Mar 21, 2024

Best waterproof headphones to buy in 2023

We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.

Don't let bad weather rain on your parade.

There's a huge amount to consider when you're picking a pair of headphones, whether you prioritise comfort, sound quality, battery life or pocketability. But there's one thing that's always high on our list – "durability", and it's the reason we'll always keep a rugged pair of earphones in our kit.

Water and sweat resistance aren't only for sporty types – these specs are a gauge of how well your headphones will be able to survive in extremes and how long they'll last overall. Whether we're talking about a pair that can go with you on a camping trip, on a hike, to get through being drenched in a downpour, falling into a puddle, accompanying you on a beach excursion or just keep working after they've gone through the washing machine, there's a long list of reasons why waterproofing is worth caring about.

What about the best waterproof headphones for swimming? Well, there are some earphones you can wear while in the pool but it's important to be aware of the limitations and to think about safety while doing your lengths. Bluetooth signals won't work in the water so you'll find that headphones for swimming, like the Shokz OpenSwim, also include music storage and you'll need to load your own files onto them.

This guide doesn't focus on swimming and is more concerned with Bluetooth buds that include strong IP (ingress protection) ratings to keep them protected from water and dust for long-term use. In essence, this is a list for those of you after earphones that can be tossed in your bag or pocket no matter the activity, and that don't need to be handled with kid gloves.

You'll notice that we have focused on in-ear headphones for this list, and that's because there are far more of these models with robust durability when compared to over-ear models. It's possible to find some over-ear headphones with a degree of sweat resistance, but we'd focus on wireless earbuds as you'll have a much easier time finding a set with a properly tested IP rating.

IP rating: IPX7 | Battery life: 32 hours (8 hours on a single charge) | Weight: 7g per bud (54g with the case)

If you don't get along with buds that don't have wingtips to keep them in place but you also don't like the built-in ones that go in your ear concha (like you'll find on ​​the Beats Fit Pro or Jaybird Vista 2), we recommend looking at a design with hooks that go behind your ear. This is slightly less obtrusive, and we've found that even with glasses, it can be much more comfortable. If you're running, this is likely to be a more appealing design, and the good news is that the Sport X10 from Soundcore is waterproof enough to be left in water for 30 minutes without breaking.

The buds themselves are just a little heavier than some rivals, but they still deliver a good fit, active noise cancelling and reliable button controls. We like how the hooks swivel to tuck them away for easy storage in the case, and how a quick 10-minute charge gives you two hours of listening. That means that if they're drained of battery, you'd be able to restore enough juice for a 10K run with just a little time connected to USB-C. The bass-boosted sound profile is great for running playlists, and we like the addition of both wind noise reduction and a transparency mode, as these are essentials for outdoor training and staying aware of your surroundings.

IP rating: IP68 | Battery life: 32 hours (8 hours on a single charge) | Weight: 5g per earbud (51.4g with the case)

Jabra boasts that its Elite 8 Active buds are the "world's toughest earbuds" and when you look at the spec sheet it's easy to see why. They're dustproof and drop-proof, with an IP68 waterproof rating that'll see them survive submersion, and even the case is IP54-rated to keep it safe from splashes, sweat and rain. This is a pair of earphones you can feel safe tossing into the bottom of your bag or taking camping and hiking. They're tested to not only get through a downpour but to also manage extreme temperatures, humidity, shock and pressure with an up-to-date MIL-STD-810H US military standard rating.

We love that these include immersive Dolby Atmos audio, that they're easy to control with clicky buttons and that the companion app is straightforward to use. They sound fantastic, and while the in-ear fit is a bit deep, it's not uncomfortable, and we also found the "ShakeGrip" covering means that they're not going to go flying across the gym floor while you're on the treadmill (something we've witnessed with AirPods). We also found them reliable for calls and the active noise-cancellation (ANC) is top-notch. If you need one pair of basically unbreakable buds for everything, this is it.

IP rating: IPX7 | Battery life: 80 hours (10 hours on a single charge) | Weight: 5g per bud (71g with the case)

Not fussed about active noise-cancelling but need proper waterproofing and massive battery life? These Lypertek buds are the pair you're looking for, and if we're honest the passive noise isolation is more than good enough to keep out annoying background distractions. The enormous battery power is a massive part of why we recommend them. From full, these have enough battery to keep going through a trip to a festival, a hiking adventure or a lengthy fortnight-long trip abroad where you've forgotten your charger (it could happen).

Where these excel is with sound quality too, offering clarity, balance and detail no matter what genre of music we throw at them. This is a level of sonic capability that we'd expect from far more expensive rivals, so we recommend the Lypertek buds highly if you want to get the most out of your playlists too. There aren't many downsides, but if you think you'll miss noise-cancelling or would rather have a slimmer charging case that doesn't stand out when it's in your pocket, the other options on this list may work better for you.

IP rating: IP57 | Battery life: 30 hours (8 hours on a single charge) | Weight: 5.4g per earbud (54.8g with the case)

While these have a bit less dust protection than the newer Elite 8 Active, they're nearly as excellent for water resistance and will be a fantastic option for gym sessions. They are a reliable set of buds for wet conditions too, as this rating means they'll work after being submerged in a metre of water for 30 minutes – pretty impressive.

One of the major benefits of this older pair is that they've dropped in price. We think the savings are pretty worthwhile especially if you know you don't need the extra dirt and dust resistance.

A point of difference to note is that the charging case doesn't have an IP rating, so you'll want to take a bit more care with that, and the newer Elite 8 Active offers more battery life and a revamped case design too. These also have capable noise-cancelling and impressive call performance, so they're a great option as an all-rounder.

IP rating: IP68 | Battery life: 24 hours (8 hours on a single charge) | Weight: 6.7g per earbud (56.2g with the case)

Compared to Jabra's Elite 8 Active, the Jaybird Vista 2 looks like a slightly more aged rival with an older Bluetooth standard, but these launched in 2021 and carry many of the same specs you'll find in the most durable pair on our list, including an IP68 rating and military-grade testing (albeit at the older MIL-STD 810G standards).

The charging case for these buds also features an IP54 rating, identical to the Jabra buds, so in reality you should find these are just as rugged and ready for the outdoors. The wingtip design is built-in, though, so if you think you'll find that more secure for certain activities they're worth it. You should get a bit more battery out of the Elite 8 Active, they're lighter, and they have a deep in-ear fit, but we think it's close between these super robust pairs and it'll come down to personal preference.

IP (ingress protection) ratings are an international standard and a useful way to describe how resistant any gadget is to things like dust and water. These ratings are written as "IP" followed by two numbers, such as IP67. We always look out for these ratings when comparing earbuds and looking at waterproof speakers.

The first number (ranging from 0 to 6) is there to tell you how protected the device is from solids like dust or dirt. The higher the number, the better it is at keeping these things out.

The second number (ranging from 0 to 9) tells you how protected the product is from liquids like water. Again, higher numbers mean increased protection.

For example, if you see a device with an IP67 rating, it will be good at keeping out both dust and water. But if it's rated IP45, it's not quite as good at keeping dust out and will be able to handle less water.

You may see an X in some IP ratings, like IPX7. In this instance, what this indicates is a lack of specific testing information against solids, because the X is in place of the first number. The presence of an X doesn't necessarily mean a reduction in protection, just that it hasn't been formally tested.

When looking at waterproof headphones to use in wet or unpredictable conditions, we recommend looking for some of the following IP ratings:

IP68: This would be regarded as some of the best protection you can get for wireless earbuds. A pair of earbuds with this rating would be completely dust-tight, having the highest protection against dirt, while the waterproofing is excellent with the "8" rating, meaning it's capable of continuous submersion in water beyond one metre (usually specified by the manufacturer) for longer than 30 minutes. Short of pressure washer blasts, devices with this rating should continue working after almost anything.

IP67: With this level of protection, the device should be both completely dust-tight and with a high level of water protection. The "7" here indicates that this can be submerged in up to a metre of water for 30 minutes without damage. This rating is highly durable for various outdoor conditions.

IP57: This is a similar rating to IP67 but with slightly less dust resistance. While not completely resistant to dust and dirt, this is a reasonable level of protection. With the second digit being 7, this is also highly resistant to water, surviving after being submerged at a depth of a metre for half an hour.

IPX7: In practical terms, this rating is just as waterproof as IP67, meaning it can be submerged in up to one metre of water for up to 30 minutes and survive. The X means it hasn't had tests for dust-proofing, but is ideal for protection in wet environments and heavy rain.

IPX6: This is quite a good rating for water resistance, rather than waterproofing. It indicates that the device can survive powerful water jets and will be good for use near pools or during most rainfall.

IPX5: Devices with this rating can handle water splashes and some jets, making them reliable enough for use in light rain conditions.

We know waterproofing isn't the only feature on your mind. Before you buy, these are the other key specs that we'd focus on before picking up any new earphones.

Also known as ANC, this is among the most helpful features available in a wide range of today's headphones and earbuds, and at varying prices. It goes above blocking out external sounds by using microphones to monitor the din of the outside world and eliminate it using opposing sound waves.

The best examples of active noise-cancellation –that you'll find in models from Apple, Sony, Bose, Jabra and more – can make you feel like you're in your own bubble. They're great for totally banishing those external distractions, and the top models all also come with a transparency mode (or it may be called awareness or something similar) that enhances those outside sounds and keeps you alert to your surroundings. That's ideal if, like us, you'd rather be aware of other traffic and pedestrians while walking around.

For most pairs of over-ear headphones, you'll see an extensive battery life of several hours, sometimes going up to 60 hours without needing a recharge. In normal use, you shouldn't find yourself needing to fuel up wireless on-ear or over-ear headphones that often because it's unlikely you'll ever listen for dozens of hours in one go. When it comes to true wireless earbuds, you'll find that they top themselves up with extra battery every time you pop them back in the case. Sure, some can last as long as 10 hours on a single charge, but it is unlikely that you'd use them for that long without a trip to the charging contacts.

Some of these cases can provide two or three extra recharges, so when you add it all up you'll also find that most models in 2023 provide ample battery life and will last a long time before you need to charge them with a cable or on a wireless charger.

All earbuds on the market are lightweight, and you shouldn't expect to have anything weighing more than a few grams in your ears. We've found that most buds that are around 5g or lighter will be a bit more comfy for those longer listening sessions and that while heavier ones won't weigh you down, they can be a little more likely to slip out or get tiring to wear for a while. You may find models that weigh almost 10g per bud, and we reckon that's a bit too much for most people.

When it comes to earbuds, it can be hard to gauge how well they'll fit before you buy, which is why we'd always encourage you to look for a wide range of ear tips, and it can help if they come in different materials. Silicone ear tips are great, but foam ones will expand in your ear canal for a snug fit and may be better for some situations.

We'd expect a range of three sizes (small, medium and large) at the very least, but big brands are also now including an extra small size and we've spotted many pairs coming with a more extensive selection of ear tip sizes in the box. One note you may not have thought about: your left and right ears aren't the same, so try different sizes on each to fine-tune the fit.

On-bud controls are especially relevant when waterproofing is your focus as you don't want to dig through your pocket for your phone to pause your track when you're caught in a downpour or your hands are occupied.

We find touch controls useful on some buds but with waterproof ones, clickable buttons are better so that you avoid accidental touch inputs. All of the models on our list have reliable buttons and offer differing amounts of customisation for control via companion apps. Your other control method will be with the voice assistant, and it's now common to find voice assistance in most models, usually through a button that allows you to call Google Assistant or Siri.

The best Spider-Man 2 pre-order deals on PS5

Best Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol1 deals

Best refurbished phones

Microsoft officially owns Call of Duty now

Nintendo confirms the new voice of Mario and Luigi

The best Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 deals

The best Mario Wonder deals on Nintendo Switch

PS Plus Premium announces big change for PS5 users

Best Prime Big Deal Days offers still running

Best LEGO advent calendars 2023

Amazon's Echo device deals are still running

PS Plus Extra, Premium free games for October 2023

IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP68:IP67:IP57:IPX7:IPX6:IPX5:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP68:IP67:IP57:IPX7:IPX6:IPX5:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP68:IP67:IP57:IPX7:IPX6:IPX5:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP68:IP67:IP57:IPX7:IPX6:IPX5:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP68:IP67:IP57:IPX7:IPX6:IPX5:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP rating:Battery life:Weight:IP68:IP67:IP57:IPX7:IPX6:IPX5: