How To Choose Wireless Sports Headphones

So, you want a brand spanking new pair of awesome sports headphones! Yet you are lost in the hundreds upon hundreds of different models, brands and styles… You want a pair of headphones that fit your needs, your specifications, your lifestyle, and yes, we know that sorting through all the options is quite confusing.

Let’s make things a bit easier.

We will start at the top, and break things down for you, helping you narrow down your options, and sort out what features you need and don’t.

We will also toss in a few suggestions for each category. If nothing else, this guide will help you think through what you want from your sports headphones, and make it easier for you to choose the perfect pair.


Why Buy Wireless Sports Headphones?

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Why should I buy sports headphones specifically? Won’t any headphones do?”

Well sure, you could go down to the gas station down the block and pick up those cheap $10 wired earbuds…. IF you enjoy listening to music that sounds like it’s coming from can!

Companies have been designing and refining headphones and earbuds specifically to sound better, last longer, and provide an exhilarating listening experience for you during your workout! They have added innovative features such as, sweat proofing, ear-tips for extra stability, sound isolation, noise cancelling or hear through features all to help push you harder while you exercise.

Not to mention, losing the wire that somehow always manages to get tangled is awesome.

You want to buy wireless sports headphones over those gas station wannabees because you will get the most out of your workout by using a pair of sports headphones. They are designed for just that.

True Wireless Earbuds

Types of Sports Headphones

Ok, let’s get started with the actual how to part of this guide.

The first question we need to ask ourselves is: “What kind of sports headphones am I looking for?”

There are two main categories here, Headphones and Earbuds.

We can break these down further into 3 main categories:

  • Wireless Headphones – these fit over or on your ears.
  • Wireless Earbuds – These go in your ears but may have a wire for added stability
  • True Wireless Earbuds – These also go in your ears and have no additional wires at all.

Each different type of headphone or earbud has its own set of pros and cons.

Looking at the wireless headphones, we immediately see one of the cons. They are bulky!

Since this type of sports headphones fits over your ears like traditional headphones, they add on extra bulk. However, because the speakers are bigger than those of earbuds, headphones are able to produce noticeably better sound than most earbuds. This is especially so in the lower frequencies. If you like bass, you will bet more boom for your buck buying headphones over earbuds.

On the other hand, earbuds are smaller and often feel much more stable on your head during vigorous movements.  If you are doing something with lots of fast or vigorous movements, earbuds are most likely a better option for you. You are, however, sacrificing some sound quality.

Furthermore, wireless earbuds and especially true wireless earbuds are notorious for having syncing issues with videos. If you intend to use your choice for more than just your workout, it may be worth giving headphones a serious consideration.

headphones in a gym

Where Will You Be Using The Sports Headphones?

If you think that headphones are the way to go, as yourself this: “Where and how do I want to use my headphones?”

Will you be wearing these in the gym while you lift weights and run? Or perhaps, do you want some headphones for your morning jog in the park? Do you want something that is multipurpose, and you can happily use for your workout and at the office? Or perhaps, are you looking for some rugged that you can take with you to trail run?

What your main use case is will very much influence your choice.

Headphones tend to be more multi-purpose than earbuds. In addition to not being prone to sync issues with video playback, you will get an overall better sound from headphones. If you want to use your purchase while strolling around the city, or commuting to work, or even listening to music while in the office in addition to your workout or sports routine, headphones are the way to go. However, you do need to keep in mind the extra bulk that headphones naturally have over earbuds.

We recommend that, if you are looking for something multi-purpose, and your workout routine is primarily indoors, you get a nice pair or wireless sports headphones.

Sleek design coupled with quality sound, light weight, and an innovative headband adjustment make these headphones perfect for gym use.

What About Wireless Sports Earbuds?

So, what about earbuds? How do they fit into this equation?

If headphones don’t fit what you are looking for, earbuds are where you need to turn. Ask yourself this: “How much stability do I need from my headphones and how light do I want them to be?”

Design wise, there are a few things to look at. First off, there are the inherent differences between wireless earbuds and true wireless earbuds. Wireless earbuds are attached to each other via a drawcord or via a band that goes around your head. They feel secure, even when performing the most vigorous movements.

On the other hand, true wireless earbuds are lighter, but need to use other means to remain secure since there is no chord. This is done either by adding rubber “wing tips” to the earbud, which hooks into your ear for added security, or by compressing an ear-tip to fit into your ear canal, and remain steady that way. The latter method has the added bonus of giving the earbuds passive sound isolation, yet often times ends up causing some discomfort for the user is the ear-tip doesn’t fit right.

Girl on a lake

Where Will You Be Using The Sports Earbuds?

Now that you have decided whether you prefer wireless earbuds or true wireless earbuds, let’s ask ourselves the next important question.

“Where to I intend to use my earbuds?”

Different companies focus on making earbuds focused on different environments. Take for example the Jaybird line. Jaybird produces both wireless earbuds and true wireless earbuds. The company was founded by trail runners who wanted to take their music on the trail with them. So, they got together and engineered just that, earbuds for trail running.

We will discuss the following environments:

  • Gym and indoors
  • City
  • Rugged Terrain

Choosing Between Wireless Sports Earbuds

At this point, you should have a good idea of what you are looking for in your earbuds, and where you primarily want to use your wireless sports earbuds. Now it’s time to look at brand and the various features each set of wireless earbuds offers.

Wireless Sports Earbuds for Gym and Indoor Use

While you typically won’t be doing anything too crazy during your workout, you still want your earbuds to fit snugly and remain secure. Earbuds with wingtips are ideal for this. Another important feature is waterproofing. If you are going to invest in a good pair of earbuds, you want them to not be susceptible to water damage.

Furthermore, good sound quality is a must, as it really immerses you in your workout, pushing you to give it your all. What really helps with this is if your earbuds have built in noise cancelling or at least good sound isolation.


Our recommendation goes to the Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones.

These earbuds check all of the above-mentioned boxes, and are backed by Bose’s good name. Tunes are a pleasure to listen to on these, and the provided carrying case helps keep the earbuds safe. The case is also small enough to tuck into a backpack or purse, adding to their transportability when not in use.

Wireless Sports Earbuds for City Use

If jogging through the city streets is part of your workout routine, there is a lot you need to pay attention to. Traffic, cars, bikers and other pedestrians just to name a few. Though much attention is required to stay safe, you don’t need to forgo your tunes as long as you have the right earbuds.

For this type of environment, we recommend something that doesn’t quite seal your ears. Hearing your surroundings even with your music on could end up saving your life after all. Any earbuds that have active noise cancelling or even strong passive sound isolation are a no go. What works much better is a wireless earbud that fits loosely in your ear, but remains stable while worn.

The other important factor to take into account is weather. You aren’t always going to be jogging in the sun. Sometimes, it may be a bit damp, or you may fall victim to a sudden rain shower. The ideal earbuds will be able to withstand the changes in the elements.

They fit loosely in your ear, and they have a headband that hooks onto your ears like a pair of glasses would, making them very stable. They are also waterproof up to a light spray, so even if you get caught in the rain, you won’t damage these earbuds. Additionally, these wireless sports earbuds are very affordable while still producing great sound.

Wireless Sports Earbuds for Rugged Terrain

Aaaahh, the great outdoors! Steep mountains, murmuring rivers of crystal-clear water, deeply forested trails winding through the raw beauty of nature. Even here music can accompany and uplift you. These earbuds however, need to be tailored to fit the environment, perhaps more so than any other.

Due to the nature of, well, nature, any earbuds that you take with you here need to be rugged. They need to fit comfortably and securely, last for hours on end, as well as be water proof. Nothing is more depressing than having your earbuds break because of a sudden squall. For terrain like this, where you will be doing lots of jostling as you run, you really need ear-tips built into the earbuds for the added security and stability. For even more security, a wire that has tightening cinch on it is a big boon.


Our recommendation in this category goes to the Jaybird X4 wireless sports earbuds.

Jaybird was founded by a group of engineers who love trail running. They weren’t stratified with any of the earbuds on the market at the time, as they were lacking various aspect which would make them ideal for trail running. Working in all these features and more, Jaybird is the forerunner with their trail running earbuds.

Furthermore, with the rise of the smartphone and earbud apps, they have added handy features to their earbuds such as a find my earbuds feature and a custom Equalizer.

Choosing Between True Wireless Sports Earbuds.

Finally, we come to the true wireless sports earbuds. Personally, we love this complexly wire free take on mobile sound. True wireless earbuds really are a cutting edge in the ever-evolving tech sphere. There are some kinks that still need to be worked out, such as systemic audio sync issues with video playback, yet we see true wireless earbuds improve by leaps and bounds every year.

Let’s take a deeper look at what true wireless earbuds built for sport have to offer you.

True Wireless Sports Earbuds for Gym and Indoor Use

When it comes to sports true wireless earbuds, the name of the game is “features, features, and more features.”

There really is large variety of earbuds on the market, each offering their own unique take and twist on what is most important in a sports earbud. There are, however, several key features, that you really can’t go without.

As yucky and smelly as it may be, sweating is a thing you will be doing during your workout. Any earbuds which you want to preserve need to, at minimum, be sweat proof. Since we are discussing indoor use where there is little risk or submerging the earbuds under water, they don’t need to be fully waterproof.

For uninterrupted music, Bluetooth needs to be steady and reliable. Models which sport Bluetooth 5.0 are ideal.

Here also, wingtips are a fantastic addition, through not strictly necessary. True wireless earbuds remain firmly in your ear either with the aid or wingtips, or by compressing a gel tip into your ear canal. We like to see that the wingtips and gel ear tips are replaceable and come in an assortment of sizes. This allows you to get the perfect fit for both better sound and good passive noise isolation.

For us, we were really torn between two earbud models, both produced by Jabra. Both earbuds are similarly prices, so which earbuds you choose to go for really comes down the app.

The Jabra Elite Sport is our first recommendation, and one that really blows other fitness earbuds out of the water.

These earbuds pair with Jabra’s Sports Life app. This app is a fitness tracker, and integrates features with the earbuds such as a step counter, rep counter, and heart rate monitor. The app puts all your fitness data right at your fingertips. If you want to have really track your fitness and push your limits, these are a fantastic option.

The other impressive model Jabra makes is the Elite Active 75t.

Though these earbuds don’t have the wingtips like the Elite Sports do, they still fit very comfortably and securely in your ear. Punchy bass, crystal clear microphone, and a hear through feature all contribute to making these earbuds stand out above among the competition. As an added bonus, Jabra has been able to eliminate the coming video syncing issue true wireless earbuds are prone to. If you want true wireless earbuds that you will feel great using in and out of the gym, the Jabra Elite Active 75t’s are your top choice.

True Wireless Sports Earbuds for City Use

In the sphere of true wireless sports earbuds, city use earbuds need to have a few vital features. Staying safe while on the move, is a must. You don’t want to get hit by a car you just didn’t hear. Therefore, the first feature we look at has this in mind.

You really want the earbuds to have either a hear through mode, or allow for sound leakage from the outside.  Wireless earbuds that seal your ear aren’t great for this reason. In a busy city, you won’t hear enough to really keep you safe.

The other very important feature is fit. After all, true wireless earbuds don’t have a drawcord or a wire which you can clip to your clothes. This makes the design of the earbuds tricky, and companies need to be innovative in this aspect.

We like two very different designs for on the go in the city, and both are worth highlighting.

Our first choice is the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3200.

These earbuds are an upgrade over the older BeackBeat Fit 2100, and improve of many of its classic features. The ear tips fit loosely in your ear, letting you hear that honking truck which is bearing down on you. Due to the loose fit, they are comfortable in your ear, and don’t feel like they are being jammed inside.

As far as stability and security goes, these wireless earbuds achieve that by hooking over the top of your ear, much like a pair of glasses would. Don’t worry though, even if you wear shades or glasses during your run, you won’t feel any discomfort from the design.

Our second choice are the Apple AirPods Pro.

Apple takes a completely different route than the Fit 3200 does with the AirPods Pro.  The earbuds fit snugly inside your ear, rely on their fit to remain secure.

The big selling point of the AirPods Pro is the newly added active noise cancelling feature. However, coupled with the built in hear through feature, the active noise cancelling can still be used while staying safe.

A quick comparison of the AirPods Pro of the Airpods 1 & 2, shows a jump in features and sound quality, but at a spike in the price. Ultimately, if you are looking for multi-use true wireless earbuds and own an apple device, the AirPods Pro are you best choice.

True Wireless Sports Earbuds for Rugged Terrain

Last, but definitely not least, we come to the most exciting entry in this article. Any true wireless earbuds that you use out in mother nature need to be top notch. We are talking, fully water proof, long battery life, stable and comfortable, and deliver a great sound experience.

Ear fins are basically a must here, as losing one of these earbuds would really be tragic. In case you do lose one, having a backup plan like a find my buds feature is always reassuring. Thankfully, the runners at Jaybird have thought of all this, and engineered a stunning pair of truly wireless earbuds.

Yes, for this slot, we recommend the new Jaybird Vista true wireless earbuds.

The audio these earbuds produce is as good if not better than the AirPods Pro. We also love how customizable the earbuds are, both in the fit and sound departments. The ear tips are removable, and the ear fins are built into the ear tips. Changing to the right size couldn’t be easier.

Out of the box, the earbuds are a bit bass heavy, yet the sound profile is fully customizable with the accompanying Jaybird My Sound app. The app is available on both that Apple Store and the Google Play store.

All in all, these are a fantastic pair of earbuds for your next outdoor adventure.

Closing thoughts and TLDR

There is a lot of information above, so for those who want the short TLDR version, here it is.

  • Ask yourself where you will primarily be using your new wireless headphones.
  • Decide on a style, headphones, earbuds, or true wireless earbuds
  • Decide which additional features are important, for example a hear through feature

Based on this, we have a list of suggestions. We split our recommendations first into where you will be using your headphones, be it in the gym, around your city, or in the great outdoors.

These are our recommendations:

Based on these choices, you will be able to find the sports headphones that match exactly what you want.

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Feel free to read some of our related articles below.

Thank you for reading!

Till we meet again!

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