I replaced the AirPods Pro with bone conduction headphones for running – here’s what wins

I am looking for the best racing headphones that does not fall from my ears. When I tried AirPods Pro for running on the track earlier this summer it was a complete failure. Apple’s noise canceling heads spent more time scattered around the floor than providing a soundtrack for my tours.

I’ve been trying to break away from wireless headphones for a while. Still, I felt determined to discover the best wireless headphones to run, although I did wear out the tread of my sneakers in the process. But I decided it was time to think outside the box – er, outside of my ear canals.

A colleague at Tom’s Guide recommended AfterShokz Aeropex, a $ 159.99 bone conduction headset with 8 hours of battery life and a fully waterproof design. I had never tried bone conduction audio before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I just assumed I would have poor sound quality compared to when I tried PowerBeats Pro for running or when I tried Jabra Elite Active 75t for running.

Let me put this aside: AfterShokz Aeropex is not sexist tech. Fortunately, that’s not the vibe I’m looking for with my 12-minute mile. I only need comfortable headphones that stay put and sound great. So, are bone conduction headphones my perfect running companion? Keep reading to find out.

Running with a bone conduction helmet: Comfort and safety

At just 0.9 ounces in weight, the AfterShokz Aeropex offers a barely noticeable feel, landing perfectly between comfort and the kind of secure fit I want from racing headphones. I didn’t have to test a variety of ear tips because bone conduction headphones don’t need them. I simply loaded the Aeropex and paired them to my iPhone via bluetooth. However, I missed the automatic pairing of AirPods Pro and Powerbeats Pro via Apple’s H1 chip.

While I was running I couldn’t shake the Aeropex, or even let go of it, but I never felt like the hooks were pinching my ears like they did after awhile with Powerbeats Pro. I felt I could wear them for hours – in fact, I forgot to take them off when I got home, even without music.

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Clock It – Clutch

The only moment of discomfort came when I finally tried to remove AfterShokz Aeropex. Despite the softness I gave in a TikTok I filmed, the neckband actually got tangled in my hair a few times. When I sweat my sleek ponytail turns into an unruly lion’s mane, so I have to be more careful than I am when pulling the heads out of my ears.

Running with bone conduction headphones: sound quality

For those new to the tech, bone conduction headphones send vibrations to your cheekbones to play audio. This leaves your ears open so you can have conversations or hear other sounds around you without the need for a true transparency mode like on the AirPods Pro or the Jabra Elite Active 75t.

AfterShockz Aeropex are safe and comfortable racing headphones with solid sound quality

(Image credit: Avenir)

Having said that, I had low expectations for the AfterShokz Aeropex sound quality. Still, respecting the limits of bone conduction, the headphones really impressed. Of course, the bass didn’t resonate as much with my beat as it used to on Eminem’s ‘Till I Collapse’, but it kept me moving. Tame Impala’s Elephant synth riff even packs enough punch to extend my run to two and a quarter miles, instead of my typical two.

I wish the sound provided more complexities for me to get lost, to avoid impending regrets in my workout choice for the day.

Running with bone conduction headphones: Verdict

AfterShokz Aeropex is the running helmet I was looking for in terms of comfort and safety. While the AirPods Pro and Jabra Elite Active 75t are willing to dislodge my ears, Aeropex is not going anywhere. The bone conduction headphones also don’t squeeze uncomfortably like Powerbeats Pro.

I wish the sound provided more complexities for me to get lost, to avoid impending regrets in my workout choice for the day. But I appreciated the ability to hear ambient sounds from outside while I ran, as well as the promise of 8 hours of battery life, as the only excuse I need to skip the exercise is a dead helmet.

For now, the AfterShokz Aeropex bone conduction headphones are the pair I’ll be looking for when I’m ready to take on any outdoor workout. I always want active noise cancellation in the gym, so the Jabra Elite Active 75t will remain a top choice in my arsenal of headphones.

And where does that leave the AirPods Pro? Well, I’m going to test out a few accessories that promise a better fit for Apple’s premium heads. In the meantime, if you’re also struggling to find headphones that won’t fall out of your ears, consider giving bone conduction headphones a try.

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