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Choosing the Best Bone Conduction Headphones

by Josh Koop | Last Updated:   4 weeks ago
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We like to imagine getting outside and being active as the pinnacle of personal freedom and family fun time. It’s our chance to get away from the shackles of our daily routine and let ourselves experience the grand sense of life, nature or the adventure of the world. 

When we think of outdoors and running we always need to be aware of our surroundings. Quite frequently though when you are outside you want to listen to music or other media.

When we think of getting out to exercise while in our urban surroundings we need to keep thoughts focused on dangers which exist.

Things like cars not watching intersections, wild animals out looking for food and those can be dangerous if you can’t be aware.

What we don’t think about is the hassle of keeping our ears open is a viable possibility with headphones if you focus on the best bone conduction headphones this all changes. 

If you are like me and love to listen to your own music, podcasts, or other audio then you know it can be difficult. Most people think that if you have headphones in you obviously aren’t listening to anything else.

This is a problem for someone like me who can have issues focusing if there isn’t a steady stream of noise to keep me busy.

I’m the oddball who needs to have continuous playback like trance, drum and base, dubstep, or similar music playing in my ears continually to keep it on track.

There has to be a better way – and, thankfully, with bone conduction headphones, there definitely is.

So whether you are all in a car, out in your day job, running on the city streets, or hiking out on the Appalachian Trail (on my 5 year plan) having bone conduction headphones can help keep you safe.

You can hear your surroundings and be continuously aware of everything going on around you even while absorbed in the audio.

Whether you’re going camping or driving cross country, a pair of bone conduction headphones is basically essential for trips. They’re super sleek, sturdy, lightweight design, along with providing you with an elegant option or solution to your headphone needs.

That said, bone conduction headphones are anything but simple technology. On the contrary, there is a ton of possible costs and variation between different manufacturers of bone conduction headphones.

Your bone conduction headphones are a significant investment, and you’ll want to make sure you’re getting one of the best models on the market and an option that is perfect for your particular needs.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what you should look for in a pair of headphones, which options are top of the market, and which of those are the best suited for your next trip in sound quality and overall audio quality.

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The Comparison Table

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The Bone Conduction Headphones Buyer’s Guide: 6 Things to Consider

No matter whether planning to go on a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail or just on a local neighborhood run you and anyone interested in bone conduction headphones will want to take the following factors into consideration.

The Price

Lets face it this is obviously the most important thing for almost everyone who is looking for new gear. I know that its one of the things which drives your choice, it also will denote a large part of how well your bone conduction headphones will work for you.

Price is top on my list due to the need to spend money if you want good, long lasting headphones. If you buy inexpensive bone conduction headphones from China they will be inexpensive but they will break and fail all the time.

Plenty of *fake* reviews online will tell you they are the “best deal” but they aren’t they are just to get you moving to a purchase. I have had 3 pairs now from the Titanium, Trekz Air, and now the Aeropex.

The Battery Life

The life of the battery is a pretty big deal to most people as you want to go a long time without needing to recharge, I prefer 8 hour life now as it is what allows me to go all day without recharging.

As the cost drops you will get worse battery performance as that is where they will cut the costs to get you a cheaper product. I would say that you typically do not want to purchase a set of bone conduction headphones without at least a 6 hour active use lifespan.

The Durability

As you look you want to find one with at least a metal band to give it some strength as all plastic has a tendency to crack and break as it is used.

Aftershokz makes the best, most durable, bone conduction headphones on the market as they began using titanium and metal in the band to ensure long life and flexibility.

The Water Resistance (IPxx)

As water resistance goes this will highly depend on your use and what weather is typical around where you will use them. If you are prone to large volumes of rain then looking for the better IPxx rating for at least water resistant is important.

If you are looking for using while you swim there is only a few choices available that are truly waterproof and built for use in the water. I cover the waterproof versions in depth over here.

The Bluetooth Version

Bluetooth has many benefits when you advance forward in versions. The current version, which is Bluetooth 5.0 is much better at multi-pairing so you can maintain connections on multiple devices to the headphones.

Some of the older versions of headphones came with very old Bluetooth which could only connect to a single device without you needing to continually fight to make connections when powered on and in range.

The Weight

Every ounce on your head can be felt, it seems silly but the more weight you place, even on a loop, the more you will feel it. Since they don’t arch over and rest on the top of your head you ears will be the main support to hold them in place.

This sounds silly but I can tell you on the Titanium I bought first you could feel a wear mark on your ears if you wore them for a few hours. When I bought my Air they were almost unnoticeable which was a nice change!

The Top Five Bone Conduction Headphones

As you will see on my list it is all by AfterShokz, thats because there is not a single competitor who makes bone conduction headphones at the quality AfterShokz does.

I don’t want to buy 3 cheap knock-offs, I want to buy the real deal and have them last me for the long haul. I have only replaced mine as newer versions come out and they have features I want, like the longer battery life and lighter weights.

AfterShokz Aeropex

The current flagship of the AfterShokz brand, Aeropex are built for use in sports and are IPx rated for sweat, dust, and similar items which can ensure they don’t break down the same as previous models.

Useful Specs

Reasons To Purchase

Amazingly Lightweight – These weigh in at 26g and this weight is almost undetectable on your head, this means you can wear them longer without the wear on your ears to support them.

Long Lasting Battery – No one offers a 8 hour playback from their bone conduction headphones as space is cramped to fit larger capacity batteries, somehow AfterShokz pulled it off and these are amazingly long lasting!

IPX Rating (IP67) – The ratings for these are pretty amazing with the 6 part standing for dust protection which is tight enough to allow no ingress into the device. The 7 part of the rating stands for the water protection which on these bone conduction headphones means total submersion event for up to 30 minutes at 3 feet!!

Read Our Full Aeropex Review

Our Decision

The AfterShokz Aeropex are the top of the class when it comes to bone conduction headphones on the market. There is no better performing set available to purchase, these are the trifecta of weight, wireless and long battery life.

I bought mine to enjoy more time with them as the previous AfterShokz Trekz Air has a shorter battery life which meant needing to recharge or bring additional headphones, these are nearly flawless!

AfterShokz XTrainerz

For people who look to swim the trouble with finding ANY headphones which would work was difficult. AfterShokz brought their skills into the fold with the XTrainerz.

Useful Specs

Reasons To Purchase

IPX Rating (IP68) – The ratings for these are pretty amazing with the 6 part standing for dust protection which is tight enough to allow no ingress into the device. The 8 part of the rating stands for the water protection which on these bone conduction headphones means permanent submersion event to 13 feet without issues!

Onboard Storage Only – This is where people diverge as those who love keeping MP3s will love loading their own music. This onboard storage allows for hours of music, podcasts, and anything else you like to listen to.

Long Lasting Battery – No one offers a 8 hour playback from their bone conduction headphones as space is cramped to fit larger capacity batteries, somehow AfterShokz again pulled it off and these are amazingly long lasting!

Read Our Full XTrainerZ Review

Our Decision

For the people who love to swim and frequently get totally soaked these are the match made in heaven. This was built from the ground up especially for swimmers and since it involves water they chose to add embedded storage space.

Note: The XTrainerZ don’t have any ability to have an active connection to your phone so you can’t listen to Spotify, YouTube, and other similar shows though.

This is obviously as maintaining that connection through water is almost impossible so having that feature would make them less than useful underwater.

AfterShokz Xtrainerz Open Ear MP3 Bone Conduction Headphones
  • EXCLUSIVE PACK - Includes Xtrainerz bone conduction headphones and swim cap. Unlike traditional headphones that send sound through the ear canal, our patented bone conduction technology delivers audio through the cheekbones. With nothing inside or over your ears, enjoy total awareness and comfort while you listen.
  • LEAVE YOUR DEVICE BEHIND - With 4GB of built-in MP3 storage that holds up to 1,200 songs, you can leave your Bluetooth devices at home. Xtrainerz support MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC, and FLAC files (not Bluetooth compatible).
  • 8 HOURS OF PLAY - Enjoy 8 continuous hours of playtime with premium audio while youre cross-training. Adjust volume and tracks at the touch of a button.
  • IP68 RATED - Fully waterproof, Xtrainerz headphones perform in and out of the water so your favorite open-ear headphones can keep you company wherever your training takes you.
  • COMFORTABLE + SECURE - The unique open-ear comfortable design of Xtrainerz enables bud-free, pain-free listening, and keeps the headphones in place stroke after stroke.

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AfterShokz Trekz Air

The Trekz Air was the former best in class prior to AfterShokz releasing the Aeropex, I loved my pair and used them for almost 2 years before upgrading but they never let me down even in the Houston hurricane!

Useful Specs

Reasons To Purchase

Lighter On The Wallet – Unlike the Aeropex these can be found for a much lesser cost and allow you to dip your feet into the bone conduction headphones without a large expense.

Titanium band – All the earlier bone conduction headphones used a plastic band which meant easier to bust and much less flexible for your head.

Read Our Full Trekz Air Review

Our Decision

If you are looking to make your dive into the bone conduction headphone space then this is probably a perfect fit for you in the durability and cost for performance.

I loved these and have continued to share them with my family as they last a long time and are amazingly still looking like the day I bought them after I abused them for two years!

AfterShokz Trekz Titanium

More “rugged” and aged in appearance to the others on the list, the Titanium keeps trucking along. Being a very good performer for the price tag means they continue to stay relevant.

Useful Specs

Reasons To Purchase

Titanium Band – All the earlier bone conduction headphones used a plastic band which meant easier to bust and much less flexible for your head.

Cost Savings – This is the only one on the list to continuously list under $100 and can be around $50 less expensive than the Trekz Air.

Read Our Full Titanium Review

Our Decision

For the ultra budget conscience the Titanium are a little bigger and heavier but retain the functionality that makes the Air so nice for a new bone conduction headphone user.

Most of these can be found online for about $80 which is a steal for the use you will get out of them over the lifetime. These are sweat-proof so they also work for running and jogging activities.

Final Thoughts on the Best Bone Conduction Headphones

When you choose to go with bone conduction wireless headphones you want to make a good quality choice in your investment, I would say that they have been life changing for my outdoor activities.

I now use them while I hike, run, and bike to ensure I can hear anything around me which could be dangerous. I bring them with me when I take my daughter to the rock climbing gym as I can wear them while climbing so I can hear but listen to tunes at the same time.

While none of them are as good in volume and sound range as standard headphones they aren’t really intended to replace normal headphones. They are to give you sound while leaving your hearing fully functional and allow you to react better to ambient noise or background noise.

Hopefully you are heading to purchase your set of bone conduction headphones and if you already have them I would love to hear what your feelings are in regards to them versus regular headphones.

Amazon Bestsellers

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