The power of music is well known to make running easier and for many, more fun. Music will rev you up or calm you down and you’ll see on TV just about every track runner uses it before a big event. Your body positively reacts to the tunes you’ve selected – you can literally rev yourself up or calm down at the press of a button.
And it’ll also help you recover from a tough workout in double quick time. Of course, as trail runners, we’re a bit different and we all understand the beauty nature provides in terms of birdsong, rustling leaves, bubbling brooks and even the crunch of your shoes on the gravel, but every now and then you do need that extra inspiration and motivation – welcome to the world of headphones.
What to look for in headphones
• Simple to set up
• Secure elements, like a silicon sleeve to help keep them in place
• Battery life, look for more than five hours
• Construction, recycled plastics wherever possible
• Safety awareness, for example, bone conduction headphones will allow your ears to be free, or some in-ear earphones have an awareness or hear-through mode, which can keep you in touch with your surroundings.
The best headphones for trail running
TRAIL RUNNING BEST IN TEST
Pros: For us, the fact your ears are free to hear every sound is vital
Cons: Some in our testers didn’t like the fit
Shockz, formerly AfterShockz, a leading brand in the world of wireless headphones known for their distinctive out-of-ear design, have released its most powerful generation of headphones yet - the OpenRun Pro.
Yet with quality comes expense - the OpenRun Pro headphones retail £159.95 RRP (at the time of writing), a hefty price for such a small piece of technology. Despite this, Shockz is keen to display the product’s major improvements over its previous counterparts.
By way of illustration, the headphones sport a premium titanium frame, making them a mere 29 grams. To further their appeal, they feature Shockz's latest bone conduction technology, Shokz TurboPitch, which optimises their sound to increase their bass.
Moreover, a single charge will allow the headphones to gain 10 hours of music play and call time. A one-hour charge will provide you with full playing time, but just five minutes of Quick Charge will provide enough juice for over an hour of run time. Additionally, the OpenRun Pro are sweatproof, IP55 rated.
This cutting-edge technology has been available for several years now, and can be found in an array of unique colours: black, blue, beige, and pink.
These bone conduction headphones leave your ear canals completely open - allowing you to find the perfect balance between immersing yourself in your music and focusing on what’s going on around you, whether that’s your running partner, passers-by or cars.
The OpenRun Pro is specifically designed to cater for many different athletes and to support a range of different movements. These headphones can endure long and intense workouts, and ensure you won't have to worry about them falling out, allowing you freedom and enjoyment while exercising.
Few pieces of kit can promise to deliver such an instant impact on your athletic performance as the Shokz OpenRun Pro headphones. Bold words indeed, but in addition to our recommendation, they also carry one from an England Athletics as Race Approved Sport Headphones.
These lightweight bone conduction headphones with their reliable stability means wearing them provides you with total freedom of movement which in turn helps you run nice and relaxed as you listen to your favourite artist while at the same time able to listen out for things like traffic or pedestrians or wildlife. Truly an amazing piece of kit for the price.
2. Adidas ZNE 01
Pros: Made from recycled plastics. Big thumbs up!
Cons: Can be a little loose
Great fit, nice colour (always important!) and a very competitive price. Thrown in some amazing technology and a solid brand name – it’s Adidas after all – and you have a very good product indeed.
They’re great in the sporting world but wireless technology is also rather handy in the everyday life. The 01 comes in at a super-competitive price, while the ANC version is more. These noise-cancelling earbuds are built to get you in the zone and are expertly developed to enhance sports performance while offering all-day comfort.
3. TicPods 2 Pro+
Pros: The price!
Cons: The sound isn’t the greatest
We loved the quick commands that allow you to turn the volume up and down simply by requesting that. Of course, that assumes you’re not running flat out and have the energy to do so! Simply command Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri to play music and you’re away. And for the price, you have to admit that’s pretty amazing.
4. Marshall Minor III in-ear headphones
Pros: Simple to set up
Cons: There is better sound out there
We liked the five hours of playtime, which covers most of our runs. Admittedly, we didn’t try this (five hours is a long run!), you can also pop them into the wirelessly charged case in your pack which can replenish their battery up to four times. Now that really is a long way.
We also liked the fact they are really easy to set up meaning once you’re hooked to Bluetooth you can pick up calls, pause and skip songs simply by tapping on the earbud. Likewise, the music also pauses when you remove the earbud from your ear and comes back on when you put it back.
5. Groov-E SportBuds
Pros: The price
Cons: Battery life on the low side
The hook design means they fit very well, always a bonus when it comes to headphones. Some testers reported they block all the noise, but whether that’s a good thing is open to debate of course. That said, they’re comfortable and as you’ll discover the price is magnificent for wireless tech. They’re also sweat resistant so definitely happy to be used in the gym or on the trails.