Sometimes a product can be simple and do everything it needs to do. Reliably. And so far we feel the Duk Gear Waterproof Floating Cell Phone cases are a perfect example of that. Keep your phone handy, still take pictures, float if it falls in. And of course, keep your phone dry and protected. Oh, and not break the bank too would be nice!
The Duk Gear company, created when they saw way too many paddlers losing cell phones while paddling on a nearby lake, is US Based and a 1% for the Planet aligned company. So you know they care about their role in the environment as much as we do. We recently tested out two their flagship products with our cell-phone on numerous OC1 and SUP paddles. We were pleased with what we experienced.
Ease of use
The product is simple. Open it up, slide in your phone, lock the two opposing latches on the top. And attach it to you or your craft. The two locking clasps on the top are similar to most other cases, but something we found that made a huge difference is that, with some decent dexterity, you can operate and lock it with one hand. Two often we have our hands full of paddles, water bottles and gear when it comes time to lock up the case. Being able to easily secure the phone in with one hand, and get the locking clasps entered and closed single-handedly makes a big difference to us.
Effectiveness (Sea and Land)
Submerged test: We tested the paddle cases out with an old iPhone 5s first that we use just for music. We were too scared at first to try a new product out without knowing it would work. We dropped the case in the water, pulled it underwater about 14 inches for 10 seconds. Then let go and watched it float up to the surface again. The bright green design on one of our cases made it easy to spot (the other case was black and still visible, but less so). We then took the case and gave it a gentle little toss onto the soft sand 4 feet away. Literally dragged it back to the water to rinse it off. Then carried it up to the grass where we could open it up and inspect the phone. We felt this series of tests represented the scenarios we most commonly experiences as paddlers. Falling in, getting slashed by waves, dropping things on the beach. You know...paddle stuff. :)
When we took out the phone, we made sure to have dry hands to make sure we were not mistaking any potential moisture on the protected phone from a leak in the case. It came out totally dry. Functioned perfectly.
Heat test: Next we let it sit on a floating SUP board face up and face down for 10 minutes each to see if the heat from the sun might be worse than normal by being in a closed environment. The device was certainly warm to the touch after we took it out, but functioned normally. We then did the same thing on the board while on the grass, without the case. The phone was equally hot, actually slightly hotter without the case. I know this is not a marketing feature of the phone, but something we felt important in case it would overheat when used for long paddles and exposed to the sun. Everything worked as we hoped and there was no added greenhouse heat effect.
Useage test: The final test was actually using the phone while in the case, while we were on the water paddling OC1. For this, Since we now trusted the case with water, we swapped in a newer iPhone that is actually in use as a phone. We tested the the following with included results.
- Open the phone using the passcode:
Despite a drip or two on the clear cover we opened it easily on the first try.
- Open the phone using thumbprint:
We were unable to open the phone using our thumb.
- Phone call:
Dialing, then having discussion with a person was easy. We were able to communicate on speaker and holding phone up to ear and hear just fine. Slightly more muffled as expected than normal but useable. The person heard us fine on the beach we were talking to, and made the comment that the wind noise was reduced as well, which was a side bonus.
- Navigate phone:
We checked several apps and posted a Facebook comment to a post as Cali Paddler without any issues.
- Took a picture in selfie mode and regular mode. They came out fine.
- Took video, with audio, it came out fine.
Everything from our testing was solid. We have used the two sized cases several times and the Duk Gear Case will become part of our equipment list moving forward.
Notes, strengths and shortcomings
- We use a wallet case with our phone so while we normally would have used the LG size, it was a tight fit due to the added bulk of the wallet. So we would recommend using the XL in those situations unless you want to take the phone out of added pouches.
- The lanyard it comes with is a non-abrasive soft fabric material that did not chafe.
- The carabiner is metal and a screw lock. Very decent quality, and build. Although I am not sure the type of metal so might rust if not stainless steel. That said we are torn if screw lock is best. While it means no accidental opening, it is a little more cumbersome to open when you DO want to open it.
- I wish the lanyard had the ability for adjusting the length a little more. I found on a downwind run that under my jersey it kept slipping out of being tucked into my shorts (how I normally wear it). If the lanyard was slightly longer I could have tucked it a little more and not have it bumping around me as I paddled in the surf. Or shorter so I could wear it higher, more chest than stomach.
Like I wrote in the beginning, things that just work reliably as hoped for, and are simple make me happy. And when the price is right, even better. The DukGear Smartphone case is available in 5 colors (black, blue, green pink purple), and two sizes (large and extra large). It is $24.95 on their website. And you are buying form a domestic company that is aligned with 1% for the planet. Enjoy those paddles more now with a new floating waterproof phone case!
Find yours and learn more at www.DukGear.com.