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Bose SoundLink Flex ($149)
Bose’s newest portable Bluetooth speaker is a case study in great things coming in small packages. It measures 7.9 inches long, 3.6 inches high, and 2.1 inches wide and lacks the kind of flashy aesthetics that make you instantly curious. But trust us: you should be.
Travel speakers have historically been the kind of gear that’s nice to have, but none that we’ve tested has ever achieved downright greatness. That’s just physics: until now, outside of five- or ten-pound breadbox-size speakers, no brand has been able to pack in enough power to fully envelop you in the music. The SoundLink Flex achieves that—yet weighs only 1.3 pounds and is smaller than a brick.
Bose engineered it with powerful drivers that produce more bass than you’d believe possible. It also has such clear, crisp highs that you may find yourself peering inside expecting to find tiny violinists making that precise, rich sound.
Best of all, you can carry it all day: it lasts up to 12 hours on a charge. Prop it on the picnic table, toss it in your duffel, or hook it to your tent with the webbing loop (provided you’re far from other groups). You can even set the SoundLink Flex on your boat and, should it fall off, it will float back to the surface. That’s because it’s both buoyant and IP67 dust- and waterproof, which means its submersible up to a meter for 30 minutes. Bose’s designers also enclosed the front grille in a steel frame, then encased the sides in rubbery silicone, so you can drop it from moderate heights. Use the Bose Connect app’s party mode to sync two Bose Bluetooth speakers and distribute the sound in stereo. Still, one SoundLink Flex is impressive enough on its own.