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GearTools & Tech

Who makes lightweight speakers good for backpacking?

I like to backpack with my iPod when I alone in the wilderness. After setting cp it would be ideal to have speakers instead of headphones to enjoy my music. Are there any lightweight, portable speakers good for backpacking? David Vancouver, Washington

A: Are you really alone? As in, is someone else apt to be forced to share your musical tastes? Because you'd be astonished at how far sound can travel on a quiet evening in the hills—particularly where there's a lake or something that can reflect sound waves and help them on their way. So while I sympathize with your desire for music, I must preface my recommendations with a plea that you keep the noise to a minimum.

SRS-T57 speakers

But yes, there are battery-powered speakers out there. Probably the best in terms of light weight plus decent sound is the Sony SRS-T57 unit ($50 per pair; They fold for compactness (slightly bigger than a pack of cards) and weigh only eight ounces without batteries. Sound is decent for tiny, battery-powered speakers—don't expect to blast out Modest Mouse at much more than audible-from-five-feet volumes (which I suppose makes my earlier concerns superfluous). But you can hear your music while tinkering around doing camp chores, reading in the tent, stargazing...

Take a look as well at the Creative TravelSound i300 ($80, but available for $50 at several online sites; They claim a little higher sound quality than the Sony speakers, due to their titanium drivers. Heavier and bulkier than the Sonys, however, at about one pound and 15 inches by six in girth. They'll play for up to 35 hours with four AAA batteries (depending on volume), which is much better than the two or three hours you'll get from the Sony speakers, with four heavier AA batteries.

So, rock on. Maybe if you get the Sony speakers, a solar charger is in your future as well...

The next digital revolution fits in your hand, thanks to adventure travel gadgets that combine GPS, cell-phone, video, and MP3 technology in sleek, travel-friendly packages. Outside tests the best.

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Filed To: Audio Players
Lead Photo: courtesy, Sony