Smartphones and apps have evolved to the point where they’ve eclipsed GPS receivers and become indispensable backcountry tools that combine navigation, weather forecasting, communication, tracking, a notepad, camera, book reader, music player, and entertainment functions all in one highly portable, rechargeable and lightweight unit. The only advantage that GPS units have anymore over them is a hardened and water-resistant/waterproof case that protects the device from adverse environmental conditions.
While there are many protective smartphone cases available today, the jury is still out on how much case you need for hiking and backpacking adventures.
Does a phone case need to:
- Protect the screen from scratches?
- Protect the screen from shattering?
- Protect the phone from bending?
- Provide a better grip on the phone?
- Protect the phone from accidental drops?
- Protect the phone for an hour under water after accidental immersion?
- Protect the phone from a few rain drops?
- Have a water damage warranty?
- Include a battery capable of recharging your phone?
- Fit in your pocket?
- Have a built-in tripod?
- Need to weigh less than the phone itself?
Or are some of these functions overkill, adding way to much complexity and weight to your phone and turning it into another brick like a GPS receiver?
Minimalist Smartphone Phone Case
I’ve taken a minimalist approach to protecting my iPhone 6 focusing on protecting the screen from scratches and accidental drops only. I don’t think I need any more protection than that.
My “phone case” has two components:
- $35 Lander Powell phone case that fits around the back and sides of my iPhone 6, with a raised side bezel to protect against impacts when I drop it.
- $8 Maxboost glass screen protector that sticks to the screen of my phone to protect it from scratches, but doesn’t cover the home button or muffle the microphone
My iPhone 6 weighs 133 grams, but the Lander case only weighs 31 grams and the Maxboost screen protector weighs just 2 grams more, bringing the total up to 166 grams or 5.8 ounces. That’s not bad at all for such a multi-function item that can still fit easily into my pants pockets.
Most of the time, my phone lives deep in my pack with my wallet and car keys. However, I’m sure other hikers and backpackers use their smartphones differently from me and have other phone case needs.
If that’s the case with you, how did you decide on the current smartphone case you have and what features do you feel are important?
Disclosure: Lander provided Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) with a Powell Phone case for review. Mr Werner purchased the Maxboost screen protector with his own funds.Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.
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