Blasting music from your car radio is fine, but to really turn up your tunes at your next tailgate, you’ll want to pick up a portable Bluetooth speaker. Whether you’re partying before a big game, hanging by the pool, going camping or just enjoying an afternoon in the backyard, the best wireless speakers will get you hours of music playback in small, rugged units designed for the great outdoors.
Unlike traditional at-home speakers, which often favor style over function, outdoor speakers are made to be carried around and put to use, with durable materials that can hold up to accidental dings and drops. All of the models on our list are also water-resistant, and in some cases, fully waterproof, meaning they can be (accidentally) dropped in water without damaging the equipment. These models are dust-proof and shock-proof too.
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Outdoor speakers also can’t be beat when it comes to convenience. Since they don’t need to be plugged in, you’re freed from getting tangled in messy cables, and you can place the speakers wherever is most convenient. In other words: no need to stay close to an outlet anymore. The best portable speakers for the outdoors should also get you long battery life (think 8+ hours to at least get you through the day), so you can keep the tunes going without needing to recharge all the time. While some of the models on our list deliver up to 30 hours of playback time, keep in mind that the louder you blast your music, the more battery power it will require.
Of course, no set of portable speakers is worth its (light) weight if it can’t deliver on audio quality. We’ve rounded up some popular models online, that boast clean, crisp sound with surprisingly powerful bass and discernible mids and highs. All of our picks are small enough to pack in a bag (some even small enough to stash in your coat pocket) while delivering loud, reliable audio to soundtrack your next big — or small — event outdoors.
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1. Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speakers
Bose is known for their reliable sound quality, and this portable speaker delivers loud, full-range sound in a tiny package.
Built for the outdoors, this wireless speaker is no bigger than a gift box and gets you up to eight hours of playtime on a single charge. A grippy silicone shell makes it easy to pick up and go, while the rugged, water-resistant casing is splash-proof and drop-proof so it holds up to even the most aggressive of parties — or partiers.
The built-in mic picks up your voice easily; use the SoundLink as a speakerphone for calls, or pair it with your digital assistants (I.e. Siri) to read your texts, check the weather and control your tunes.
Voice prompts talk you through Bluetooth pairing (“Now connecting to Jane’s iPhone”). It’s an easy and fuss-free way to get set up right away.
PROS: If you like bass, users say the SoundLink delivers big, booming sound.
CONS: This set comes with a USB charging cable but no wall plug.
2. JBL Charge 3 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker
We like the JBL Charge 3, which gets you a high-powered portable Bluetooth speaker and power bank in one unit.
Unlike some of the other models on our list, the Charge 3 is IPX7-rated, meaning it’s fully waterproof, and can be submerged in up to one meter of water for 30 minutes without damage.
Battery life is super strong, with up to 20 hours of playback on a single charge. You can also charge your phones and tablets by plugging into the speaker’s USB output.
What we like: you can pair up to three devices with the speaker at once, letting you take turns playing DJ for your party.
PROS: Throwing a larger event or have a big space to cover? Use the JBL Connect app and pair multiple enabled speakers together for a surround sound-like experience.
CONS: Some users say it takes a couple tries to connect to the speaker via Bluetooth.
3. OontZ Angle 3 Bluetooth Portable Speaker
If you want a pair of speakers that’ll last all day, and hold up to the unpredictable weather conditions, you could do worse than this affordable unit from Massachusetts-based Cambridge SoundWorks.
The company says the OontZ delivers a 100-foot wireless Bluetooth range, which means it’ll pair easily with your device, no matter where you are in the room. The larger battery gets up to 14 hours of playtime on a single charge. Re-charge using the included micro-USB charging cable.
Cambridge SoundWorks says the speaker’s unique triangular design expands the sound stage, making for brighter, wider sound.
PROS: Weighing less than 10 ounces and no wider than an iPhone X, this is the lightest option on our list.
CONS: 14-hour playtime is only achieved with volume at 2/3 capacity or under.
4. AOMAIS GO Bluetooth Speakers
With a long-lasting battery, durable construction and an IPX7 waterproof rating, this rough and tumble portable speaker is ready for anything.
AOMAIS (pronounced “oh my”) says the speakers deliver up to 30 hours of playback time when running at 50% volume. Users say the sound quality is clear and consistent – no distortion here. All lows, mids and highs are clearly rendered.
The unit’s plastic shell seals out water (even immersed in 30+ feet of water for up to half an hour) and it wipes down easily, making the AOMAIS Go great for hiking, the beach, camping, poolside, or backyard use. Use the AOMAIS Go as a backup power supply too, and plug in to charge your phones and tablets while you’re out and about.
This set includes the AOMAIS Go Bluetooth 4.2 speaker, a micro USB charging cable, AUX cable, instruction manual and a 12-month warranty.
PROS: Grippy handle and hard-shell design make this Bluetooth speaker easy to tote around without worry.
CONS: This is the largest model on our list. Some users say it was hard to tell battery levels without downloading an accompanying app that showed usage.
5. AYL Portable Outdoor and Shower Bluetooth Speaker
Whether you’re hanging it in the shower or hanging out by the pool, this mini portable speaker uses Bluetooth 5.0 technology to deliver easy pairing with your devices. Bluetooth range is about 33 feet.
At roughly 3 x 4 inches, it’s just slightly larger than a pad of sticky notes, and it weighs less than 10 ounces, making it super easy to pack for a day trip or party.
The battery can provide up to 12 hours of music, even at 80% volume. Fully recharge in less than three hours with the included micro USB cable.
PROS: Surprisingly strong bass for a set of speakers this size.
CONS: Audio is not as crisp or loud as some of the other models on the list. This is just water-resistant, not fully waterproof.