I’m hoping to hit the parkway, lower all the windows and drive to Asbury Park (or another favorite beach town) just as soon as anyone else. And along with my phonea cool pair of sunglasses and my most fantastic swim trunksI’m also packing a tiny but mighty speaker along with me.
The Sony XB13 is our best travel pick for Bluetooth speakers. It excels as an ultra-portable option with a surprisingly long battery life and a keen ability to deliver robust sound. Oh, and it’s just $59.99 — or as little as $48 when it’s on sale, like now — and comes in a slew of fun colors: black, coral pink, light blue, powder blue or taupe. Let’s unpack why it’s the perfect travel stowaway, especially when you’re considering packing for your next vacation.
The perfect vacation companion
This small but mighty Bluetooth speaker is the perfect addition to your vacation packing list. Keep the music going all vacation long with its long battery life, durability and crisp sound.
Sony’s XB13 is pint-size, coming in at just more than 4 inches in height. Depending on the size of your hand, it mirrors the size of a closed fist and is smaller than the size of a standard coffee mug. You can toss it in a Backpacka suitcasea tote bag or even a fanny pack. Its superior portability means that it can make the trip with you, whether you’re flying or driving to your vacation destination.
And here’s the kicker: A color-matched cloth strap comes preinstalled on the speaker, which means it can act like a carabiner to anything. I’ve attached the speaker to a backpack for a hike. The options are endless, as it’s made out of pretty durable cloth. I’ve had my XB13 for close to a year, and after plenty of drops, it’s scratch-free and the cloth strap is still fully intact.
It can handle a dip in a pool or a dance party in the rain since it carries an IPX7 rating — in other words, it can last for up to 30 minutes in as much as a meter of water. I wouldn’t recommend purposely dropping it into a pool or a body of water, but it does pack some protection against it. It also has some protection against the sun with a special UV coating. Sonos has a similar layer on the larger (and pricier) $399 Move, and it’s mostly there to keep distortion or cracks from appearing on the painted outer layer. There’s also a series of rubber strips on the bottom of the XB13, which keep it firmly in place no matter how much bass is on your track.
Sony’s design team was pretty smart with the controls and charging port. You’ll find tactile buttons built into a rubber strip for volume, playback, power and Bluetooth pairing along the bottom portion of the speaker. Hidden under an easily accessible flap, which also keeps it protected, is a USB-C port for charging.
I was a little skeptical when Sony promised a runtime of 16 hours on the XB13, especially when considering this Bluetooth speaker’s small size. But in my battery test, the XB13 blasted for a full 15 hours. It’s an hour under the promised battery life but still stretches longer than most Bluetooth speakers, including our other featured picks in our best Bluetooth speakers guide.
That’s a long play time for a trip, a long car ride, a day at the beach or even a day at a villa. When the time comes for a recharge, you can just plug in the included USB-C cable. Do note, however, that the one that’s included is relatively short.
Powering the sound on the XB13 is a top-facing speaker and a passive radiator for bass that sends tones out of the bottom of the device. Those are a lot of tech terms, but what you need to know is that it produces a clear, rich sound. It can fill a decently sized space with sound. Even outdoors in less-than-perfect conditions, it can produce sound fit for a small group or for individual listening.
Whether I was playing “Good 4 U” by Olivia Rodrigoa deep cut by Bruce Springsteen or “New Rules” by Dua Lipa, the sound was vibrant and at times to enjoy all aspects of a track evenly. It was an impressive mix of sound, whether it was vocals, a range of guitars, strong lower tones or even some electrically curated sounds. In my listening experience, I haven’t heard added distortion or crackling regardless of the volume.
If you want a more substantial, louder sound — for example, if you’re traveling with a big group or want to fill a larger space with music — you can pair multiple XB13s together. Two paired XB13 devices will give you stereo sound and much louder volume.
For $59.99 — or more likely under $50 when it’s on sale — the XB13 is an excellent speaker for everyday use or a mighty adventure that takes you somewhere new (or familiar). Not only is it a lightweight, durable design that can match your personality with color, but it will last for countless hours and produces great sound.
If you’re looking for a bit of added protection for your XB13 when you take it on the road — or in the air — a carrying case could be the perfect addition to your set.
A travel case for your portable speaker
While the XB13 is plenty durable, this compact carrying case can give you added peace of mind and protect it from the confinement of packed luggage.
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