Running headphones have a lot of work to do: They need to block the wind, stay comfortable while you're moving, and, most importantly, take a beating. On a daily basis these accessories get yanked on the run, crushed in gym bags, and drenched in sweat. It's no wonder that we've never really found a pair that really lasts. After six months and hundreds of miles, though, here's one that is still holding up.
The Sennheiser Adidas PMX 685i are built to endure. These in-ear buds loosely sit in the ear thanks to a solid plastic band that wraps behind the neck. Because they're not soft plastic in-ear buds, you don't have to worry about them popping out, and the loose fit allows the solid plastic casing for the little speakers (and the high-quality sound merits this description) to sit comfortably in the ear.
While they're sturdy, these headphones are not indiscreet – unsightly like a cyclist's matching spandex outfit. Wear these, and you're marked as an athlete looking for function over form. Some runners also may experience discomfort, especially on really long runs, since the headphones are primarily made of hard plastic. Those with sensitive ears should try them on first. If they cause great discomfort after a few minutes, they might not be for you.
Possibly the best feature is for the profuse sweater: The headphones are totally rinsable. So drench them, drop them in mud, wear them in a rainstorm, and then run them under the sink at the end of the day. Those of us who often soak our headphones will fast learn how many miles and months this will add to their life. [$80; en-us.sennheiser.com]