By Dig Om updated on 06/22/2016
Criteria to Be Considered for Best Rugged Outdoor 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.
Overall Winner: Fugoo Tough ($229.99)
This outdoor Bluetooth speaker is the complete package if you’re looking for the most competent and capable of waterproof rugged Bluetooth speakers. 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. The Fugoo proves that portable speakers can come in small, loud packages and has up to 40 hours of battery life.
Portable & Loud: Grace Digital ECOROX ($129.99)
This hardy little wireless 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 at the beach. 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. 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 even louder sound.
Super Rugged + Great Sound: UE BOOM 2 ($199.99)
Now here's a cool looking entry to the rugged outdoor 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 the loudest 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 waterproof 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.
Extra Battery Indoors and Outdoors: Braven BRV-X ($199.99)
The BRV-X is an awesome option for summer adventures. While small enough (relatively speaking) to conveniently tote around with you, it's big enough and powerful enough to really pack a punch! This multifunctional speaker doesn't just deliver great sound though, it also has a built-in back-up battery to charge your iDevices. The BRV-X also allows you to wirelessly pair two of the speakers together for true, full-range stereo performance. Another neat feature (as if those weren't enough) is its indoor/outdoor mode options. Outdoor mode delivers a deeper, more expansive sound for all those times that you'll be putting this rugged speaker to use in the great outdoors—though I have to say, outdoor mode sounded pretty darn good indoors too! And if the BRV-X is a little on the large side for your purposes, there’s always the excellent BRV-1, Braven's also impressive smaller sibling.
The Loudest: The Big Turtle Shell ($199.95)
Affordable & Tough: Divoom Voombox ($79.90)