There are few better ways to enjoy good weather than an outdoor party, trip to the beach, a barbecue, or even just getting some friends round in the garden for drinks. A Bluetooth speaker can be the ideal accompaniment – and with prices starting from under £30, an inexpensive one to boot.
But no one wants trip-hazard wires trailing across the lawn, or to bid a hasty retreat in the event of not-so-glorious weather. Fortunately we've found a wide range of Bluetooth speakers that are not only affordable but also easily portable and water resistant, so they’ll survive any drizzle.
We’ve also tested each speaker’s battery life and how they deliver on maximum volume too – so be sure to click through to our reviews with the links below to find out more.
Available in a wide range of party-friendly colours, it’s very durable too. Rated IP67, it should even survive being accidentally dropped in a jug of water, and it's even dust tight as well.
We liked Build quality is good and the keychain-friendly lanyard is sturdy, plus it’s very light to carry around.
Small Bluetooth speakers aren’t known for having a healthy dose of bass, but this speaker from Sony’s ‘Extra Bass’ range aims to prove otherwise.
It has a convenient adjustable lanyard to easily attach and remove it from your rucksack or hamper, and just like JBL’s model above, its IP67 rated for water and dustproofing.
We liked: Like many simple Bluetooth speakers, it’s very easy to use via the physical controls on your device and a breeze to connect to your smartphone. It’s only slightly heavier than the JBL model above, and you can even connect two together for stereo sound.
This speaker looks ideally suited to short trips up the garden or to the park. Its carry handle makes moving it a breeze compared to many larger-speaker rivals, as well as the fiddly lanyards of smaller speakers – a godsend when you’ve got loads to carry.
Lava also claims the battery life offers a whopping 36 hours of playtime, which if true makes it a reliable companion even if the party extends well into the night. Check our test results to see the speaker really lives up to Lava’s impressive claims.
We liked: Easy to use with good-sized buttons, and it even offers a 3.5mm socket for devices that lack Bluetooth (such as an older iPod).
Give your event an added boost: this LG is ripe for partying, with optional flashing light effects that pulse along to your music like your own personal disco.
It’s a more substantial speaker, weighing 0.6kg (similar to the Lava model above). It’s splash resistant (IPX5), offers a 3.5mm wired connection and LG claims battery life of at least 18 hours, which would easily see you into the early hours – we independently test if it delivers.
We liked: Larger size (20cm in length) means sound has body, fully featured app where you can tweak lighting settings and connect to other compatible LG speakers
When spending this amount on a larger Bluetooth speaker, you might consider it wiser to buy an all-rounder you can use for all sorts of occasions.
The JBL Flip Essential looks right at home at a campsite or any other outdoors event. It has a handy wrist strap for easy carrying, and it’s IPX7 waterproof, meaning it can be submerged in up to one metre of water for 30 minutes, making it a safe pool-side accessory.
We liked: Dependable cylindrical design that can be positioned either horizontally, or vertically like a drinks can. It’s a practical size (16cm long by 6.5cm in diameter), and weighting 0.5kg it’s a sensible weight too.
If you’re planning a party for your street and need sound to carry, you’ll need a larger speaker that’ll give plenty of oomph.
However, for the same price you can get this monster of a number from Sony, which has a higher maximum volume than LG’s model – at the cost of being 32cm wide and weighing a hefty 2.9kg (you’ll need a strong bag to carry it).
It’s also IP67 waterproof, dustproof, shock-resistant and washable, so can take getting knocked around a bit at events.
We liked: Sony outdoes LG in the flashing and strobe lights department (these can be customised or turned off). Sony claims up to 24 hours’ battery life – we put this to the test in our full review.
Tiny palm-sized Bluetooth speakers can cost £30 or less, but it’s a real minefield out there. While we’ve found some greats in this price range, often the sound quality from speakers so small lacks bass and sounds pretty tinny.
At the other end of the scale are so-called ‘party speakers’ that can cost multiple hundreds of pounds and be extremely heavy. These are really designed for gig-style events to really pump out the bass – far more than you need for a traditional garden party. Some would even rattle the teaspoons.
The small Bluetooth speakers we recommend from around £30 will be good enough for a family picnic-style event, but for larger parties of 15+ people you should be looking at speakers that are a little larger.
These mid-sized speakers typically cost between £40 and £150 (designer and premium brands such as Bose and Sonos tend to cost more), and we’ve found superb options at all these prices. Our testing shows there isn’t a clear link between price and features, or price and sound quality – it’s very easy to overspend. Most Bluetooth speakers are very simple devices, so you don’t really tend to get a whole lot more by breaking the bank.
What’s more important is checking how portable the speakers really are, and how good the battery life is. Bigger models can deliver stronger bass and better battery life, but if they’re unwieldy to carry and weigh well over 1kg, they’re not exactly the ideal candidate to lug out to a party – they’re not what you need.
In our reviews, we reveal how long the batteries of Bluetooth speakers last from fully charged, and under our ‘Tests Results’ section we rate a speaker’s maximum volume out of five starts – for larger gatherings, look for models rated four stars or more. Be sure to check our ‘Tech Specs’ section in our reviews too to ensure the speakers aren’t much larger or heavier than would be convenient to carry.