Getaway Gear: The JBL Clip 3 Packs a Portable Party Punch

This convenient Bluetooth speaker offers great sound and won’t upset your neighbors.

JBL Clip 3
The JBL Clip 3 is perfect for everything from hiking to strolling with a kid.JBL

There’s something about the phrase “portable speaker” that somehow still gives me visions of 80s teens carrying boomboxes on their shoulders and blasting music to people who didn’t ask for it. I guess that’s just showing my age or love for nostalgia, because speakers have come a long, long way since my childhood, and today we have devices that deliver huge sound and somehow fit in the palms of our hands. Technology, man… it’s a hoot.

While I typically travel with two or three sets of headphones (my AirPods for the plane and pool, EarPods that I won’t mind losing, and either my noise-canceling Bose headphones or SleepPhones for noisier resorts) I recently added the JBL Clip 3 Bluetooth speaker, for a variety of reasons, but let’s start with the most important.

This is a Really Great Speaker

Over the last three years, I have purchased five Bluetooth speakers to use with my iPhone for when I’m either doing yardwork, grilling with friends, or inflating my son’s waterslide for backyard fun. Tech tends to change a lot in short periods of time, so the first two were replaced simply because they were too big and the range was limited (I loved my Logitech boombox, but I couldn’t leave my phone inside while it played, and it also couldn’t travel) and several others just didn’t live up to the hype (especially one small speaker from a very popular brand that tells customers to expect great battery life when you should not).

The JBL Clip 3 caught my attention because of the design, as I’d been looking for something to clip to my bike and son’s stroller for neighborhood jaunts, since I don’t like wearing my headphones while riding. And since I wasn’t planning to host a traveling house party while we stroll, I wasn’t too concerned with big sound. Just enough to play my son’s favorite song: Taylor Swift’s “Paper Rings”. It also comes in 13 colors, including my son’s favorite (bright red), so for the low price it was a no-brainer.

Appearances are Superficial, Sound is Just Super

Turns out, the sound is pretty great on this speaker, and because it’s also small enough to fit in the palm of my hand, it earned a spot in my travel backpack (which has so many pockets that I needed some extra gadgets anyway). Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Are you the kind of guy who sets up shop at a hotel pool and just starts blasting his music?” No. Not at all. I’m actually a huge proponent of keeping your sounds to yourself in hotels, so I make sure to only break out the JBL Clip 3 when the time is right.

It made a great addition to my last round of Caribbean golf, as the course was empty and that meant I could add a little funk to liven things up, instead of my standard barrage of curse words regarding my dumb slice. And I’ve also enjoyed clipping it to my backpack for boat trips and when I set up shop on the beach during quick snorkeling excursions.

And that leads us to one of my two favorite things: this speaker is waterproof, so if I happen to drop my bag in the ocean when I’m getting off the boat and trying desperately not to drop my bag, the speaker will still be fine. My other favorite thing is the 10-hour battery life, because there’s never a plug around when I need it, and a speaker will never take priority over my phone, so it helps to have great lasting power.