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6 best over-ear headphones for running

These winning pairs offer unrivalled sound quality, so you can stay motivated while exercising

best over ear headphones for running

Shopping for your perfect pair of headphones can be confusing. There’s an overwhelming amount of choice these days, so it helps to know what to look for.

In-ear headphones are often recommended for exercise due to their snug fit, but they can be uncomfortable, especially if you have little ears! On-ear and over-ear headphones offer cushioning for comfort over long periods, but be warned: they do tend to slip forward when running.

There are a number of key factors to consider before making your purchase...

Which is better: on-ear or over-ear headphones?

On-ear headphones are compact and blast music straight into your ear canal. Over-ear headphones are bulkier (as they cover the whole ear), but they offer more expansive audio, tend to be more comfortable and are deemed to be safer for your ears. It’s a personal choice that usually comes down to size vs sound quality.

Whatever type you choose, look for an adjustable headband, particularly if you have a smaller or bigger than average head. Headbands that are too tight will hurt and those that are too loose will slip, especially when running.

Noise-cancelling technology comes in handy, blurring out background noise for the optimum listening experience, but make sure you can adjust this to let traffic noise in when necessary. Check out the battery life, too, as this can vary wildly from eight hours to more than 30 hours.

How we test

We put more than 50 on-ear and over-ear headphones to the test, judging them on sound quality, comfort, battery life, ease of use and the efficacy of any noise-cancelling technology.

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Best on-ear headphones
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
Runner-up on-ear headphones
Bose QuietComfort QC35 II Over-Ear Wireless Headphones
Best over-ear headphones
Sennheiser PXC 550-II Wireless Headphones
Best noise-cancelling on-ear headphones
Sony WH-1000XM3 Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones
Best for battery life
Beats By Dre Solo 3 On-Ear Wireless Headphones
Best for sustainability
House of Marley Positive Vibrations 2 Wireless Bluetooth On-Ear Headphones
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