Over the past months I’ve purchased several Bluethooth headphones and Bluethooth speakers and paired them with my Garmin Fenix 5x Plus
top row: Skullcandy, Trekz, Plantronics.
bottom Row: Samsung, Polk
What you read in this article is which sets work best for my use cases (long distance running, hiking and a bit of cycling). I’ve listed the devices in the order of how much I like them.
Recommended headphones and speakers
||Plantronics Backbeat Fit
This is the headphone that I like and use the most, it’s my go to unit when running a single marathon.
- the very best audio experience of all my Bluetooth headphones
- very lightweight
- flexible (you can easily fold it and put in your pocket when you are tired of listening to music)
- long battery life ~6 hours
- although this is an in ear headphone only a part of your ear canal is covered, so if you listen on low volume you can also still hear your environment very well and even converse with people running next to you)
- ear plugs don’t fall out
- There are very occasional audio dropouts when walking and wearing the Garmin watch on the left wrist (I don’t experience audio dropouts whilst running/cycling). Workaround: wear the watch on the right wrist so that the distance is shorter to the receiver that’s on the right side of the headphone.
Purchase Plantronics Backbeat Fit on Amazon: Amazon.de (EUR)
||Samsung Level Box Slim
I use this Bluetooth speaker (in my back pocket) whenever I go biking or hiking.
- Very (very!) good quality with a rich sound
- great to use when in company as you can enjoy the same music together
- very long battery life (>10h)
- perfect for hiking and biking
Purchase Samsung Level Box on Amazon: Amazon.de (EUR)
- No backclip
- a mini speaker, but it’s not so small (14cm x 7.5cm x 2cm)
- on the heavy side (240g)
- a bit heavy and not straightforward (need a running tight with a big pocket) to take along while running
||Aftershokz Trekz Titanium
I use these Bluetooth headphones when I run inside the city (which I don’t do that often as I prefer running in nature).
- you can hear the environment around you the very best from all my headphones (even on higher volume). If you run a lot in high traffic areas and your safety is important to you, then this should be the major selling point for this unit.
- bone conduction: on higher volumes you feel the unit trembling on your bones. On the lowest volume you don’t feel this. (I typically put all my headphones on lowest volume as I like to run and hike for many hours)
- long battery life (longest I’ve run with it was 4 hours and the unit was still going strong)
- I wear glasses and was a bit scared that the bone conduction part that sits behind the ear would conflict with the glasses, but there’s no issue at all with this combination
Purchase Aftershokz Trekz Titanium on Amazon: Amazon.de (EUR)
- as the speaker sits slightly before your ear the music experience is less intense
- because the speaker is not in ear the audio quality is less (still very acceptable, but without a doubt the least from all my headphones)
- not flexible, when you’re tired of listening to music you can’t reduce the size of the unit so it’s harder to put away in your pocket.
- I’ve had a few occasions that I got a stiff neck when running with these headphones, presumably because the back of the unit sits a few centimeters behind my head and limits the neck movement a bit. Likely only an issue when you run with it for many hours…
||Skullcandy method wireless
This is my go to unit when running several marathons on consecutive days (as the moments you don’t want to hear music increase when doing multi-day events).
- definitely one of the best features of this headphone is that there is no need to put the unit in your pocket: this headphone has a collar which sits in your neck, when you’re tired of listening to music you can just let the earplugs dangle without fear of losing your headphones…
- no one says you have to put both plugs in your ears, when I want to hear the environment or am talking to a person running next to me
- good audio quality (in-between the audio quality of the Plantronics and the Trekz)
- long battery life (>5hours)
- Update August 12th: I had to send back two units because they broke down with the same problem (unable to charge, unable to power on), my current (third unit) is working great so far and this has actually become my preferred unit as I see myself picking up this headset the more and more often as I really like being able to listen to music with just 1 ear…
Purchase Skullcandy Method Wireless on Amazon: Amazon.de (EUR)
- the ear plugs cover your complete ear canal so if you wear both plugs simultaneously you don’t hear the environment around you very well
- Update August 12th: on the first 2 versions I had problems with ear plugs falling out sometimes, I’m no longer having this issue with this 3rd replacement.
- When listening for many hours (3+ in my case) your ears can start feeling wet because of the build up of sweat behind the ear plug. (Usually I listen with 1 plug, so I just switch ears to resolve)
Not recommended headphones and speakers
||Polk Boom Bit|
I use this Bluetooth speaker on short runs, I wouldn’t recommend the device to people who like to exercise more than 1 hour. (In order to maximize battery life set the speaker to the lowest volume and in order for to hear anything when playing on the lowest volume clip the speaker on your shoulder right under your ear)
- small (3cm x 7cm x 1cm)
- very lightweight (36g)
- has a backclip to clip on your t-shirt
- ok audio quality
- this could be the perfect running companion as you hear the environment around you and there’s no irritation about plugs in your ears… but 1 hour battery life is usually too short for me. I hope that future versions will have longer battery life!
Purchase Polk Boom Bit on Amazon:
- very short battery life (even on the lowest volume) (~1 hour)
I hope that my user experience has helped you to decide which Bluetooth headphones or Bluetooth speaker could be the best fit for your training profile. In case you have any questions feel free to ask below!
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