5 Rugged iPhone Cases for Travel

Caucasian girl taking photograph underwater in pool
JGI/Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Traveling can be stressful, both on yourself and the gear you carry. Rain, dust, dirt, and sand do their best to ruin your gadgets, and it's all too easy to drop a bag at the airport or bash your pocket against the wall of a train.

Being small, fragile and always with you, your phone is most at risk – so even if you don't bother with a case for your iPhone in daily life, it's worth picking one up before you hit the road.

Here are five rugged cases for recent models of iPhone that will handle almost anything your next vacation can throw at them.

Taktik Strike 360

If you're looking for the closest thing to indestructibility you can find in an iPhone case, the Taktik Strike 360 range is a great place to start. The 360 for iPhone 6 will easily deal with heavy impacts, dust and dirt, and even sitting under six feet of water for up to an hour. Unlike some of the previous models, removing and reinserting the phone (say, to change SIM cards) is a cinch.

Just bear in mind that protection like this comes at a price – in this case, size, weight and financial.

Lifeproof Nuud

For a good general-purpose rugged case that doesn't turn your slim iPhone into something the size of a housebrick, consider the Lifeproof Nuud. It's a solid case that will withstand most knocks and bumps, and is rated to a standard six feet/one hour of water submersion.

It takes an interesting approach to waterproofing, leaving the glass face of the phone exposed and instead seals all around it with rubber gaskets. It's a nerve-wracking way of doing it, but independent reviews suggest it's no more prone to failure than fully-enclosed cases.

The company certainly backs itself – this is one of the few cases that comes with a one-year replacement warranty for both itself and its contents. If you're using the case as designed and your phone gets drowned, Lifeproof will buy you a new one.

Watershot Waterproof Housing

If you're serious about using your phone underwater, most standard rugged cases don't make the grade.

They're only rated to be in a few feet of water for an hour or less, which is fine for light snorkeling or if you're caught in a rainstorm, but not much more than that. For diving – or just long stints in the ocean – you'll need something dedicated to the task.

The Watershot Waterproof Housing is a genuine replacement for a point and shoot waterproof camera, allowing you to descend to 130' during a dive. It comes with a dedicated app for video and still images, and offers several accessories (free or otherwise) to improve the experience: desiccant, red filter, lanyard, float, tripod mounts, lighting kits and more.

The Pro version increases the depth to 195', and also includes flat and wide screen lenses.

Griffin Survivor

Finally, if you don't care about waterproofing but just want a good, robust case to protect your expensive smartphone from drops and knocks, it's worth checking out the Griffin Survivor range.

There are different versions depending on the trade-off you're looking to make between size and protection, with the Slim and All-Terrain models being my pick at either end of the spectrum.

The silicone casing does a good job of deflecting most impact damage, with the screen recessed sufficiently that even a face-down drop onto the pavement would be unlikely to break it.

It also comes with a screen protector to help prevent those little chips and scratches, and the All-Terrain version includes seals for all of the ports to stop dust and dirt from getting in.

Dog and Bone Wetsuit

Finally, for an iPhone case that combines quality waterproofing with dust and drop protection, yet still remains relatively thin, check out Dog and Bone's Wetsuit. Unusually for a case like this, it's IP68 rated -- that's the highest level of dust and immersion, and the company suggests it can handle six feet of water for up to an hour. We still wouldn't take it in the shower or hold it under a waterfall, but it should handle most other things travel can throw at your electronics.

Like the Nuud mentioned above, the Wetsuit seals around the rim and leaves the glass face exposed, making for a better look and feel during normal use. It uses what the company calls a triple layer of shock protection to prevent damage from drops and knocks, but the silicone, rubber and polycarbonate case remains under half an inch thick.