The Best Portable Speakers

The Bose SoundLink Flex is the best overall portable speaker for listening on the go.

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Portable Speaker
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon and Tribit

Sure, traveling is all about listening to the sights and sounds around you, but when you want to turn things up or share music with friends, you'll need a portable speaker.

Usually small and durable — you'll need something that can handle travel's unknowns like a clumsy fall or freak rainstorm — portable speakers connect with your phone via Bluetooth and can usually play for at least 10 hours without having to recharge. For a speaker that you can confidently take with you to the beach, your hotel room or your backyard, the Bose SoundLink Flex gets the job done. Read on for more portable speakers that you can take with you whenever you need an audible lift.

T+L's Top Picks

Best Overall: Bose SoundLink Flex

Portable Speaker
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Bose

Why We Love It: It's small and durable with great sound for a reasonable price — what else could you ask for from a portable speaker?

What to Consider: It won't connect with smart assistants.

If you want a speaker that you can just grab and go, Bose's SoundLink Flex is the best overall option (though there are close rivals).

The Bluetooth portable speaker might be soft to the touch, but it's tough; it resists dust and water and can even float if you drop it in the pool. There are better sounding speakers on the market, but you won't find anything this good for the price, and it delivers a solid balance of tonal and bass depth. In three colors — black, white and blue — Bose's speaker isn't an eyesore, and at 1.4 pounds it won't weigh your bag down. It also has a good microphone, so you can use it as a speakerphone for meetings. The only drawback is that it won't work as a smart speaker.

Battery life: 12 hours‎ | Wireless range: 30 feet | Dimensions: 2.06 x 7.93 x 3.56 inches | Weight: 1.4 pounds

Best Budget: Tribit XSoundGo

Portable Speaker
Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: If you're looking for a deal, this is the best-sounding speaker in a crowded budget market.

What to Consider: There are much louder options.

After wading through the many budget speakers available online, I recently decided to buy this one from Tribit and am thoroughly satisfied. The portable speaker has a smooth sound and is super light, so it's perfect for chilling in a park or on the beach. I don't even have to worry about it getting wet because it's waterproof (up to 30 minutes in three feet of water), and it has a speakerphone option. My only knocks are that it doesn't get loud enough for my liking and its battery doesn't last as long as some other speakers.

Battery life:‎ 10.5 hours | Wireless range: 66 feet | Dimensions: 6.7 x 2.2 x 2.3 inches | Weight: 13.4 ounces

Best Waterproof: Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2

Portable Speaker
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Ultimate Ears

Why We Love It: It emits surprisingly great sound in a tiny, rugged package.

What to Consider: There's no microphone or smart connectivity, and it can be an awkward fit depending on your bag.

It might look small, but UE's Wonderboom 2 is mighty. The speaker delivers surprisingly awesome omni-directional sound, is waterproof, can float, and will survive a five-foot drop so you don't have to worry about it in your bag. UE also has a newer, bigger model — the Boom 3 — which gives you a bit more of everything (better battery life, Bluetooth range including wireless charging), but for $50 less and in a more portable package, the Wonderboom 2 is more than enough for most listeners.

Battery life:‎ 13 hours | Wireless range: 100 feet | Dimensions: 3.68 x 3.68 x 4.02 inches | Weight: 15 ounces

Related: This $21 Portable Sound Machine Is the Secret to Your Best Night's Sleep, According to Travelers

Best Smart: Sonos Roam

Portable Speaker
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Sonos

Why We Love It: It's a terrific sounding speaker that you can talk to just like your smartphone.

What to Consider: The bass could be stronger.

Sonos makes the crème de la crème of home smart speakers, and it keeps the party going with its beloved portable device. Sleek and smaller than its competitors, the Sonos Roam delivers some of the best sound of any portable speaker, though it does lack a little bass oomph. It also checks all the durability boxes with an IP67 dust- and water-resistance rating, and it'll withstand a clumsy drop. Sure, the Roam won't float, but you can shower with it for up to 30 minutes, and it's extremely light — at 7 ounces, it weighs as much as a cup of sugar.

But the coolest aspect of the Sonos Roam is that you can speak to it when on WiFi, bringing home with you as you roam.

Battery life:‎ 10 hours | Wireless range: 300 feet | Dimensions: 3.94 x 0.79 x 1.06 inches | Weight: 7.1 ounces

Best Big Sound: Sonos Move

Portable Speaker
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Sonos

Why We Love It: If you're serious about sound quality and want something mostly for home, then this portable speaker is for you.

What to Consider: It's big, pricey, and there's no speakerphone, but audiophiles will love it.

This is probably not something you'll stuff in your bag on a two-week trip abroad, but if you want an amazing speaker for home and road trips, the Sonos Move is amazing. Similar to regular Sonos models in sound quality, the Move is durable and battery-powered, so it can be used when out and about. When on WiFi, it works just like other Sonos speakers, so it can connect to smart systems from Amazon, Apple, and Google with the Sonos app.

Battery life: 11 hours‎ | Wireless range: 300 feet | Dimensions: 9.44 x 6.29 x 4.96 inches | Weight: 106 ounces

Best Compact: Sony SRS-XB13

Portable Speaker
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Sony

Why We Love It: It's cute in size and look.

What to Consider: There are better sounding speakers that offer omni-directional sound.

For the minimalists among us, Sony's portable speaker packs a lot into a very small package. It's IP67 dust- and waterproof, and it runs for an impressive 16 hours on a single charge. If you have two, you can pair them up for stereo sound, and at its low price point, it's also a good deal. Pro tip: If you're planning to listen at high volume, it's better to hang it than leave it on a table as the bass will cause it to vibrate.

Battery life:‎ 16 hours | Wireless range: 30 feet | Dimensions: 3.43 x 3.43 x 4.41 inches | Weight: 8.9 ounces

Related: The 15 Best Beach Accessories for Hitting the Sand

Best for Cycling: Tribit StormBox Micro 2

Portable Speaker
Courtesy of Tribit

Why We Love It: It secures to a bike nicely and is half the price of Bose's similar model.

What to Consider: If loudness and bass is what you're after and you don't need the strap for cycling, there are better portable speakers on the market.

Built for attaching to handlebars or a bicycle or a backpack strap, Tribit's tiny portable speaker will keep you entertained for hours with half a day's worth of battery life. Volume controls are clear and easy to press, and it can handle a storm (within reason) with an IP67 water- and dust-resistance rating. It's even small and flat enough to attach to a backpack strap during a hike.

Battery life: 12 hours‎ | Wireless range: 100 feet | Dimensions: 4.1 x 3.9 x 1.6 inches | Weight: 1.3 pounds

Most Stylish: Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1

Portable Speaker
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Bang & Olufsen

Why We Love It: It's more than just a snazzy package: The quality is excellent.

What to Consider: It isn't cheap and only works with Amazon's voice assistant.

If style is what you're after, it doesn't get sleeker than Bang & Olufsen's portable Bluetooth speaker. A dedicated built-in woofer creates surprisingly powerful sound, and a speakerphone means you can use it for calls. It also has Alexa built right in, though it won't work with Google Assistant or Siri.

With top-of-the-line Bluetooth range and an impressive 18 hours of battery life, this speaker has all the bells and whistles to back up its cool look.

Battery life: 18 hours‎ | Wireless range: 300 feet | Dimensions: 5.24 x 1.83 x 5.24 inches | Weight: 1.2 pounds

Best Clip-on: JBL Clip 4

Portable Speaker
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at JBL

Why We Love It: Just clip and go with this versatile portable speaker.

What to Consider: It can't pair with other portable speakers and it doesn't come with a microphone.

Another tiny speaker that's great for traveling, JBL's Clip 4 clips right onto your bag with a built-in-carabiner, so you're less likely to lose it. You can also use it in the shower because it's industry-standard 1P67 waterproof and dustproof. It's a great option for backpacking trips or hikes, when security and packability are key.

Battery life:‎ 10 hours | Wireless range: 30 feet | Dimensions: 1.8 x 3.4 x 5.3 inches | Weight: 8.4 ounces

Best for Parties: Ultimate Ears Hyperboom

Portable Speaker
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Ultimate Ears

Why We Love It: It's got booming sound with all the features a DJ needs for a party on the move.

What to Consider: It's only "portable" in that it's easier to move than most home speaker systems.

For partiers without a fixed location, Ultimate Ears' Hyperboom is the best of the best for getting the crowd up on their feet. It's pretty big, so you probably won't want to put it in your carry on, but it's got booming sound quality powerful enough to fill any reasonably-sized room or backyard. Compatibility with other devices allows you to link it with four different speakers for surround sound, and you can even have one person queue up a song while a DJ is playing so you don't have to wait for it to reconnect. Unlike other speakers, UE's Hyperboom has one auxiliary and one optical input, so you can connect it to your DJ set up. Plus, you can keep the party going all night with a full day's worth of battery life.

Battery life:‎ 24 hours | Wireless range: 150 feet | Dimensions: 7.5 x 7.5 x 14.33 inches | Weight: 13 pounds

Tips for Buying a Portable Speaker

Consider where you'll use it

Will you be mostly using your portable speaker at home, or will you be traveling across the world with it? Think about where you most want to use it, so you don't have to lug around something that'll weigh you down. If you're using it while literally on the go — say cycling or hiking — look for a weight under a pound, and keep an eye out for clips and fasteners that allow you to strap the speaker to your ride or pack. Otherwise, a couple of pounds is a fine weight. And be sure to note the battery life if you won't be near an outlet.

Prioritize durability

Thankfully, many portable speakers are waterproof, dustproof and can handle being dropped (within reason) — and that's great, because accidents happen, especially when traveling. So definitely look for durability features such as an IP67 waterproof and dustproof rating when you choose your portable speaker.

Think about size

The main difference between portable speakers is their size and shape. There are clip ons, balls, bricks, and big boxes, so determine where you'll use it and how far you want to transport it before making your choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you bring portable speakers on a plane?

Yes. You can pack portable speakers in your checked luggage or carry-on provided they aren't too large to fit under the seat or in the overhead bin.

Do all portable speakers work with smart assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant?

Most portable speakers work with Bluetooth only, not with smart assistants even if connected to WiFi. Keep an eye out for smart speakers that work exclusively with one assistant in particular, ie. Amazon Alexa.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Travel + Leisure writers are shopping and product experts who use personal experience and expert recommendations to choose the best items for shoppers. For this article, writer Joel Balsam, a frequent traveler who has visited more than 50 countries, reviewed and selected from the industry's best options.

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