Protective Equipment for the Active iPhone Owner
Itook a four-month trip to the island of Hawaii last October for a university research program. During that time, my iPhone 7 had some close calls with water, rocks, sand, heat, and yes, even a volcano. We risk our comfort, our sanity, and sometimes our safety to take these adventures. Having been through this adventure with my iPhone 7, I came back to the mainland with a better understanding of what rugged iPhone gear I could have brought with me. Here are the top five rugged iPhone accessories I will bring on my next adventure and recommend you pack too.
Renogy Phoenix Generator 20W All-in-One Solar Kit
In Hawaii, finding power was a constant struggle for our team. With no shortage of sunshine on the Big Island, we could have been saved a hundred times over if we'd had a better solar charger.
That's where Renogy's Phoenix Portable Generator Solar Kit comes in. This matte-black suitcase looks like an item Moneypenny would carry in a James Bond film. Inside is a pair of 10-watt monocrystalline portable solar panels and generator. At 12.8 pounds, this case might be too heavy for a hike but would be an absolute hero as a basecamp power source. You can charge the Phoenix Generator with the sun, with a standard wall outlet, or from the power socket in any vehicle. One charge can power your iPhone up to 32 times and your iPad up to 8 times.
Olloclip Active Lens Set for iPhone 7/7 Plus ($119.99)
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus already have the best smartphone cameras available. Olloclip's high-quality lens collection builds on the strength of the iPhone's camera, providing users with even greater versatility. I was able to try out Olloclip's Active Lens Set from its newest line of iPhone camera attachments. The set offers a 2x telephoto lens and a 155-degree ultra-wide lens. Carrying Olloclip's lenses with me was no inconvenience at all, and the benefits of being able to easily capture wide-angle shots and zoom in on subjects are worth it. I should note that the Olloclip mount is a very snug fit though and does not work with a case on. It took me five minutes to remove the Catalyst Case and safely secure the Olloclip. Olloclip offers a special case to solve this problem, but if you want to continue using your favorite case, be prepared for setup to take a little extra time. The mount also blocks the flash, so plan for that as well.
Since I have the iPhone 7, not the Plus, I enjoyed the clarity of the 2x telephoto zoom. There is a marked difference between the 2x zoom with the lens versus digitally zooming in within the Camera app. The 2x zoom lens is much clearer. With the wide-angle lens, I found my nature shots to be richer and more professional looking. If the iPhone is your main camera, these lenses are certainly an investment worth considering.
Catalyst Case for iPhone 7 ($79.99)
A reliable protective case is the first line of defense to keep your iPhone safe on serious treks—and the Catalyst Case is one of the most respected on the market. The IP68 rated Catalyst is submersible up to 30 feet, adding a significant boost of protection to the iPhone 7, which is submersible up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. When traveling near or through rivers in Hawaii, I found myself wishing I had chosen a better case. There is a difference between being 99 percent sure your iPhone is safe in its protective case and 100 percent sure. To test the Catalyst, I ran the iPhone 7 under water in my sink from every angle, took it in the shower while playing music, and shook it in a five-gallon bucket. Even after taking a fairly significant beating, my iPhone 7 remained dry and unscathed. I even tested the Catalyst case with coconut oil. Unlike my Spigen case, the Catalyst maintained a grippy feel. The Catalyst did not allow any dirt, sand, or mud to enter either, and once rinsed, it did not allow any debris to stick around. The Catalyst case also claims to protect against drop damage. I tested this out in a few different ways: For starters, I stuffed my phone in my backpack with books and office supplies and then dropped the backpack from about 10 feet. I also threw my phone down a flight of stairs, cartwheeled it across some pavement, and mashed it into a steel grate. The Catalyst Case itself was still in fair condition after this, and my iPhone remained unharmed thanks to Catalyst's war tank of a rubberized shell and bumpers. The protective iPhone 7 case adds bulk for sure and is one of the most expensive protective case options. However, it's worth it for me, as I forego phone insurance in lieu of a strong case.