Ask a Gear Guru: What Are the Best (New) Headphones for Working Out in 2023?

This article originally appeared on Triathlete

The only thing more horrifying than having to train indoors during the winter season--or when time/space/safety dictates--is having to train inside with nothing to listen to but a super loud fan or the sound of your tsunami of sweat gaining momentum on the floor. Music helps. Bingeing on guilty-pleasure TV helps. But unless you live on a farm, chances are your music or Game of Thrones wailing, turned up to where you can hear it, will make your loved ones/neighbors want to put you outside in the cold like a bad dog. Avoiding banishment is exactly why you need to find the best headphones for working out when inside.

To be clear, I definitely don't condone wearing headphones while running or riding on the open roads, but most of the recommendations below can apply to both indoor and outdoor training. The best headphones for working out outdoors are ones that you don’t wear: There is a lot to be said for hearing and being aware of the dangers around you, particularly as drivers become less and less attentive and pedestrian/cyclist encounters with cars become more commonplace. With that said, I will go over a few types of headphones that are better than most for training outside--we are of our own free will, last time I checked, but please do the right thing and try to save the music for the safety of the indoors.

Before we get into a few picks, let's learn a little bit more about what features make the best headphones for working out:

The (Water)proof is in the pudding

Unless you are some kind of superhero with the special power to not sweat or sweat only out of your feet or something, chances are you'll be dumped in sweat after 15 minutes of training inside--hence the best headphones for working out are going to have some level of wetness protection. Leave those old-school DJ earmuffs in the drawer and get something with an IP rating of at least IP62 for running or riding. (IPX2 means basically the same thing as IP62 for our purposes if you ever see it written that way.) For swimming, you'll need IP68 (or IPX8) with a submergence time (from the manufacturer) that lasts at least as long as you swim. Wondering exactly what those completely nondescript numbers mean? (Briefly) nerd out on this:

"IP" stands for Ingress Protocol, which is a fancy way of saying "How much stuff gets in." The first digit after the "IP" is the level of solids protection. Six is basically the max for solid protection and means that the device is "dust tight"--anything less than that would be basically useless for sports. The second digit uses the following scale to measure how much liquid the device can be protected from:

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