Smartphones are not designed for use in the outdoors, although in the future you may see a phone line designed specifically for outdoor uses. For now, phone designers make their devices with the city in mind. Often they do not account for unexpected moisture, jagged rocks or dust and sand. Even so, this doesn’t stop most people from bringing their phone with them on camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, backpacking and paddling trips. Of course, there are photos to snap, texts to send and even the time to check when you’re on those trips. So since you probably won’t be leaving your phone at home, let’s look at some ways you can protect it while you’re outdoors.

Be Careful Where You Store It

Often, your phone isn’t in your pocket when you’re enjoying the outdoors, but rather packed away in case you need it. This is really a good idea, as you’ll need your phone should an emergency arise, even if you have to drive towards civilization to get a signal. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when you store your phone. First, if you’re not planning on using your phone or if you’re out of service, turn it off to conserve the battery. Turning off your phone is generally a better way to protect it in an less than ideal environment anyway.

Smartphones are temperature sensitive, and keeping it in the cup holder of your vehicle as the sun beats down all day is a bad idea. Excessive heat can damage the battery and even trash your phone if you’re not careful. Don’t forget to keep it in the shade if you’re playing tunes around the campsite as well. Keep it out of the sun and in a cooler place like enclosed in the console or glove box when not in use. Exposure to negative temperatures can also impact your phone, so if you’re one of those hardcore campers or hunters who spend all day in sub-zero temps, then it’s best to leave your phone in your vehicle.

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If you’re going to be in a wet environment, consider storing your phone in a waterproof backpack like this Watershed Big Creek Pack ($120.00)

One other note, be careful if you store your phone in your tent. On colder trips, moisture can accumulate overnight in your tent, and if your phone is left out it could absorb some of the moisture while you sleep, potentially damaging it. A better option is to keep it comfortably stored in your backpack as long as the temperatures will stay above freezing.

Keep It Dry

We don’t have to tell you that getting your phone wet is bad, unless you have a “water resistant phone,” which we suspect still has its weaknesses to moisture. In any case, keeping your phone away from moisture, or worse a dip in the creek, is vital to keeping your phone running. Many companies make waterproof phone cases, which are a good investment if you plan to be outdoors a lot. That said, these cases only offer a degree of waterproof, more like water resistant, protection, and you’ll have better luck pairing these cases with a waterproof tech pouch. Just like a dry bag, these tech pouches keep your device dry while you’re on the water, and they have a clip so you don’t have to worry about them tumbling into a nearby water source.

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Simms makes tech pouches for fisherman that’ll be perfect for other outdoor purposes as well. Pictured is the Simms Waterproof Tech Pouch ($24.95).

If your device does unexpectedly get wet, the best thing to do is turn it off immediately if it is not off already. Once off, the tried and true method of saving a wet phone comes in the form of a bag of dry rice. Place it in the bag (say a quart sized freezer bag full of rice) and leave it there for 24 to 36 hours. At no time should you turn the phone on while it’s drying in the bag. Once the time is up, you may have salvaged your phone from destruction by water, however, back everything up immediately as there is no guarantee it will work for a long period of time.

Consider Alternative Waterproof Devices

Those who bring their phone along simply for documenting their experiences should consider getting a waterproof device for the job instead. Waterproof cameras are more affordable than ever, and they can withstand substantial water exposure and a few drops and bumps along the way. Waterproof cameras are great to strap to your fishing vest or raft to capture the action as it is happening, and you can always share the footage once you get home just like from your phone.

If you want to document your hunt, consider using a Tactacam for the job instead of your phone. You can’t hold your phone and your gun or bow at the same time anyway, and the Tactacam mounts directly to your platform to seamlessly capture all the action. Tactacams shoot in HD and provide a one of a kind viewing experience that you simply won’t get with your phone.

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The Tactacam offers an innovative way to record a hunt. Pictured here is the Tactacam 2.0 Bow Package with Stabilizer ($289.99).

Closing Thoughts

The point of getting outdoors is to get away from the hustle of modern life, and while one day your phone will get service everywhere on the planet, it’s not a day we’re looking forward to. That said, bringing along a phone might just save a life in an emergency situation, and it’s a burden worth carrying, more often turned off unless you really need it. A broken phone won’t help anyone, and so it pays to protect it properly when you’re outdoors.

Thumb courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.