Apple AirPods are by far the most popular brand of earbuds on the market. But while these iconic Bluetooth headphones make great leisure accessories, runners and athletes need to know if they are rated for performance. This is especially true in bad weather. You may be wondering, “can you run in the rain with AirPods?”
You can run in the rain with AirPods, but you should avoid doing so if you can. Although 3rd generation AirPods and 2nd generation AirPods Pro boast an IPX rating of 4, this water-resistant sealing can wear off over time due to overexposure. If you own AirPods Standard (generation 2 or earlier), you should avoid running with them altogether.
Continue below to learn about IPX ratings and what Apple’s product lineup offers you in terms of water-resistant technology.
Understanding IPX ratings, water resistance, and waterproofing
We’re all familiar with the scenario. Grey clouds are quickly encroaching upon what had previously been a beautiful day. As you lace up your running shoes the question enters your mind, “Should I go for it?” Ultimately you decide to give it a shot, but just one mile into your run, the sky opens up above you, and you’re forced to complete the “jog of shame” as you’re pelted by rain all the way home.
Though it might be more comfortable than running in the extreme heat, there are a number of challenges that come with running in the rain. For those of us who run with AirPods, the problem is compounded. Deciding whether to run with or without AirPods will come down to the IPX rating of your headphones.
Most electronic products, such as watches, phones, and AirPods, are assigned an IPX rating to indicate their water resistance. IPX stands for “ingress protection code” and is published by the International Electrotechnical Commission.
In fact, the IEC rates products for both their resistance to solid particles and to water. If a device is rated for both, its IPX number might read something like “IP04,” meaning that the device provides a level 0 protection against particles (think dust) and a level 4 protection against water ingress.
The table below provides a description of the capabilities of devices at various levels of water resistance:
|IPX-0||Offers no protection|
|IPX-1||Offers protection against water drops|
|IPX-2||Offers protection against water spray at a 60° angle|
|IPX-3||Offers protection against water spray at 60° angle|
|IPX-4||Offers protection against water splashing at any angle|
|IPX-5||Offers protection against water jets from any angle|
|IPX-6||Offers protection against powerful water jets and heavy seas|
|IPX-7||Offers protection against temporary submersion in water (30 min. at 3 ft.)|
|IPX-8||Offers protection against permanent submersion in water (up to 13 ft.)|
Are Apple AirPods waterproof or water-resistant?
Apple offers a variety of products, each with its own IPX rating, ranging from waterproof to water resistant. Products such as the iPhone 12 and 13 are rated with an IPX rating of IP68, meaning they can be completely submerged in water up to a depth of about 20 feet for up to 30 minutes. AirPods, however, offer a lower level of water resistance due to a few porous design features.
In general, Apple AirPods offer a fairly low level of water resistance. No generation of Apple AirPods should ever be submerged in water, and none of them offer the level of protection that runners would hope to see to justify their consistent use in the rain.
The earlier generations of Apple AirPods, starting with AirPods Standard generation 2 and earlier, are not rated for water resistance at all. This implies they should not be used in any type of moist environment, including your sweaty ears, even when the weather is fine!
AirPods made beyond this generation all boast an IPX rating of 4 which protects against water splashes. This resistance, however, is not permanent, and after consistent use in sweaty or rainy environments, the water-resistant sealing will begin to break down, causing the device to malfunction.
Can you run in the rain with AirPods?
Now that we understand IPX ratings, we can answer the question, “can you run with AirPods in the rain?
Ultimately, running in the rain consistently with Apple AirPods will deteriorate the water-resistant sealing on the headphones and cause them to wear out faster. They were simply not made for regular exposure to water, including sweat. You can probably get by running with Apple AirPods, but serious runners will be better off finding a more durable model of Bluetooth headphones.
Below I have included a list of the Apple AirPods product lineup, with a brief description of the water resistance of each product.
Though some of these products can be used for running (even on rainy days), it would probably be best to find a set of Bluetooth headphones with a higher IPX rating, such as the Jaybird Vista 2’s, which have an IPX rating of IP68 and are made for complete submersion in water.
Standard – 1st Generation
This generation of AirPods has no IPX rating and, therefore, can be classified as not safe for running use in wet conditions.
Standard – 2nd Generation
This generation of AirPods also has no IPX rating and, therefore, can be classified as not safe for running use in wet conditions.
Pro – 1st Generation
This generation of AirPods has an IPX rating of 4, meaning they are sweat and water-resistant against splashes in any direction.
They are safe for running in wet conditions but keep in mind that the water-resistant sealing will wear off over time, so you’ll have to pay special attention to the wear state of your pods.
Pro – 2nd Generation
This generation of AirPods also has an IPX rating of 4, meaning they are sweat and water-resistant against splashes in any direction.
They are safe for running in wet conditions but keep in mind that the water-resistant sealing will wear off over time.
This generation of AirPods has no IPX rating and, therefore, can be classified as not safe for running use in wet conditions. These headphones are made for leisure and not a sport.
What should you do if your AirPods get wet?
With any generation of Apple AirPods, the likelihood of getting them wet at some point is extremely high. Whether you wore them for a brief workout and broke a minor sweat or whether a rainstorm surprised you on the way home, completing the following procedure should help keep your Airpods in good shape and protect the water-resistant sealing that some generations of AirPods have.
If your AirPods get wet:
- Find a soft, lint-free cloth.
- Gently wipe the AirPods until they feel dry.
- Set the AirPods out in the open and let them dry completely before placing them in the charging case.
- If you’re still concerned about water stuck inside the AirPods themselves, you can try to eject the water using a SIRI shortcut created by Apple for ejecting water from iPhone speakers or from Airpods. Learn how by watching the video below.
While getting your AirPods wet may be unavoidable in certain situations, try to keep them dry by not placing them under running water, such as shower heads or sink faucets. Don’t leave them in pockets to be washed by accident, and don’t wear them in extremely damp environments such as in a sauna or out on the lake water-skiing.
What Should Runners Look for in Bluetooth Headphones?
Finding the right pair of Bluetooth headphones for running is a personal decision.
Some runners may prefer in-ear headphones (headphones that are designed to fit in your ear canal) over earbuds (headphones, like AirPods, that sit in your outer ear.) However, there are a few considerations that will be universal.
When purchasing Bluetooth headphones for running, consider the following qualities:
|Water Resistance||Check the IPX rating. For running in the rain, you’ll want at least an IPX-4.|
|Comfort||The last thing you want to focus on during a run is ear pain caused by poorly designed headphones.|
|Stability||Nothing is more frustrating than constantly having to readjust headphones in the middle of a run.|
|Connectivity||Science has proven that when your podcast gets interrupted by poor connectivity, the burning in your quads increases dramatically (well, sort of…)|
|Price||When using something for sport, the lifespan will diminish. Make sure you can afford to replace your headphones after they wear out.|
Top 3 Choices for Runners
There’s a potentially overwhelming number of headphone choices on the market today. I’ve narrowed it down to my top three.
The best Bluetooth headphones for runners are:
- Tranya T40 – These are the best bang for your buck. They boast a higher IPX rating than Apple AirPods, they’re cheaper, and they also provide better in-ear stability.
- Jaybird Vista 2 – While these are a bit pricy, they’re no more expensive than Apple AirPods, and they’re completely waterproof.
- Shokz OpenRun Pro – These boast a higher IPX rating than the AirPods, provide a headband for stability, and provide quality sound. However, they are pricier than Apple’s option.
Can you run in the rain with AirPods?
Sure, you can run in the rain with AirPods for a while, but these headphones have a very low IPX rating and will quickly get ruined if you continually use them in wet weather.
What’s an IPX rating?
An IPX rating is a rating system that shows how water-resistant a product is. IPX stands for “Ingress Protection Code.”
What do you do with your AirPods if they get wet?
Use a soft, lint-free cloth to gently wipe the AirPods until they feel dry. Then set them out in the open and let them get completely dry before you put them back in the case.
- About the Author
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Joshua Bartlett is a professional amateur when it comes to running – basically, he takes his mediocre running ability very seriously.
As the Editor-in-Chief at Saltmarsh Running, it is his job to make sure that readers get only highly-researched and comprehensive questions to all of their running questions.