Initially developed for people with hearing loss, bone conduction headphones are becoming the latest craze among runners, swimmers and other athletes who either can’t wear traditional headphones or need to keep their ears open and alert to their surroundings for safety. Plus, the open-ear design doesn’t trap heat or plug up ear canals.
Bone conduction headphones don’t go inside your ear canal like an earbud, and they don’t sit on top of your ear like an over-ear headphone. Instead, they leave your ears completely unencumbered and rest on your skull instead.
Even if you can safely wear standard headphones, maybe you hate the sweaty ears you get from over-ear designs or can’t seem to find a comfortable way to position earbuds inside your ear canal. If you thought you were stuck choosing between the lesser of two discomforts, keep scrolling to check out our favorite bone conduction headphones on Amazon.
The best bone conduction headphones
If you want to enjoy your tunes but still be aware of oncoming traffic or you need something that you can still hear even when you’re swimming laps underwater, you need bone conduction headphones. Right now, you can try out these uniquefor yourself with major discounts on the leading brands in the bonephone game.
Best battery life: Shokz OpenRun Pro
Called “magic” by multiple reviewers, the Shokz OpenRun Pros are some of the most popular bone conduction headphones on the market. “You can hear ambient sounds and things like the skateboard coming up behind you but can also hear your audio as if it was a high quality speaker that’s following you around,” said one Amazon reviewer.
They’re great for running in hot weather, too, because they keep your ears open and they stay in place even while you’re jogging. These best-selling headphones have earned over 9,300 5-star ratings on Amazon.
Experience the magic for yourself while they’re on sale for just $140 (reduced from $180).
What we like about the Shokz OpenRun Pro:
- The comfortable, secure fit stays in place even on the move.
- IP55 water resistance means you can get sweaty or run in the rain without a problem.
- Two bass enhancers give you better bass quality compared to most bone conduction headphones.
- The battery lasts up to 10 hours on a single charge.
$140 at Amazon
Best bone conduction headphone alternative: Oladance OWS1 Open Ear Earbuds
If you want the comfort and safety of open ear headphones but you’re not sure you’re ready to hear sound with your skull, check out the Oladance OWS1 earbuds. These work like regular earbuds — that is, by vibrating air instead of your skull. But they don’t go inside your ear canal. Instead, it’s a bit like having a high-quality 16.5 mm speaker mounted right outside your ear. Actually, it’s exactly like that.
These 4.4-star rated open ear earbuds are on sale for $130 at Amazon now (reduced from $150).
What we like about the Oladance OWS1 Open Ear Earbuds:
- Super-sized 16.5mm drivers in each earbud offer some of the best audio quality earbuds have to offer.
- The battery lasts up to 16 hours on a single charge.
- The wrap-around design ensures that these mount securely around your ears without covering them.
$130 at Amazon
Best for swimming: Hamuti Waterproof Bone Conduction Headphones
These 4.3-star rated were built specifically for swimmers. Not only are they IP68 waterproof, but they also come with a 32GB built-in memory storage. That means you can download all your favorite songs, podcasts, or entire audiobooks directly to the headphones so you can still listen even when you’re underwater where a Bluetooth signal can’t reach.
Even if you’re working out on dryland, that built-in memory is a cool feature that could save you from having to lug your phone along with you on your run. Just download your music, slap on yourto track the workout, and head out. The swim-proof headphones boast a 4.3-star rating on Amazon and are on sale for $55 (reduced from $80).
What we like about the Hamuti Waterproof Bone Conduction Headphones:
- 32 GB of built-in memory lets you listen to your favorite songs or podcasts without being connected to your phone.
- IP68 waterproof rating means you can swim laps underwater without damaging these headphones.
- The battery lasts about eight hours on a single charge.
$55 at Amazon
Best budget pick: Panadia Bone Conduction Headphones
If you want to experience the possibilities of bone conduction headphones but you’re not ready for the triple-digit price tag that most brands come with, check out this option from Panadia. The 4.2-star rated headphones are $36 during Amazon’s Labor Day sale (reduced from $55).
Even though they cost less, they still pack in plenty of the premium features you want in a pair of bonephones. That includes a flexible yet secure silicone fit, Bluetooth connectivity and an IPX7 waterproof rating. (That’s enough to be sweat and rainproof, but not these headphones are not appropriate for longer stretches of underwater swimming.)
What we like about the Panadia Waterproof Bone Conduction Headphones:
- The built-in mic automatically blocks out ambient noise for crystal-clear calls.
- Use multipoint Bluetooth pairing to switch seamlessly between Zoom meetings on your computer and your favorite playlist on your phone.
- The battery lasts up to six hours on a single charge.
- Its lightweight yet secure fit stays in place even while running.
$36 at Amazon
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What are bone conduction headphones?
Here’s a fun fact that you won’t be able to stop thinking about: Your bones can hear. Well, they can transmit sound vibrations to your inner ear and your brain can accurately decode the vibrations of the inner ear as sound.
Bone conduction headphones–sometimes called “bonephones”–are genius pieces of tech that take advantage of this under-used superpower of yours. Instead of sending sound vibrations through the air to your eardrum like your regular pair of headphones, bone conduction headphones work by vibrating your skull which, in turn, vibrates your inner ear.
If you’ve never tried them before, it’s a bit like discovering a secret sixth sense you never knew you had. And it’s pretty mind-blowing just how clearly you can hear your music even though the sound is completely bypassing your ear canal.