Love music and spending time outdoors? You need a speaker built to withstand the elements. You don't need to be a regular reader of What Hi-Fi? to know that generally, electronics and water don't mix, especially if the IP rating isn't up to scratch. Waterproof speakers, however, are a different breed entirely.
Get hold of a waterproof speaker and you'll soon see that the two mix like gin and tonic, with the best models built to withstand being splashed by water or sometimes even submerged for several minutes without malfunction. Still, it's not an experiment we'd recommend unless you're sure of your hardware's integrity, especially if you don't want to end up with a fizzing speaker and a pond full of dead fish.
If you need a rugged portable Bluetooth speaker that won't break at the sight of water or dust (essential qualities if you happen to live in Scotland) without compromising on sound, you're in the right place. We've taken dozens of speakers out and about on our travels during testing, exposing them to the harsh, drizzly realities of the British climate (or at least given them a dunk in the tub) so that you can be sure your next speaker purchase serves you well the next time the rain starts falling and you've got mountains to climb or rivers to ford.
How to choose the best waterproof speaker for you
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.
A good waterproof rating should be high on your checklist of things to consider when choosing a waterproof speaker. The most common rating used in consumer electronics is the IP (Ingress Protection) standard, with ratings written as "IP" followed by two numbers – the first represents dust resilience, the second represents water resistance.
Those models with a rating of IPX4, for instance, are only splashproof (the 'X' means the product wasn't tested for resilience against dust ingress.) But one of the most common specifications in newer models – in the speakers listed below – is IP67, meaning that particular speaker is safe to immerse in water up to 1m deep for up to 30 minutes and it's dust-proof, too. For a full explanation of the IP ratings and what they mean, check out our IP ratings explainer.
While Bluetooth is pretty much a must for these portable designs, wi-fi connectivity is less important when it comes to a waterproof speaker. Still, it's a great addition if you'll be using your speaker at home too and want to integrate it with your smart home set-up (using Amazon Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant).
Decent battery life is also a key consideration – nothing spoils a long hike or away day like a flat battery. Whether you want a budget buy or can stretch to a much pricier and more capable model, there's bound to be something for you in our recommendations below.
If all you want from a decent outdoor speaker is portability, affordability and water resistance, there are few we would recommend above the consistently impressive Stormbox Micro 2. A tiny, satchel-friendly Bluetooth speaker that's one of the cheapest options on this list, the Micro 2 looks small but delivers a surprising amount of wallop.
Admittedly, the Micro 2 doesn't harness the 360-degree sound design of many of its rivals like the dinky UE Wonderboom 3, but during our tests we found it is one of the best value options if you’re on a tight budget. It sounds good, it's well-made and it performs time and again regardless of place or climate.
Building on the success of the original Stormbox Micro and featuring an all but identical woven finish design, the Micro's sequel trumps its predecessor by delivering enjoyable audio and massively improved battery life (our Tribit has been passed around the office for months and still boasts three bars of power). We easily coaxed 12 hours of listening out of a single charge, while an IP67 rating let one of our reviewers use it in the shower without any issue or damage. Again, the Stormbox Micro 2's diminutive size and durable design make it well-suited for travelling far beyond the confines of a bathroom or kitchen.
Audio is also really strong, and much bigger, punchier and louder than you’d expect from such a small box. Midrange in particular is dealt with in a much more appealing manner than anything else we’ve seen at this price. The only issue is that it can start to suffer from distortion at louder volumes, but based on our head-to-head tests, you’ll have to pay more and invest in either a more expensive JBL Flip 6 or Wonderboom 3 to move up to the next level. Really impressive stuff.
Read the full review: Tribit Audio Stormbox Micro 2
Were you seriously expecting to read a list of the best waterproof speakers and not find at least one JBL product along the way? The American brand's love of rugged, dependable hardware is reflected in its great portable speakers range, making it practically synonymous with the entire concept of hardwearing outdoorsy audio.
The Flip 5 was a past What Hi-Fi? Award winner, a trick that JBL has more or less repeated with the five-star sequel (only losing out on the top trophy thanks to its bigger brother, the Charge 5). We might have thought we’d be advising JBL to rework the Flip by now – add a few more features, change it up a bit to keep up with the competition – but we're still left praising the sonic chops of a proposition that now offers more space within its trademark zealous and musical presentation.
Durability is improved, too, with an IP67 water and dust proofing over the waterproof-only IPX7-rated Flip 5. Not only can you get the Flip 6 wet at the beach, but you can also afford to allow quite a bit of sand to get near it as well.
Yes, it's still 'just' a Bluetooth speaker – but what a great-sounding Bluetooth speaker it is. If you want to boost the sound presentation to your liking, you can now tweak things thanks to a new EQ feature in the app. For a nominal price hike over the launch price of the Flip 5, there’s certainly more detail here, too, while that improved IP rating offers peace of mind when you're hitting the road.
Read the full review: JBL Flip 6
The JBL Charge 5 is even more durable and better sounding than the four Charges that have been before it. Its predecessor carried an IPX7 rating, meaning it could handle being submerged in water to a depth of 1.5m, but the IP67-rated Charge 5 builds on that durability by also being almost completely dustproof. Want a speaker roughly the dimensions of a bottle of wine that'll survive full submersion and sound great (although not necessarily at the same time)? You've found it.
Thanks in part to a 10W tweeter and racetrack-shaped driver, the Charge 5 provides as good a sound as you can currently get in a portable Bluetooth speaker design for under £200 ($200, AU$300), as well as boasting sonic and aesthetic improvements over its predecessors. No wonder it's a What Hi-Fi? Awards winner for 2022.
Read the full review: JBL Charge 5
JBL has built its name on rugged, portable hardware capable of surviving anywhere from the bottom of an icy ravine to the top of a snow-capped summit (probably). The durable JBL Xtreme 3 is no exception, a versatile, talented five-star wireless speaker that’s as happy chilling at home as it is being the life and soul of a sweaty student party. As rugged as the rest of its stablemates, it is IP67 dust and waterproof-certified, making it perfect for getting its (metaphorical) hands dirty in the great outdoors.
You might be forgiven for thinking that, given the bulky construction, the Xtreme 3 might be more preoccupied with the amount of bass it’s producing rather than focusing on musical quality. Let us put your mind at rest: the Xtreme 3 proves to be a careful and considerate performer from the lowest of lows to the highest highs, giving impressive detail, dynamics and a strong sense of timing.
Bassheads will be more than satisfied with the healthy low-end clout on offer, but there’s quality as well as quantity on display. The JBL Xtreme 3 gained five stars across the board during our rigorous in-house testing, never appearing out of its depth no matter how complicated the musical arrangement.
Read the full review: JBL Xtreme 3
Bang & Olufsen isn’t noted for following the herd. In the Danish audio specialist’s stable you'll find a wheel-shaped wireless speaker, a TV that opens up like a butterfly, and an 8200-watt monolithic speaker comprising 18 drivers. Its output could reasonably be described as "premium" or else "innovative" – and the B&O Beosound A1 (2nd Gen) wireless speaker is no exception.
That said, all of these fancy designs and clever tricks aren't what you'd usually associate with rugged, outdoorsy functionality. Most of B&O's range looks more at home in an art gallery than stuck on the side of Skegness beach, meaning you'd be forgiven for thinking that a go-anywhere bit of Bang tech would be a little like having a portable version of Rodin's The Thinker stuffed in your backpack.
Happily, the Beosound A1 is tougher than its delicate looks would suggest. The A1 is now water and dust-proof to the high IP67 rating, meaning it should be happy being subjected to a 30-minute swim up to a metre deep. Quoted battery life is also a solid 18 hours at normal listening volume, or up to 48 hours at a more conservative level, so running out of juice halfway through your camping trip shouldn't be too much of a concern.
The new A1 supports Qualcomm’s latest aptX Adaptive Bluetooth 5.1 codec, as well as Alexa voice control, despite the fact that it's Bluetooth-only. Sound performance is authoritative and expansive with a weighty, pleasing bass presentation, and there's even a convenient strap for ease of transport. It's expensive, sure, but if you have money to spend, the Beosound A1 is a rather remarkable all-rounder.
Read the full review: Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd Gen)
Ultimate Ears has really made a splash (pun somewhat intended) in the Bluetooth speaker market with a number of colourful, fun-sounding and portable models, with the four-star Wonderboom 3 acting as the sequel to the five-star Wonderboom 2.
Check the first requirement off the list early – the Wonderboom 3 is waterproof and dustproof thanks to its IP67 rating, and as much of UE's marketing imagery will tell you, its float-ability means it should withstand the most lively of pool parties and outdoor adventures. Battery life, meanwhile, is 14 hours and a full charge takes around 2.6 hours on average.
Sonically, the Wonderboom 3 is an exciting listen. Bass is impressive given its small form factor, and the sense of dynamics on display is similarly impressive. You also get a ‘boost’ button on the underside of the unit that's a rollover feature from the Wonderboom 2 that restricts the speaker's bass frequencies, allowing the UE to play louder through the midrange. This in turn makes the sound easier to hear when used outdoors, making it all the more attractive a speaker to bring with you on a trip.
There's no built-in mic or app as featured in the Wonderboom 2, but even so, the Wonderboom 3 is an eminently portable, great-sounding Bluetooth speaker that won't break the bank at its £90 / $100 retail price.
Read the full review: Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3
The Sonos Roam is a strong candidate for those looking for an off-roading, hiking, beach-combing, deep-diving speaker with a slim design and a feature set to rival the best of them. Given Sonos’s recent run of superb-sounding products, one that we can drop in our backpack and take on a ramble has been highly anticipated – especially since the Move, the company’s first battery-powered speaker, was more portly than portable in comparison.
Sonically, the Roam is a decent effort, but we can't help feeling things have been flipped around somewhat, with Sonos' diminutive portable speaker swapping out truly detailed sound for a greater emphasis on usability, build quality and durability. That's not an entirely bad thing for an outdoors speaker (and we're admittedly being very harsh), but the Roam's slight lack of crystal clear detail, coupled with some rather average timing and dynamics, means it can't take the crown from its JBL competitors.
However, it's a nicely portable design with a pleasing, full-bodied sound, and unusually for this type of speaker, it can connect to your home wi-fi, making it suited to anyone wanting a speaker to slot into a well-developed Sonos ecosystem. Let's hope the sequel (whenever it arrives) steps up its game in the sound department, because only then will JBL really be sweating.
Read the full review: Sonos Roam
This diminutive, soap on a rope-styled Go 3 features Bluetooth 5.1 plus a maximum power output of 4.2W, up from Bluetooth 4.1 and 3W in the previous iteration. The one specification that hasn’t changed is the Go 3's stamina; it takes 2.5 hours to charge fully, and you can still only get a comparatively meagre five hours of playtime from a single charge.
If you can live with this, there's much to celebrate in the sound department at the level. The extra power and overhauled design have resulted in some solid sonic enhancements, so much so that we awarded the Go 3 full five stars in the sound department when we had it in for testing in early 2021.
It's also an aesthetically pleasing little fella, perhaps even cuter than the 2nd generation model (if you can imagine such a thing). The problem for the Go 3, sadly, is that it's limited by a poor battery life and a pretty average sound range, so if you're only planning a trip to the end of your street, you'll be fine. Any further, you might want to consider one of this list's bigger boys, or maybe think about digging out a wireless charger instead.
Read the full review: JBL Go 3
How we test waterproof speakers
We review hundreds of products every year at What Hi-Fi?'s state-of-the-art testing facilities in London, Reading and Bath, including all kinds of Bluetooth speakers, and of course waterproof ones. We test all products that come through our doors as a team of experts with over a century of combined experience, ensuring no expert opinion ever goes unheard.
Every Bluetooth speaker is judged on a performance-per-pound basis, and we make sure to compare speakers with similarly-priced class leaders to help ensure we get a good sense of a speaker's performance as well as help us to settle on a score.
Outside of evaluating the audio performance of every waterproof speaker, we also test features like battery life, water resistance, Bluetooth connection strength, ease of use and set-up, among other things – including whether it's as rugged as it is claimed to be. It's important we get a full sense of both a product's practicality as well as its performance to gauge its overall value.
As a matter of course, there's no input from PR companies or sales teams when it comes to reviews, with What Hi-Fi? enjoying a sterling, decades-long reputation for delivering unbiased, honest feedback.
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