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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Gear Pro: Portable Tunes

6 wireless speakers that will fit in your pack.

by: Kristin Hostetter

PAGE 1 2


[best sound-to-packability ratio]
Boombot Rex
This one’s spendy, but it packs the best sound among the smaller units I tested. It cranks good and loud and only takes up less space than a Five Guys burger. The hexagon design is slick, but I found the built-in clip fussy (the carabiner design of the Bean works better) and the clip partially blocks the control buttons. Still, this is the one I will be packing on my next road trip, and I’d even bring it backpacking if the trip vibe was right for raucous nights around the camp stove.


[good sound]
Outdoor Tech Turtle Shell 2.0
You get richer sound quality when you step into the over $100 category. The Turtle can fill a room with good bass beats (our editors happily used it on a Montana hut trip, and the battery life is true to its claims, and then some), and the hard plastic shell can stand up to dings.


[best sound]
JBL Charge
No surprise: The spendiest model model here rocks the casbah. As they said in Spinal Tap, “this one goes to 11.” If you want a portable sound system for a real dance party, go with the Charge. The tubular shape slips into a pack side pocket, but this one is also the heaviest model. I cranked it loud on a fast boat ride to Martha’s Vineyard, and despite the wind and motor, Mick Jagger still made himself heard. Bottom line: If you want a good speaker for daily use at home that’s still relatively portable, this is your pick.

Here's a handy comparison chart for all 6 models:


*MSRP; price may vary
**Manufacturer claim


Got a burning question about gear repair, or any other topic for that matter? Drop me a line and tell me about it at khostetter@backpacker.com.
PAGE 1 2

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Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

Star
RBryanP
Jan 01, 2014

To her credit, Gear Editor Kristin did say, "... I use them all the time: at campfire parties, on road trips, in the backyard, on the boat, at the beach, and when I visit my parents. ...". I could not agree more with using portable speakers in those situations, although there are times where other people are around, at the beach for example where I would not assume they want to hear what I am playing.

But I agree with all before me about leaving the speakers at home while hiking, backpacking or otherwise escaping to enjoy the NATURAL sounds of nature. But if you MUST have music, bring earphones. I don't want to listen to your music.

I would have selected less than 1 star if I could.

Star
Jeffrey K.
Jan 01, 2014

So you really think its OK to inflict your musical taste on anyone within earshot of you wherever you go? Please have some consideration and use your ear-buds! Most people I know go to the wilderness to escape civilization and commune with nature. Music blaring from cheap speakers has no place in that experience.

Star
Chris
Jan 01, 2014

Music blasting on the trails is almost as bad as parents who lets their kids scream and holler for all to hear...nobody goes to the woods camping to hear that, keep it at home lol

Star
Chris
Jan 01, 2014

If you must have music in the wilderness have some respect for the people who go to enjoy the peace and quiet...use headphones and keep the noise to yourself :)

Star
jeff
Jan 01, 2014

When I get on the trail I leave my electronic addictions behind! I don't need external speakers to ghetto-ize my wilderness. If I heard someone playing heavy metal near me in the wilderness, I'd likely piss on their tent. Or worse.

I don't care if you're Kristen Hostetter--keep your stinkin' tunes to yourself by using ear buds. I hope your editor rots beginning now, and not after his/her demise.

Star
jeff
Jan 01, 2014

When I get on the trail I leave my electronic addictions behind! I don't need external speakers to ghetto-ize my wilderness. If I heard someone playing heavy metal near me in the wilderness, I'd likely piss on their tent. Or worse.

I don't care if you're Kristen Hostetter--keep your stinkin' tunes to yourself by using ear buds. I hope your editor rots beginning now, and not after his/her demise.

Star
sierracanon
Dec 31, 2013

Sorry, but if I encountered our gear editor with her trail speakers blasting in the backcountry, I'd be mighty irritated.

Star
TheWalkman
Dec 31, 2013

Speakers for the trail? Really?

The last thing I want to experience is Kristen listening to her gangsta rap tracks on the trail.

If you can't leave the iPod at the trailhead, please be considerate of others and use your headphones. Leave the heavy metal at home and don't impose your tastes on the rest of us. Plus, you can save some pack weight, to boot carrying headphones.

I can't wait to see next month's Backpacker gear review, "Hyperlight Headphones for Gram Weenies!"

(BackpackerI never ceases to be amaze me.)

Star Star Star Star Star
Matt
Dec 31, 2013

I second Jeff. The Rockout is a great product.

Star
Mike
Dec 31, 2013

Please please please don't make us start hearing music on the trail!! Nooooo!!!!
I know that the article doesn't talk about music on the trail but that's where this will lead. Think it over.

Star Star Star Star Star
Jeff
Dec 31, 2013

With all the work Goal Zero is doing to promote the environmental friendliness of solar power, I'm surprised that you didn't include the Goal Zero Rock Out Portable Speakers. These little and inexpensive speakers put out a lot of sound and are rechargeable via USB or the Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Charger.
http://www.goalzero.com/rockout.html

Star Star Star Star Star
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