by Eric Ravenscraft on
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Bluetooth speakers are great for portable music playback, but for those times that you want to take them somewhere a little more off the beaten track, you need something a little more rugged. Here are our top picks for the best rugged Bluetooth speakers for your next outing.
What makes for a great ruggedized Bluetooth speaker? While sound quality is, naturally, very important there’s also a host of features specific to a speaker you want to use outdoors and in the elements like a protective outer shell to survive bumps, water resistance to survive splashes and dunks, and a big battery to keep the tunes pumping.
A word on water resistance: when it comes to gadgets there’s no such thing as completely waterproof there’s only degrees of water resistance that range from “not at all” to “take it snorkeling”—if you’re curious about water resistance and what all those IPX ratings you see on gadgets mean, check out this full guide over at our sister site How-To Geek.
What does this mean practically? It means you need to pay close attention to the rating based on how you plan on using it. Want a speaker that can survive some rain out on the golf course? Look for an IPX5 rating. Want to take it tubing with you down the lazy river? Look for an IPX7 rating.
That caveat aside, we’ve rounded up a bunch of great speakers with rugged shells, good battery life and strong-to-excellent water resistance.
The BRAVEN BRV-X Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker is perfect for hiking and extended outdoor use because of one very key reason—it has a built-in 5200mAh power bank charger that’s perfect for keeping your phone charged. Besides that, its shockproof rubber exterior keeps it secure during the majority of falls and it has an IPX7 water resistant casing too—that means it’s water resistant in water up to 1 meter deep for up to a half hour.
There’s 12 hours of music playtime available here, and a built-in noise cancelling microphone for speakerphone calls. Uniquely, the BRV-X also offers two different playback modes—one for indoors and one for outdoors. The latter is perfect for providing vibrant long-range audio while the indoor mode focuses on deep and full bass.
As tough as its name sounds, the FUGOO Tough touts itself as the ‘world’s most rugged Bluetooth speaker’. They bill it as: 100% waterproof, mud-proof, snow-proof, and shockproof. We don’t know about 100% anything, but it is, in fact, a very rugged speaker with an IP67 rating which means its very well protected against both dust and water ingress and, like the Braven above, can survive a solid dunking.
The speaker has six drivers on four sides so there’s no “dead” spot for your music listening experience. There’s an impressive 40 hour battery life, along with a built-in microphone that provides you with Siri and Google Now support. Multiple accessories are available to make the FUGOO perfect for your needs, such as a Bike mount, Strap mount for attaching it to a tree or post, and there’s the option of a remote control for, well, remote use. It’s the Swiss Army Knife of rugged speakers, basically.
Looking for a rugged portable Bluetooth speaker that looks like nothing you’ve seen before? Consider the Outdoor Tech OT2800-B Turtle Shell 3.0 which is as quirky as it sounds. Shaped like some kind of mechanical turtle, it’s certainly distinctive but it’s also practical.
It streams 360 degree audio through its two full range drivers and bass radiator, while remaining shockproof, dust proof, and water resistant (with an IPX7 rating). Impressively, it also floats which makes it perfect for pool and beach parties. You can use its daisy chain feature to link together two or more shells for better audio quality, and each device offers a 20 hour battery life, as well as power bank capabilities. It’s an odd looking but feature rich speaker.
The Divoom Outdoor2 Bluetooth Speakers won’t win prizes for style but in terms of efficiency and effectiveness—they can’t be beaten. With a 6 driver design, sound is provided in every direction at 15W. With such power, you’d expect battery life to be compromised but it’s still pretty great weighing in at 12 hours of music playing on battery power.
It offers Bluetooth pairing as well as NFC pairing for relevant devices, along with a built-in microphone for hands free calls. It’s also dust resistant, shock resistant, and water resistant—although with only an IP44 rating it’s better suited for rainy days than than kayak trips. It might not be indestructible but for the majority of uses, it’s going to be good to go, including those all important sandy beach visits.
After something quirky but that still looks like a speaker? The UE Boom 2 is that device. It’s a 360 degree cylindrical speaker that’s also pretty good at withstanding shock, dust, water, and sand. It’s got an IPX7 rating (water resistant to 1 meter for 30 minutes). The rechargeable battery offers playback of about 15 hours so you’ll be fine to stay on the beach or hiking trail all day.
It’s possible to connect two UE Booms together for stereo sound, but the concept goes one further. If you really want to, you can hook up 50 speakers together for some impressive playback at a massive party. For more conventional uses, we’d suggest sticking with the usual two. There’s also NFC pairing for NFC-enabled devices, and it’s compatible with Alexa.
If you’re on a tight budget but in need of a rugged portable Bluetooth speaker, Photive’s Hydra Portable Bluetooth Speaker is an ideal purchase. It’s far cheaper than the others here but it’s still dust and water resistant (IP66), and safe to take hiking with you. Its battery life is a little lower at about 8 hours but that’s fine for the majority of purposes.
Two 40mm drivers and a passive subwoofer provide the sound, and it’s quite competent for the price point. Whether you’re on a budget or just want to see how often you might use a speaker while out and about, this is a great starting point before moving onto more expensive fare.
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