When you’re already lounging on an empty beach, any other luxuries are just detail. That said, an endless supply of your favorite ocean-side jams can only make a good thing better. The problem is, most beaches or parks or mountains, for that matter, are devoid of outlets, and usually require a moderate trek to the nearest store with batteries. This is where Etón’s solar-powered Rugged rukus Bluetooth speaker comes in.
This little wedge-shape sound box has everything you’d expect from something with the word Rugged in its name. It’s officially drop-proof from 3.3 feet, (and unofficially, from a few feet more in our butter-fingered testing), and while not fully waterproof, its IPX-4 rating means it won’t flake out after a few doses of ocean spray. The best feature for the outdoorsman, though, is that dominating solar panel. Not only is it good for the environment, it also means your tunes keep going as long as those rays keep, er, flowing. You can also charge your phone (the one with all your music on it) at the same time. Alternatively, you can just leave it out in the sun to feed the internal battery, meaning you’ve got some juice for when the sun eventually does go down – up to eight hours, in fact.
No amount of outdoor credentials can compensate for a speaker that doesn’t sound good, of course. The Rugged is surprisingly loud for something so small, and cranks out rock, rave, reggae, and roots with enough fidelity and dynamic range (you can sense parts played loudly and quietly) that your ears won’t get tired, which can often happen with some small speakers. We might like a little more bass, but for outdoor listening, this is always a challenge. Eco-friendliness and infinite power? We can jive with that. [$100; etoncorp.com]