Personal electronics are pretty much always with us these days, even when enjoying the outdoors. If it’s not a smart phone loaded with maps or tracking your workout, it’s your MP3 player, keeping you entertained and motivated. Of course, the downside is that their sensitive electronics are susceptible to damage and moisture. So we’ve put together a little guide showing some of the options available when you’re getting wet and dirty.
Dry CASE: With its vacuum seal, the DryCASE is submersible to 100 feet underwater. The crystal clear plastic allows you to see your iPod or iPhone, and work the touch screen (and camera) through it. There’s a fully sealed, waterproof external headphone jack located on the bottom. Undo the clearly marked locks, place your device inside with the headphone extension plugged in, then lock it back up. Use the included vacuum bulb to suck the air out, and it’s ready for action. Although it will protect against water, dust, and scratches, there’s very little in the way of impact protection. Of course, the included arm band means it should be mostly out of harm’s way. Get this if you’re in the water as much as near the water. MSRP $39.99 www.drycase.com
Having used an underwater camera with similar technology while diving Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, I can attest to the effectiveness of this clever vacuum design. You’ll know it’s sealed properly when you can see the case hugging your device tighter than Axl Rose’s facelift. Their $29.99 DryBUDS waterproof ear buds sound great too, and are $5 off when purchased with the DryCASE.
Pelican i1010: The Hummer of portable cases, it’s big and bulky, but not without good reason. Designed specifically for the iPod®, Nano, and Shuffle™, its molded rubber interior holds them securely, with a storage pocket for headphones too. There’s a headphone plug inside, with a swiveling external jack on the outside. Put your iPod inside, hit the play button, snap it shut, and it’s protected against nearly any peril you’ll likely face. While the gasket keeps out dust and water, it’s not designed to be submerged. But it is crush-proof. When you want presidential-limo level protection, this is your case. Comes with a strap and small carabiner. Available in black, white, blue, yellow, silver, and pink. MSRP $24.71 www.Pelican.com
We’ve always been fans of Pelican products, and this is no exception. Of all the products we’ve tested, the i1010 offers the maximum amount of impact protection, for the roughest outings. Note that this model is not suitable for the iPod® Touch models.
Aquapac Stormproof case for iPod: Designed for the iPod and similar devices, it’s got a clear front panel and a nylon shell. Instead of the extra wiring and expense of an internal headphone plug routed to an external port, there’s a simple flap on the back to run the cord through. After inserting your device and plugging in the headphones, just roll the flap a few times, and buckle it. With an IPX3 stormproof rating, it will remain water resistant as long as it’s oriented properly with the flap on the bottom. Like the other soft cases, it will also protect against scratches, but not impacts. Designed with the snow sport, cycling or running enthusiast in mind, this one is for wet and dirty environments, but not underwater. Comes with a lanyard/neck cord, can also be worn on an arm band or clipped via a carabiner. Orange or grey, with an MSRP $24 www.aquapac.net
We really appreciate the simplicity of the Aquapac cases. The rollable flap and micro-buckle minimize moving parts and seals that can fail. And the price is cheap insurance. Get the orange if you’re inclined to lose things easily – it’s much more noticeable.
Aquapac MP3 case: This is the big brother to the Stormproof case, with every feature turned up a bit. Besides protecting from dust, dirt, and sand, it’s got an IPX 8 rating, meaning it’s fully submersible. The LENZFLEX™ lens rear window is optically-clear, so not only can you work the controls of your iPod or iPhone, but you can take photos as well. This unit is obviously designed for the Apple products, but similar sized MP3 players should work well. If you want to bring your tunes to the ocean, a lake, or even just a pool, this is an excellent option. Includes armband and lanyard/neck cord. MSRP $35 www.aquapac.net
A great way to protect your device while still accessing most of its features. We like the fact that in addition to listening to music or even watching a video, you can take photos through the rear window. Upload a photo to Facebook while water skiing with one hand!
Aquapac also offers 100% waterproof headphones. These highly rated headphones offer excellent sound quality, while being waterproof to a depth of 30 feet. They don’t recommend use below ten feet though, due to the pressure. With a standard 3.5mm plug, and three different sized silicone ear buds, they’ll work with most devices and people. Better still, you’ll save $10 when purchasing them with the MP3 case.
Cell Phone Dry Box: Designed specifically for cell phones, there’s no headphone jack or port on this one. While it’s certainly possible to use with bluetooth headphones or a headset, it’s more of a store and carry solution. Constructed of shatterproof polycarbonate, there’s a securely closing latch and heavy gasket to keep out dirt and water. It’s longer than the Pelican, but less bulky, and offers excellent impact protection. Available in orange, blue, or a pinkish magenta. $9.99 www.outdoorproducts.com
Although the Cell Phone Dry Box is really designed to protect your device in the go, we found it to be one of the most versatile offerings. Against the manufacturer’s advice, we found that it floats well, and didn’t leak when fully submerged, making it a smart choice for your electronics as well as matches and tinder or even a first aid kit.
aLOKSAK: Clearly (no pun intended) the biggest surprise in the bunch. LOKSAK bags feature a hermetic seal that completely prevents dirt, water, air, dust or humidity from getting inside. The medical-grade, 100% recycled polyethylene is transparent, puncture resistant, and FDA approved. Certified waterproof to 60 meters, it’s been approved by the Navy Experimental Diving Unit. Perhaps the most amazing feature is the price – a 3 pack of 3×6 inch aLOKSAKs have an MSRP of $6.49. This is the best choice for protecting your device from the elements while it’s stored in a pocket or pack. www.loksak.com
At Outdoor Retailer, they had a cell phone in the small aLOLSAK, dropped in a fish bowl. Certainly an attention-getting display, but it was our own test that really impressed us. We inflated one, and had a 200+ pound tester stand on it. The seal held. Once you try them, you’ll want a variety for around the house as well as your camping/travel kit.
There are probably dozens more similar products available, but this should give you an idea of which features are available, along with an approximate price range.