By Siva Om on Tue, 04/12/2016
Not too long ago, if you wanted to enjoy your iPhone or iPad's audio through a speaker, you either had to utilize a connector cable or invest in a speaker with a built-in dock connector. These days Bluetooth speakers have become all the rage and the most convenient way to pair your device with an external listening source. There is a seemingly endless array of excellent quality Bluetooth speakers, however, out of the multitudes of Bluetooth speakers on the market, only a limited and select few can lay claim to being rugged and heavy duty. I've compiled a list of some of the best, most durable and rugged Bluetooth speakers available right now. What follows are the best outdoor Bluetooth speakers for those who are adventurous or accident prone.
Criteria to Be Considered for Best Rugged Bluetooth Speaker:
1. Water and Drop Resistance. These rugged speakers must, at bare minimum, be splash-proof and able to withstand drops of six feet or more without performance damage. Every speaker featured here has a minimum of an IP-X4 water-resistance rating, if not higher.
2. Sound Quality. The speakers featured here must all be capable of delivering high-quality audio on a consistent basis, without much distortion at high volume.
3. Portability. All of the Bluetooth speakers included here have to be small and lightweight enough for you to carry around in your pack with relative comfort.
4. Functionality. The more control functionality a speaker has, the better. In other words, a speaker that allows you to control song playback and/or answer calls, and/or use Siri, as well as basic volume control, will typically rank higher in my ratings.
Only Bluetooth speakers that I have personally reviewed with some hands-on time (either because the company sent me a sample unit to review for iPhone Life or because I got to play around with it at a tech event such as CES) are included in my roundup, so you can rest assured, my ratings come from direct experience.
Fugoo Tough ($229.99)
This outdoor Bluetooth speaker is the complete package if you’re looking for the most competent and capable of rugged speakers. It even took home a coveted iPhone Life Magazine Best of CES award for 2014. The Fugoo Tough is crush-proof, completely waterproof (IP67), and offers one of the best listening experiences and some of the most impressive audio quality of any speaker this size and weight. Don't like the utilitarian appearance of the Tough’s external shell? All you have to do is pick a different style. Fugoo offers the Fugoo Sport and the bling-bling Fugoo Style in order to suit any taste, while not sacrificing the speaker’s inherent waterproof integrity.
Grace Digital ECOROX ($129.99)
This hardy little speaker is diminutive in size (the smallest one featured here) but completely capable of pumping out enough volume to fill your personal space, whether you're in a medium-sized room, on an outdoor patio, the poolside, or on the river. With its dual drivers and wide bass radiator, the ECOROX by Grace Digital is plenty loud enough to be heard over the rush of river rapids, the clamor of a beach party, or the patter of a relaxing hot shower. Want to know what else makes this little behemoth a really cool entry into the rugged Bluetooth category? It floats! With the ECOROX you don't ever have to worry about losing it to sinking, which is a real plus for a speaker that is designed to see a lot of action by the water. Read my original review here. Grace Digital also offers a larger version of this speaker, the ECOXBT which might be worth checking out if you want a larger speaker with a more robust sound.
UE BOOM 2 ($199.99)
Now here's a cool looking entry to the rugged Bluetooth speaker category that is deceptively more durable than its fashionable looks indicate. At first glance, this speaker gives no hint of just how durably crafted it really is, but when you look deeper, the specs tell a different story. It's been meticulously designed to deliver "booming" 360-degree sound that is finely balanced and crystal clear. The BOOM has sealed ports to keep liquid and debris away from any sensitive components, and the exterior mesh covering the drivers and innards has been coated with a water and stain resistant material, making this high-fashion speaker one to reckon with when it comes to rugged gear. As if this weren't enough, the BOOM sounds awesome! Truly, this speaker has some of the best, most boisterous audio of any Bluetooth speaker on the market, rugged or otherwise. It also allows you to wirelessly pair two BOOMS together via a convenient free app and comes NFC equipped. To say I was blown away by the BOOM would be an understatement.
Braven BRV-X ($199.99)
The Big Turtle Shell ($199.95)
Divoom Voombox ($99.90)
For my roundup of ultra-portable, clip-on, rugged Bluetooth speakers, CLICK HERE.