Speaker on bench overlooking the ocean

The Best Travel Speakers of 2023

By Dave Dean Sound1 Comment

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 our top travel speaker picks of 2023.

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 our 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 will handle a surprising amount of abuse.

Able to handle most drops up to at least five feet, there’s proper IP67 dust and water resistance as well. While we 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. There’s also a fabric loop on the top to hook over whatever you can find nearby.

Audio quality has always been a hallmark of the Ultimate Ears range, and this model is no exception. Surprisingly loud, with decent bass, clear midrange, and distinct highs, the Wonderboom 3 offers an impressive listening experience for its size.

At up to 86db, the speaker puts out enough volume to rock most beach or pool parties, with minimal distortion even at the top of the range. There’s an Outdoor Boost mode that you’ll want to use in louder settings, but if you want more volume and stereo sound, you can also pair it to a second Wonderboom 3 (or the previous Wonderboom 2).

You’ll get up to 14 hours of music from a full charge, and it’ll go 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 our minor niggles from the previous version have remained.

We’d have liked to see an aux socket to go along 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 our 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 Portable Speaker, Wireless Waterproof Speaker for Outdoor Travel - Black

Renowned for the quality of its headphones and high-end speakers, Bose has recently turned its attention to the smaller end of the market. The SoundLink Flex is our pick of the company’s portable range, with some useful tricks and the best-sounding audio we’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 is genuinely enjoyable, a statement that difficult to make about many small speakers. Using the Bose Connect app, you can also pair two Flexes together to get stereo sound.

Powered via a USB C port, you can expect anything up to 12 hours of battery life at moderate volumes. As with other small speakers, expect that to drop if you’re blasting music at full volume. At least it’ll still sound good when you do have the speaker cranked up: there’s very little distortion even at maximum settings.

Much like the Wonderboom 2, the Flex is IP67-rated against dust and water, and will float if you manage to drop it in a lake. It’ll handle the usual minor drops and bumps, but Bose is a little vague about the speaker’s durability: make what you will of statements like “adventure-ready” and being able to “withstand almost any mishap”.

A loop on one end lets you hang the speaker from a hook, branch, or backpack. Relatedly, and something we haven’t seen before in a travel speaker, the Flex has positional audio: the speaker knows whether it’s horizontal, vertical, or laying on its back, and optimizes mid and high frequencies accordingly.

Any downsides? Only a couple of minor ones. While it’s still very much a travel-sized speaker, it’s the heaviest of the models we list here. 1.3 pounds is at the upper end of what we’d consider appropriate for travelers, especially if you’re getting on a plane and need to find space for 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 our top travel speaker pick. If great-sounding audio is important to you, it’s definitely worth the extra cash. If not, one of our other recommendations may be a better fit.

Buy on Amazon

Best Value: Sony SRS-XB13

Sony SRS-XB13 EXTRA BASS Wireless Bluetooth Portable Lightweight Compact Travel Speaker, IP67 Waterproof & Durable for Outdoor, 16 Hour Battery, USB Type-C, Removable Strap, and Speakerphone, Black

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 sounds impressive for its size, with strong, distinct mid-range and crisp treble. We found that 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 you’ll experience some distortion when you really crank it up. Fortunately you’ll rarely need to do so, especially indoors. Charging is handled via a USB C port, an 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 so you can use it for making calls, and IP67 dust and water protection that means it’ll handle pretty much any weather conditions and come back for more.

The 16-hour battery life is better than most of the competition, and there’s even a strap included for hanging the speaker off your shower, backpack, or bike handlebars. You can also pair two XB13’s for stereo sound and extra volume, and the speaker is available in five different colors.

In short, you get a lot for your money with the latest model of Sony’s durable little speaker. While we prefer the audio quality of the Wonderboom 2 and (especially) the SoundLink Flex, features like the microphone, lower price and weight, and longer battery life will make the XB13 a better option for some buyers.

  • 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 the Soundcore 2, and Anker rates it for up to 24 hours of playback. You’ll likely get even more than that when using the aux cable rather than Bluetooth, but it’ll keep the party going all night either way.

Speaking of volume, the 12W (2 x 6W) drivers put out a fair amount of it. This speaker isn’t as loud as our top overall picks (above), especially when competing with other sounds outdoors, but is 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 your 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 your bag.

The rubber casing helps protect against the odd knock or drop, and it’ll easily survive a good splash, although not outright submersion. There’s also an inexpensive travel case (sold separately) for extra protection in transit.

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 your back pocket, and at just over seven ounces, you’ll barely notice it’s there.

JBL has managed to cram a lot into such a small space. It can function as a speakerphone as well as a speaker, for instance, while the IP67 rating means it’ll take 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’ll easily fill your hotel room with sound. You might get a little distortion at maximum volume, but anything less than that sounds crisp and clear.

Basic controls sit along the top of the speaker, letting you easily 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, not much. At 5-6 hours between charges, you’ll want to pack a small portable battery 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.

Given all the things it gets right — tiny size, good sound, flexible playback, water-resistance, and more — any small niggles are easily overlooked.

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

Best for Use on the Move: JBL Clip 4

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

Of all the travel speakers mentioned here, the JBL Clip 3 is the one most focused on the “travel” part. Appropriately small and lightweight, it has a metal carabiner at the top that lets you attach it to your 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 noisy.

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 pretty close.

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

About the Author
Dave Dean

Dave Dean

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Founder and editor of Too Many Adapters, Dave has been a traveler for 25 years, and a geek for even longer. When he's not playing with the latest tech toy or working out how to keep his phone charged for just a few more minutes, he can probably be found sitting in a broken-down bus in some obscure corner of the planet.


  1. Avatar

    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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