I shouldn’t be trusted with nice, shiny things. Which is why I like Polk’s Boom Swimmer Duo. Not that the Bluetooth speaker is not nice. It’s just more practical, inexpensive, and built for my lifestyle. Rugged enough to withstand shock, dirt, sand, drops, and being waterproof up to three feet deep for 30 minutes, it’s really hard to break. And even if you manage to, it’s not the end of the world—the thing only costs $60 (a junior version—smaller, fewer features, costs $40).
In addition to being something you can just kind of toss around, the Swimmer is more adaptable than a typical rectangular speaker. It has a flexible tail, which you can hook, tie, fold, twist, and bend. I hang it from the light fixture in the house when I’m at home, a backpack loop when I’m out, my bike handlebars when I’m cruising, a chain-link fence when I’m hanging out at the schoolyard, a tree branch when I’m sitting near a tree, and this winter I plan to loop it to my fanny pack while skiing.
Ultimately, though, it’s not about being able to tie it to your belt loop while playing in three feet of snow. It’s about the music. Your songs need quality sound. Polk, a company originally known for home audio, has engineered high-end sound for 43 years. The Swimmer is still small, so your Tchaikovsky isn’t going to sound like it does in the opera house, but the audio is crisper than other devices in the category. With the Swimmer Duo, users can connect with other Swimmer Duos to create surround sound, too.
Skiing Hot: Affordable; wants to go everywhere you do; won’t break despite your best efforts.
Skiing Not: For real audio boom, you’ll need two.
Marquee image: Loop this speaker to your favorite fanny pack. Or cactus. PHOTO: John Clary Davies