If you’ve ever had a puncture and run out of inner tubes, you’ll know just how important it is to carry a phone with you while out cycling. It can save you a very long walk home, but could also get you help if you’re unfortunate enough to have an accident. Unexpected showers and even perspiration can put your phone at risk though, and so if you have an expensive smartphone you might be wondering how best to protect it from water damage.
As keen cyclists we’ve scoured the web looking for a decent list of options for protecting my iPhone while out on the bike, but it just doesn’t seem to exist yet. Below is our attempt at pulling together the various solutions that the cycling community have come up with, along with a couple of recommendations for which we think are best.
1. Sandwich bag – £0.10 each
One of the most popular solutions to keeping your phone dry on the bike is to use a sandwich bag. Any one that seals will do, though we prefer the slightly heavier duty ones with an actual zip. Not only are they more durable, but they’re also much easier to open and close – particularly when wearing cycling gloves. In case you’re wondering, this is one of our particular favourites from Tesco..
You’ll get at least several uses out of each bag, and you can even use your touchscreen through the plastic (we tested this with an iPhone 6 Plus). Because they’re made to accommodate sandwiches (surprise surprise) they’ll fit any phone, and because the bag is flexible it folds easily and doesn’t take up any extra space in your jersey pocket.
So although it might not be the most stylish solution to waterproofing your phone, it is one of the cheapest and most flexible.
Top tip: Although it might be tempting to put your other valuables in the same bag (cards, money, keys etc.) it’s definitely best avoided. These can easily scratch your phone case and display, and so they should either be kept in a separate bag or just leave them loose in your pocket.
2. Dry bags – £5 to £20
If you’re after something a bit more substantial and durable then there are a range of dry bags available that will completely waterproof your mobile phone. For example, see this waterproof iPhone case from OverBoard. These are designed to withstand submersion, say if you’re on a boat or by the pool, so could be a bit overkill for while you’re out on the bike. They add a fair bit of bulk to your phone, so you might find it more difficult to fit in smaller jersey pockets. They also come in a range of different sizes, so you might want to size up so that you can be sure that it will fit your next phone if you’re upgrading soon.
Top picks in this category
- pOcpac range of cases – from £5.99 at thepocpac.co.uk (come highly recommended on cycling forums).
- OverBoard Waterproof iPhone case – £16 from Amazon (plenty of reviews with a 4.5 star average).
- MPow Universal Dry Bag – £5.69 from Amazon (loads of reviews with a 4.7 star average).
3. Waterproof cases – £20 to £60
If you’re also after some protection from impacts, you might be best off with a proper protective waterproof case. The benefit to these is that they also have a hard protective shell that will stop you damaging the screen or casing if the phone’s dropped – but this comes at a price. You’ll probably need to spend at least £40 for one of these, and one of the most popular brands (the Lifeproof FRĒ pictured) has an RRP of £69.99. If you’re planning to keep your phone protected 24/7 then this is clearly a great solution, however if you only need to keep your phone dry on the odd weekend cycle, you might not be able to justify this expense, or want the faff of taking it in and out of the case each time.
Top picks in this category
- Lifeproof FRĒ – £55.99 from Lifeproof (very few customer reviews, but critics seem to rate it).
- Gear Beast Waterproof Case – £23.99 from Amazon (plenty of reviews with a 4.2 star rating).
4. Handlebar mounted cases – around £40
If you use your phone for navigation while you ride, or you use it to track speed and distance, you might be keen to mount it on your handlebars. Obviously if you do this you’ll need the mounting system to be waterproof in case it rains, and there are a range of options available. The most popular one appears to be the Quad Lock Bike Kit. Attach the mount to your handlebars using the rubber bands provided and you can secure your phone quickly and easily with a simple quarter turn. With this kit they also include a “poncho” cover that protects your phone from rain.
Top picks in this category
Quad Lock Bike Kit – £39.99 at Amazon (loads of great reviews with a 4.7 star average).
Topeak Weatherproof Ridecase – £43.99 from Evans cycles (a few reviews with a 4.5 star average).
5. Waterproof phone wallets – up to £90
Cyclists have been known to be an indulgent bunch, and if you’re looking for a bit of luxury then the Bellroy Elements Phone Pocket is worth a look. It’s made from a special “all-weather” leather that easily provides enough protection from rain and sweat, though you probably won’t want to submerge it for long. The beauty of this case is that it also carefully holds a range of other essentials – namely up to 10 cards, a SIM card, a key and coins. So you don’t need to worry about these things scratching your shiny new phone or jangling about loose in a jersey pocket.
At £90 for the Plus size version, this is one of the most expensive waterproof cases around – but it’s also by far the most stylish too. There’s a great review of it over at Cycling Weekly, and another on David Hughes’ blog if you can’t decide whether or not to take the plunge.
So which would we go for?
We tend to ride with Garmins up front, so don’t really have a need to mount our phones on the handlebars. While it isn’t very graceful, we typically go for the cheapo option of using a zip lock sandwich bag. It does the job, and costs next to nothing. The Bellroy Elements Phone Pocket looks brilliant though, and if we were feeling flush we’d probably plump for one of these. Perhaps one for the Christmas list..