I’m an avid climber, devoted yogi and clumsy-but-no-less-determined kickboxer — but so help me, I’ll turn around and drive home if I arrive at the gym and realize I’ve forgotten my headphones. How can anyone expect me to be up in the gym just workin’ on my fitness without “Fergalicious” pumping into my ears?
I’m a firm believer (and I know I’m not alone) that a solid pair of headphones is about as essential to a good workout as a hair tie and deodorant. But they can’t just be any old pair. The best workout headphones have a comfortable, secure fit, easy-to-navigate buttons (so you aren’t constantly reaching for your phone during a workout whenever you wanna skip a song or crank up the volume), and — and this one is key — an IPX rating of IPX4 or higher.
How to Choose an IPX Rating for Your Headphones
What is an IPX rating, you ask? Basically, the IPX standard system is used to describe how resistant an electronic device is to liquids. Here is a quick breakdown of the IP rating system:
- IPX0 – No protection from water.
- IPX1 – Protects from vertically dripping water.
- IPX2 – Protects from dripping water with a maximum tilt of 15 degrees.
- IPX3 – Protects from sprays up to 60 degrees.
- IPX4 – Protects from splashing water from all directions.
- IPX5 – Protects from water jets.
- IPX6 – Protects from powerful water jets.
- IPX7 – Protects from complete submersion in 3 feet of water.
- IPX8 – Protects from complete submersion in 9 feet of water for up to 30 minutes.
So, without further ado: I’ve chosen these affordable workout headphones for their snug, flexible fit, their easy-to-navigate buttons and their high IP rating — and, of course, their top-notch, bass-forward sound:
Best Wireless Workout Headphones
Treblab X3 Pro: True Wireless Earbuds With Earhooks
After trying the over-the-ear version of these workout headphones, I decided I prefer the Treblab X3 Pro True Wireless Earbuds because of their stabler, snugger fit. I find I can fold into yoga poses, assail heavy bags with kicks and punches and hang upside-down from bouldering walls — and these sturdy little guys will stay put thanks to the addition of bendy rubber ear hooks and flexible silicone tips.
With an IPX7 rating, you can submerge these headphones in water for up to 30 minutes. They can last up to nine hours on a single charge and come with a charging case for an additional four charges (for 45 hours of playback time). The Powerbeats Pro unmistakably inspired their design; it’s a fairly good replica, but for $100+ less.
Helpful Review: “Sound to price value is very good. Bass sounds good to pretty high volumes before it starts to distort. Comfort is unmatched for me. I might get some better jellies for a slightly better seal, but the manner of the fit is great.” – Reznorfan
Price: $59.97 at Amazon
AfterShokz Headphones: Shokz OpenMove
While some fitness seekers prefer noise-canceling workout headphones, I’m a fairly staunch advocate for bone conduction headphones if you’re jogging, walking, hiking or doing anything outside. As their title suggests, these devices send vibrations to your inner ear through bone conduction technology — as opposed to traditional air conduction tech — so your ear canals are free to listen to your surroundings.
Shokz headphones (formerly AferShokz headphones) are among the most popular of bone conduction headphones on the market. One of their most affordable workout headphones, the OpenMove, features their signature slim, light-weight open-ear design.
The IPX5-rated headphones repel sweat and moisture, as well as dust and chalk, making them a solid choice for indoor climbing and bouldering. The headphones offer as much as six hours of battery life on a single charge, but notably do not come with a charging case.
Helpful Review: “Clear sound for music (connected to iPhone) and calls (even outdoors). You can clearly hear what’s going on around you even with the device at high volume. I really like the product, I wore it for a two-hour ride without any issues and felt safe all the time while using it!” – Santiago
Price: $79.95 at Amazon.
JBL Workout Headphones: JLB Endurance Peak II
With their solid design and IPX7 rating, the JBL Endurance Peak II earphones withstand the toughest of athletic pursuits — from a stormy Tough Mudder to turbulent rafting trips to sweat-soaked hot yoga sessions. Acoustics-wise, the headphones will appeal to anyone who likes a strong, thumping bass.
The buds hold six hours per charge and the case includes an additional four charges for 30 hours of playback. The JBL workout headphones are wonderfully intuitive to operate, flipping on and pairing with your Bluetooth device as soon as you remove the ear hook tails from their case.
Helpful Review: “We test plenty of water-resistant true wireless earbuds, but only a small percentage make the fully waterproof cut. The JBL Endurance Peak II earphones, with an IPX7 rating, are one of the few, and given their $99.95 price, overall sturdy build, and solid audio quality, they’re also one of the best values for anyone seeking cable-free, gym-friendly in-ears.” – Tim Gideon, PCMag
Price: $79.95 at Amazon.
Beats Workout Headphones: Beats Studio Buds
From coveted brand Beats by Dre, Beats Studio Buds are among the most reasonably priced Beats workout headphones on the market. Unlike the ear-hook style of the previous headphones, these are tiny little buds with a compact, in-ear design. With up to eight hours per charge and two extra charges provided by the case, the Beats Studio Buds don’t offer the same longevity of playback time — but it’s hard to compete with their powerful, clear sound thanks to their dual-chamber acoustic design.
The buds have an IPX4 water resistance rating, so they can weather sweat and rain without a problem. Importantly, these noise-canceling workout headphones offer an active noise-canceling mode and a transparency mode for when you want to hear your surroundings.
Helpful Review: “They fit perfectly and don’t even feel like I have anything in my ear.…These don’t get tugged on by the stem because they don’t have one! If anybody loves the bass in songs, these are great!” – Nat, Amazon
Price: $119.95 at Amazon.
MPOW Bluetooth Headphones: MPOW M30 True Wireless Bluetooth 5.0
You’d be hard pressed to find a pair of wireless workout headphones for under $30 that sound as great as the MPOW M30s. These ultra-affordable workout headphones deliver a mighty, bass-forward sound — along with an impressive 25 hours of total playtime (five hours per charge with an additional four charges in the case). The MPOW Bluetooth headphones deliver pretty much anything you’d want in a pair of wireless workout headphones, including a waterproof rating of IPX7 and a secure in-ear fit.
Helpful Review: “If you have a tight budget but need a pair of wireless earbuds for whatever reason, go ahead and buy the MPOW M30. They’re cheap, enjoyable to use and exactly the kind of earbuds we need right now.” – Joe Maring, AndroidCentral
Price: $28.98 at Walmart.
Best Over-the-Ear Workout Headphones
iJoy Matte Finish Bluetooth Workout Headphones
Although they may be overly bulky, slippery and sweaty for some athletic pursuits, I actually prefer over-the-ear workout headphones for lighter activities like walking or light jogging. For style points and affordability, I’m a fan of the chunky, bold-colored iJoy Matte Finish Bluetooth workout headphones.
They’ve got a decent sound, cushy, snug earmuffs and reasonable eight-hour battery life. The headphones aren’t advertised as waterproof or dust resistant, but I have had no issues with them even when I’m getting sweaty and chalky at the bouldering gym. Wearing my rose gold pair out and about, I actually get compliments from strangers (and they’re always impressed to hear I got them for less than $25).
Helpful Review: “They are working just fabulously after four months still! My husband had a cheapie $5 Bluetooth pair he bought to use when mowing the lawn, so I was able to compare the two and it’s obvious some thought went into the making of these — they’re plastic but they’re quite sturdy and feel well made compared to his. Have had no trouble getting them to connect to my iPhone.” – Anna
Price: $24.99 at Amazon.
AKG N700NC Wireless Headphones
If you feel like splurging on a nicer, pricier pair of over-the-ear workout headphones, the AKG N700NC are a reliable mixed-usage wireless pick. These noise-canceling workout headphones offer adaptive technology, meaning you can control how much noise from your surrounding environment you want to let in.
The AKG N700NC headphones come with a lengthy 23 hours of wireless, active noise-canceling power in a single charge. Beyond that, the metal headband sliders offer a secure fit, while the memory foam and leatherette ear cushions make the headphones comfy, if sweaty, to work out with.
Helpful Review: “These … just work … and haven’t developed any foibles or signs of wear after nine months of daily use. I trust them. Can’t beat that.” – JJ, Amazon
Price: $99.99 at Amazon.
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