What are the best waterproof headphones for running?

How to choose the best waterproof headphones for running for you, and what's a good IP rating for headphones?

What are the best waterproof headphones for running: Pictured here, AfterShokz running headphones near a stream
(Image credit: Aftershokz)

Sports headphones usually have some level of water resistance – but have you ever wondered what are the best waterproof headphones for running? How would you be able to tell which workout buds are better than others when it comes to resisting water and sweat getting inside the headphones? And, most importantly, does it even matter?

Nowadays, the best running headphones are designed to withstand even the sweatiest workouts and some can even be rinsed under the tap after workouts to clean off sweat and other types of muck. Unlike standard wireless earbuds, workout buds should be able to continue to work no matter how intense – and sweaty – your workout gets.

But before we discuss what are the best waterproof headphones for running, we must first talk about IP ratings.

What is IP rating?

Most often, running headphones will tell you they have an IP rating of IPX5 or IP56 – but what does any of this mean?

'IP' stands for 'ingress protection', and it's a "way of showing how effective an item is at blocking out foreign bodies", Peli Products explain. In our case, these items are your workout headphones, of course.

Ingress protection rating is made up of two digits. The first one signifies protection against solid foreign bodies such as anything from a size of a hand to as small as dust. The second digit refers to liquids and how well the item resists fluids from getting inside its outer shell.

Essentially, the higher the numbers are after IP, the more resistant the product is against solids and liquids. The highest possible rating an item can have is IP68 – this means it's dust-tight and can be submerged in water continuously.

When a product has an ingress protection rating of IPX5, it has been rated for liquids – protected against jets of water – but hasn't been rated for solids. An IPX5 rating doesn't mean the buds are helpless against solids; they just haven't been rated.

Full disclosure, it doesn't necessarily make sense to rate most small products for solids. An IP3X rating would mean the buds are protected from entry by tools, wires etc., with a diameter of 2.5 mm or more, which is almost always the case, with or without rating.

Jaybird Vista 2 headphones on a garden wall

The Jaybird Vista 2 headphones have the sturdiest build with their IP68-rated construction

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

What are the best waterproof headphones for running?

Technically speaking, the best waterproof headphones for running are the Jaybird Vista 2 buds, as they are IP68 rated. In fact, unless they change the ingress protection rating system, no future buds can be more resistant to solids and liquids than the Vista 2s.

That said, just because some headphones aren't IP68 rated doesn't mean they are suitable for sweaty workouts. For example, the Jabra Elite 7 Active have an IP57 rating, so unless you need headphones for swimming, they should be more than okay.

Bone conduction headphones often have an excellent ingress protection rating as they haven't got speakers – instead, they vibrate your cheekbones to produce sound. The Shokz OpenRun have an IP67 rating, so you can rinse them under the tap after workouts without any issues.

For comparison, the Beats Fit Pro are IPX4-rated, and even those headphones are said to be sweat and water-resistant.

To summarise, unless you want to keep your running headphones underwater for prolonged periods of time, any headphones with at least an IPX4 rating should suffice. 

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for T3.com and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.