Best Workout Headphones for Every Budget (and Need)

Finding the Best Workout Headphones

Best Sports Headphones

There are lots of benefits to wearing headphones during a workout:

  1. You can pump up your favorite tunes to help you blast through a tough interval.
  2. You can tune out ambient noise to help you stay focused.
  3. You can avoid obnoxious conversations by pretending not to hear when someone talks to you.
  4. In some cases, you can answer your phone and talk hands-free without breaking stride.

And while it's easy to think you can get by with a $5 pair of earbuds from Walmart (I know, I've been there), there are definite advantages to seeking out higher-quality earphones designed for working out. For instance, sports headphones are more likely to stay put, regardless of activity, and they're less likely to break down when soaked regularly with sweat.

Each product included in this slideshow offers features that set it apart from garden variety earphones, and some of these options include pretty amazing technology. While all are good in their own right, pick the one that best meets your budget and activity needs.

Jaybird X2 Wireless Earbuds

Jaybird X2

The Jaybird X2 Wireless Earbuds are definitely the most expensive option on this list, coming in at a substantial $180, but they also come with some pretty stellar features. For instance:

  • Wireless access to music and phone calls with an easy-to-manage on-wire remote control
  • High quality sound the helps block out ambient noise
  • Patented secure-fit for comfort that stays put (including three sizes of replaceable ear fins and tips to customize fit)
  • Super capacity battery for eight hours of playback and use
  • Cable management clips to secure the behind-the-head wire and prevent it from moving around
  • Option to wear the wire over or under your ear, based on personal preference
  • Lifetime warranty against sweat

My husband and I each own the previous model of this brand of wireless earbuds (we've had them for years), and they really do hold up. The battery life is substantial (great if you want to wear them at work), and they do an excellent job of cancelling out noise while delivering high-quality sound. The only time I don't like them is when exercising outside - the noise cancellation makes it hard to hear passing traffic or other ambient sounds, which worries me. For safety reasons, I like to hear what's going on around me.

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ALTO Earbuds

ALTO Earbuds

Technically these ALTO Earbuds aren't even available yet, although you can pre-order through Kickstarter (the project has been fully funded) with an expected delivery of summer 2016.

What sets them apart (and helps justify the $160 suggested retail price) is that they're a truly wireless option. As in, no wires at all. Just two simple earplug-like pieces (although much more technical) that you insert into your ears independently.

In addition to the wireless technology, ALTO Earbuds provide eight hours of playtime, 250 hours of standby time and have a wireless range of 33 feet. They can be charged in just 20 minutes in their carrying case or with a USB charger.

The only potential problem? Losing one of them. That would be my concern.

If you're interested in being an early adopter, take advantage of the 30% pre-order discount that drops the price to $113.

Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Bone Conduction Headphones

AfterShokz Trekz Titanium

Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Bone Conduction Headphones have some of the coolest technology on this list. Unlike a standard headphone or earbud that you slip inside or around your ear to deliver sound directly to your ear drum while reducing your ability to hear ambient noise, the Trekz Titanium use bone conduction technology to deliver sound to the eardrums through your cheekbones. The speakers actually sit outside your ear and against your cheekbones, using your bones to deliver the vibrations of sound to your inner ear.

The benefit is that there's no cancellation of ambient noise, so you can wear them, listen to your music, and still hear that car approaching you from behind - a much safer option for outdoor sports enthusiasts!

The Trekz isn't Aftershokz' first run at bone conduction technology (their Bluez 2 ($80) are currently available for purchase), but the latest iteration is definitely the best for the athletic market. In addition to the bone conduction technology, the Trekz features a more flexible, lightweight and durable titanium frame that makes them easier to wear and store.

Users will also enjoy six hours of battery life for music and phone calls. My husband wears a pair of the Bluez to work during his commute so he can listen to his favorite podcasts, make and answer calls hands-free, and still hear the road around him.

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JBL Reflect Mini Bluetooth

JBL Reflect Mini BT Headphones

At $100, the JBL Reflect Mini Bluetooth earbuds (available for pre-order now, shipping in October 2015) offer almost all of the same benefits as the Jaybird X2, but for almost half the price. They're lightweight and sweatproof and provide eight hours of playback time for music or phone calls.

There are two features that help set these earbuds apart. First, the angled ear tips that help the buds stay in place, even during high intensity exercise (these bad boys really stay put), and second, the highly reflective cord design that helps increase visibility at night.

While I do wish there were a way to manage the wire more effectively (pull it tighter around the back of the head or loop it over the ears to wear like traditional headphones), it's a light, flexible, almost thread-like wire that's less cumbersome than that of most headphones.

If you're looking for a high-quality Bluetooth earbud designed for strenuous physical activity, but without a jaw-dropping price, the JBL Reflect Mini Bluetooth is sure to deliver.

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Klipsch AS-5i All Sport In-Ear Headphones

Klipsch AS-5i All Sport In-Ear Headphones

The Klipsch AS-5i All Sport In-Ear Headphones ($79) is the first wired model on this list, but don't think of "wired" as "low-quality." The wires themselves are designed for durability, resisting snags and tangles. Like the wireless options, the Klipsch model includes a built in microphone and three-button remote to manage music and phone calls.

The over-ear wrap helps keep the headphones secured, and the patented oval ear tip is comfortable for long-term wear.

One of the reasons I tend to avoid wired headphones (especially at the gym) is that the wires bounce all over the place, catching on hands and equipment. The Klipsch All Sports include a built-in clothing clip to help keep the wires in place, even during strenuous workouts. 

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Zipbuds Slide

Zipbuds Slide

The $50, the Zipbuds Slide is one of the least expensive options on this list, but still delivers incredible quality for the price. Most notably, the patented Zipperless Zipper technology that enables users to "zip up" the dual headphone wires into a single cord guaranteed not to tangle.

You'll also enjoy award-winning sound and a built-in microphone and single-button control to help you manage music and answer phone calls.

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KOSS FitClips KSC32i

Koss FitClips

For anyone looking for a budget buy, you can't beat the KOSS FitClips KSC32i. At just $20, these headphones are designed to wrap around the ear to stay secure, and include water-resistant technology and an extra durable cord. Like the other models on this list, the KOSS FitClips include a built-in microphone for phone calls.

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