In the 80s, the most convenient way to play your music on the go was with a boombox — a backbreakingly heavy set of speakers that required that you also carry around your cassettes or CDs.
And as cool as boomboxes were, most people are probably grateful that they can save themselves a trip to the chiropractor by carrying around a Bluetooth speaker instead. Bluetooth isn’t exactly recent technology, either. It was first introduced before the dawn of the new millennium, but Bluetooth has stuck around because of its ease of use and universality. Whether you have an iPhone, an Android or even an old laptop, you can pair your device to Bluetooth speakers or headphones. There’s no need to worry about an internet connection or compatibility.
That’s not to say that Bluetooth speakers haven’t improved. Newer speakers feature updated models of Bluetooth, the most recent being 5.2. The speakers themselves get lighter, less expensive and more durable. Most speakers on our roundup have at least some level of waterproofing, ranging from IPX5 to IPX8. Plus, many speakers feature omnidirectional sound for a more surround-sound experience. Extended battery life lets you take these speakers camping without having to try to find an outlet somewhere, as well.
Many of our favorite speakers are made by audio stalwarts like JBL and Bose, but we’ve also included some affordable alternatives from newer players in the market. While there are many Bluetooth speakers that are designed for the home, we’ve focused on the ones that you can easily take on the go. These are the portable Bluetooth speakers to get.
1. Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2
There’s a lot to love about Ultimate Ears entire line of speakers — they’re durable, stylish, easy to use and can get very loud. The Wonderboom 2 is one of the most compact options, making it perfect for clipping to a backpack or taking on a bike ride. It’s only four inches tall, and it features a convenient grab loop on top. The 360 degree design produces sound in all directions and the Outdoor Boost feature amps up the sound in loud environments.
Pros: Very compact, features a grab loop for easy carrying. Comes in several colors. IP67 rating makes it waterproof and dustproof. Two Wonderboom speakers can be paired for a stereo experience.
Cons: Not as robust bass due to the small size.
2. Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker II
The Bose Soundlink II balances size and performance, making it a good all-around option for use at home or on the go. While it doesn’t have a grab handle, the soft-touch silicone outer and ergonomic shape makes it easy to carry with one hand. The Soundlink Color boasts a sleek design and is available in several different colors. It’s an improvement over the Color I, because it features IPX4 waterproofing. The built-in mic allows you to connect through Siri or Google, too.
Pros: Sleek, stylish design that comes in several colors. Capable of getting loud. Can be paired with other Bose SoundLink speakers. Can be used with Siri or Google.
Cons: Doesn’t have the 360 degree sound of some other options. Eight-hour battery life is not as long compared with some other options.
3. JBL Flip 4 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker
JBL makes the kind of audio equipment that is trusted by audiophiles and average consumers alike. The Flip 4 Bluetooth speaker features a convenient nylon cord for carrying it around. The rugged exterior features an IPX7 waterproof rating, meaning you won’t have to be too precious with it. It can also be linked with various other JBL speakers.
Pros: Robust bass, durable construction with IPX7 waterproof rating. 360 degree design.
Cons: Can be difficult to pair with other JBL speakers.
4. Anker Soundcore 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Anker has been steadily branching out beyond their wheelhouse of portable chargers — their Soundcore line of audio equipment is pleasing to the ears, and the wallet. This compact and affordable speaker features a sleek design and comes in several colors. It has IPX7 waterproofing, and it is dustproof, too. Two speakers can be paired for even bigger sound. True to form, Anker’s speakers have great battery life. This one can last 24 hours on a single charge.
Pros: Highly affordable. IPX7 waterproofing. Robust 24-hour battery life. Sleek and compact design.
Cons: Bass could be better.
5. OontZ Angle 3 Bluetooth Portable Speaker
Oontz speakers are wildly affordable, and they’re packed with features that make them punch well above their price range. The pyramid shape provides the wide sound of cylindrical speakers, without the worry of it toppling over. It also has IPX5 waterproofing. It’s a great option for taking on the go; it’s compact and has an impressive 100-foot Bluetooth range and a 12-hour battery life.
Pros: Highly affordable. Impressive battery life. Smartly designed pyramid shape resists toppling. 100-foot Bluetooth range.
Cons: Doesn’t pair with other speakers. Sound is not as quality as some of the other options.