Best swimming headphones 2021: best waterproof earbuds for the pool and the high seas

Thanks to the best swimming headphones, you can listen to your favourite music even when you're underwater

Included in this guide:

best swimming headphones
(Image credit: Aftershokz)

Gone are the days when you had to stop listening to music when you went swimming. Thanks to the best swimming headphones, you can continue listening to your favourite tracks, even when you do your laps in the swimming pool. Better still, these swimming headphones provide clearer sounds than some of their cheaper dry-land counterparts: welcome to the 21 century, people!

How to buy the best headphones for swimming

Typically, the headphones have an in ear design that should stay secure, whether you’re all about the front crawl, breaststroke, backstroke or butterfly and while some are completely wireless, others feature a strong wire that should be able to withstand the constant drag of you moving through the water.

The best swimming headphones are the ones that don't require any connection to your phone, which would be disrupted anyway once your headphones are underwater and your phone is on the side of the pool. Therefore, competent swimming headphones should have built-in storage for music.

As well as that, they should also provide at least an 'okay' sound quality when you are fully submerged in water. No point in listening to music as you front crawl your way through the pool if all you hear is some muffled voices in your ear.

All things considered, the best swimming headphones at the moment are the Aftershokz Xtrainerz as they deliver great sound quality under water as well as being compatible with all swim-headwear, such as swimming caps, goggles and even earplugs.

If you have a suitable waterproof music player to hand, the Swimbuds Sport Waterproof Headphones are probably your top choice. With heaps of five star reviews, they’re popular at retail giant Amazon, and come with special fit ‘tree’ design ear plugs which they claim provide the best watertight seal for swimmers. They are also relatively cheap too.

best swimming headphones: Aftershokz Xtrainerz

(Image credit: Aftershokz)

1. Aftershokz Xtrainerz

Best headphones for swimming

Water rating: IP68
Type: Bone conducting
Battery life: 8 hours
Music storage: 4GB
Reasons to buy
+Bone conducting tech makes the sound clearer underwater+Supports various audio formats+IP68 waterproof+Compatible with swim caps, goggles and even earplugs
Reasons to avoid
-No Bluetooth

You might have heard about bone conducting headphones before and this technology makes even more sense when used under water. Bone conducting headphones create the sensation of music by resonating your cheekbone (in layman's terms) and without covering your ears, increasing your spatial awareness when you are out and about.

Bone conducting headphones are often criticised for not being isolating enough, although the whole point of them is not to isolate you from your surroundings, so this argument is also a bit silly. However, when you are in water, there is no need for isolation and also, since the headphones don't require air to deliver sound, they also sound clearer than 'regular' headphones.

When it comes to waterproof bone conducting headphones, nothing beats the Aftershokz Xtrainers. The Xtrainerz is IP68 rated and will provide a second-to-none audio quality underwater. The titanium frame and the around-the-ear profile makes the Xtrainers compatible with swim caps, goggles and even with earplugs!

The 8-hour battery life ensures that you can finish an Ironman without the Xtrainers running out of juice. Well, maybe not a full Ironman distance but an Ironman 70.3 for sure. You have 4GB on-board memory to store all your MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV and FLAC files too.

If I must criticise something, I would say the Xtrainers would be even more versatile if it was Bluetooth-enabled so you can also stream music too, not just listen to the ones you have as MP3 over and over again. 

best swimming headphones: Swimbuds Sport Waterproof Headphones

2. Swimbuds Sport Waterproof Headphones

Best wired headphones for swimming

Reasons to buy
+Tree design ear plugs have been designed to provide a secure fit in the water
Reasons to avoid
-Requires a waterproof MP3 player as well

If quality is key, these Swimbuds headphones shouldn’t disappoint. They’re not wireless but with the short wires they’re ideal for those who wear their music device on the strap of their swimming costume or attached to their goggles. 

Featuring third generation 'Hydrobeat' sound and four types of ear plug, these Swimbuds are the complete package. Swimbuds recommend the tree style ear plug for lengths, the fins for watersports, the ergo for running and cycling and the mushroom for general purpose. 

best swimming headphones: Sony NW-WS413​ Waterproof MP3 Player​

3. Sony NW-WS413​ Waterproof MP3 Player​

Another excellent all-in-one, wireless headphone for swimming

Reasons to buy
+Minimal wires for a hassle-free swim

Lightweight and streamlined, this all-in-one MP3 player and headphones from Sony will help you to smash your personal best in style. As with the i360, you don’t need to worry about attaching a device to your swimming costume or goggles because the music player is fully integrated into the headphones and compatible with MP3, WMA, AAC and even LPCM music files. 

You need to use Sony's app on PC and Mac to drag and drop tunes and while that is not an awesome bit of software, the audio quality and the fact you can get a full hour of playback after just a three-minute charge make up for that. We prefer the fit and feel of the i360 overall, however.

best swimming headphones: H2O Audio Waterproof Earbuds

4.H2O Audio Waterproof Earbuds

Best cheap headphones for swimming

Reasons to buy
+Includes five sets of earbuds to ensure the right fit
Reasons to avoid
-Requires external MP3 player 

If the Swimbuds are a touch too expensive for you, these ones from H2O Audio are a great alternative. Having been designed by athletes, a lot of thought has gone into the design of these headphones to ensure they’re as comfortable as possible. 

They also feature the tree earplug for optimal water resistance, and with five sizes to choose from, you can make sure they fit securely for hassle free swimming. 

best swimming headphones: HydroActive Waterproof Headphones

5. HydroActive Waterproof Headphones

For super clear sound underwater, invest in these headphones from HydroActive

Reasons to buy
+Comes with a smart case and plenty of earbud options

Extremely waterproof and coming with a range of earbuds, these headphones are also a top choice. The range of earbuds makes them suitable for different types of watersports including kayaking and windsurfing, while the wrap around design means you won’t get tangled up mid lap. 

Designed to fit snugly into the ear for minimal muffling and made from high quality material to resist the effects of drag, these swimming headphones should do a grand job of keeping you powering through.