods Pro (8/10, WIRED Recommends), these little white drumsticks are ubiquitous. You're going to work out in these whether I tell you to or not, so you might as well read about them here. The two most significant differences from the previous version are that the case has USB-C charging rather than Lightning, which I've already found to be incredibly convenient, and in iOS 17 there are new Adaptive Audio features that automatically detect when you're talking and give people time to respond to you while you're wearing the buds.

Senior editor and our go-to AV person Parker Hall noted that while Apple declined to confirm the exact changes in the audio architecture, this latest version sounds better than ever before. They have an IP54 sweat- and dust-resistance rating, and the noise-canceling is top-tier. These aren't my favorite headphones to run in. The fit is comfortable, but it's one of the least secure headphones I've tried. But if you have an iPhone, these are by far the most convenient for everything from work calls to plane rides, and they'll be fine for quick workouts in the hotel gym.

I tried to arm-wrestle my colleague Eric Ravenscraft for the opportunity to review the Shokz OpenRun Pro (8/10, WIRED Recommends). I've tried many previous pairs of Shokz (formerly known as Aftershokz) and found their bone conduction technology—in which sound is conducted through the bones of your head—to be wildly unpleasant. But these feel more like placing a set of tiny speakers near your ears.

For that reason, these aren't a great pick if you work out in a gym and would bother other people with ambient noise. That said, they're comfortable and fantastic for all outdoor workouts, and have quickly become my favorite headphones. I can wear them running or hiking, or while biking, skateboarding, or roller-skating under a helmet, and still hear everything around me. However, they don't have a charging case, and a 10-hour battery life before recharging is significantly shorter than every other bud we've listed here.

Alternative: I have extremely tiny ears and was frustrated to find that Sony's LinkBuds (8/10, WIRED Recommends) did not work for me. But if you have less wonky ears, the LinkBuds have an unusual donut design that allows ambient noise to pass directly through the earbud into your ear. They leak a little sound, but they let in enough ambient sound to let WIRED editor Parker Hall wear them in the grocery store and on ski trips.

When I reviewed Shokz's OpenFit (5/10, WIRED Review), the company noted that its customers wanted a headphone that would fit over their ears, like the OpenRun Pro, but not go around the back of their neck. I have now tried several pairs of “on-ear” speakers, and I don't really like this design. They always feel like they're going to fall off. The sound isn't as clear when it's being conducted through air. They get caught in my hair, sunglasses, and hats. God forbid you're wearing them while you're biking.

With all that said, the best pair that I've tried so far are these, which started as an Indiegogo earlier this year. The balance here, with the bulk of the earbud sitting behind your ear instead of in front, is much more secure than any other pair I've tried. The speakers sit comfortably against your head and don't dangle in space, and the sound is warm and clear. The case is huge, but it's pretty cool how the buds click into place magnetically on a stylish little platform, and the buttons are effective and not too sensitive. There are two major downsides: They're only rated IPX2 against direct spray, and I experienced weird echoey feedback on phone calls. Just don't call your parents while running in the rain and you'll be fine.

Simon Hill

Julian Chokkattu

Simon Hill

Carlton Reid

To stay safe on a run, you should remain aware of all the honking, revving, and talking around you. But sometimes, you want to shut the world out completely to enjoy your podcast, audiobook, or death metal playlist in perfect isolation. These buds can deliver both total awareness and total escapism—plus every notch in between—with a fully tweakable noise-canceling experience.The Reflect Aeros have many of the basic active noise-canceling features, like an ambient listening mode and the ability to turn ANC on and off. Additional controls live inside the JBL Headphones app, including the ability to adjust the level of noise canceling that’s applied when ANC is switched on, or to activate an adaptive noise canceling mode that automatically adjusts the level of canceling based on the noisiness of your surroundings. Touch controls can also be tweaked in the app, so you can decide what a tap (and double- or triple-tap) on either bud should control: volume, track playback, or ANC.They sound fantastic for music, movies, and voice (podcasts, calls, Zooms) with great bass and plenty of volume. The ANC is powerful enough to handle loud train rides and louder roommates. Fin-like wings keep the buds lodged into your ears; our reviewer wore them on two dozen runs with zero fit issues. The battery lasts eight hours, and that drops to six hours with the adaptive noise-canceling on. Our only quibbles are with the case; it’s USB-C (no wireless charging), and getting the earbuds properly aligned so they’ll recharge takes some practice. —Michael Calore

JBL's latest outdoor workout buds have one of the most important qualities for a pair of buds that will see all sorts of harsh conditions: They're relatively cheap! While they're virtually indistinguishable from their previous iteration, the JBL Endurance Peak II ($70), they do have improved specs, like an IP68 compared to an IP67 dust-ingress and waterproof rating (it can be submerged deeper and for longer) and startlingly long battery life—10 hours of playtime in the buds, and an additional 40 more in the case. I wore them for two weeks while running and walking the dog and never once had to recharge. The JBL app is easy to navigate with quite a bit of customization available.

I have to admit that these are quite a bit bigger than some of our other picks, and that even the smallest size of ear tip doesn't seal securely inside my ear. That made it a little difficult to evaluate sound quality as objectively, since if you can't seal them securely, you'll find the sound a little tinny. The buttons are a little more sensitive and I often found myself skipping tracks by adjusting my hair or hat. However, if you want killer battery life and buds that you don't have to worry about even if you step on them, these are a solid pick.

In his write-up, WIRED associate editor Parker Hall says that Sony redesigned these buds to fit roundly in your ear instead of the “mostly in but with a bit hanging out” style of previous iterations. These buds are too big for my ears, but if you have larger earholes, this is the one pair to rule them all.

The sound quality is excellent, the noise-canceling is better, and they pick up your voice more clearly than ever before. They also have wireless charging and an industry-leading eight hours of battery life. They might be a little bulky to use on runs, but they work just fine for lifting weights at home.

Simon Hill

Julian Chokkattu

Simon Hill

Carlton Reid

I was shocked by the Back Bay Tempo 30 (8/10, WIRED Recommends). The build quality is so good, they fit really well, and the sound is so great that I immediately had to have my colleague and WIRED's resident audiophile, Parker Hall, verify my assessment for me.

A $45 pair of headphones isn't perfect. They sound muddy up in the high range, and the Bluetooth connection isn't great—it cut out on me when I left my phone on a counter and walked around a corner. Calls are fine to the person on the other end, but they sound remote and tinny on mine. At least they stayed in place while I was hanging upside down at a climbing gym, so you probably don't need Back Bay's upgraded pair with ear clips and wireless charging.

We try almost every pair of new workout buds that come out. Here are a few we like that aren't quite as nice as the options above.

Eric Ravenscraft

Julian Chokkattu

Nena Farrell

Jaina Grey

Julian Chokkattu

Medea Giordano

Medea Giordano

Matt Jancer

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