Speaker on bench overlooking the ocean
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The Best Travel Speakers For All Kinds of Trip

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There’s a lot that goes into making the best travel speaker.

It needs to be small and light enough that you barely notice it in your bag. Sound quality needs to be good enough to make it worth listening to in the first place, with enough volume to be heard anywhere you might choose to use it.

It needs to be durable, too. There’s a good chance you’ll be using it at the beach, or beside the pool, or somewhere else where it can get dropped, dirty, and wet. It needs to be able to easily survive that kind of treatment.

Battery life also matters. There’s not much point taking your speaker to a beach party or picnic in the park if the music stops after a couple of hours. On top of all of that, it has to be reasonably priced, since speakers like these are optional extras for most people.

Sound like an impossible combination? Thankfully, at least in a few cases, it’s not. Although they’re all a little different in one way or another, these six speakers fit the bill nicely.

From tiny models that fit in your pocket to great-sounding ones that can bob alongside you in the pool, these are my top travel speaker picks right now.

Best Overall: UE Wonderboom 3

  • Weight: 15 ounces
  • Battery Life: Up to 14 hours
  • Input: Bluetooth
  • Durability: IP67 dust and water resistance

Best Sound: Bose SoundLink Flex

  • Weight: 20.8 ounces
  • Battery Life: Up to 12 hours
  • Input: Bluetooth
  • Durability: IP67 dust and water resistance

Best Value: Sony SRS-XB13

  • Weight: 9 ounces
  • Battery Life: Up to 16 hours
  • Input: Bluetooth, 3.5mm
  • Durability: IP67 dust and water resistance

Best for Battery Life: Anker Soundcore 2

  • Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Battery Life: Up to 24 hours
  • Input: Bluetooth, 3.5mm
  • Durability: IPX5 water resistance

Best Super-Small Option: JBL GO 3

  • Weight: 7.4 ounces
  • Battery Life: 5 hours
  • Input: Bluetooth
  • Durability: IP67 water resistance

Best for Use on the Move: JBL Clip 4

  • Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
  • Input: Bluetooth
  • Durability: IP67 water resistance

Best Overall: UE Wonderboom 3

Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3, Small Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker, Big Bass 360-Degree Sound for Outdoors, Waterproof, Dustproof IP67, Floatable, 131 ft Range - Active Black

Of all the companies out there making travel speakers, Ultimate Ears (UE) has long been my favorite. The company has been turning out durable yet attractive speakers that sound as good as they look for a while now, and the Wonderboom 3 is no exception.

Made from recycled plastic and available in several different colors, it’s tough enough to bounce around in the bottom of a daypack, and light enough that you won’t care it’s in there.

Once you get to your destination, this little speaker handles a surprising amount of abuse. This thing has bounced around inside my car and been dropped in the dirt more times than I care to remember, yet it just keeps chugging along as good as new.

That’s definitely helped by having proper IP67 dust and water resistance, and while I wouldn’t suggest cranking out your favorite tunes at the bottom of the hotel pool, it’ll happily float alongside you while you’re in there.

The fabric loop on the top is also surprisingly useful: I’ve used it to hang the speaker from the top of my tent at night, and to make the most of nearby tree branches to keep it out of harm’s way around the campfire.

I’ve always been impressed by the audio quality of the Wonderboom speakers, and this version is no exception. Surprisingly loud, with decent bass, clear midrange, and distinct highs, it’s honestly better than it should be for the size.

At up to 86db, it’s loud enough to rock most beach or pool parties, with minimal distortion even at the top of the range. There’s an Outdoor Boost mode that I’ve occasionally used in noisy places, and you can also pair it to a second Wonderboom 3 (or the previous Wonderboom 2) for stereo sound and extra volume.

I’ve regularly got 10-12 hours of music from a full charge, even at reasonably high volume, and it gets from empty back to 100% with around 2.5 hours on the charger.

UE didn’t mess much at all with the successful design of the Wonderboom 2 when updating this model. While that’s largely a wise decision given how good it was, it does mean a couple of my minor niggles from the previous version have remained.

I’d have liked to see an aux socket to go with the Bluetooth streaming option, for instance, and the decision not to switch from the aging micro-USB charging socket to USB C is pretty baffling. Other than the silly name, though, those are my only issues with what is an excellent speaker for almost any outdoor use.


  • Good sound quality
  • Attractive and durable
  • Plenty of volume
  • Decent battery life


  • No aux port
  • Still uses micro-USB charging
Buy on Amazon

Best Sound: Bose SoundLink Flex

Bose SoundLink Flex Bluetooth Speaker, Portable Speaker with Microphone, Wireless Waterproof Speaker for Travel, Outdoor and Pool Use, Black

Renowned for the quality of its headphones and high-end speakers, Bose has now turned its attention to the smaller end of the market. The SoundLink Flex is my pick of the company’s portable range, with some useful tricks and the best-sounding audio I’ve come across in a speaker this size.

While it’s obviously not going to replace your home theater setup, you can still expect rich mid-tones, bright highs, and bass that’s prominent without being overpowering.

Listening to music or podcasts on the Flex has been genuinely enjoyable, a statement that’s difficult to make about many small speakers. Using the Bose Connect app, you can pair two Flexes together to get stereo sound if you happen to have a second one.

Powered via a USB C port, I’ve got around eight hours at louder volumes, and more like ten hours when it hasn’t been blasting quite so loudly. It still sounds good even with it cranked up: I’ve noticed very little distortion even at maximum settings.

Much like the Wonderboom 3, the Flex is IP67-rated against dust and water, and floats if you manage to drop it overboard. Not that’d I know anything about that.

It handles the usual minor drops and bumps ok, but Bose is a little vague about the durability: make what you will of statements like “adventure-ready” and being able to “withstand almost any mishap”. Mine has lasted fine so far, but it hasn’t had a lot of abuse.

Also like the Wonderboom, a loop on one end makes it easy to hang the speaker from a hook, branch, or backpack. Relatedly, and something I haven’t seen before in a travel speaker, the Flex has positional audio: it knows whether it’s horizontal, vertical, or laying on its back, and optimizes the sound accordingly.

Any downsides? Only a couple of minor ones. While it’s still very much a travel-sized speaker, it’s still quite heavy: 1.3 pounds is at the upper end of what I’d consider appropriate for travel, especially if you’re getting on a plane and need to put it in your carry-on.

As usual with Bose, it’s also not cheap. It’s pretty reasonable value for what you get, though, and isn’t that much more than my top travel speaker pick. If great-sounding audio is important to you, it’s definitely worth the extra cash. If not, one of my other recommendations may be a better fit.


  • Sounds great for a speaker this size
  • Proper dust and water resistance
  • Decent battery life
  • Positional audio


  • Heavier than the competition
  • Relatively expensive
Buy on Amazon

Best Value: Sony SRS-XB13

Sony SRSXB13/B Extra Bass Portable Waterproof Speaker with Bluetooth, USB Type-C, 16 Hours Battery Life

Sony’s long had a reputation for quality at the high of the audio market, and with the XB13, it takes that expertise and applies it to the lower-cost end of the range as well.

This small portable speaker is very impressive for its size, with strong, distinct mid-range and crisp treble. My brother bought one and has spent a lot of time listening to it: tracks with heavy bass can get a little muddy and indistinct, inevitable with a speaker this size, but almost anything else is a pleasure to listen to.

The maximum volume is reasonably loud, although there is a bit of distortion when you really crank it up. Fortunately that’s something you’ll very rarely need to do, especially indoors. Charging is via a USB C port, a welcome upgrade from the micro-USB of the previous model.

Despite its diminutive dimensions, Sony hasn’t skimped on the features. There’s an inbuilt mic for making calls: I tested this out with my brother recently, and it sounded similar (slightly better, really) than a normal call with him.

Like any good travel speaker, there’s that IP67 dust and water protection that I mentioned earlier, so getting caught in the rain or dropping it in the bath isn’t a problem.

The 16-hour battery life is better than most of the competition, and unlike many manufacturer’s estimates, that’s pretty close to the mark. My brother often has the speaker playing from first thing in the morning until late at night, and only charges it overnight.

There’s even a strap to hang the speaker off a shower head, backpack, or bike handlebars. Given my brother lives in the Netherlands, trust me, that last scenario is not just a hypothetical.

The speaker is available in five different colors, and like some of the others I’ve mentioned, you can pair two of them for stereo sound and extra volume. In short, you get a lot for your money with the latest model of Sony’s durable little speaker.

While I prefer the audio quality of the Wonderboom 3 and (especially) the SoundLink Flex, features like the inbuilt microphone, lower price and weight, and longer battery life make the XB13 the better option for a fair number of people.


  • Good mid and treble
  • Proper dust and water resistance
  • Inbuilt microphone
  • Small and light


  • Bass can be a little muddy
  • Can distort at high volume
Buy on Amazon

Best for Battery Life: Anker Soundcore 2

Anker Soundcore 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker with 12W Stereo Sound, Bluetooth 5, Bassup, IPX7 Waterproof, 24-Hour Playtime, Wireless Stereo Pairing, Speaker for Home, Outdoors, Travel

Known mainly for making well-priced, high-quality chargers and batteries, Anker’s recently started taking the same approach with portable speakers and projectors. For travelers, the best example of this is the Soundcore 2.

An updated version of what was already a pretty good travel speaker, you get an awful lot for a device that typically costs under fifty bucks.

Let’s start with the headline feature: a full day of music. There’s a 5200mAh battery inside which Anker rates for up to 24 hours of playback. That’s not just an idle claim, either: I often have mine playing music in the background while working for two or three days between charges.

Speaking of volume, the 12W (2 x 6W) drivers put out a fair amount of it. This speaker isn’t as loud as some of my other picks, especially when competing with other sounds outdoors, but I’ve found it fine for small groups or indoor listening.

The Soundcore 2 sounds pretty good for a budget speaker, too, although it’s not an audiophile device by any stretch. Compared to listening to music on my phone or laptop speakers, however, it’s a dramatic step up.

While the design can be best described as functional rather than attractive, the small, blocky dimensions do help the device fit easily into my bag: I’ve found it easy to slide it down the side even when my daypack is full of other stuff.

The rubber casing has helped protect against the odd knock or drop, and it’s easily survived a good splash without any sign of damage. The specs suggest it can’t deal with outright submersion, but I don’t intend to (deliberately) test that.

There’s also an inexpensive travel case (sold separately) for extra protection in transit, but I haven’t felt the need for it so far.

Available in a few different colors, the Soundcore 2 delivers decent sound, good portability, and exceptional battery life at a very sharp price. For many travelers, that’s exactly what they’re looking for in a speaker.


  • Exceptional battery life
  • Small and portable
  • Good value


  • Average volume and sound quality
  • Not as water-resistant as some competitors
Buy on Amazon

Best Super-Small Option: JBL GO 3

JBL Go 3: Portable Speaker with Bluetooth, Builtin Battery, Waterproof and Dustproof Feature Blue JBLGO3BLUAM

The first thing you’ll notice about the JBL GO 3 is just how small it is. This little speaker literally fits in a back pocket, and at just over seven ounces, it’s easy to forget it’s even there.

JBL has managed to cram a lot into such a small space. It can function as a little speakerphone as well as a speaker, for instance, while the IP67 rating means it takes a drenching and still come back for more.

Sound quality is good for such a tiny 4W speaker. There’s enough volume to hear it outdoors as long as there isn’t too much background noise, and it easily fills a hotel room with sound. There’s some distortion at maximum volume, but anything less than that sounds crisp and clear.

Basic controls sit along the top of the speaker, making it easy to control play/pause/skip and volume. Power and Bluetooth pairing buttons are on the base of the speaker.

So is there anything not to like? Honestly, other than the battery life, not much. At around five hours between charges, it’s worth packing a small power bank to give it some extra juice if you plan to use the GO 3 all day.

It’s also a shame that JBL didn’t include the ability to skip tracks backward as well as forward using the speaker buttons, but that’s a very minor concern. It’s not exactly difficult to do it from my phone, after all.

Given all the things it gets right–tiny size, good sound, flexible playback, water-resistance, and more–I have to say that it’s easy to overlook minor niggles like this.

Cute and stylish, and available in a range of attractive colors, the GO 3 is designed to appeal to a younger crowd. No matter your demographic, though, if you’re after a quality speaker that fits in your pocket, you’ve found it here.


  • Very compact
  • Surprisingly good sound for its size
  • IP67 dust and water resistance
  • Reasonably priced


  • Short battery life
  • Better for personal use than a group setting
Buy on Amazon

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Best for Use on the Move: JBL Clip 4

JBL Clip 4 - Portable Mini Bluetooth Speaker for home, outdoor and travel, big audio and punchy bass, integrated carabiner, IP67 waterproof and dustproof, 10 hours of playtime, (Gray)

Of all the travel speakers mentioned here, the JBL Clip 4 is the one most focused on the “travel” part. Appropriately small and lightweight, the metal carabiner at the top makes it easy to attach to a backpack strap, bike handle, or any other hook or loop you can find.

Large raised buttons below the carabiner make it easy to control volume and playback, even without needing to look at them. The metal grille is a nice touch, making the Clip 4 a stylish little device, and it’s available in a range of different colors.

Despite its good looks, the speaker is intended for outdoor use. The IP67 rating means it can handle dust, dirt, and being submerged in three feet of water for half an hour, and it’ll float back to the surface if you drop it in the pool.

At around 100 feet, the Bluetooth range is particularly good. You can’t connect multiple Clip 4’s together, though, which is a bit of a shame.

Sound quality is good for a 5W speaker, helped a lot by the passive bass radiator. Volume levels are also better than you might expect, and you’ll be able to hear your music outdoors unless you’re somewhere particularly loud.

As with most small speakers, battery life is significantly affected by how loud you play your music. You’ll likely get under half the advertised 10-hour battery life at maximum volume, but dial it back a bit and you’ll get much closer.

A true go-anywhere speaker with decent battery life and good sound quality, the JBL Clip 4 deserves a place near the top of your travel gadget shopping list.


  • Lightweight
  • Carabiner makes it easy to take anywhere
  • Long Bluetooth range


  • Can’t connect multiple speakers together
Buy on Amazon

Main image via Sukasem Siwaphorn/Shutterstock.com, product images via Amazon

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One Comment

  1. Well done. This is the best list for me.

    It appears that the JBL GO 2 also does not allow connecting multiple speakers together. Too bad–I wanted to buy one, and if I wanted more power, get a second and enjoy stereo sound with separate right and left speakers.

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