The Ruggedest Speaker Also Has the Biggest Sound
Yes, it’s a speaker built into a real Pelican Case
Is the new Demerbox the most rugged Bluetooth speaker ever made? Almost certainly. The one with the biggest sound? Ditto. The coolest looking? I think so. While it’s the Pelican Case housing that makes all those things possible, you’ll also find clever details inside. Let’s take a look.
What Is It?
The 5.5-pound $399 Demerbox is a basketball-size Pelican 1300 Case with three big holes cut into it up front, two of which hold speakers. The other hole is a bass tube—pump the volume and you can feel air being pushed out by the speakers, delivering more robust sound. Inside there’s a 2,600 mAh lithium ion battery and a custom-made circuit board that delivers 20 watts to each speaker. And that’s it.
It’s simple and totally dialed, thanks to the high-quality components. The case is crush-proof, waterproof, and stands up to any weather thrown at it. Plus, it floats, just in case it does end up in the lake. The three-inch aluminum cone speakers, protected by strong plastic grills, paired with rubber gaskets keep the box 100 percent waterproof, while still pumping out great sound.
Inside, the circuit board delivers good-quality audio and lots of volume (this thing gets incredibly loud), very efficiently. That means it makes the most out of its relatively small battery, delivering a runtime of over 50 hours, even in near-freezing conditions.
Who Is It For?
The Demerbox was created to bring high-quality audio outside. Its inventor, James Demer, used to work as a sound mixer for shows like “Survivor” and Vice News’ documentaries. While on set in Barrow, Alaska, he found himself needing a good sound system that wouldn’t get beat up in transit or in inclement weather. So he drilled holes into a Pelican Case and mounted the speakers into them. His idea for easily portable, high-quality speakers caught on, and in 2014, Demer raised over $80,000 on Kickstarter to mass produce the device.
News spread fast. Earlier this year, Demer got a call from Zac Brown. The country musician had taken a Demerbox on an eight-day spearfishing trip with his family and was so impressed that he called Demer and asked to buy the company. Two months ago, they finalized the acquisition.
Now, you’re not going to carry this big speaker far into the woods. But because of its durability, you can chuck it in your trunk or luggage, then take it just about anywhere else. You can even stuff the Pelican Case with other gear, like extra clothes or a camera, to save on space.
Pelican Cases are known for their strength, reliability, and longevity. They’re also made in the U.S., which appeals to Demer, who makes his speakers in Maine.
Inside, there’s a charge port running to a standard 110V plug, a USB port for charging your phone while you play music (it doesn’t play music), and a standard headphone jack for plugging in non-Bluetooth music players, or when you want to save battery. So I don’t lose them, I carry the charging and speaker cables inside the box, then run them through the bass tube when I want to plug them into an outlet. During audio playback, you get a hair superior quality by keeping those cables out of the box.
I’ve been dragging the Demerbox to cabins, tents, and on 4×4 trips all summer, and it’s even become my go-to sound system for weekend barbeques on the porch.
Aside from looking cool, the first thing I noticed is how the speaker’s sound fills a room or campsite. I don’t need to stand directly in front of the speaker to hear it at its best. It also sounds much deeper and richer than other portable speakers I’ve used. In fact, it sounds about as good as my Sonos system at home.
I’ve used the Demerbox on several five-day trips and have yet to fully deplete its battery. It’s ridden loose in the back of a pickup while off-roading, been chewed on by a puppy, and been forgotten outside during a rainstorm. Throughout a summer of abuse, it has yet to show any significant signs of wear. No dust and no water have gotten inside. No sand has stuck in the speakers or the ports. Protected inside the case, Bowie has yet to bite through any of the cables.
- No cheesy audio intro. The Demerbox turns on and off with a push of its only switch—that’s it.
- No complicated paring routine. Just find “Demerbox” on your phone’s list of devices and play music.
- Amazing, robust sound that fills the area, outside or inside.
- The case isn’t just there to look cool, or provide protection. Demer calculated the size to serve as the ideal bass response cabinet—the Pelican Case actually makes the sound better.
- Extremely long battery life.
- Looks like a professional tool.
- Made in the U.S.A.
- Must remember to disconnect one phone’s Bluetooth pair before connecting another.
- Installing bass tube plug to achieve full waterproofness dulls sound.
Should You Buy One?
The Bose Soundlink delivers similar sound quality for $100 less, but it isn’t as rugged and has only an eight-hour runtime. Smaller, more portable options like the UE Mini Boom or Outdoor Tech Turtle Shell 3.0 are much more portable, retail for well under $100, and still deliver an element of water resistance and protection from small drops, alongside acceptable sound.
But if you need a near-indestructible speaker with professional-grade audio reproduction, there is no better option than the Demerbox.