Summer’s here! We can finally shake off the chilly blahs and break out the short pants and sandals. Of course, that also means we aren’t sporting our big coats/jackets with all those nifty pockets either. And that means some of us don’t have any secure place to stash our gadgets.
The most die-hard outdoorspeople may want to invest in some summer-friendly devices, like a cool camera. (For a list of the best cams for outdoor vacation pics, check out our post.) The rest of us, however, may simply want to know how to summerproof the gadgets we already have. So here’s my list of top 5 tips. Take a look and see if they match yours.
1- Straps are handy. Not sure why, but somewhere along the line, many cell phone manufacturers decided that handstraps were unnecessary. And so, despite the fact that expensive smartphones are all the rage, we inexplicably have fewer ways to secure these precious gadgets in our hands.
In the winter, we have all those nifty pockets, but in the summer, we often end up carting tech around by our mitts. That’s pretty much what happened a couple of days ago, when I dropped my iPhone on a sidewalk.
Yikes! Maybe if I’d had a Voi! Interim iPhone case with built-in strap, this wouldn’t have happened. There are also separate straps that can be rigged either directly to certain cell phones or tethered to a separate case, like this little Android cutie below.
Not only can these prevent that cellie from taking a tumble, but considering the rise of smartphone snatch-and-grabs lately, a strap could also be a visual deterrent. Not a bad idea if you’re planning on hanging out a lot in public on those warm summer nights.
2- The right protection for the job. Neoprene arm-bound gadget sleeves are a must-have for runners, hikers and other active people. They can secure a phone or MP3 player, while still allowing touchscreen functionality. And they often have wicking properties, so keep sweat and other moisture from entering the hardware. The Adidas miCoach Armband from Griffin was made with the iPhone in mind, but any device with similar dimensions would be fine. There are others available too, like the one pictured below, which is designed for the Incredible and available on Amazon.
If you’re into biking, hiking or roughsport activity, and you know you’ll have gadgets on you, then you need a superior level of protection. Ballistic offers extreme protection for smartphones and tablets, as does Otterbox, which also has a line of waterproof cases, for the water babies among us. Not all waterproof cases are the same — some are hardshells, like the Otterbox, while others are more like plastic sleeves, so pick the accessory that works for the activity.
3- Bring some “juice” with you. Who doesn’t know the irritation of being on the go when a camera, camcorder, phone, or other gadget runs out of juice? That’s always when the best photo op seems to happen, just when the device dies. Don’t let it happen to you. If you travel lightly with just a mobile phone, then consider a rechargeable case. Otherwise, think about getting an external battery that can power various devices, like the XPal 4000. It’s an external battery with various adapters to fit many different kinds of devices.
4- More power for the road. A USB car adaptor is a handy product to have in the car, particularly if you’re driving around. And they’re pretty inexpensive too, with some costing less than $10. (Suggestion: If you go for one of these, snag the kind with different ports, for more flexibility in what you can power. This is the one I’ve been using for the last six months (at right), and it has not only held up well, but I have one accessory that can’t be powered by USB, only the wall or cigarette adapter, and this handles it beautifully.)
5- The best tip is the cheapest. There are a lot of products out there designed for active people and their on-the-go needs; the ones mentioned above are just a few examples at different price points. But the best all-time tip I have costs almost nothing: Raid the pantry and grab some Ziploc baggies.
It’s facepalm-worthy, I know, and it’s amazing how many people don’t think of this. Ziploc bags are essential for anyone going on a boat, a beach, or a dusty trail or road. And capacitive touch screens work right through them, so there’s no need to take a tablet, MP3 player, eReader or smartphone out of the pouch at all (except for any calling features). If you have a “go” bag, keep a few spares in there. They take up no space, have no weight, and chances are, they’ll come in handy for a spur-of-the-moment need.
To wrap this up, I’m going to add a few other bits of related advice. Hope you find them useful:
- Emergency: Wet gadget. D’oh! You accidentally got that device wet. Now what? Well for starters, don’t panic. And definitely don’t attempt to turn it on. In fact, shut it down immediately and, if you can, take out the battery so there’s no chance something could short circuit in there. When you get home, put it in a container of dry rice and leave it there until it dries. (The rice will help absorb the moisture.) Don’t turn it back on until you are positive that every last bit of wetness is gone.
- Emergency: Fashion. A smartphone with a front-facing cam makes a pretty handy travel mirror. So if you had to rush to meet friends on the boardwalk, you can whip out your cellie and make sure you’re still rocking some style. Likewise, if you’re toting a camcorder with a flip-out viewfinder.
- Emergency: Hunger. I have one word for you: Zagat. Nothing’s worse than being hungry in an unfamiliar area, and not knowing where to go. Sure, there are free apps with local reviews, but frankly, I’d rather trust the large-scale surveys of a broader audience than a stranger or two whose idea of fine cuisine is Spaghettios and Ramen Noodles. Then again, Zagat’s handiest in large cities, so if you spend most of your time in remote areas or smaller towns, you may have to rely on Yelp or Open Table. These are available as apps on every major platform.
Do you summerproof your gadgets? Got any words of wisdom or other tips? Share them in the section below.