Hiking Gear

What Headphones Should I Wear On a Hike?

Sometimes you just want to put on a nice set of headphones and zone out on a hike. Finding the right pair of headphones for your next hike can be a challenge as there is seemingly an infinite number of options these days. After hiking for many decades and trying out many many different pairs of headphones and earphones, I have made a list of my top recommendations.

If you are in a rush the top wireless headphones for hiking are the Sony WH-1000XM4 and for wireless earphones are also from Sony which are the Sony WF-1000XM4. Either of these will be a very comfortable and cozy wear for your ears all while having the best sound quality in the industry.

If you want a deeper dive into a few other options so you can make a more informed decision, check out the list below. It took me years to find the right pair of headphones that work for travel and then out on the trails. I’ve tried every brand you can think of and finally decided on my go-tos. Our ears and head size are probably different, so you should definitely try these on in-store if possible. There are a few things you should watch out for before you buy which will be listed in the pros and cons.

Our Top 3 Headphones for Hiking

black sony headphones on desk

Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Headphones

Price Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Headphones on Amazon

The Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Headphones are industry leading headphones. They ovver two processors for noise cancellation which will automatically adapt based on your environment. You get crystal clear sound from the new integrated processor V1. You don’t have to worry about battery life as these will last up to 30 hours. Even if you need to charge while out on your hike there is quick charging available where you get 3 hours of playback for only three minutes of charging.

These are the fifth iteration of the top of the line headphones from Sony. The sleek design has been made even more comfortable and lightweight. The headband and earphones are covered in a high quality soft leather. These earphone cups fit around my ears like a glove and I usually forget I am wearing them. The adjustable band allows for you to have the headphones sit perfectly on your head. These are a no brainer.

Bose QuietComfort 45 Wireless Headphones

Price Bose QuietComfort 45 Wireless Headphones on Amazon

Next up are the Bose QuietComfort 45 Wireless Headphones. These noisec canceling headphones are the perfect balance of quiet and comfort. Bose technology measures and actively adjusts based on your environment. These TriPort acoustic architecture offers beautfiul and rich sound for your listening pleasure. You can adjust your audio levels with the Adjustable EQ to set your preferred bass, mid-range, and trebel levels.

These headphones last up to 24 hours on a single charge. If you need to charge while you are out on your hiking trip then you can get 3 hours of playback after just fifteen minutes of charging. The stylish design has a seemless headband with a cushy soft leather on the headbands on the headphone cups. These headphones have the perfect amount of weight and sit just right on your head and ears.

Soundcore Anker Life Q20 Hybrid Wireless Headphones

Price Soundcore Anker Life Q20 Hybrid Wireless Headphones on Amazon

The third option on our list is the Soundcore Anker Life Q20 Hybrid Wireless Headphones. These are the budget friendly option on our suggestions. The value you get at this price point cannot be beat. These headphones provide incredible sound from 40mm dynamic drivers. The active noise cancelling also reach frequencies up to 40 kHz to give you crystal clarity. These headphones also come with BassUp technology for those that enjoy bass-heavy genres.

These headphones have up to 4 hours of playback time. When you are on the go, a five minute charge time will give you up to 4 hours of listening time. Although these are a budget friendly option the design is made up a nice sleek contouring form factor. The foam padding on the headband and the earphones are high quality and can take a beating. This is a great choice for those on a budget.

Our Top 3 Earphones for Hiking

black sony earbuds on desk

Sony WF-1000XM4 Wireless Earbud Headphones

Price Sony WF-1000XM4s Wireless Earbuds on Amazon

The Sony WF-1000XM4 Wireless Earbud Headphones offer amazing sound quality with the new Integrated Processor V1. You get crystal clear audio and active noise cancelling that adjusts based on where you are. These earbuds also boast an IPX4 water resistant rating to protect from splashes and sweat so you can stay on the move.

These headphones offer 8 hours of playback time and another 16 hours in the case. You can charge them in their case for five minutes for an extra 1 hour of playback time. The beautifully minimal design sits perfectly in your ear. They feel a bit strange at first but after some getting used to it you really forget they are even in your ear. Since they sit directly in your ear the sound feels even more amplified. These are definitely my number one choice for wireless earbuds to take on my hikes.

Bose QuietComfort Noise Cancelling Earbuds

Price Bose QuietComfort Noise Cancelling Earbuds on Amazon

The Bose QuietComfort Noise Cancelling Earbuds are world class noise cancelling earbuds. The Bose technology allows you to eliminate unwanted noise but also lets you allow certain parts of your surrounding in for safety. With these earpbuds you get high-fidelity audio for a crisp clean sound with the ability ato adjust your audio with volume-optimized equalizer.

These earbuds have a gorgeous design and are made to sit perfectly in your ears. There are adjustable earphone tips to fit ears of all shapes and sizes. These come with simple touch designs to start and stop music and adjust volume. You can get up to 6 hours of listening time on a single charge and get an additional 12 hours of through the charging case. These are also IPX4 rated devices which will help them withstand splashes of water and sweat. I really enjoy the feel of these earphones and they stay in my ears even as I am making my way up uneven terrain.

Sony MDRXB55AP Wired Extra Bass Earbud Headphones

Price Sony MDRXB55AP Wired Extra Bass Earbud Headphones on Amazon

The Sony MDRXB55AP Wired Extra Bass Earbud Headphones are the budget friendly earphones on our list. However, dont let the low price trick you into thinking they don’t offer amazing sound quality. These are the best bang for your buck on this earphone list. These earphones come with a 12mm driver units and Bass Duct++ technology for maximum bass enjoyment. THey also have a tangle-free cable that easily plugs into your devices.

The minimal design is built with heavy duty materials and offer a beatiful look. These earphones come with 4 different earbud tips so you can get the most comfort out of these headphones. No need to worry about battery life as these are powered directly from your device. These are great to bring on any trip as you never have to worry about battery life. These feel very light in your ear and don’t slip out when my ears get a bit sweaty.

Top 3 Things to Consider For Hiking Headphones

Wired or Wireless

The first thing to consider before buying a pair of headphones or earphones is if you want wired or wireless ones. With wireless headphones you have freedom of movement without having to worry about a wire. The downside of wireless headphones is you will need to make sure they are charged and can last long enough for your hike.

Some people prefer wired headphones and the main benefit of these are you don’t have to worry about any kind of battery life. Wired headphones draw their power from the device which is nice to not have to think about. There are arguments that the sound quality is improved by using wired headphones, but if you aren’t an audiophile it isn’t too much to worry about. The biggest drawback of wired headphones is that they can get snagged in branches or on rocks when you are out on a hike, so keep that in mind.


The next thing to consider with headphones is the comfort. Many of the top headphone brands have nice cushion on the ears and top of head to make it feel very comfortable to wear. You also want to think about the tightness of the headphone band on your head. The main thing to think about when it comes to comfort and taking your headphones out on a hike is if they will feel comfortable to wear for a few hours. Some headphones apply too much pressure on the top of your head or on the side of your head depending on the design.

Since you will likely sweat during your hike, something else to keep in mind is how comfortable the headphones feel when mixed with sweat. Some headphones have foam covers that might feel sticky if your sweat gets on them.


The last thing to consider is how well the headphones will fit on your head. The first thing to look at is how the headphones will sit over or in your ears. Some headphones are designed to fit on smaller ears or larger ears, so its really important to try it out in store if you can. Another thing to look at is how much the headband can extend to accommodate for your head. These small adjustments will help you feel more comfortable and make a huge difference during your hike.

Final Thoughts

Getting the right pair of headphones for you will feel blissful as if you weren’t even wearing anything. You’ll feel like music is coming from nowhere and right into your ears. Doing a bit of research and trying out different models will make a huge difference. With so many options to choose from you can’t go wrong with the top rated brands. Enjoy your next hike with your new headphones and jams!