We Listened to the Best Travel Speakers — Here Are the Top Small, Durable Marvels with Great Sound

by  Mose Hayward
LAST UPDATED ON  2023-11-28
PUBLISHED ON  2018-10-23

Your Guide

Mose Hayward

Travel Nerd

I’ve been travelling the world for a decade and a half, and no matter how much I whittle down my luggage to the bare essentials, I always have room for a small speaker. I love to follow my podcasts, to share and discover music with people from all over the world, and to improvise occasional mini-dance party on the go. My phone’s speaker just doesn’t cut it.

It’s pretty vital to travel with good sound.

We’ve tried out dozens of different Bluetooth speakers for this site, and we also continue to read all speaker reviews from top consumer test organizations, tech sites, and bloggers around the world. It’s not easy to pick just one travel Bluetooth speaker from the heap, but if we had to do it, here’s the current winner we’d take on any trip.

The Best Travel Speaker

The Ultimate Ears Boom 3 is our favorite travel speaker.

Why: An even mix of punchy, dynamic sound in a small, nearly indestructible waterproof cylinder; the overall best portable replacement for a full speaker system

But: While we think the Boom 3 is the best speaker for its size and price, there are also cheaper, smaller options discussed below that are quite worthwhile (though with less loudness and bass)

Why the Ultimate Ears Boom 3 Is Our Favorite Travel Speaker

A Larger Travel Speaker—with Even More Volume and Bass: The Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3

The Most Rugged Bluetooth Speaker We’d Recommend—and with a Crazy Long Battery Life

The Best Smaller Bluetooth Speaker (Slip it in a Pocket, Clip it to Your Pack): Bose Soundlink Micro

The Best Cheap, Small Clip-on Speaker for Travel: The Tribit Stormbox Micro 2

Other Travel Speaker Options (Not Our Top Picks)

Wrap-Up: And the Best Speaker for YOUR Travels Is…

With Ultimate Ears speakers especially, it’s very worth clicking over to Amazon and checking out prices for various colors in order to get the best deal, as they vary widely at times.

Ultimate Ears Boom 3
Dynamic, convincing bass, great clarity, smooth 360-degree delivery, goes super loud, rugged, and small enough to be thrown into any backpack or suitcase; can pair two of them simultaneously for bigger sound
Tribit Stormbox Micro 2
Far cheaper and much more portable but still offering excellent volume and a full, relatively immersive experience

Our Reviewers’ Picks of Underrated, Useful Travel Gear

31 thoughts on “We Listened to the Best Travel Speakers — Here Are the Top Small, Durable Marvels with Great Sound”

  1. I’d like to see Minirig Mini and Wonderboom 2 compared, they’re both smaller than Boom 3 and sound quality would be at least close.

  2. I recently purchased two Creative Muvo 2c speakers as my go to travel speakers. They connect as a stereo pair and the sound is great, not overly bass heavy (which I prefer) but the mids and trebles are crystal clear and they don’t distort at maximum volume. Priced at around Euros 35 each they don’t break the bank and are easily portable. Wonder if you would review a set and see what you think?

  3. Great reviews. Can you recommend something that’s small and flat like the jbl go 2 or altec lansing h20 3, that can pair with another, that sounds decent? Neither of these get loud enough. I have a pair of oontz angles, but they’re too big for a pocket and won’t pair to each other.

    1. Thanks, you’re all so sweet. In your shoes I think I’d go for two UE Roll 2s, as mentioned above. They’re flat-ish, but not quite pocket-sized. You really do have to trade off larger size for larger sound, I’m afraid.

  4. This is one of the best reviews I’ve read about any item. It’s given added credibility because you draw on third party opinions.
    I’m seeking lightweight, stereo and good battery life.
    Still deciding, but you’ve given plenty of food for thought
    Thanks!

  5. I think leaving out any Marshall product is a terrible oversight in this otherwise very useful roundup!

    I own the 1st gen Kilburn, and it still pumps out more bass than almost anything listed here, boasts a carry handle, solid highs and mids with very pleasing, warm sound, and excellent battery life. It falls right in line with the price of several entries in this list, and has great build quality.

    The only negative is the weight, but if you’re traveling by vehicle to your campsite (or other destination) the weight is less of an issue, and you are rewarded with shockingly good sound for the size of the speaker.

    They make a smaller portable BT speaker, in addition to the Kilburn.

  6. Nice job.
    You say that some critics say the Charge 2+ sounds better than the 3, and you give a link. 3 links indeed.
    Well, in none of them there is such a statement. The Charge 3 isn’t mentioned at all.
    Wrong links?

    1. You’ll want to look at the links reviewing the Charge 3 in the paragraph above that; several reviewers made that comment though it was a mixed sentiment. Thanks for your careful reading, hope you find the right speaker for you!

  7. Which bluetooth speaker has the smallest form factor because portability is my main requirement. Thanks

  8. Shashank Jain

    I was wondering. Would two UE Roll 2’s in stereo be better than one UE Boom 2?

    1. In a word, yes. The two UE Roll 2s can provide stereo separation or simply more sound. On the other hand, it’s more to carry around than if you get a single UE Boom 2. The best speaker is the one that you have with you; you may be more likely to carry a single UE Boom 2 more often than if you have two UE Roll 2s.

  9. Attention Aussie customers …

    The Fugoo Style is available on the Official US site for $89US
    The same item in the AU site is $289AU

    You do the math… (not great value for money for the Aussies)

    1. I realisre the article must have been written before Flip3 was released. So if you could give an opinion now?

      1. Frankly, an oversight from our last update. We’ve now updated our coverage from the JBL Flip 2 to JBL Flip 3. As we describe in our update (above), it’s pretty well liked by critics and not a bad option, but most people will frankly prefer our other budget picks. It’s a decent speaker though. Thanks for commenting.

  10. Awesome article. I love your thorough, meta style.
    Q: any word on the UE Megaboom? Given the fine coverage you give of the Boom 2, surely the Megaboom deserves some discussion, and a comparison of its sound with the Boom 2. Thx!

    1. We certainly considered them; both the JBL Xtreme and the Fugoo XL are quality speakers, but far too bulky (I’ve added them just now to that list).

      In this analysis, we focus on options that are small enough that you are always tempted to throw them in your bag, and yet they still deliver on great audio. Our bigger, chunkier recommendation would be the Bowers & Wilkens T7, which we think is a bit of a step up from those two…

  11. This article is fantastic — thank you!

    I’m looking for something self-powered that gets produces good sound and gets loud — that’s my main requirement. Cost, portability etc are less important. Do you have any recommendations? The only really loud option I could find is the Soundboks, but review sites indicate that the sound quality isn’t very good. What’s the next loudest option out there that has good sound quality?

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