When buying a good pair of sports headphones, there are several factors that you should take under consideration. You cannot approach this purchase in the same way that you would if you were buying a pair just to listen to music or for noise cancelling purposes. Since you will be active, and possibly very active, while wearing the headphones, then you need to evaluate different features than just for a normal headphone purchase. It can take some trial and error to find a good pair that enhances your activity instead of frustrating you.
To help you find the very best sports headphones for the money, I want to share with you the most important things to consider before making a purchase. Those tips will follow below. However, if you prefer to check out my favorite sports headphones, then check out the following articles:
- Best Exercise Earbuds For Cycling and Running Reviewed
- My Top Pick: Best Headphones for Mountain Biking
Those two articles can make your shopping process a bit quicker if you prefer to only compare products that meet all the requirements I’ve listed below. Otherwise, read up on the tips I’m giving you below before doing your shopping.
Styles of Sport Headphones
When you check out the available options, you will notice that there are several different styles of sports headphones available for purchase. Usually, the best style for you really depends on what you will be doing while wearing them. The styles that you can choose from are:
- ear bud or ear bud with hanger
- around ear or in-ear
- noise isolating
Typical headphones that sit on your head and have ear cups that go over each ear are the around ear and in-ear style. Such a style is really not practical for working out or doing other activities. The only exception to this might be if you have a home gym and want to wear them while on an exercise bike or something. Overall though, I would steer clear of this style because it really makes your ears sweaty when you wear them while being active.
Noise isolating headphones are usually of the in-ear earbud style variety. Regular noise isolating headphones block out ambient noise, but noise cancelling sports headphones do not, which is VERY important. This means that you’ll still be able to hear things like car horns, which is vital if you are outside. However, if you’re exercising or working out in a gym, then you can get a pair that blocks ambient noise as well.
Probably the best design for sports and other activities is the in-ear or around the ear design. This is when you have the ear buds that fit snug in your ear, some noise isolating headphones even use this design. The good thing about this design is that they stay in your ears while you’re moving. The sometimes bad thing is that the hard plastic can get uncomfortable after wearing them for prolonged periods. Some are more comfortable than others though.
Sports Headphones Features To Look For When Shopping
There are a few things that you will want to look for when you are comparing and evaluating the different options that you have available to you. While you may not be interested in all of these features, I think it is important for you to know what is out there.
Sweat Resistant or Water Resistant
Since you will likely be sweating while wearing the headphones, and possibly even out in the rain, then this feature is definitely one that you should be looking for in your comparison shopping. You may even come across a few models that are actually waterproof – this feature is good if you expect to get the headphones muddy or grime-caked as this feature means that you’ll be able to rinse them clean.
In-line Controller and Microphone
Since you may be using your headphones with a cell phone, then choosing a model with a microphone is beneficial. With sports headphones, you can get one with an in-line mic. Even if you don’t need the mic, stick with something that has an in-line controller so that you can easily adjust volume and such. While this particular feature usually increases the price by a small amount, it is definitely worth it if you plan on using them a lot.
Though wireless sports headphones are ideal, they are not always the best option. For instance, my favorite pair is wired and I wouldn’t dream of giving them up for a wireless competitor. That being said, if you are going with a corded model, look for a pair that has tangle-free or tangle-resistant cords. The last thing that you want to deal with is tangled cords while running or working out. Swivel and flat cords seem to be the best when it comes to not tangling, so I suggest that you stick with those two cord types for the best results.
Arm Bands or Shirt Clips
Keeping the headphone cords out of the way while your’re being active is super important to a lot of people. It helps you avoid getting tangled up in them yourself, and if you’re running it prevents them from smacking into your body repeatedly. Or worse – getting caught on the treadmill at the gym. I saw this happen to someone once and it yanked them right out of her ears! Personally, I prefer an arm band, but shirt clips are also good for taming the headphones while you’re being active. Arm bands are also a great place to put your phone or MP3 player instead of stashing it in a pocket or holding it in your hand.
These are not the only features that you will come across, but I do believe that they are the most important ones to consider. Also, keep in mind that the more features you need, the higher the cost of the gear. So, if you’re looking for budget sports headphones, then you might need to focus on just the most important feature for now.