How To… Protect Electronics in the Outdoors

Phones, GPS, satellite messengers and radios serve as a lifeline for many outdoor enthusiasts, while music players, cameras and tablets add to the fun.

To stay connected, how can you ensure your devices survive the hard knocks of human error and the whims of Mother Nature?

 

E-Protection Options

Protective accessories range from simple to deluxe:

          • Zip-seal food bags: For the cost of a few pennies, a sealable food bag creates an affordable, disposable layer of protection from light rain and splashes. You can usually use a touchscreen through the plastic. Since they’re less-than-crystal-clear, though, they tend to blur photos and add glare.
          • Soft cases: Sized to fit many devices, these offer a more durable form of submergible protection. Clear panels allow reliable touchscreen and camera use. Some models feature waterproof headphone jacks, built-in flotation and tie-down points. Shop REI’s selection of soft cases. (Note: Soft cases are categorised alongside hard-sided cases.)
          • Smartphone cases: These formfitting, device-specific cases deliver low-profile protection from drops, shock and scratches while preserving full access to touchscreens, buttons and ports. Some models add crush resistance and waterproof protection.
          • Hard-sided cases: The Fort Knox of protection options, these watertight containers can resist just about anything. Many come with customisable linings to cradle delicate items. They are ideal for storage and transport, but don’t offer the quick access and functionality of other options. .

 

Tips From the Field

          • Even small amounts of moisture can wreak havoc. Make sure you thoroughly dry all your gear when you get home. Avoid using devices during sudden temperature and humidity increases that create condensation and fogging, such as coming into a ski lodge from the slopes or going out into tropical heat from an air-conditioned room.
          • Use soft cases. Keeping a waterproof soft case handy if there is a chance of the phone getting wet, it goes into the case. This is nice because you can still use your phone and even make a phone call with the soft case on.” However, taking photos may not work as well if the plastic isn’t totally clear.
          • Consider weatherproof gear. Buying rugged, weatherised gadgets for most outdoor uses is a wise move.
          • Keep your phone in a zippered pocket. It is highly recommend a zippered clothing pocket for phone storage around water. Use  headphones for calls. That way the phone stays protected in a zippered pocket and you have your hands free.

 

Quick Tips

          • On hot, sunny days, keep your gadgets in the shade. Many electronic gadgets can be damaged by prolonged heat.
          • When in camp, keep all your portable electronics organised and secure in one protected place, such as a clean, dry cooler.
          • If your device gets wet, don’t try to turn it on until it’s completely dry. Placing it in a container of dry rice or silica gel can help absorb lingering moisture. (If you do succeed in reviving your phone, be sure to back up your information right away. Corrosion may still develop later on.)
          • If it’s been exposed to dry sand or dust, a few blasts from a can of compressed air can help clean it out.

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