Best MP3 Player for Running in 2021 | Best Music Device Guide for Running

We have found the best mp3 player for running. Nobody likes to run in complete silence, which is why mp3 players are so convenient. They allow you to store tons of mp3 files on them, making it easy for you to enjoy every run with great music in your ears. Plus, with most MP3 players being quite small, it’s easy to bring them along with you.

This year you have even more choice when it comes to mp3 players, they can stream music from your favorite apps, load audiobooks, or even be part of your running watch.

Finding an mp3 player made specifically for running may seem simple enough, but there are many factors that come into play. You’ll want an mp3 player that is small enough, that integrates with your favorite apps and that can carry enough songs/books to last your entire run. Here is a list of the best MP3 players for running.

Related article: Best Running Watches for Women

Top 5 MP3 Players for Running Quick Comparison

MP3 PlayerMain FeaturesOur Score 
Top pickvivoactive 3 musicVivo active 3 with music
  • Best Value Music Running Watch
  • up to 500 songs
  • 7 day battery life
4.3/5 StarsMore..
sandisc mp3 layerSanDisk 8GB Clip Jam MP3 Player
  • Lowest Price
  • Small and light
  • FM Radio
4.1/5 StarsMore..
Garmin Forerunner 245 MusicGarmin Forerunner 245 Music
  • 7 Day Battery Life
  • Accurate GPS Tracking
  • 3.5 GB Storage
4.6/5 StarsMore..
Mighty Vibe Spotify and AmazonMighty Vibe Spotify and Amazon Music Player
  • Load from Streaming Apps
  • Extremely small
  • Very Light
3.8/5 StarsMore..
Mibao MP3 PlayerMibao MP3 Player with Bluetooth
  • 32 Gb Memory
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • 7 day battery life
4.1/5 StarsMore..

Best mp3 Players for Running Top 5 In-Depth Analysis

You can download up to 500 songs, which means you can skip to the next track your whole run, for even the most indecisive runners.

Similar to most Garmin devices, you don’t have to charge this watch every night, and it connects to your phone and your headphones via Bluetooth. If you’re a runner and love listening to music, and don’t already have a smart-watch you love, we highly recommend the Vivoactive 3.

The FM Radio is a good feature when you’re tired of your current running playlist, and can’t find the song you’re looking for!

It’s got 8GB of internal storage and an expandable microSD card slot (microSD card sold separately). Large navigation buttons mean no fumbling with a touch screen. It the best mp3 player for running, that looks like the older style mp3 players.

The key feature of these watches you’ll enjoy if you don’t pay for premium music streaming is that you can upload your own music. This watch specifically has 3.5gb storage, which means tons of songs.

The 7 day battery life is something I enjoy with the garmin watches, which is why I’m mentioning it again. Compared to the Vivoactive Music, you get a little longer battery life with the Forerunner – 6 hours in gps mode with music

This watch is less expensive than many running watches. In our opinion you have two great options with the Vivoactive and the Forerunner, the final decision will be based on which you think will look more stylish on your wrist!

This mp3 player made the list because it boasts so many features we love. The first – which runners will appreciate – is it’s size. You won’t find a smaller mp3 player on the market, and if you’re used to running with a smartphone on your arm (or in your hand), this will be a very welcome break!

One feature I love is integrating with spotify premium, and if you’re like me your running playlist does not change drastically month-to-month so! There is a free music hack for you after buying the Mighty Vibe:

1: Get your Spotify discount trial

2: Load your playlist onto the Mighty Vibe

3: Cancel the Spotify premium subscription (if you want)

4: Do not connect your mighty vibe back to the computer until you’re ready to pay for Spotify again.

With this you can safely load any playlist you want onto your device, which is a benefit you won’t see on any other top music player on this list. It’s for that reason we’d encourage you to give it a try!

We liked the large, 2.4-inch screen, Bluetooth 4.2 technology, and it has decent battery life (up to 50 hours at medium volume). To prevent bumping the screen and changing songs, runners should remember to hit the power button briefly to turn off the power to the controls. It will still play music if you do this and you can use the volume controls, and just tap the power button again to turn the controls back on.

Music Device Research

Why use a running mp3 player instead of a smartphone?

The first thing you should consider is saving money –

MP3 players cost less and can be sturdier than a typical smartphone. You won’t have to stress about breaking your expensive phone on a run. If you break your phone on a run, often you’ll need to pay full price to you telecommunications carrier to replace it. Some have a replacement plan, but those are never cheap!

If you’re tired of paying every month for a music subscription, a mp3 music player lets you download your music files instead of paying for a subscription.

If you do love spotify, there are some on our list that integrate with spotify and Amazon music!

Bluetooth headphones for running or wired headphones?

The running community is divided on this issue. Bluetooth headphones can save you the hassle of plugging in an audio cable and routing it through your layers of clothing, but there are things to consider:

– A wired headphone doesn’t need to be charged (and don’t you have enough things charging already, and where did that cable go again?)

– there is no interference with a wired cable. Which device is it paired with again?

– BUT the wireless-ness of a nice bluetooth connection while running can be wonderful.

At the end of the day, when choosing a mp3 player, make sure it has the connection option you need. For example, I can guarantee you the running watches don’t have aux ports.

I personally have wired and wireless headphones, including noise cancelling headphones, ready for every running occasion.

To use an Apple Ipod / Apple Watch or not?

It wouldn’t be a review of mp3 players if we did not discuss Apple. There are so many options for running with apple products, but the one that sticks out the most for a runner is the Apple Watch. You may have used an iphone, an ipod shuffle, or a version of the Nano in your past, but those are not the best options on the market today.

When comparing the Apple watch seriously with the running specific watches they did not compare from a price/benefit ratio. If you’re a die-hard apple fan, go ahead, buy an apple watch, but for the rest, you will find better bang for your buck in our other suggestions.

What is the file type you can store/play?

This is critical – you need to consider is the audio codec your music library is in. If you use Apple Products and Itunes, you’ll probably have a music library completely filled with Apple’s proprietary AAC codec. The good news is most mp3 players will support that codec.

If you have an ear for audio quality, and have dug deep into the research, you’ll need support for lossless codecs like FLAC, WAV and ALAC, as these codecs won’t use compression methods used on lossy codecs like AAC or MP3. The difference is those files will take up more space.

How to listen to Audiobooks on your mp3 player

If you’re a multi-tasker (like many runners) you might be looking to learn something while you run. Audible has a full library from university courses, business books, comedies, to romantic thrillers, and everything in-between. You can get healthy and smart with audiobooks + running.

Step 1

Choose your favorite book with a free trial here (then come back for step 2)

Step 2

Use the guide here to load your audiobook.

If your mp3 player is not compatible, no worries, just cancel the Audible free trial before the 30 days is complete!

Wearable mp3 player or not?

Many options now can be worn on your wrist, and include many more features than a traditional mp3 player. A running watch will be more expensive than a traditional portable music player, but the features can be worth the extra spend.

If these features sound appealing to you, take a close look at the watch reviews!

– run without a phone, but still enjoy music and GPS activity tracking

– enjoy time away from your phone and app notifications

– you want to show your watch off to your runner friends (don’t feel left out! – runners talk about and compare watches…a lot)

If those features don’t appeal to you, without a wearable mp3 player you can easily pick up a running belt or armband, and still get all the functionality you need.

Size matters for a running mp3 player

Size matter whens it comes to MP3 players made for running . You want the mp3 player to be small enough to tuck into a pocket or on your waistband without it being an additional source of weight to carry around.

If you’re using a running waistband or running armband the light weight will be appreciated on long runs. Small space will leave more room for running gels, snacks, and other things like keys or credit cards.

Know your memory limitations

Memory is an important key factor. The more memory the MP3 has, the more songs you will be able to place on it. This is important before a small mp3 player may only be able to hold a couple dozen songs, while one with a lot of memory could hold thousands of songs.

Battery life is another huge aspect to consider. An mp3 player with minimal battery life may end up running out of power in the middle of your run. You definitely don’t want this happening, so you’ll certainly want to check out the battery life before committing to purchasing an mp3 player .

Do I need a waterproof mp3 player?

Waterproof MP3 players can make somewhat of a difference when you plan on taking them outdoors. While it would take a lot of rain water to cause any serious damage, it remains a possibility. If your MP3 is waterproof, you won’t have to worry about bringing it along for runs in the rain.

Every mp3 running watch we included is fully waterproof, for those who enjoy running in the rain this may be a good option for you.

Our top Pick again

If you made it this far you know more than anyone about running with an mp3 device. To make it easy for you, take the next step and try our top pick today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best device for listening to music while running?

Best Overall: Vivo active 3 with music
The Vivo active 3 with music is a great music player designed for working out. It is the best value when it comes to the features a runner wants

What is the best way to listen to music while working out?

Use Vivo active 3 or another mp3 player with Bluetooth headphones. If you are running outdoors AfterShokz Aeropex headphones allow you to hear your surrounding while listening to music.


I’m a runner, a dad, a writer, just trying to help runners make better decisions. My running career started back in 2013 getting into olympic triathlons, increasing to full distance Ironmans in 2017. Through the process of run training as a hobby and trying to train the least possible to avoid injury and still compete at the Ironman distance, I’ve put years of research and testing into simple running routines and techniques. As a writer, working with coaches and experts we take their experience and provide articles to help runners at every level.

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