Review: My two favorite sport headphones for running

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I've been running a lot lately, mostly because I committed myself to running a half-marathon after a BBG story I wrote four months ago. On shorter runs, I listen to music or nothing at all. On longer solo runs, I listen to podcasts, usually This American Life or Studio360, because they're long and very engaging. I've tried several kinds of headphones made specifically for sport use or otherwise designed to withstand sport conditions, and have found that the Philips-Nike Sport Flow headphones and the Sennheiser MX 85 are my favorites.

Let me start by saying that headphones, in general, can be really annoying while you're running. The cord gets tangled with my arms or flaps around in front of your face, the earbuds fall out, and in strong wind conditions they tend to make a swoosh-swoosh noise in my ear canal that often results in me flinging the headphones away, only to pick them up and hold them in one hand the whole time to avoid tripping over them.

The Sport Flow headphones are a collaborative product that Philips and Nike made to be as unnoticeable as possible &mdash and it works. The rubberized earhooks are super lightweight and they allow the earbuds to sit in place by my ear holes without feeling overly invasive. They're white, so it goes with any outfit. And perhaps most importantly, they come with a little white cable managing disc for winding unused lengths of cord around that clips onto a shirt sleeve or collar so the cord doesn't get in the way. The Sport Flows are $25 on Amazon.

Sennheiser's MX 85 sport earphones have a different design &mdash they have what the company calls a twist-to-fit system, which basically means that the earbuds wedge into a secure spot between the top and middle of the outside of the ear to prevent too much movement. The two things I like the most about the MX 85s are the color combination &mdash gray and orange! &mdash and the sound quality. Songs were much crisper but not as loud compared to the Sport Flows, and I was able to hear my music slightly better in windy conditions with these. The MX 85s have a longer right earbud cable than the left so that it's easier to sling behind the neck while running. However, the clip that comes with it is shoddy and kept falling off while I ran along Krissy Field. These are listed as $70 on Sennheiser's web site.

About Lisa Katayama

I'm a contributing editor here at Boing Boing. I also have a blog (TokyoMango), a book (Urawaza), and I freelance for Wired, Make, the NY Times Magazine, PRI's Studio360, etc. I'm @tokyomango on Twitter.
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