No matter what sport you enjoy—save for backpacking, alpine climbing, and hiking, perhaps—a soundtrack can help improve your performance and keeping you going mentally and physically long after your body is ready throw in the towel.
But if you want to listen to music while working out or enjoying high-impact endurance sports, you’ll need Bluetooth headphones or some wireless earbuds that are easy and comfortable to wear, offer a secure fit, and are resistance to dust, sweat, grime, and searing or freezing temperatures.
The more action-packed the sport, the more ergonomic, seamless and secure the fit you need. Few headphones meet these needs like earbuds, tethering your headphones securely to your head, and locking them into place without putting undue pressure on the ear canal. Outdoor Tech has you covered for all these issues, including headphones that seamlessly integrate into audio-ready sport helmets.
Here are 10 things to consider when buying headphones for active pursuits:
Awesome Technology, Minimal Design, Easy to Use
Look for headphones with a low-fuss design and a simple interface. They should also come with a secure cord you can wear around your neck when you’re not using them.
Hands Free Hi-Fi Sound
Wireless headphones connect to Bluetooth-enabled devices; look for headphone with easy one-touch pairing that let you listen to music, skip tracks and control volume without ever touching your device. When choosing wireless earbuds, look for headphones that deliver rich, crystal clean sound with 8mm drivers and at least 30 feet of reach. Advance sound enhancements to keep an ear out for include apt X and AAC.
The best wireless headphones let you reconnect automatically to previously paired devices.
Headphones with an Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) offer high-quality stereo sound streaming. Those with an Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVCRP) let you remotely control track (next/previous track) selection, pause/play and volume.
Wireless + External controls
Having both wireless connectivity and external controls provides even greater flexibility. Look for three-button inline controls that easily let you adjust volume, change tracks, pause/play and control calls effortlessly while on the move.
Look for lithium-ion powered headphones. Lithium-ion batteries’ greater energy density means you can operate them longer between charges. They also have a much lower rate of self-discharge than other rechargeable cells such as Ni-Cad and NiMH. Also, you never need to prime a lithium-ion battery before its first charge, or do any maintenance on them, unlike Ni-Cad cells, which require a periodic discharge to ensure that they don’t hold a short charge “memory.” The best headphones have rechargeable lithium-ion batteries offering up to 6 hours of playtime and at least 120 hours of standby time on a single charge.
Multi-tasking headphones give you the option of listening to music as well letting you receive hands-free calls from anywhere, any time.
Earbuds that offer ambient noise-enhancing features are critical for skateboarders, cyclists and runners. You should be able to safely hear sounds in your surrounding environment while enjoying your playlist.
For high-impact sports, look for earbuds with removable over-the-ear clips paired with custom-sizable ear pads/cushions for extra secure staying power. Having the option of removing ear hooks and just having a bud in your ear are also indispenisable features.
If your pursuits take you in or anywhere around water (like running in the rain or stand-up paddling), look for silicone-wrapped waterproof headphones that provide quality sound even when submerged, as well as the ability to adjust them easily for sound level and track changes.
Audio-ready, Hardwired, Cold Play
If you have an audio-ready liner in your ski or snow helmet, and would rather hit the slopes with a mp3 player or hardwired smartphone, look for hardwired headphones that seamlessly integrate with your helmet liner to allow you to control music tracks, play/pause, or activates voice command via one glove-friendly button, and also keep in you in the groove for as long as you or your battery holds up. You’ll also to look for headphones that stay functional down to -20°C/-4°F so you never have to worry about frozen button syndrome.