Whether you’re driving across country or hanging out at a beach rental home, the right soundtrack will improve any vacation, especially if you’ve brought along the right equipment.
We vetted portable speakers to determine which ones deliver big, full sound wherever you go—while also being small enough to stash in your tiniest carry-on, making them true packing essentials.
Better yet, some, like the silicone-encased Boom Urchin, come with bike mounts, carabiner clips, and the other accessories you need to take your tunes along for any adventure. And the best portable speakers connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth, which means streaming is a breeze.
If you’re looking for a bit of a victory dance after a daylong hike, take our word for it: “We Are the Champions” at the top of a mountain is pretty tough to beat.
A relative value for its power, the Airwave delivers strong bass beats and full, detailed tones. Plus, it’s equipped with NFC (near-field communication), which lets you bump any compatible smartphone against the speaker to activate an instant Bluetooth connection. us.creative.com; $99.
Don’t be fooled by this 2 1/2-inch cube’s diminutive proportions—it’s capable of delivering bigger, clearer audio than competitors twice its size (and price). Use the touch-sensitive buttons on the front or control the volume via your smartphone, tablet, or computer. bemwireless.com; $70.
Best for audiophiles, this capsule-shaped speaker has broad, resonant sound, and can be connected to a wide range of smartphones for an enhanced, surround-sound effect. The padded neoprene carrying case adds barely a millimeter of bulk, but offers great protection. beatsbydre.com; $200.
This ultra-rugged but lightweight model is shock-absorbent and waterproof—equally suited for the slopes or the sand. A built-in microphone facilitates hands-free calls, while a power bank juices up your phone via USB. As for the sound quality? It earns top marks, with sparkling clarity and a remarkably groovy bass. braven.com; $180.
The chameleon of portable speakers, the impressively loud, shock-resistant Urchin features interchangeable silicone skins in 10 bright colors. It comes with a suction cup, screw mounts, and a carabiner clip, making it just as easy to use on a hike as in your hotel room. store.apple.com; $150.
Its striking design isn’t just for looks: the angled, rubber-coated surface yields a multidimensional sound. The woofer is on the bottom, so place it on a flat surface for a boost of bass, or use the bike mount for an outdoor adventure (yes, it’s weatherproof). Ten hours of battery life are icing on the cake. outdoortechnology.com; $130.
Its top-of-the-line hardware adds some heft, but there’s no denying the allure of the SoundLink Mini’s supercharged acoustics and club-worthy bass. Better yet, it syncs with up to six devices at once—meaning you won’t have to settle for just one playlist. bose.com; $200.