While I definitely enjoy the peace and quiet of the wilderness and the sounds of things natural, I also don’t mind having the option of a little music. And by a ittle music I mean “a little” music. The last thing I want is to camp near someone who is blasting Free Bird on a boombox. Nor do I want to be that person.

For me that music would probably mean a bit of jazz, or some quiet ambient… audible only right there in my own campsite.

These days there are plenty of options available beyond carrying in a heavy, noisy boombox. I know I could use my phone, but I don’t like filling it up with music, and when I’m out camping my phone is an emergency device. It’s more than likely going to be snapped tight in a waterproof container and set to “airplane mode” to conserve power in case it’s actually needed. And I don’t want to risk damage to an expensive piece of equipment like that. So I’ve gotten together a small, lightweight sound system. No part of it is so expensive that I would be in the least upset if it were lost or damaged.
My system centers around what is called a Sansa Slot Player that I paid all of eight dollars for. It was a failed experiment by Sansa whose idea was that we would buy individual microSD cards preloaded with music, just like we might buy a CD by an individual artist. If you’ve ever seen a microSD card, which is about the size of your little fingernail, you’ll know what a stupid idea this was. You could lose one of those things forever just in the seam of your shirt pocket. However, you can fit a lot of music on a 4gig microSD and the battery life of the Slot Player will give you up to 15 hours on a single AAA battery.
The headphones are the Monoprice 8320s. Cost: about eight bucks shipped. (I just looked these up to insert a link, and they have been replaced by a new model. Now it will cost you around $11 shipped.) These earbuds got rave reviews as providing excellent, full-spectrum sound from the bass range to the high notes at a price point that lets you throw away the crummy Apple ones, as well as not having to give a damn if something happens to them and they break.
And lastly, the speaker is an HDMX Burst that you can pick up for less than $15 at some place like Target. It features decent volume and a good quality sound as long as you’re not looking for a bass unit for your Lowrider. I am not overly fond of the fluorescent pink color of my unit, I think I would’ve preferred something like rescue orange, but it was my gift for a Yankee Swap last Christmas so the cost to me was zero. My kind of price. And you are certainly not going to misplace it or accidentally step on it around the campsite. One of its biggest advantages is that it comes with an input cable attached on a interior roll-up. You don’t have to carry extra cords. In my experience, I’ve gotten upwards of eight hours on a single charge of its built-in battery. Because two sides are wrapped in silicone, they provide a no slip grip for the music player to be attached with a single rigger’s rubber band. The headphones just go along for the ride tucked onto the band on another side of the Burst.
So, for an actual cost of around $15, I have a pretty abusable, lose-able, carefree sound system to take out camping. It provides some nice music when you might want some, at a volume that won’t disturb people in a nearby campsite, while still being of a high enough quality to be truly enjoyable. You can just drop all the pieces into a heavy-duty Ziploc bag, and away you go. At a total weight of about 4 ounces, it’s a fairly easily rationalized addition to my kit.