Why Every Traveler Should Own An Inexpensive Smartphone Dry Bag
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Why Every Traveler Should Own An Inexpensive Smartphone Dry Bag

The smartphone you have in your pocket right now is probably water resistant. You could press it up against your sweaty face, splash it by the pool, or even drop it into the toilet without too much to fear. And yet! It’s still worth it for everyone, and frequent travelers in particular, to have a waterproof phone bag tucked away and ready to go for any trip to any body of water. Here’s why.

Sandproof, Too

Photo by Kite_rin
Photo by Kite_rin

Let’s take the beach, as an example. On the Mohs hardness scale (where 1 is talc, and 10 is diamond), most beach sand falls around 6 or 7, depending on the composition of elements present. Meanwhile, the glass on your phone — even the latest, high-end tempered glass — probably falls somewhere between a 5 and a 6 on the scale. Scratches happen when something hard rubs against something less hard, ergo, even a single grain of sand can wreak havoc on your phone if you leave it unprotected.

Sand at the beach gets everywhere. In fact, it’s kind of famous for that. Your pocket isn’t a safe space for your phone. Nor is a beach tote. Nor are even your bare hands. Remember; all it takes is one grain of sand to draw an unmissable gash across your expensive phone’s screen.

You know what will keep it safe? An airtight, waterproof smartphone bag. You’ll still be able to fully operate the device and see its screen through the plastic window on most bags, and you won’t have to worry about scratching it up with a stray grain of sand on your thumb. Even if you never set foot in the ocean, it’s worth grabbing a dry bag for this reason alone.

Water Resistant Does Not Mean Waterproof

Photo by PERO studio

But let’s say you’re just going to the pool, or want to kayak down a river. Even where sand isn’t a concern, it’s never a bad idea to add an extra layer of protection to your phone. Most modern smartphones offer some level of water resistance, but the standard IEC standard rating system that most smartphone manufacturers use can offer a false sense of security.

For example, an IP67-rated device like most recent iPhones should be able to withstand immersion in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes, which sounds pretty darn waterproof. But that rating doesn’t account for the pressure caused by fast-moving water if you fall into a river, or cannonball into a pool. Plus, it only applies to the phone fresh out its packaging; the rubber gaskets and glues that made the phone water resistant when it was manufactured can harden or wear out over time, reducing your device’s ability to keep water out over time.

And if water ever does get inside, no, it won’t be covered under any standard warranty.

Turn Your Phone Into a Waterproof Camera

While a dry bag is great for lounging by the beach or wading in the pool, it’s absolutely essential for water sports. I’ve taken my phone white water rafting in a dry bag, and was able to use it as a perfectly serviceable camera for the trip. And since the bag included a lanyard that I could wear around my neck, I was never worried about losing my phone as we careened through the rapids.

Even for lower intensity activities like kayaking and tubing, an inexpensive dry bag will let you take great photos from the water, and with the peace of mind that your phone will be safe should you unexpectedly capsize.

A dry bag even lets you take your photography one step further by turning your phone into a truly underwater camera. While surrounding your phone with water--even in a dry bag--can cause the touchscreen to register unexpected inputs, you should still be able to use your phone’s hardware shutter button (usually one of the volume buttons) to take fully underwater photos of friends, family, and even ocean life, just like you used to do with those disposable film cameras you bought for vacations in years past.

Buy It Now

Look, these bags have been around for a long time, and they cost less than $10. Don’t wait until the night before your next flight to remember to pick one up, or overpay for one at the airport. Just order one (or a few!) now, and stash them in your suitcase so you’ll know you have them the next time you leave home.

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